A survey conducted by the West Hollywood Heights Neighborhood Association http://www.wehoheights.com/ shows little support from nearby residents for the “Sunset Experience,” a project by the City of West Hollywood to improve the walkability of the Sunset Strip.
The results of the survey were released today, just ahead of a meeting scheduled for Thursday by the City of West Hollywood to discuss the project and solicit suggestions from residents for ways to improve walkability on the Strip. The city has conducted its own survey, the results of which are likely to be disclosed at that meeting, which will be at 6:30 p.m. at The London Hotel’s Kensington Ballroom at 1020 N. San Vicente Blvd.
In November 2018, the city created three temporary pilot projects to test ways to make walking the Sunset Strip a more pedestrian-friendly experience. One features light poles wrapped in bright colors with directions to nearby restaurants and clubs along with historic facts about the Strip. There also are bulb outs, or painted extensions of the sidewalks at key intersections, narrowing the distance to cross some streets while adding a colorful and driver-aware flair to the roadway. And there is a shaded and screened seating area called a “parklet,” which is installed at an on-street loading zone adjacent to Book Soup, located at 8818 Sunset Blvd. and adjacent to Mystery Pier Books. The pilot projects are only up for six months.
The WHHNA survey, conducted online from Jan. 27 to Feb. 27, got 186 responses, most all from nearby residents.
“While the survey’s questions attempted to be as impartial as possible and were designed to allow for positive feedback and support for the project, the survey itself was initiated because of the havoc caused by the execution and unwieldiness of this concept,” says a statement from WHHNA.
“Indeed, the overwhelming response to the survey and the responses themselves reflect this.”
— 82% of the respondents were very or somewhat familiar with the Sunset Experience project.
— 65% of the respondents had a great deal or moderate amount of problems driving around the bulb-outs.
— 68% felt they had definitely made things worse or made no difference at all.
— 34% said they had had incidents with the poles and planters, however many people wrote about incidents they witnessed, even though they didn’t personally have incidents.
— 61% had experienced a great deal or a moderate amount of traffic problems including backups due to the reconfigured streetscapes.
— 63% said Hell No! They shouldn’t become permanent fixtures on the Strip, and another 14% said they weren’t sure.
There were 136 comments on the bulb outs. The parklet attracted 110 comments.
“It was split as to whether it should become a permanent fixture,” WHHNA reports. “Although 24% were very enthusiastic about it (even though none of them had ever used it), the majority were either ambivalent, didn’t know, or didn’t want to see precious parking spaces lost because of it. Many people expressed concern about the homeless using it, and in fact, many commented on witnessing homeless people using it – apparently, they are the only users of it. And the owner of the Mystery Pier Bookstore said that he is losing business because of it and wants it gone.”
There were 130 responses to questions about walkability on the strip.
“The majority felt there were no problems walking on the Strip, or crossing Sunset,” WHHNA reports. “That people had been crossing for decades without problems. Two recurring suggestions included extending the timing of the crossing lights by a few seconds, and flashing strips of light at Sunset Plaza crossings like are done on Santa Monica crosswalks. Also, that people could walk a block further in one direction or another to either Sunset Plaza or to Larrabee if they found the Sunset / Holloway crossing too difficult.”