For Immediate Release: November 20, 2022

LOS ANGELES — Today, Councilmembers Nithya Raman, Mike Bonin, and Bob Blumenfield introduced a motion to amend the City’s existing policies around street widening to prioritize active transportation and shade trees. The City’s current regulations result in inconsistent spot widenings that provide minimal public benefit and make our neighborhood streets more dangerous and inhospitable. New regulations would call for public improvements to promote multimodal accessibility, good street design, and sustainable infrastructure.

Since 1961, the Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) 12.37 and the Highway Dedication process has mandated street widening via dedications and required roadway widening improvements for any new multifamily and commercial developments. These widenings often create incoherent streets that degrade neighborhood character, undermine active transportation, reduce tree canopy, and expand impermeable surface area—all contrary to the City’s mobility and sustainability goals.

“For years, we have prioritized making streets easier to drive on, rather than easier to walk, bike, or roll on, creating an infrastructure that both undermines accessibility and harms our environment,” said Councilmember Raman. “Given the potential damages of roadway widening and the limited benefits, the onus of this process should be reversed, with no roadway widening unless under exceptional circumstances.” 

“The City can’t build streets that will serve our needs in the future with rules and processes created decades ago,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin, Chair of the Transportation Committee. “It’s long past time to revisit all the outdated and oftentimes automatic processes that our City uses to perpetuate suburban sprawl rather than building livable and sustainable communities–especially when those policies drive up the cost of housing. Every City agency and bureaucratic process should push us forward toward safer and more sustainable streets.”

“Automatic street widenings are a relic of a car centric past that destroy trees and make pedestrians and cyclists less safe,” said Michael Schneider, Founder and CEO of Streets For All. “I’m grateful to Councilmembers Raman and Bonin for leading the charge on ending this practice in Los Angeles.”

Michael Manville, UCLA Professor and author of a study on road widening published in 2016, stated, “For decades, LA’s street dedication process has undermined the city’s goals of creating a more affordable, multimodal city, while doing almost nothing to reduce its road congestion. It is an example of pseudoscience in urban planning, and it is long past time for reform.”  

The proposed motion from Councilmembers Raman and Bonin instructs the Bureau of Engineering, in consultation with the Department of City Planning (DCP), the Department of Transportation (DOT), DCP’s Urban Design Studio, and any other relevant departments, to report back within 60 days with recommendations on: reforming the initial requirement and waiver of dedication and/or improvement, preserving consistent roadway widths, prioritizing pedestrian experience, protecting existing trees and parkways while planting new ones, incorporating green infrastructure elements, and ensuring accessibility for people with disabilities. A checklist of public benefit findings would be required prior to a street dedication and/or improvement that results in a roadway widening.