By Ted AYALA
The flap over a diagonal crosswalk along Honolulu Avenue and Ocean View Boulevard reached its culmination Tuesday night. Glendale City Council voted unanimously to scrap the controversial crosswalk, though it expressed openness to reconsidering the issue at a future date pending the review of data gathered by city staff.
Though a number of such crosswalks currently exist in the city, including in downtown Glendale, the crosswalk that cut through the heart of the Montrose Shopping Park was the first in the city’s north.
Local businesses and residents were caught off guard when the crosswalk appeared in February. City council admitted that the outreach for the crosswalk’s arrival was a failure, despite it having been mentioned in a newsletter from the city manager’s office.
“Not exactly a bestseller,” quipped Councilmember Ara J. Najarian before vehemently expressing his opposition to a process that he said “damaged” the city’s ability to govern.
“Nothing came before the city council,” he said. “Not happy with the way this went forward. Council caught a lot of criticism from this. What hurt more was that we knew nothing about this.”
City Manager Scott Ochoa said that the dismantling of the crosswalk would take upwards of 60 days, which provoked a reaction of disbelief from Councilmember Dave Weaver. Ochoa said the time was needed in order to give staff enough of a space to resynchronize the intersection’s traffic lights.
According to city staff, the cost for removing the crosswalk is “minimal.” The walk signs employed were ones the city already had in storage. Restriping the intersection will take up the brunt of the costs.
Councilmember Laura Friedman also admonished city staff for not getting the word out about the crosswalk.
“The MSPA [Montrose Shopping Park Association] and the [Montrose-Verdugo City] chamber of commerce didn’t know about this,” she said. “This was something in the middle of their district. They should have been kept apprised, especially if it’s a radical change. This was something that would’ve been easy to communicate to them.”
Ochoa also said that the city had gathered “enough” data from the crosswalk, though it has yet to be analyzed. Friedman requested that the data be disseminated publicly once it is ready.
Steve Pierce, representing the MSPA, thanked the council for their removal of the intersection, calling their decision the “correct one.”
However, Sharon Weisman expressed her support for the diagonal crosswalk, adding that the MSPA is potentially overlooking its usefulness for local businesses. Among the boons she listed was its slowing down of traffic would help commuters pay attention to the business district they are zipping through.
She also said that the traffic calming was a “small price to pay” for improved pedestrian safety.
But Councilmember Weaver sharply disagreed.
“This was one of the worst locations for a [diagonal crosswalk] I’ve seen in this whole city,” he said. “It doesn’t belong in [Montrose].”