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Morning Brief: Safe Streets Staffing Shortage, Aliens From Mars, And Cinco De Mayo Mercado

Children in masks cross a busy Koreatown intersection in a crosswalk. Plastic bollards shown on the left are meant to compel drivers to take slower, safer left turns.
Children in masks cross the busy intersection of Normandie and Olympic in Koreatown. The plastic bollards shown on the left are meant to compel drivers to take slower, safer left turns.
(Brian Feinzimer for LAist)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s May 6.

In 2015, L.A. officials made a pledge to eliminate traffic deaths by the year 2025 with the help of the Vision Zero initiative.

Instead, my colleague Ryan Fonseca reports that traffic deaths in the city have gone up — the number of pedestrians killed by drivers in the first 15 weeks of 2022 increased 53% compared with the same period last year. 

The troubling trend isn’t looking like it will halt soon, as L.A.’s Department of Transportation is in the middle of a staffing crisis that is creating “a threat to public safety,” according to City Councilmember Paul Krekorian.

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Vision Zero is largely overseen by LADOT. The department also runs the “active transportation” program, tasked with building a network of streets where people will choose to walk or bike rather than drive. Combined, the programs are only staffed at 50%. 

Officials point to early retirements stemming from pandemic financial cuts as part of the problem. But as L.A. City Councilmember Paul Krekorian recently noted, pointing to staffing shortages over and over again is “unsustainable.”

“We can't, year after year, keep shrugging our shoulders and saying: ‘We'd love to hire more people, but we just can't,’” he said.

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When it comes to street safety, active transportation and Vision Zero aren’t the only plans in effect; they also overlap in some areas with the city’s Mobility Plan 2035, which was approved by City Council in 2015. In order to figure out why they’re not working, writes Ryan, we have to get to the heart of the issue — and that, perhaps, hasn’t yet been addressed by city officials.

“L.A. has plans on plans on plans, but at the root of them all is working to rethink how city streets are designed and whose movement is prioritized,” he writes. “Historically, that’s been automobile drivers — and that approach has resulted in the dangerous streets we navigate today.”

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

Before You Go ... This Week's Event Pick: Cinco De Mayo Mercado

a woman dancing, dress in traditional Mexican clothing
The city of San Gabriel celebrates Cinco de Mayo Mercado on Friday, May 7.
(Courtesy of the city of San Gabriel)
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The city of San Gabriel hosts the annual Cinco de Mayo Mercado featuring a tribute to Selena by Grammy Award-winning artist Adelaide Pilar, a performance by Folkorico Sol de Fuego, artisan vendors and crafters, food trucks, kids' activities, and a margarita and beer garden by PEZ Cantina. Bonus: If you’re still hungry, the fest is walking distance to the Blossom Market.

Or, you could: Continue celebrating Cinco de Mayo on the 6th. Screen films from 1982 as they turn 40. Listen to live music and DJs at a dublab event. Laugh along to the humor of David Sedaris. Get ideas on how to treat the moms in your life this weekend. And more.

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