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Resident Sleuths Catch Developers in Lies

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When a new development is planned and traffic impact studies are needed, the developer hires the consultant, not the City. So you can see how residents are wary if the developer is in cahoots with the consultant to downplay results in favor of the development. And right some where:

In Sherman Oaks, the local homeowners group was following a proposed 89-condo and 16,000-square-foot mixed-use project on Ventura Boulevard. The developer agreed to update an old traffic study, and Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association board member Nancy Kaleel happened upon the consultant's traffic counter sitting at the corner of Tyrone Avenue and Moorpark Street one morning. The intersection leads to Beverly Glen Boulevard, one of the few local streets that cross over the Santa Monica Mountains into the Westside and is an alternative to the congested 405 freeway.

As usual, cars were gridlocked at the Tyrone/Moorpark and Tyrone/Ventura Boulevard crossings, and only one or two cars could traverse the intersection in a light cycle. Kaleel snapped a few photos.

Yet when the traffic study came out a few months later the intersection was graded an A.

"It was beyond belief. It's completely gridlocked. How is this getting a passing grade?" Kaleel recalled. "It was my aha moment."

She ended up going out to the intersection with her video camera and filming the morning backup. SOHA submitted the evidence when the group challenged the project approval, and the developer agreed to make traffic improvements in the area.

But Kaleel said residents shouldn't have to be watchdogs over developers' studies.

"If you're taking failing intersections and doing nothing to fix them and then making them worse by adding more businesses and residences, it floods every street with traffic," Kaleel said.

"It doesn't make for a better quality of life." [Daily News]

Video by Nancy Kaleel