Another DIY LA Crosswalk Turns Permanent As Activist Group Continues To Take Requests
Like many families, Rick Aguilar likes to take his grandchildren to a park to have some fun.
His spot, the Lemon Grove Recreation Center, is where people in the neighborhood bring their pets, play a round of basketball and let little ones rush down the slides before the after-school program.
It’s a busy park in East Hollywood where nearby cars, trucks and buses drive by, often at faster than legal speeds. Lemon Grove Avenue and Hobart Boulevard, the intersection closest to the park, used to only have stop signs. No crosswalks.
Crosswalk Collective LA, a small group of community members, decided to take street safety into their own hands by painting in crosswalks themselves, a DIY project they’ve run since March 2022.
VICTORY! Last year, we painted two crosswalks at a dangerous intersection near a park in East Hollywood.— Crosswalk Collective LA (@CrosswalksLA) January 30, 2023
We are delighted to share that LADOT replaced our crosswalks with FOUR longer crosswalks. Thank you all for your support 🙏 pic.twitter.com/acULHss7YK
Why this crosswalk stands out
LAist has reported on the collective since it started. Many of the crosswalks have been taken down by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), which called them “unauthorized.” But Lemon Grove and Hobart is one of the few that the city actually replaced.
And Aguilar is glad they did.
“[The crosswalk] makes me more conscious about the surrounding area with the children,” said Aguilar, who drove to the park. “I really feel that it modifies a neighborhood more securely for the children, which is important for me.”
When I visited the intersection, many others told me that they didn’t know about the crosswalk’s illicit history (or even realize one was recently installed), but they believed crosswalks are a good thing at the end of the day. And it’s helped them feel better about walking through the intersection.
“During the day, it never seemed like a problem,” said Codee Hutchins, who walks her dog in the area almost daily. “But I did notice sometimes driving through, like in the evenings or at night, when there's little less visibility when people were crossing, cars would just blow through. I do think it's better now. Safer.”
For Natasha Webb, the recreation center is where she takes her two small miniature Pomeranian dogs to play multiple times a day.
“It’s important that we feel safe crossing the roads because they like to run out, but as long as we can cross safely, it’s important for us,” Webb said. “I do notice the struggle if there isn't one.”
The collective recently shared on social media about the crosswalk being replaced, calling it a victory. But this isn’t their first or only DIY crosswalk, so that led me to this question: Why did the city replace this one?
What the city says
The collective's DIY crosswalk was painted in November last year. LADOT replaced it in the same month, according to department spokesperson Colin Sweeney. He told LAist over email that the city has an urgency to make streets safer.
“We also want to ensure that the city’s limited resources are delivered equitably, to the communities that have the highest safety risks,” Sweeney said. “Unauthorized installations of street treatments are illegal, will be removed, and could result in citations, fines and fees charged to cover the city’s cost of removal.”
Drivers behind the wheel have hurt two people near the intersection between January 2017 and December 2021, according to Sweeney (2022 data wasn’t available). Both were mid-block crashes, meaning they didn’t take place at the intersection itself.
So why the official crosswalk? LADOT didn’t answer my questions about why it chose to place crosswalks on all sides of the Lemon Grove and Hobart intersection, or ones about the city’s methodology for choosing what types of safety features to install (as opposed to others in the Vision Zero Initiative list).
Two sides of the intersection (north and west) do fall under the department’s Slow Streets plans in East Hollywood for centerline gateway treatment — that’s a yellow marked off spot in the middle of the street with signage. The program’s goal is to make neighborhood streets safer for walking and biking, which was approved by the Neighborhood Council last year. The centerline treatments are already installed.
The collective’s response
Regardless of what prompted the choice, the collective sees it as a win when the department replaces their crosswalks.
“When LADOT installs a new crosswalk in the place of one of ours, it’s a direct response to our action, as well as a tacit acknowledgment of the city's failure to be proactive in building out this infrastructure,” the collective said in a statement to LAist.
They say there aren’t marked crossings next to other residential parks in East Hollywood. This area also serves as a voting center, adding to the urgency for safety.
The collective continues to take requests for more DIY crosswalks, though the work is considered illegal and past members have been cited. They declined to share where they’ve installed all their crosswalks. Here’s the status on what we do know, according to the group:
- Romaine and Serrano: Four crosswalks were removed and replaced with a traffic circle.
- San Marino and Serrano: Two crosswalks were removed.
- Gardner Elementary: Two crosswalks were put in at the request of the school. These were removed and replaced with two crosswalks.
- Beverly and Dillon: One crosswalk put in and removed.
- Westhaven and South Rimpau: Two crosswalks removed.
- Lemon Grove and Hobart: Two crosswalks removed and replaced with four crosswalks.
The group has received 248 requests total through their crosswalk request form, and six of those came in in January. They say people are asking for speed bumps next. LADOT does accept crosswalk requests through its service form.
“Our communities are vindicated when LADOT responds this way,” the collective said, “because it demonstrates that residents know what infrastructure is needed, and that the bureaucracy can act just as fast — just chooses not to.”
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