Fountain of Sorrow, Part 2: A rocky road ahead for WeHo’s worst street

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Our journey down Fountain, West Hollywood’s most “With or Without You” thoroughfare, continues on its final leg from Fairfax west to La Cienega.

Note: On this stretch of the trip, I rode my bike on the sidewalk (!!!) for demonstrative purposes and to steady the camera. “Rode” makes it sound fast — “dilly-dallied” is more accurate. No pedestrians, dogs or scooters were injured during this process.

Between Fairfax and Crescent Heights you’ll find the only commercial storefronts along Fountain in West Hollywood, including Fountain Liquor, a beauty salon, Dubbs’ Coffee and the WeHo Wash Express laundromat.

They face some truly grim prospects ahead.

Two years of construction will not only trample the stores’ foot traffic, but swapping parking spots for bike lanes will cut off access for customers who drive, as well.

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Parking on these three blocks is more limited and arguably more essential than anywhere else on the 1.9-mile strip, not only for the businesses but for the residents as well.

 

You notice people who don’t have assigned parking spots playing an endless game of musical chairs with their vehicles on the nearby streets. It’s not a buyer’s market — you park wherever’s closest and take whatever is available.  Depending on the time/day and whether you’ve got a permit, you might score a spot right in front of your apartment building, or you might have to leave your car on Santa Monica Boulevard and carry your groceries a quarter mile up the hill.

It’s already a rat race.

As I pass Crescent Heights, I re-think my earlier statement about infrastructure improving as you head west. While buildings look newer and cleaner, you don’t see as many homeless people and Fountain itself widens and is better maintained, the sidewalks actually get worse.

More hellish hedges, errant shrubs and retaining walls crowding out the walkway.

More sign posts stuck dead center in the sidewalk.

Even less room to move or pass.

Meanwhile, drivers who are finally free of the gridlock east of Crescent Heights put the pedal to the metal, racing up and down this length of the road to make up for lost time.

There seem to be more pedestrians here, but not a bicyclist in sight.

I reach La Cienega without a clear-cut answer to that question of questions….

What should be done with Fountain Avenue?

Personally, as a car-owning bicyclist, I think City Hall’s plan in its current form is going to inspire far more scowls than smiles.

The demand for bike lanes just doesn’t appear to be here. And though advocates keep saying variations of “If they build bike lanes, people will come and use them,” that’s clearly not what happened in Culver City and other locales.

Sidewalks are a different story.

It’s unbelievable that West Hollywood, probably the most affluent, image-obsessed city on the planet, has ignored the varicose veins on its tanned, toned legs for so long.

Let’s be clear: While WeHo talks a big game about “uplifting” marginalized people and “amplifying” their voices, the city’s pedestrians — those blue-collar, minimum-wage earning people the city claims to care so much about — are silently struggling just to get from Point A to Point B every day, as they’ve done for decades.

But fixing sidewalks isn’t glamorous, and that’s why WeHo hasn’t given a fuck thus far.

Even now, the impetus for reconstructing Fountain Avenue wasn’t to benefit pedestrians or disabled people. They were an afterthought.

Installing bike lanes, the cause celebre of every young politician and hip urban planner, was the point of this project.

And WeHo is only re-doing the sidewalks because they’re being forced to. No ADA-compliant sidewalks, no new bike lanes, the law says.

There are no obvious solutions to the Fountain quagmire. Years of neglect — and not enforcing proper setbacks when all those ancient apartments and bungalows were built* — have put WeHo in a real pickle.

If I were in charge, I’d keep four lanes of traffic, widen the sidewalks as much as possible, let bikes and scooters choose between riding slowly on the outer edge of the sidewalk or sharing the asphalt with cars, install more street lights and crosswalks, roll back encroachment on the sidewalks, straighten out the roads and add as many parking spots as could fit.

Oh, and let residents park for free in that million-dollar dirt lot on SMB and Crescent Heights till everything was finished*. Maybe even give them a free shuttle service from their cars to their curbs.

P.S. I’m very, very, very glad I’m not in charge.

*Source: Alan Strasburg’s brain

 

 

 

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[…] Click here to read PART 2: FAIRFAX TO LA CIENEGA […]

Mike
Mike
8 months ago

Just make the sidewalks walkable/ADA compliant and slow down the traffic.

First Steps
First Steps
8 months ago

Let’s have the city initiate a plan to repair and restore the sidewalks on Fountain as a preliminary phase. Making them walkable will be a big asset. Let the bikesters navigate their own paths on Fountain or adjacent streets. Disrupting the traffic flow and parking for the benefit of the bikesters and not the pedestrians is a very foolish plan.

Too Much
Too Much
8 months ago

Just leave it alone. LA is total chaos as it is. No need to make it worse.

Unevolved
Unevolved
8 months ago

West Hollywood dies not appreciate logic. A very unevolved city and too many unevolved personnel.

Joshua88
Joshua88
8 months ago

Had I known you were around the corner, I would have baked you a cake.

Fun reporting and enjoyable!

Outraged
Outraged
8 months ago

EXACTLY!! Keep the four lanes OR ELSE face MASSIVE civic resistance, no matter WHAT that takes. Take a lesson from Culver City. No more wasting taxpayer money on egomaniacal stupid ideas. RISE UP!! Our Citizens of our City will NOT have it ruined by the current VILE and incompetent City Council!!

JF1
JF1
8 months ago

keep four lanes of traffic, widen the sidewalks as much as possible, let bikes and scooters choose between riding slowly on the outer edge of the sidewalk or sharing the asphalt with cars, install more street lights and crosswalks, roll back encroachment on the sidewalks, straighten out the roads and add as many parking spots as could fit. ‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️YES‼️

Manny
Manny
8 months ago
Reply to  JF1

Sorry, no motorized vehicle of any kind (scooters) should be permitted on the pedestrian path (sidewalk)…….no matter what.

The sidewalks are all we have left.

Pedestrians First!

Robert Steloff
8 months ago
Reply to  Manny

💯💯💯

kab1200
kab1200
7 months ago
Reply to  JF1

Yes!

Manny
Manny
8 months ago

Now we’re talking. No need to spend $35 million of our money to create what will become empty bike lanes and a traffic jam on Fountain Ave. Plain and simple folks.

Instead, implement and enforce standard set-back rules. Get all the hedges and fences 18′ away from the sidewalk. If need be, pay back the cost to the property owners for compliance. In stretches of Fountain that can accommodate it, add one extra foot of new sidewalk…….DONE!

Pedestrians First

MISTY
MISTY
8 months ago
Reply to  Manny

Yes please.

I have observed a number of neighbors who leave their garbage cans on the sidewalks for nearly a week’s time. Sometimes they fall into a lane of Fountain blocking traffic and nearly causing accidents. Other times, I’ve seen homeless people rifle through them, causing garbage to litter the sidewalk. And worst of all, pedestrians have to step into the street to pass by.

The code compliance department only issues warnings, but there’s zero actual enforcement.

I guess spending $35 million seems way easier?

Manny
Manny
8 months ago
Reply to  Manny

18 “inches”

kab1200
kab1200
8 months ago
Reply to  Manny

You are lind of cray cray. 18′, that’s absurd.

Manny
Manny
8 months ago
Reply to  kab1200

Read my correction above genius. Plus anybody would understand that it was a typo. Except you I guess.

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