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Westside Residents Discuss Speeding, Motorcycle Noise, Construction at LAPD Traffic Meeting

Members and law enforcement representatives consider ideas to ease congestion and get drivers to slow down.

Motorcycle noise, speed trailers and a congested part of Sepulveda Boulevard were hot topics on the agenda for the Los Angeles Police Department West Bureau Traffic Committee's meeting Wednesday.

Taking up a modest portion of the Roll Call room at the West L.A. Community Police Station, representatives from neighborhoods including Westwood, Brentwood and Pacific Palisades gathered for a regular monthly meeting led by committee chair Robert A. Ringler that also welcomed officials from the California Highway Patrol, LAPD West Traffic Division, West Los Angeles Parking Enforcement, Los Angeles Department of Transportation and Council District 5.

“The numbers are down in all categories of accidents in West Los Angeles,” said LAPD West Traffic Division Officer Chris Smyth, who offered a brief report on the recent conditions in the area. With just two traffic fatalities this year, he reiterated that the numbers had decreased from an average of five to 10 deaths annually.

Touching on a recurring issue among West L.A. neighborhoods, Smyth added that the police department had placed officers on Sunset Boulevard to address a “motorcycle issue” that sparked heated responses from various committee members.

“I am exhausted by it,” said Amy Kalp, a member of the Pacific Palisades Community Council, who described motorcyclists’ reckless and excessive noise in neighborhoods. “And they behave differently when officers are there.”

“On Sunday, on 9/11, there was a meeting of motorcycles at the VA (West Los Angeles Medical Center), and the noise was incredible,” added Sol Liebster of the Brentwood Community Council, referring to the benefit. “Excellent cause,” he added, “but the neighborhood was impacted by the noise.”

But not every committee member was on the same page.

“We are spoiled,” said Nickie Miner of Benedict Canyon. “As long as they’re not breaking the law … so there’s motorcycle noise.”

Next on the agenda were the issues of speeding drivers and the effectiveness of portable speed trailers, which tell drivers how fast they are going.

“Do speed trailers slow people down?” asked Debbie Nussbaum of Westwood Hills Property Owners Association, who said that she had seen drivers try to get the numbers as high as possible.

While Smyth mentioned that the machines could be set to top at 50 mph, thus preventing drivers from “play(ing) with it,” California Highway Patrol Lt. Matt Guthrie assured members that radar trailers are available to neighborhoods and “work well for slowing people down.”

“Carmageddon” was still on members’ minds, as Barbara Broide of Westwood South of Santa Monica Homeowners Association mentioned to traffic officers that better communication was necessary between contractors and law enforcement to make sure that “alternate route signs” were posted early enough so that drivers could exit before traffic became too congested.

Acknowledging the issue, Chief Field and Transportation Deputy Jay Greenstein of the 5th Council District, said that his office had taken note of the problem.

With construction still at work on the 405, the issue of a congested Sepulveda Boulevard had committee members wondering if making a U-turn was acceptable after waiting in a long line of cars without making much movement, despite it being a citable traffic violation.

Echoing Officer Smyth, Ringler said, “I don’t think you’re going to get, ‘It’s OK to break the law’ here.”

The next committee meeting is scheduled for Oct. 14.

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