','subtitle>',$line); echo $line; $line = "\n"; } else if (strstr($line, '','updated>',$line); } else if (strstr($line, '','published>',$line); } else if (strstr($line, ' Impractical Proposals <br> Santa Monica: 2006.07


Education: School reform in L.A.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has been leading an effort to reform the area's public schools, has lanched a website, Excellence in LA Schools, where you can learn more about the current problems facing the LAUSD and get involved with the grassroots campaign to improve L.A.'s schools. For a copy of the mayor's plan for the schools, get this pdf file.


Transportation: 3rd St. and Ocean Park Blvd.
Threat or Menace?

You could go down to the intersection of Third Street and Ocean Park Boulevard to have a good laugh, but you'd be taking your life in your hands. Although there are lights at Sixth Street and Main Street, in between there are no other impediments to drivers who rocket through an area packed with strollers, dog walkers, beachgoers and bicyclists. Added to the danger from excessive speed are the design flaws that make both sides of the intersection unnecessarily dangerous.

On the north side of the street, the prohibition against left turns on to Ocean Park is routinely ignored by drivers who use the cross walk to get around a barrier intended to channel them into right turns only. In addition, the drivers shooting out of the Fourth Street underpass often don't see the cars merging from the Third Street/Fourth Street ramp until they're on top of them. Add the drivers who cross westbound traffic from the access road to a left hand turn onto Second; the cross traffic and left hand turns off of Second; the pedestrians, the beachgoers who have parked in the neighborhood (outsiders unfamiliar with local hazards), the joggers and the bicyclists coming out of the tunnel, and you have a recipe for disaster that would be impressive if it weren't overshadowed by the stew of problems on the south side of the intersection.

Here the difficulty is less the speed of the cars accelerating up from the light at Main Street, although this is certainly excessive, than confusion generated by too many choices presented in too little time. Ocean Park Boulevard is intersected or obstructed by right and left hand turns from Third Street, by the turn onto the access ramp to Fourth Street, by the bike path and by a crosswalk.

Coming north on Third, some drivers, at least those not from the neighborhood, get confused by the three right turns offered at the intersection. Many, making the wide turn onto the ramp or turning onto Ocean Park, are startled to see a vehicle hurtling at them from the direction of the beach. Travelers going east seem equally non-plussed to find another street -- predictably blocked by a confused outsider, inhibiting access to the exit to Fourth. Meanwhile, the bike path shifts radically at the intersection to accommodate the narrower roadbed under the bridge, leaving the eastbound Dale Earnhardts and the bike riders both dangerously uncertain about where the bikes should be. And Ocean Park Boulevard is fairly wide here, with no stop signs, so pedestrians take their chances when trying to cross.

Solutions: Stop signs on Ocean Park Boulevard in both directions.

While the westbound traffic and the ramp traffic will still have to merge, at least the drivers speeding out of the underpass will not be focused on making the light at Main.

On the north side of the intersection, beef up the barrier and extend it across the sidewalk so that vehicles can only make a right turn.

On the south side, prohibit turns from Third Street onto Ocean Park. Extend the Ocean Park bike lane through the intersection, so it is clear to both drivers and riders where the bicycles ought to be. The slowed down eastbound Ocean Park Boulevard traffic that makes the turn on to Third Street or heads up the ramp toward Fourth will now have only the cars merging onto the ramp from Third Street to contend with.

With traffic stopped by stop signs, pedestrians will be better able to cross the street without risk.