The Planning Commission meeting Wednesday, May 23, 2012 was very disappointing to the people who came there to protect their neighborhood from several bad situations, which are probable because of the opening of a 7 Eleven at Braddock and Sepulveda.
After the comments from the representatives from 7 Eleven and the public were given the residents were told to “write a letter” by the chairman, Anthony Pleskow to informing them that their input was over at the hearing. The 7 Eleven representative was able to address the committee without being asked a direct question by the committee. Residents raised their hands at that time in an effort to have equal time to speak, but the raised hands were ignored. So much for equal opportunity to speak in a public hearing. The comments, which opponents wanted to make, may or may not have made a difference but because of the denial of equal opportunity to comment, we will never know.
Vice chairman Scott Wyant gave first hand information about the study he did on his own at the intersection where the new convenience store is proposed. He stated that his own information directly contradicted the study by 7 Eleven. He was quite emphatic about his own findings and disbelief of the numbers from the study submitted by 7 Eleven as a fair representation of the traffic he witnessed or assessment of in and out traffic to the proposed store as it related to parking spaces. Concerned resident Marie Malahi told the committee that she had placed a video camera on her house, which has captured the activity at the intersection and that she hadn’t had time to compile it for presentation. Several residents spoke of the amount of traffic, both pedestrian and vehicle, in the area, not only at this hearing but also at the previous hearing in front of the same commissioners.
Still, Commissioner John Kuechle said that he saw no evidence that the study done the last day before school was out for spring break was incorrect or flawed in any way. He had no doubt in this study or even that the results is not a fair representation of the activity as presented on a daily basis at this intersection. I think his judgment as well as the study is flawed. I don’t know why he would not give weight to his fellow commissioner Scott Wyant or any of the residents first hand experience. He seemed to want to push this through and no commissioner asked Ms. Malahi anything about her footage or her photo’s of accidents, which occurred at that intersection. The commission did have numerous questions for the person who was paid by 7 Eleven to do a study but none of them wanted to know what a video camera had captured of the intersection for the last two months. Not knowing the true facts is one thing, not wanting to know the true facts is quite another. Ms. Malahi is a full time working mother and will probably be mostly effect affected by the development. She had spoke about her own son being hit by a car in this area in previous hearings.
The traffic person from the City didn’t seem to know that across the street at Taco Bell the City allows the restaurant to use the alley as their drive through, which blocks the alley regularly. His comments that drivers will just take the path of least resistance doesn’t mean much when there is no path to take because all lanes are blocked. Mr. Wyatt spoke of this intersection as a problem in past City traffic studies, but not one on the commission seemed to consider his comments and none of them asked to see the past study he spoke about.
Putting up a “NO LEFT TURN SIGN” to stop left turns on Southbound Sepulveda sounds like a good idea but if these turns are made pedestrians will be at risk. My question is where is the “NO LEFT TURN SIGNS” going South on Sepulveda going to be placed? The turn into the driveway is approximately forty feet South of Braddock. So is the sign put at the intersection? Drivers will think that there is no left turn onto Braddock. Is it going to be put on the same side as the convenience store? No one will see it until they are in the middle of the turn across three lanes of opposing traffic, if they see it at all. Is it going to be put on the West side of Sepulveda? That placement seems problematic because drivers will be looking at the driveway to their left across opposing traffic to prepare for their turn and are not very likely to see the “NO LEFT TURN SIGNS”. Pedestrians walking South from behind a parked bus into the driveway will especially be vulnerable to serious injury.
A driver of a vehicle going West on Braddock that wants to pull into 7 Eleven will likely get impatient waiting for an opening and could see an opportunity to dart into the driveway just as a child or adult is stepping or skateboarding into the path and neither would see each other until it was too late and the same would be true for South bound vehicles on Sepulveda if a driver makes an illegal turn. These are legitimate concerns, which the commission decided to not be concerned because of the study of the site, which one of their own panel members disputed as well as numerous residents who see this intersection daily.
Commissioner Marcus Tiggs seemed to be more concerned about the safety of the employees of 7 Eleven than the students who pass across those driveways every school day. His concern was that the store had more than one entrance.
There are real problems with this proposed development and the commission came to the conclusion that if they are wrong in their evaluation then there are no real alternatives or solutions to remedy the problems once the store was in place, so they approved it.
We were all young once and know there are ways to obtain tobacco and alcohol, even if you aren’t 18 or 21. The only way to stop this bad influence is to not allow the source in the school kids path. Unfortunately more residents, church leaders, parents and school officials, were not there to voice their concerns of the establishment, in the path of so many school kids, who will make every attempt to sell as much tobacco and alcohol as possible. That’s the goal of business, sell as much as possible. Hopefully an appeal will give concerned folks an opportunity to show their support for denial of this unwanted project.
Deliveries to the store in the middle of the night were mentioned in previous meetings but no mention of restrictions was made in this hearing to protect residents from 4:00 am deliveries. Twenty-Four hour businesses should not be allowed next to any residence.
A statement from a former City Council person made in an email said it all “7 Eleven doesn’t sell alcohol, just beer and wine”. Well meaning City officials can get things wrong, and comments from the committee that “they can live with it” are little consolation to people who do actually have to live with it.
That’s what we are dealing with in this decision by the Planning Commission, a mistake in judgment and/or a rush to judgment. This area is changing and will be busier as a new business moves into the area a little more that a block North, L A Spice and when Green Peas reopens across the street on Sepulveda. This study will be obsolete buy the time 7 Eleven opens if it started construction today. No consideration was made for these businesses opening in this study or hearing. Since the hearing a vehicle has ran to the building just catty-corner to the proposed development. This is a dangerous intersection, which needs more investigation.