Citing increased traffic, noise, pollution and a threat of decreased property values, residents voiced strong opposition to a proposal to widen a four-block stretch of Fairfax Avenue.
More than 100 people gathered Monday night at Pasteur Junior High School to tell a panel of city officials that they object to the $1.6-million project that would turn Fairfax Avenue into a four-lane thoroughfare between Pico Boulevard and Sawyer Street.
'Honor First, Vehicles Second'
Jim Brooks, who has lived on Fairfax Avenue for 26 years and was active in a 1973 campaign against the widening project, said, "Residential honor comes first, vehicles second. This is our country; this is residential territory. Leave it intact."
Brooks disagreed with project engineers that widening the street was the answer to congestion.
"I drive 46 miles everyday on the Los Angeles freeway system in stop-and-go traffic. You're not going to make traffic on Fairfax move any faster by widening it," he said.
Shirlene Autrey, who also lives on Fairfax Avenue, said expansion would only increase traffic.
"I'm sure you've done a scientific study. However we live on this street," she said. "Maybe you've been out here 40, 50 times. I've been here 23 years. I don't want to have to move. I don't want to live on a freeway."
Gary Maner of the city Bureau of Engineering said that an environmental impact study conducted by the bureau concluded that a four-lane street would create a more uniform flow of traffic, making the street safer while reducing pollution, as well as noise and vibration levels.
Maner also said the aesthetics of the street would be enhanced by the project, which would include construction of new curbs, gutters, sidewalks and driveways, as well as installation of street lights and traffic signals.
His comment was met with jeers from the audience, many of whom felt their property values would decrease if the street was expanded.
City Councilman Nate Holden, whose 10th District borders on Fairfax, attended the hearing and Brooks asked him whether he would strive to reduce property taxes on the street should property values decrease because of expansion .
"I don't see where property values will decrease," Holden said. But if they do, he said, "I will go to the county tax assessor and get a reassessment."
'Need to Improve Street'
Holden told residents that the project would provide benefits.
"When I ran for office, I was told by residents that they wanted the street fixed," he said. "I pledged to do something about it. I assure you I'm not on the side of big developers. We need to improve the street. It's a very dangerous street. We need to improve it the very best way we can."
Described by Dave Brauns, assistant district engineer, as "one of the most critical bottlenecks, if not the most critical, in the city," Fairfax Avenue has long been a center of controversy. Neighbors claim the street, rutted and pitted with potholes, has been neglected since 1973 when a similar plan to widen the street was defeated.
Brauns said the city would continue to accept written comments from the public until Nov. 5.