Here is some good news for Westside riders: Scott Epstein is running for City Council in district 5 in the 2022 Los Angeles municipal election. Better Bike is happy to endorse him. Scott was a longtime boardmember, transportation commission chair and executive chair of the Mid City West Community Council before stepping down to run for city council. We support him because he brings more than policy expertise to job; he will bring a new perspective on multimodal mobility after 12 years of ambivalence from current councilmember Paul Koretz.
To appreciate how significant a change this could be for those who ride our congested Westside streets let’s first talk about who Scott Epstein isn’t.
Paul Koretz Said No to Multimodal Mobility Too Often
Current councilmember for CD5 Paul Koretz has been no friend to riders. In 2013 Koretz tanked a Westwood Boulevard bike lanes study (just a study!) after homeowner associations campaigned to kill-off the proposed Class II lanes for this important north-south commercial corridor.
In 2015 Koretz also didn’t stand up for the Expo Line bikeway through his district. So nearby homeowners effectively blocked the bike lane which consequently opened a dangerous gap for those who would ride along the new light rail line spanning central Los Angeles, Culver City and Santa Monica. (For the most part the Expo Line bikeway is one of the most safe and direct routes across town.)
Back in 2014 Streetsblog LA noted wryly, “When Metro’s 6.6-mile Expo Line opens in mid–2016, the parallel Expo bikeway will open too. Except where it won’t.” Because Koretz didn’t deliver on closing this gap, we bicycle riders were forced onto hilly surface streets and through problematic intersections. (Five years later Koretz’s office has backed a plan to close the gap.)
There’s more. Even as Koretz tanked Westwood bicycle lanes he called for more free parking in LA’s beleaguered Westwood Village — precisely the prescription we know will add another incentive to drive there. That will increase auto congestion and effectively runs counter to Koretz’s professed interest to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Koretz was behind LA’s ban on shared-mobility scooters and most recently killed ‘Uplift Melrose’ which would have brought multimodal facilities to the auto-dominated corridor.
Streetsblog’s Joe Linton summed-up his tenure. “Koretz has a history of opposing efforts to make pedestrian conditions safer. He pushed to uncouple sidewalk repair from pedestrian safety. He opposed increased Vision Zero pedestrian safety funding. He voted against L.A.’s multi-modal Mobility Plan.” Koretz is thankfully termed-out and that opens an opportunity for a multimodal-minded challenger in 2022.
Scott Epstein: A New Perspective on Multimodal Mobility
CD5 candidate Scott Epstein promises a new perspective on multimodal mobility. He was a prime mover of the Mid-City West Community Council’s Neighborhood Greenway Project. Scott was also instrumental in the council’s support for the ‘Uplift Melrose’ plan (which Koretz ultimately tanked). More recently, Scott’s neighborhood council created a ‘Slow Streets’ program to move council-area slow-street applications toward approval under LA City’s program.
But the council’s key accomplishment under Scott’s leadership was the development of the ‘Bicycle Friendly Streets Plan’ which established safe, priority bicycle routes on Rosewood and Formosa. The plan won $1.8 million in Metro funding plus a healthy city matching grant in 2015. Nothing says ‘success’ like a couple of million bucks for safe-streets improvements!
Aside from mobility, Scott helped to form the Midtown Los Angeles Homeless Coalition which partners residents, business groups, agencies and social service providers to address homelessness in the Mid City area. (Mid-City West Community Council is a partner organization.) His deep roots in the community — and his efforts on behalf of the community he has called home since 2007 — is a key reason why his list of endorsements runs so long.
Better Bike is proud to endorse Scott Epstein for CD5 in 2022. He is a safe-streets advocate who will bring a fresh multimodal mobility perspective to the Westside and to Los Angeles beyond. More important, he promises to do for city politics what he did for his neighborhood: increase local participation opportunities and bring new people into local governance. That is our #1 reason for endorsing Scott.
Meet Scott Epstein and see if he’s worthy of your vote — and your support. Local Beverly Hills riders (and multimodal mobility supporters) can get behind Scott even if we can’t vote in the Los Angeles municipal election. For one thing, we can support his campaign with a contribution. He has been with us every step of the way in the campaign for bicycle lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard. He’s been with us as we won adoption of the Beverly Hills complete streets plan. Scott Epstein has been there for riders in Beverly Hills over the past ten years. Let’s be there for Scott with our vote and our support.
Scott Epstein for Los Angeles City Council District 5 in 2022!