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'Great Streets' Road Diet 'Destroyed My Life And Ruined My Family,' Says Mar Vista Restaurateur

MAR VISTA (CBSLA) — A Mar Vista businessman says a road diet meant to improve traffic on his street ended his dream of selling food where his grandfather did the same more than 60 years ago.

"It was a beautiful family legacy," restaurateur John Atkinson told CBS2 News as he wiped a tear from his eye. "You're gonna make me tear up because this is what we wanted to do."

The owner of the recently shuttered Louie's in Mar Vista says business at his restaurant and bar plummeted after new bike lanes and parking were placed on either side of Venice Boulevard near Grand View earlier this year.

Atkinson admits his decision to run his other business full-time contributed to his eatery closing, but he called the road diet "the last nail in the coffin."

This is not the first criticism of the street re-channeling project. This summer, angry residents lashed out area Councilman Mike Bonin at a town hall, saying the road diet was causing so much congestion, it was a public safety concern. They said the traffic would prevent an easy egress from the area in case of a natural disaster.

Bonin did not reply to a request for a statement from CBS2.

The project was part Mayor Eric Garcetti's Great Streets Initiative, which calls for the removal of a lane for cars to create a bike lane and parking along a main thoroughfare in every Los Angeles council district.

The owner of Venice Grind coffeeshop told CBS2 their business is down 25 percent since the road diet went into effect.

Atkinson also says that, rather than make the street safer for bikers, the bottlenecks have made them more dangerous.

"I saw two people get hit on bicycles in a month, and in five years, I never saw anybody get hit on a bicycle," Atkinson told CBS2.

Atkinson's grandfather ran Louie's Meat Market with a fellow World War II veteran at the location from 1954 to 1969.

He says the road diet is a flawed design that ruined a dream.

"Politicians murdered me," laments Atkinson. "They killed my business."

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