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What is Measure HLA and can it make LA's streets safer?

How Measure HLA promises to make LA city streets safer
How Measure HLA promises to make LA city streets safer 02:05

This Tuesday, voters will have to decide the fate of Measure HLA, an initiative supporters claim will make Los Angeles' congested streets safer; however, its opponents believe it will only increase traffic and delay first responders.

Measure HLA aims to tweak the city's existing Mobility Plan, forcing city officials to abide by the 2015 initiative as a mandate rather than a guide. If approved, the plan requires the city to install modifications such as wider sidewalks and dedicated bicycle and bus lanes when implementing street improvements that measure at least an eighth of a mile. The initiative will cost the city over $2.5 billion over 10 years, according to the Matthew Szabo, the city's administrative officer. 

HLA's supporters believe it will hold officials accountable after they have only implemented 5% of its plan since 2015. In 2023, deadly crashes outpaced homicides in the city, according to Los Angeles Police Department. Supporters claimed that more than half of the collisions that resulted in death or severe injuries happened on streets without the Mobility Plan safety improvements.

"There's hundreds of miles of bus-only lanes," Michael Schneider, CEO of Streets for All an organization backing the measure, said. "There's over 500 miles of a neighborhood enhancement network which would reduce cut-through traffic on residential streets."

Opponents call HLA a misguided measure that will hamper emergency response times and increase traffic. 

"They're not effective," Freddy Escobar, president of Local 112, the union representing LA firefighters, said. "It slows us down."

Critics claimed that areas where the modifications have been installed have increased response times by 50% for firefighters and police. Escobar said this is evident at Fire Station 11, where a bike lane has affected crews' response time. 

"You get a 911 call, first thing is you're worried about crossing," he said. "Them, you come out — you have to worry about the bike lane. Then, you deal with the traffic lane. All that delays our response."

Additionally, they believe these would increase gridlock during rush hour, increasing emissions and pollution.

Schneider said the measure would add a center turn lane to streets like Melrose Avenue to help firefighters during grid lock. 

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