Los Al to reach out to Rossmoor, LAUSD to create a more walkable and bike friendly community

Los Al celebrates a birthday with bikes and bites.

The city of Los Alamitos has agreed to reach out to the local school system and the massive community of Rossmoor as they seek to integrate plans to make the area more walkable and bike friendly.

The agreement to reach out came after the city council listened to a detailed presentation of a draft “Active Transportation” plan developed by a consulting firm who has worked under the coordination of Acting Deputy City Manager Ron Noda and the city’s staff.

“It is challenging,” said presenter Jacob Leon of the San Diego based KTUA consulting firm, ”to put together a report for the near and mid-term access to transit.”

Especially, he said, given the geographic challenges of Los Alamitos, which he said is hindered by a massive intersection (Los Al Boulevard@Katella) and a massive school population located within Rossmoor, a nearby unincorporated area.

Yet, Leon said there are numerous possibilities for bikeways, walkways and other active transportation alternatives throughout the city.

While changes won’t happen overnight, Leon said the world is slowly moving toward creating living spaces “where people live and where they would like to go without driving everywhere.”

Leon and his team presented a very preliminary map of potential corridors within the city where bike lanes and walkable areas can be created.

He said the plan was created using a “balanced approach” and after receiving more than 250 messages from Los Al residents regarding what they wanted to see in such a plan.

Mayor Pro-tem Shelley Hasselbrink questioned some of the demographics in the plan, asking why more emphasis was not given to the 6-16 age bracket, since they will be more likely to ride their bicycles to school.

Council member Tanya Doby openly worried about any prospective bike lanes that did not connect with Rossmoor, since most of the elementary schools within the Los Alamitos Unified School District are located in Rossmoor, adjoining Los Alamitos.

She said Rossmoor once had bike lanes but said she heard some of them had been removed. Noda said it was his understanding that Rossmoor had removed some Class 3 bike lanes.

Hasselbrink said if any arrangement was reached with Rossmoor, the city must insist that “both sides have skin in the game.”

The council discussed reaching out to both Rossmoor and the Los Alamitos Unified School District to get their input on the plan, an idea fully supported by Leon and other council members.

“If the school district were supporting the plan and was on board, it certainly would increase the probability of funding,” said council member Ron Bates. Leon agreed.
Bates, who said he was an active cyclist, emphasized the importance of integrating any local plan with established paths that currently provide bicycling opportunities.

Bates and Hasselbrink both pointed out potential problems with the plan, suggested that at present, both Green and Farquhar Streets are being used as traffic diversionary routes and could present danger to bike lanes or pedestrian traffic.

Leon said the Los Al Boulevard and Katella intersection is so complex and complicated that the city should consider applying for a separate grant to simply focus on making changes, planning officials would “laugh in my face” if they tried to significantly integrate that intersection in the plan.

Mayor Mark Chirco said the city should work out final estimates and reach out before coming back to the council for additional discussion.

City manager Chet Simmons said they would indeed reach out to Rossmoor, Los Al Unified and he also suggested they would coordinate with the Orange County Transportation Authority, an agency he said could assist in the collaborative efforts.

“This is not a final plan,” he said. “It is still in the works.”In other action, the city council:
• Heard Bates continue to excoriate the state for their unfunded mandates as the city grapples with complying with new organic waste rules. “Where’s the money,” he asked? “It’s unfair and we’re not happy,” he said.
• Thanked Susana Carranza from the Orange County Human Relations Commission for a presentation outlining their efforts to create “safe and respectful communiities” for all.
• Welcomed back Chief Eric Nunez, who had been out on medical leave.
• Heard council member Jordan Nefulda express satisfaction with attending a three-day session for newly elected council members which he said was effective and informative.