Traffic take-down

Manhattan Beach’s oldest civic group says it’s willing to break the law to protest the city refusal to implement the group’s traffic safety requests along what it thinks are the neighborhood’s most dangerous streets.

Leaders of the Manhattan Beach Community Group, who sat down with representatives of the city’s Department of Transportation two weeks ago to go over the group’s plan to make streets safer, say they are angry that the city won’t act, and are readying a peaceful call to arms.

“I’m very frustrated at their lack of response after the meeting,” said Community Group Transportation Committee chairwoman Judy Baron at the civic’s April 13 meeting. “If something is not done in a week or too, we’ll have to take action to get what we want.”

Baron would not specify what type of “civil disobedience” she’d encourage.

In the past, Community Group president Ira Zalcman has threatened to sue the city for installing a bike lane on Oriental Boulevard that he says is a hazard.

Baron, Zalcman and Community Board 15 Chairwoman Theresa Scavo met with Brooklyn Transportation Commissioner Joseph Palmieri on March 29 — two months after the group said the city snubbed them in favor of a traffic meeting with its rival civic group — to discuss their three-page list of street safety proposals for what they call an accident-prone neighborhood.

Requests included removing the bike lane and zebra stripes from Oriental Boulevard and installing a traffic light and “pedestrian crossing” at the intersection of Falmouth Street and Oriental Boulevard, where four-year-old Evan Svirsky was struck and killed by a bus in October.

But more than two weeks after the sit-down, Community Group leaders say that the city has had no further contact with them about their proposals.

“The commissioner has never followed up with us,” Baron said. “I’ll give the city a week or two more, but something really needs to be done immediately.”

When contacted by the Courier, the city said that it is currently studying the Community Group’s proposals.

“We expect to meet with them in the summer to discuss some findings,” said Department of Transportation spokesman Monty Dean.

The Community Group’s negative review of its powwow with Palmieri is drastically different from the opinion that its civic off-shoot, the Neighborhood Association, harbors about its January meeting with the Department of Transportation. Neighborhood Association traffic safety advocate Edmund Dweck triumphed the deals brokered at that meeting, which included the placement of a speed bump on Oxford Street between Shore and Oriental boulevards this spring and signs prohibiting cars from parking in areas closest to intersections. The speed bump has not yet been installed, but most of the signs are up, according to Scavo. “I felt like we were talking to a friend and not a city official,” Dweck said. “I feel great about the meeting.”

Traffic was likely the most talked about problem in Manhattan Beach last year. There were 59 traffic accidents on Oriental Boulevard — including 10 people who were hit — from 2005 to 2010, according to Department of Transportation records. Zalcman says that he only expects the situation to worsen, unless the city fulfills his proposals.

“April and May are a bad time for accidents in Manhattan Beach,” Zalcman said.