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BUSINESSES UNHAPPY WITH PLAN TO REPLACE CROSSWALK.

Byline: Dominic Berbeo Staff Writer

After a yearlong dispute between Sherman Oaks business owners and the city, officials said Wednesday they will replace a Ventura Boulevard crosswalk that had been removed two years ago.

Business owners said they still are not happy because they want the crosswalk returned to its original spot at Vesper Avenue and closer to their businesses, not at Cedros Avenue, which is the site of the planned replacement.

They said the lack of the crosswalk has cut foot traffic in half and caused a 30 percent drop in business to nearby stores.

``Business along Ventura Boulevard has dropped steadily over the past year, and the city doesn't care,'' said Albert Nissan, who owns Gulans Mediterranean Cuisine. He helped gather a petition with 45 signatures from local merchants last June that prompted City Councilman Mike Feuer to request a new crosswalk from the Department of Transportation.

The battle over the crosswalk comes after a statewide transportation report released last week showed Los Angeles as the most dangerous place for pedestrians and concluded that local government has given priority to cars over foot traffic.

Despite Feuer's urgent request in July, Department of Transportation engineers oppose a crosswalk east of Vesper Avenue because they say it would slow down cars.

``A crosswalk there is no good because it would hinder motor vehicle traffic,'' said Irwin Chodash, East Valley transportation engineer for the transportation agency.

``Besides,'' he said, ``it's not hurting the businesses because our studies show that there simply isn't very much pedestrian traffic along Ventura Boulevard. I think people park in one destination and do their business and go. They don't want to walk.''

The problem began two years ago when the city removed a crosswalk and signal at Vesper Avenue to alleviate traffic near the La Reina Fashion Plaza, which opened down the street in 1986.

The transportation department has promised to put in a new crosswalk on the eastern corner of Cedros Avenue 160 feet west of Vesper Avenue, to allow pedestrians to cross the street without walking to the existing crosswalk on the western side.

But Feuer's letter to the transportation department said the area has been designated a ``pedestrian oriented area'' in the Ventura Boulevard Specific Plan.

``A mid-block signalized pedestrian crossing, east of Vesper Avenue, would encourage pedestrian activity on both sides of the boulevard,'' the letter says. ``I urge you to begin the process of installing such a traffic device as soon as possible.''

Jessica Copen, a spokeswoman for Mayor Richard Riordan, said the mayor has asked the DOT to review the situation and ``find a solution that best meets the needs of the pedestrians, the merchants and motorists as soon as possible.''

Quinetta Chelsea, who owns The Horseshoe Coffeehouse, says she's upset by the loss of business over the past year and the lack of a clear answer from the city regarding a crosswalk.

``Not only that,'' she said, ``but a lot of people are forced to jaywalk every day, and it's dangerous. I don't know what else we can do.''

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Map: Crosswalk being installed - Crosswalk removed - Sherman Oaks

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 7, 1999
Words:523
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