By Michael Wamback, photos by Michael Wamback
Council Member Mike Bonin and the Venice Neighborhood Council, in an ongoing effort to provide quality entertainment for tourists ﬂocking to Venice, have authorized a demolition derby. The event is being held daily on Riviera between Westminster and Windward.
Those of us who live in this neighborhood for years have been warning of the dangers of increased traffic, owing to hyper development. In addition, a number of popular apps have been routing traffic through our neighborhood as an alternative to congested Lincoln and Abbot Kinney. We have been warning that it was only a matter of time until someone was hurt or killed by cars racing along Riviera. But to our consistently reactive Council Member and a VNC more infatuated with ice rinks and topless beaches, our warnings have fallen on deaf ears.
On Sunday morning, September 27th, our warnings were proven correct. A speeding white crossover SUV T-boned a Range Rover at the intersection of Market and Riviera, sending the demolished Range Rover careening into a parked car. It was a miracle that nobody was killed. And while the spectacle of the ﬁrst round of the Riviera Demolition Derby drew a number of entertained neighbors, we all agreed it was the kind of entertainment we can do without.
So, what would it take to improve safety on Riviera? Not much more than a couple of cheap stop signs and a couple of gallons of white paint. The introduction of an additional 4-way stop at Market at Riviera and painted crosswalks at the same intersection as well as at Riviera at Windward and Riviera at San Juan would help to alleviate this problem. In particular, the additional 4-way stop would break up the long stretch between Windward and Westminster, where racing cars often top speeds of over 40MPH. Indeed, such a 4-way stop would likely have prevented the accident and injury that occurred. And since Riviera isn’t a main thoroughfare, it won’t signiﬁcantly impact trafﬁc ﬂow on Main or AK. All it would do is make our neighborhood safer by slowing cars down a bit.
Our City Council Member apparently continues to embrace the strategy of wait until someone is killed, and then propose a study to see what temporary, feel good, stop-gap measures can be implemented. God forbid that he do something proactive before someone is hurt. Will it take more death and carnage like on the boardwalk before the city recognizes and addresses this rather easily solved problem? Or, since our Council Person prefers to do “studies” rather than implement solutions – why not commission a full and proper trafﬁc study for Venice?
Even a blind person can see that the volume and ﬂow of trafﬁc on our streets has shifted dramatically, mostly owing to the residential development to the south of Venice and the huge inﬂux of commuter trafﬁc it generates, further exasperated by the over-population of high trafﬁc generating restaurants and bars on Abbot Kinney. The arrangement of stop signs and trafﬁc lights that once served Venice adequately are no longer up to the task, and a new arrangement should be considered. One would like to think that the VNC would be a voice for this, but we suppose that would require the Co-Chairman of the Public Safety Committee to put down his cell phone and stop texting and surﬁng the web long enough at meetings to pay attention. But who knows, the loud crushing of steel and lives only a few blocks away from his domicile may have been enough to break though whatever riveting posting on Facebook has him engrossed. One can dream.
But with a Council Member who doesn’t act until it’s too late, and a Neighborhood Council too preoccupied with titties and freezing water to pay attention to much else, I suppose the best we can hope for is to bring lawn chairs and continue to enjoy the spectacle of Venice’s own Demolition Derby. And hey, it might even be an opportunity to raise some money selling T-shirts and it could be promoted as a fun activity for the entire family.