Residents Oppose Removal of Coldwater Canyon Lanes

Residents of Beverly Hills expressed overwhelming opposition to the removal of left-turn pockets on Coldwater Canyon Drive during an Aug. 3 Traffic and Parking Commission meeting.

As a monthslong water-main replacement project on Coldwater Canyon Drive continues, the city’s Traffic and Parking Commission considered how the street should be laid out once the work is completed. As evidenced by public comment, the consensus from the area’s residents was that maintaining left-turn lanes was more important than creating space for additional street parking.

The Traffic and Parking Commission voted unanimously to recommend to City Council a layout that maintains left-hand turn lanes and the installation of new crosswalks. 

City staff recommended left-turn lanes be retained at all locations along Coldwater Canyon Drive that currently have them—at Loma Linda Drive, Lindacrest Drive, Lago Vista Drive and Monte Cielo Drive. Staff recommended removing the present left-turn pocket at Cabrillo Drive, which only serves as access to two residential properties. The change provides for an additional 15 possible parking spaces between Loma Linda Drive and Lindacrest Drive, providing a total of more than 80 parking spaces along Coldwater Canyon Drive.

Staff also recommended the installation of three crosswalks. They would be located south of Monte Cielo Drive and at Lindacrest Drive and Loma Linda Drive. Currently, there are no marked crosswalks between Beverly Drive and the city limits at Monte Cielo Drive.

Coldwater Canyon Drive, classified as a “major collector” street, carries significant commuter traffic between the Westside and San Fernando Valley. Coldwater Canyon Drive within the city of Beverly Hills spans approximately 0.9 miles between Beverly and Monte Cielo drives and has a posted speed limit of 30 mph. 

For decades, the street had one 17-foot-wide travel lane in each direction, a narrow center section and left-turn pockets for each intersecting side street. That striping layout, however, did not meet design standards or best practices. Additionally, over the years residents shared concerns over issues associated with the striping layout, including excessive speeding and illegal passing. Consequently, the current striping was replaced this spring with a temporary new layout that removed the contentious center section while creating 10.5-foot travel lanes and 9.5-foot parking lanes. The left-turn pockets to intersecting side streets were retained but were shortened to the minimum safe length to maximize the availability of parking along the street, according to a city report.

To help determine the new striping layout, in February 2021 city staff mailed out community surveys to impacted residents offering two options: a center-turn lane for left turns into driveways, or on-street parking, as the roadway was not wide enough to include both. Both options included left-turn pockets at intersections to facilitate left turns onto residential side streets.

Now, the city is exploring how the busy street ought to be laid out on a permanent basis. Residents previously shared they wanted more parking, prompting city officials to study the impact removing the left-turn pockets would have. Working with transportation consultant Fehr and Peers, the city determined more on-street parking would only be possible with the removal of left-hand turn lanes. But, ultimately, the call for removing lanes fell flat with dozens of residents voicing opposition to the lanes’ removal.

David Fischer, a resident of Monte Cielo Drive, said there’s plenty of parking on Coldwater Canyon Drive so the city does not need to be concerned with creating any more. The exception, he said, was when residents throw parties for events like the Academy Awards or the High Holidays. Otherwise, there’s sufficient parking, he said. 

Larry Murphy, a resident of Loma Linda Drive, said he understood the complexity of transportation and parking issues but agreed with keeping the left-turn pockets.

Peter Ostroff, who serves on the city’s Planning Commission, lives on Lago Vista Drive, a residential street that intersects with Coldwater Canyon Drive. During public comment, he argued that left-turn pockets facilitate the dangerous passing of cars, but said he understood the opposition to their removal. He spoke in favor of removing only the one left-turn pocket at Cabrillo Drive. 

“Doing something is better than doing nothing,” Ostroff said.

City Council has the final say on the plan’s future and will vote on the proposal at an upcoming meeting. 

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