We showed up in force for the PVE City Council meeting on November 8, beginning with sign protests at Malaga Cove Plaza. Rather than riding our bikes, about twenty people stood on the various corners and held up signs that said “Bikes May Use Full Lane,” “3 Cyclists Dead!” and various other proclamations of our rights. We even had a young protester up in a tree!
It was fun sitting on the corner while the crazypants video nuts stood around and took videos of the protest, and the only non-fun part was that I’d pulled my fascius buttassicus muscle and had to stay seated holding up my signs. Roughly one in five cars came through the intersection, saw the signs, and gave us a shout or a thumbs up, and only a handful cursed, told us to ride on the sidewalk, or advised us to go die.
Living up to its moniker as Dick City, after the protest ended I hobbled across the street, hunched over from the spazzed-out back muscles, and a nasty old woman in a giant red Buick rolled down her window and screeched, “Get out of the street!”
In the crosswalk. So classy!
The huge benefit to holding up signage at the intersection was that passing motorists understood why we were there. After the previous protest ride one citizen had approached the group and said that people had no idea what we were advocating for or why we were riding around the plaza. It was a great point and we took it to heart, and of course our signage proved our point about BMUFL signage: IT WORKS.
People saw it, read it, understood it, and went away knowing more than when they got there. It also completely destroyed the NIMBY, Special Snowflake on the Hill theory espoused by Garrett Unno, Zoe Unno, Cynthia Bianchi, and Shannon Zaragoza that signage is unnecessary or that it somehow has to be part of a big, multi-year project.
Put up the fucking signs already.
After an hour and a half of signing we went over to the city council chambers where the mayor opened things up by praising a group of young students for taking an active interest in city government and becoming participants in democracy. Too bad the kids didn’t stick around to see the shenanigans pulled by Mayor King as she squashed dissent, illegally limited speaking times based on speech content, and showed a stony, cold heart to people’s pleas for help.
Our council meeting strategy was different because Mayor King had made it clear that she had dug in and not about to put BMUFL signs back on the agenda. In order to shut us up she had moved the meeting back to 5:30 from its regular time of 7:30, hoping that people wouldn’t be able to get off work (doesn’t she know cyclists are all unemployed?). Then she shoved public comment back to the very end of the meeting, hoping that by forcing us to wait around we’d give up and go home.
Sadly, both ploys failed. More than fifty people showed up to the combined protest and council meeting, including:
So instead of waiting patiently for our speaking “opportunity” which Mayor King had shoved to the end of the meeting, we objected to the entire consent calendar and submitted speaker cards for each agenda item so that we could provide the council with our input on the entirety of city matters up for consideration.
Kristie was brilliant and eloquent in her opposition to the city’s proposal to begin submitting draft pro/con arguments for ballot measures; Andrew N. spoke knowledgeably about the proposed increase in city funds for police patrols at Lunada Bay; Greg L. was emphatic opposing the “bad hombres” causing trouble in the city; and numerous people weighed in on the sunset provision for the fire department tax. They were so sick of us that Mayor King didn’t even bother to append the obligatory “thank you” after some of us finished.
Mayor King was livid and rather than giving each speaker the 3-minutes of time typically allotted for citizen input on agenda items, she slashed the speaking time per speaker to two minutes and then limited total discussion time to each item to six minutes. This was a blatant violation of the Brown Act and of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in White v. City of Norwalk
, where the court held that public meetings may be regulated by a city council with regard to limits on speaking time, but those time limits must be content neutral. In other words, you can’t give lots of speaking time to people you like, and reduced time to those you don’t–which is exactly what she did when favored residents were given unlimited time at the lectern, and goofy cyclists cut off after sixty seconds.
If Mayor King pulls this stunt again, she can look forward to a lawsuit in federal court, and yes, the unemployed, broke-ass bike community includes hitters who are champing at the bit to fund that particular lawsuit.
The great thing about our strategy is that it really showed the need for education, both on our end and on the council’s. There is so much happening in PVE that is completely bizarre, like the $150,000 renovation of Lunada Bay Plaza designed to make it more attractive, while at the same time the city ignores bike safety and bike accommodations.
Don’t they understand that making the plaza attractive means having more pedestrians and bike traffic? Even the city council can’t possibly believe that the goal behind the plaza’s beautification is to fill the tiny area up with cars … or can they?
Finally, stuck at the ass-end of the meeting, we got to speak regarding bike signage. Mayor King made the most insincere, cold-hearted speech you’ve ever heard, and I encourage you to listen to it here
, at about 2:44:58, as she tried to deflect blame by showing the fakest sympathy for the recent horrific collision a few days prior, where a person in a car rear-ended a person on a bike resulting in catastrophic injuries.
Rather than seeing this as a call to action, she stonily advised us–after chopping our speaking time to one minute and limiting the comment period to just a few minutes–that she had no plans whatsoever to put BMUFL signage back on the agenda.
Of course we had known from the beginning that she wasn’t backing down, which is why we came provisioned with much pizza, apples, meatballs, cupcakes, and other healthy party food. Hey, it’s the new normal: Twice a month the PVE city council will get to listen to the input of concerned citizens who have taken an active interest in the minutiae of the city’s governance in an attempt to better understand why they refuse to install a handful of signs.
Even with Mayor King working overtime to cut the meeting short, chop speaking times, and limit discussion, the 5:30 meeting dragged on so that we didn’t get home until after 9:30 PM, which will hopefully give the council a great idea of what future meetings hold: Beginning at the normal time of 7:30, they can expect to finish up close to midnight.
It’s the new normal because rather than doing the right thing they’ve invited the whole cycling world to get involved in their deliberations, and it’s interesting to see how it all really is related: $50,000 to tighten up enforcement for surfers where no fatality has ever occurred, but not one single nickel for signs to improve safety where three people have died. $150,000 to pretty up a plaza, but not one single nickel for signs to ensure the safety of those who visit. Long term taxation for fire department services that keep residents safe, but not one fucking nickel for signage to protect “outsiders” who travel through on public roads.
And as Mayor King is finding out, there may be ways to get rid of cyclists, but tiring them out isn’t one of them, although they did post custom notes telling us we couldn’t eat inside and we couldn’t park our bikes indoors anymore. Next up are hall monitors.
It was pretty awesome spending the afternoon and evening with friends, eating pizza, hanging out, watching Mayor King flagrantly break the law, doing iPhone research on various agenda items, eating pizza, speaking on behalf of the dead and injured, eating pizza, and being happy. And eating pizza.
The contrast between the happy and enthused cyclists and the sour NIMBYs, not to mention the members of the council who looked miserable having to listen to flatlanders and transients opine on issues affecting their Special Snowflake on the Hill was incredible. I wanted to hand each of them a bike and an Rx to ride three times weekly. It really works.
Huge thanks to all who donated money or bought swag to help fund these activities. On to the next one, which is DECEMBER 13, 2016, 7:30 P.M. AT THE CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS, 340 Palos Verdes Drive West, PALOS VERDES ESTATES, 90274.
Maybe we’ll get in some golf practice, too.