March 14, 2017 § 40 Comments
It is always sad when people who pretend to be rich are too poor to pay for luxuries like fire departments and ambulances.
While Garret and Cynthia Unno of Palos Verdes Estates were banging the drum for stricter enforcement of traffic laws, a/k/a EVIL CYCLISTS ARE RUNNING ALL THE STOP SIGNS AND ENDANGERING OUR 5,000-LB. STEEL BOXES, someone forgot to keep the home fires burning, or rather someone forgot to make sure that there was going to be someone to put the home fires out.
In an impressive push to punish skinny, hairless, underwear-clad bicycle riders, the rabidly unfit PVE bike-hating minority whipped its police department into a veritable ticket-issuing orgasm of stop, cite, and pad the local budget. In addition to stationing Deppity Doofus on Paseo del Mar every Saturday to apprehend the criminal Donut Ride biker gang and cite its riders for blasting through stop signs, the hue and cry reached such fitful proportions that all you had to do to get Mayor King to lose it was whisper “Cyclist! Stop sign!” and she’d sound off like a hound with a treed possum.
And the fever was catching. Councilpersons Jim Goodhart and John Rea, although initially of the opinion that perhaps cyclists weren’t much of a problem in PVE, and might even be vulnerable road users deserving protection, eventually caught the Biker Plague Rage and abandoned all pretense of making reasoned decisions about allocation of police resources vis-a-vis bikes and traffic enforcement.
The more tickets that got written, the hotter the fever grew until Garret, Cynthia, Zaragoza Lady, and the other advocates of SAVE OUR STOP SIGNS had logged so many attaboys and attagirls and lockemups and hangemhighs on NextDoor that the servers started to smoke.
Problem was, in this case where there was smoke there wasn’t any fire. If there had been, the LA Fire Department, under contract with the city, would have come and put it out and the nutty SAVE OUR STOP SIGN folks would have realized that the real issue they had in Palos Verdes Estates wasn’t the honor of their violated stop signs but something much more important: Whether or not they were going to have a fire department and EMS to haul them off on a crash cart when their clogged arteries, hypertension, erectile dysfunction, scabies, stroke, aneurysm, gout, and cardiac arrest kicked in.
Because at the same time the Unnos were training their lasers on the STOP SIGN SANCTITY PROJECT, another cabal of tax-hating, Trump-loving, Everything-for-me-Nothing-for-you residents was quietly putting together a measure that would defund the city’s fire and emergency medical services. They quietly drafted the measure. They quietly put it on the ballot. And they quietly laughed all the way home while the STOP SIGN WORSHIPERS, gloating over the daily count of traffic citations, neglected to mobilize their forces to preserve something that actually mattered.
And when the tax measure that supports fire and EMS services was rejected because it couldn’t pass the hilariously high 2/3 vote ceiling, Mayor King, Defeated Councilman Goodhart, and Defeated Councilman Rea (beaten in his quest for city treasurer) realized that they were now facing a budget shortfall of almost $2.5 million out of a total city budget of $17 million, and the cuts would begin in July.
What does this have to do with flatlander transients pedaling into PVE and making a mockery of the modesty and virginal pureness of the city’s stop signs? Well, this: The body blow to the city’s finances may well lower the boom on the city’s police force.
PVE, unlike the ghettos of Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills, and Rolling Hills Estates, has its very own police force whereas the other peninsula cities contract out with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. PVE has long been willing to pay for the extra cost, which is significant, because it gives the city extreme control over law enforcement (such as directing its manpower at keeping stop signs safe from bicycles) that simply can’t be exercised over the county sheriff’s department, a massive law enforcement agency that had a budget of almost $3 billion in 2015.
Fortunately, the city has an emergency budget of over $9 million, but even lawyer arithmetic will tell you that this rainy day fund won’t last for more than a few seasons of stop sign protection when it has to cover EMS, fire, and the erection of a crying wall for the politicians who’ve been booted out of office. As the high-G note of panic shrieks through the town, a huge contingent of citizens now plans to attend the March 14 council meeting to protest the outcome of a democratic vote that most were too lazy to participate in.
Maybe in the grand scheme of things spending all of your political capital to attack bicycles via anonymous troll web sites, yappy-yap comment threads on NextDoor, and defense of the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch wasn’t so smart after all, unless of course you never plan on needing fire protection in a place frequently ravaged by wildfires, and unless a population of geriatric couch-loungers never plans on waking in the middle of the night with chest pains.
The silliest part is that despite losing their fire and EMS, the angry minority’s attempts to oust cyclists from the peninsula hasn’t even worked. Last time I checked, the Donut Ride was still going strong. And I heard through the grapevine that last Saturday Deppity Doofus sat and waited at Paseo del Mar a lonnnnng time for the ride to come by, but for some funny reason it never did.
And I guess if your house catches fire, you can call the Unnos, the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch, or the city’s hidden-in-plain-view anonymous Internet troll. I’m sure they’ll hurry right over.
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November 11, 2016 § 30 Comments
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:
June 29, 2016 § 29 Comments
It’s funny how chicken people are. Me included.
When Michael Barraclough proposed a protest ride in the city of Palos Verdes Estates to draw attention to the recent three fatalities on the hill, the failure of the police to ever issue a SINGLE citation for violation of the 3-foot passing law, and the steady stream of violent crimes perpetrated against cyclists, I thought it was a good idea and supported it.
Then one by one the critics popped up and I got scared. A couple of people upped the ante by claiming they were “on the side of the cops” and they cited the protest as “cop bashing,” as did the critics who scolded us for making the problem worse by making cagers hate us even more.
“Is that even possible?” I wondered.
The plan behind the protest ride was to ride single file (“Hey, biker assholes! RIDE SINGLE FILE!”) and to stop at every stop sign by putting a foot down (“Fucking bikers BLOW THROUGH ALL THE STOP SIGNS!). Since the city of PVE has the highest ratio of stop signs per foot of roadway in the galaxy, the short little crazy-x loop Barraclough had sketched out would involve lots of stopping.
Once traffic was backed up to San Diego we would call off the ride, retire to our lairs, feast on joints of mutton and tankards of mead, and then gird our loins for battle with the city council. Many would fall in hand-to-hand trench combat. Many would be impaled on the bayonets of the raging council supporters. Many would be crushed by the massive tummies of the fat PVE trust babies who are the subject of a civil rights class action lawsuit for “Being colossal dicks.”
But with three dead cyclists since March and a reign of terror washing over the peninsula, Barraclough had had enough. Enough was too much, in fact, because his letters, impassioned pleas, and crime reports had resulted in very little change on the part of the city. This was in glaring contrast to the reaction at neighboring Rancho Palos Verdes, where our efforts in front of the traffic safety committee were already reaping rewards.
In the end, the only reason I went is because I had said I would. I was plagued with doubt and resigned to failure. What’s worse, I was being led to the slaughter by a fuggin’ Republican, a dude who knew about as much about nonviolent protest as I know about the bond market. I was also convinced that the turnout would be dismal and imagined four skinny wankers in gaudy underwear protesting social injustice on $15,000 bikes.
So I got there and found out I was wrong. The turnout was phenomenal–the PVE police were there in full force.
On the biker side, there were perhaps fifty or sixty riders. Many I knew, but many I did not. They had heard about the protest and came to make their voices heard in the service of victims they never knew at a place they never rode. I couldn’t help but wonder what the turnout would have been if everyone who actually had a dog in the fight had shown up.
Michael gave a great, rabble-rousing speech. The plan was to be safe, be polite, and to follow the law. This was important because a couple of PV dickbags had already shown up to harass us. Armed with video cameras and enough obnoxiousness to fill a Trump rally, they introduced themselves to me as “Rich people.” Then they did a short, rude interview and wandered over to a corner to shout derisively as the ride began.
What became clear to everyone was that a mere forty bikes obeying the letter of the stop sign law, and riding single file, would turn the traffic in PV into a sticky, tangled nest of knotted pubic hair, which it did. In no time the incoming rush hour traffic backed up all the way to PV Boulevard in Redondo Beach, and that was before even half the riders had exited (one by one in single file, of course) from the parking lot.
We even got the bonus of having a Jeep filled with snarking, snot-nosed, entitled little high school shits cursing and yelling at us as they sat stuck in traffic, the smelting sun baking the fifteen IQ points shared between them.
Once the stoppage hit critical mass, the police stepped in. They manned the intersection with a traffic cop and began moving the cars. After fifteen or twenty minutes they had cleared the intersection. We did one more glory loop and called it a day.
The police were beyond professional. They’d been alerted in advance, they let us have our say, and then they got things moving. At one point a rider fell over and a cop cruiser rushed over to make sure he was okay. The police seemed embarrassed by the lard-assed Rich People on the corner, and the profanities of the snotnosers were captured on video by a TV crew, videographer David Brindon, and others.
Not only were no PV Citizens harmed in the making of the protest, none was made late for a single double-tall soy latte with choco sprinkles, and many got to marvel at Jeff Hazeltine’s surfboard-carrier that was hauling a 300-foot surfboard in his wake. We bikers danced a victory jig and all dispersed except for seven or eight of us, who waited for an hour and a half until the city council meeting began.
Of course with that much time to kill a small group did a quick tour of the Wanky Super Power Loop, a Strava segment that is now more famous than the Stelvio. We returned in time to have coffee at the Ranch Market and to plot our strategy.
Tom’s was the best, of course. “Lasagna,” he said as he stuck his fork in the Ranch Market’s signature carry-out meal. “I’m having lasagna.”
We all agreed that the city would have not comeback to that.
The city council opened the meeting for public comment. The only people who had shown up to address the council and who weren’t addressing an item on the agenda were the cyclists, some of whom (ahem) hadn’t brought a change of clothes and stank like last Thursday’s dumpster and were ringed with enough white powder to start a salt lick. Barraclough, Delia Park, Michelle Landes, Joey Cooney, Jose Godinez, Tom Duong, Geoffrey Louis, and I each went to the lectern and asked the city council to act on the pressing issue of bike safety in PVE and the lack of law enforcement with regard to cager-on-biker crime.
When the last speaker sat down, we got a couple of big surprises.First was Police Chief Kepley. We’d made it clear that he and his department had comported themselves professionally during the protest, and during virtually all of our encounters with the PV cops. Kepley made comments that indicated a clear understanding of the conflict and the issues, and followed it up with an invitation for collaboration between us and them. It was awesome. No recriminations, no victim blaming, and no imperatives to ride single file.
Next, Mayor King and councilman James Goodhart thanked us for coming. What I mean is THEY THANKED US FOR COMING. US. SWEATY BIKER NUTS. THEY THANKED US. WITH THE WORDS “THANK YOU.” SINCERELY.
They acknowledged the issues and promised to begin the planning process that would address the issue of a comprehensive bike plan in PVE, much as we had heard from the traffic safety committee at the city of Rancho Palos Verdes. Goodhart encouraged us to keep showing up and to take our rightful place at the table. He added that the media attention Barraclough had brought to the city was good, and exhorted us to come to the July 6 PVE traffic safety committee meeting, as well as the one in September.
Radically different from other PVE council meetings I’ve attended, there was no “outsider v. locals” vibe and it was clear that the council was disturbed about the deaths and the assaults. If anything, the obnoxious slobs with the video cams helped our cause for this simple reason: When forced to choose between smelly, salt-stained people with kids and grandkids and jobs and real lives, or entitled nasty people filled with beer, the choice was easy.
We left as a group when the council went on to its regularly scheduled business, and outside the building got a chance to speak with one of the sergeants. He acknowledged the issues and it was clear that changes are in the works. He was friendly, professional, and did his best to respond to the pointed questions regarding the department’s failure to ever issue a single 3-foot citation. (Note to world: Don’t get on the hot seat when Delia Park is asking the questions.) Best of all, it was crystal clear that Barraclough’s decision to hold a protest ride was the turning point. The sergeant showed a thorough understanding of the issues and he made the effort to let us know we were being heard.
There’s no way to bring back the dead, but it was hard not come away with the conviction that the PVE police, mayor, and city council are ready and willing to work with us to make sure that this becomes a better, safer, more enjoyable place to ride a bike.
And I hate to say I’m an optimist, but you know what? I kind of am.
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