There is no “City program in the process of being finalized and implemented” to create “immediate and dire” parking restrictions in residential neighborhoods as described in a recent letter.
The Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Committee (EDPC) on which I serve is considering ways to improve emergency access for fire apparatus and ambulances while minimizing inconvenience to residents. Any such recommendations will be subject to Council review, and there is much work to be done before that happens.
The Emergency Access Improvement Program came about in 2015 when our fire chief recommended an effort to improve “everyday” emergency access on streets where medical and fire response is particularly difficult.
That was in preference to expansion of a “red flag” parking restriction program that might improve emergency access only a few days each year at best.
EDPC endorsed the Fire Department’s recommendation and was asked to work with city staff to improve life-safety response in our most at-risk neighborhoods based upon General Plan policies enacted after the 1993 fire but never fully implemented.
The Fire Department should be commended for alerting council to this dangerous situation and council commended for seeking ways to improve public and responder safety.
It would be ideal if emergency access could be improved citywide all at once. Regrettably, that’s no more practical than simultaneously repaving every street in the city or undergrounding all of our dangerous electric utility wires in one fell swoop.
The “alphabet streets” off Alta Vista were selected as the initial pilot site for emergency access improvement after EDPC members and council liaison undertook a field evaluation of several neighborhoods in cooperation with the Fire Department.
This program is being developed in the most transparent way possible. Initial proposals are being revised in response to resident feedback following a community meeting hosted by police and fire in August and multiple EDPC meetings last fall where residents were invited to share their concerns.
More such meetings will be held before any recommendations are even brought to council for consideration.
One option we need to guard against, however, is doing nothing. All of us who live in access-impaired neighborhoods are at unnecessary risk if emergency responders are delayed when seconds make the difference between life and death in a fire or medical emergency.
This letter was not sent on behalf of EDPC or the city.
Matt Lawson, Laguna Beach