Street closes after neighbors show concern about traffic

Joseph Wilson

Daily Sundial

Etiwanda Avenue was closed permanently between Plummer and Halsted streets Jan. 2 after a traffic study indicated that several homeowners were concerned about the flow of traffic, according to university officials.

The closure of Etiwanda Avenue came after an April 2004 traffic study that was aimed to document traffic during peak hours, said Colin Donahue, director of Facilities Planning at CSUN.

The traffic study was initiated at the request of concerned residents in the neighborhood on Halsted Street and Etiwanda Avenue.

Results of the study showed that several non-CSUN students were using Etiwanda Avenue as a shortcut to get to Nordhoff Street, Donahue said.

Donahue said closing a section of Etiwanda Avenue between Plummer and Halsted streets helps achieve a more pedestrian core for the campus and forces cars to use Reseda Boulevard.

“(The closure) is something that has been worked on for a few years with the neighborhood and city council,” Donahue said.

The 2004 traffic study predates the Envision 2035 master plan, he said.

Donahue said prior to the closure on Etiwanda Avenue, Los Angeles City Councilmember Greig Smith’s office asked Facilities Planning to delay the closure of Etiwanda Avenue after the neighborhood study was conducted to confirm whether residents wanted the section of the street closed.

During the first week of January, the councilman’s office polled neighborhood residents about the closing of Etiwanda Avenue. Residents in the neighborhood gave their approval to permanently close the section of Etiwanda Avenue between Plummer and Halsted Streets, Donahue said.

After receiving a call from a resident who opposed closing the section of Etiwanda Avenue, Smith did a walk through the neighborhood. Smith started out on Lassen Street and ended his walk on Halsted Avenue, said Hannah Lee, transportation deputy for Smith.

“The councilman wanted to take into consideration the opposition and he acted on it,” Lee said.

The walk through took place on Jan. 12 and 13 and covered 23 houses in the neighborhood around Etiwanda Avenue, Lee said.

“Councilman Smith wanted to get a full grasp of what the neighborhood wanted,” Lee said. “Up to the last hour.”

Smith knocked on neighborhood doors and asked residents about whether or not on the partial closure of Etiwanda Avenue.

A questionnaire with one statement written by a resident opposing the closure and one by the council in support of the street closing was left on the doors of residents who didn’t answer the door during the walk through, Lee said.

“From working with the community over the past two years we were convinced that the closure was something the community wanted,” Lee said.

After the neighborhood survey, 13 residents approved the Etiwanda Avenue closing and two opposed the closing, Lee said.

Marian Burman, who lives at the corner of Darby and Plummer, said she was stunned by the closure of Etiwanda Avenue.

“I have used Etiwanda (Avenue) for so long,” Burman said. “It was very quiet.”

Burman said she relied on Etiwanda Avenue to avoid heavy traffic and to reach her University Place apartment.

“There has to be other solutions rather than clogging (the street),” Burman said. “That little strip of Etiwanda (Avenue) is so important.”

Burman, who has lived at the University Place Apartments for 15 years, said utilization of Etiwanda Avenue was crucial to traffic flow during the earthquake in 1994.

“I will never forget how important (Etiwanda) was,” Burman said. “It’s a great little street.”

CSUN student Robert Hill, fourth-year criminal justice major, said students will be inconvenienced by the closed section of Etiwanda Avenue.

“I can guarantee you there’s going to be accidents,” Hill said. “The parking situation will get worse (along Halsted).”

Bart Roberts, third-year undeclared major, lives in student residence along with Hill at the corner of Halsted Street and Etiwanda Avenue.

“We are probably going to have more people trying to park in front of our house,” Roberts said.

The section of Etiwanda Avenue between Halsted and Plummer Streets is permanently closed to confine traffic to Reseda Boulevard.

“The students will come and go,” Burman said. “But the people who live here are the ones impacted the most.”

Joseph Wilson can be reached joseph.wilson.65@csun.edu.