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Frustrated Brentwood residents speak out over Sunset traffic

L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin (center) meets with Brentwood residents frustrated by the increasing traffic on Sunset Boulevard near the I-405.
Meghan McCarty/KPCC
Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin, center, meets with Brentwood residents frustrated by the increasing traffic on Sunset Boulevard near the I-405.

About 200 Brentwood residents attended a community meeting held by Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin Saturday to call for a fix to the ever-increasing traffic on Sunset Boulevard near the I-405.

"It can take folks an hour to drive a mile and that’s not an exaggeration. It’s really, really bad," said Bonin, adding the Sunset congestion is among the issues constituents complain about the most.

Those at the meeting didn't hold back from complaining about the traffic as they questioned the councilman, listened to panel discussions and offered suggestions for improvements, particularly along the length from Kenter Avenue to the entrance to I-405.

Though that stretch of Sunset Boulevard curves through high-income residential neighborhoods, it also serves as a vital connection to several schools and major destinations, including UCLA and the Getty Center. The roadway further funnels traffic from several canyon neighborhoods that have no other outlet.

Bonin gathered comment on a range of possible solutions to the congestion, among them changing traffic signal timings and street markings, limiting turns or implementing tolls on Sunset during peak hours.

But several participants complained that the meeting failed to address their biggest concern: a planned construction project by the Archer School for Girls on Sunset Boulevard that many worry will worsen the traffic.

"That's the elephant in the room," said Janet Sobell, who blames Bonin for allowing the construction plan to move forward.

A group of area homeowners associations known as the Sunset Coalition has sued the city over the school's plans and is rallying to prevent future development in the neighborhood.

"It already takes almost an hour to go the final mile of Sunset to the 405," said David Wright, co-director for the coalition. "If that traffic is conflated with Archer's construction, that's a problem."

Bonin responded that the traffic problem on Sunset is bigger than a single project and requires a holistic approach.

"We're still a year away from that project and we already have absolutely incredible traffic on Sunset," he said. "We need to look at what the problem is now."