Briefs: Olympic-Pico traffic plans on hold; Pearl lecturer says Israel is not surrounded by hostile

The Olympic-West, Pico-East Traffic Initiative has been delayed for three weeks, until March 29

The postponement follows the filing of two lawsuits aimed at stopping the plan. Neither the Los Angeles mayor’s office nor the city attorney’s office, which announced the delay, would comment as to whether it came in response to the legal actions. The Greater West Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce filed suit Feb. 28, alleging the mayor’s plan to proceed with the initiative despite the fact that the City’s Department of Transportation recommended further study, is in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act, a law requiring an environmental impact report if there is “reasonable possibility that the activity will have a significant effect,” according to the Chamber of Commerce press release. The Westwood South of Santa Monica Boulevard Homeowners Association also filed suit.

“We’re very concerned that we have to use the justice system to do what’s right and what’s legal,” Judy Bowen, of the South Carthay Neighborhood Association, said at a press conference on Feb. 28. Bowen opposes the three-tiered plan, which would limit parking on Pico and Olympic boulevards during rush hour, because she feels it would increase traffic on smaller streets in the neighborhood and affect businesses and the environment.

“Until air quality is considered and environmental tests are done, I want the city to be realistic about traffic: Traffic doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it happens because of bad planning,” she said.

The mayor’s office would not comment on the delay, saying only that the plan is set to go into effect on March 29.

“The mayor and the councilman have committed all along to work with the communities and businesses to make appropriate modifications as necessary,” said Matt Szabo, a spokesman from the mayor’s office.

Meanwhile, some changes have been made to the original plan. Instead of continuing to La Brea Avenue, the plan extends from Centinela Avenue to Fairfax Avenue. Peak-hour parking restrictions — the part of the plan that has raised the most objections among local business owners fearing it would hurt commerce — have been scaled back. Peak-hour parking will be permitted between Gateway Boulevard and Centinela Avenue on the north side of Pico Boulevard, and in the afternoon on the north side of Pico between San Vicente and La Cienega boulevards.

Over the next three weeks, a “dialogue” may take place between the parties, Frank Mateljan, a spokesman for the City Attorney said.

“We were only forced to file suit based on the mayor’s decision on Feb. 14,” said Brandon Silverman, of Pico-Olympic Solutions, a group involved in the lawsuits, referring to the mayor’s decision to proceed with the plan. Silverman hopes the community’s concerns will be heard. “This has always been about doing the right thing.”

— Amy Klein, Religion Editor

Jewish Community Foundation Increases Grant-Giving

Increasing its General Community grants by 67 percent from last year, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles announced last week that it has awarded $200,000 in grants to 18 local organizations. The recipients’ missions range from combating gang violence to training math and science teachers to helping homeless parents obtain jobs.

“The Foundation has had a longstanding tradition of seeding and sustaining Los Angeles-area organizations in the community at large,” said Marvin I. Schotland, president and CEO. “It’s an essential part of our mandate because we believe that tikkun olam — repairing the world — means strengthening and supporting the vitality of our entire community, including the Jewish community and the community at large.”

The two largest grants, $25,000 each, went to the American Red Cross’ Major Disaster Readiness program to develop a catastrophic relief plan for the L.A. area and to The Advancement Project for a new program called the Alliance of Mothers of Murdered Children, which aims to curb gang violence.

“After 30 years of law enforcement’s ‘war on gangs,’ L.A. has six times as many gangs and twice as many gang members,” said Connie Rice, co-director of the Advancement Project. “It’s time for a campaign to rescue our children. The Alliance of Mothers of Murdered Children is the moral backbone of the movement to end the gang violence epidemic in Los Angeles.”

Other recipients of grants ranging from $5,000 to $12,500 included Heal the Bay’s Key to the Sea educational program; Beyond Shelter for an employment-support program; the PTA of Pomelo Drive Elementary for expansion of the ballroom dance program at the West Hills school; and Zeitgeist Community Center for an after-school program for low-income and minority children in the Crenshaw area.

For more information about grants from The Foundation, call (323) 761-8705, e-mail, or visit

— Brad A. Greenberg, Senior Writer

David Brooks Bucks Labels at Annual Pearl Lecture

Pundit David Brooks was considered the house liberal when he wrote for the conservative Weekly Standard, and is now tagged as the house conservative for the liberal New York Times.

Whatever the label, the UCLA audience listening last week to Brooks delivering the annual Daniel Pearl lecture, which honors the young American journalist killed by Islamic extremists, could agree that Brooks is a very funny guy.

He is also Jewish, he quickly announced, was Pearl’s colleague at the Wall Street Journal, and his children attend a Jewish day school.

The talk was not notable for its broad theme or penetrating analysis, but yielded an assortment of rapid-fire observations well worth repeating.

On his interviews with political leaders: George W. Bush has tremendous self-confidence and is smarter than he comes across on television.

Hillary Clinton is well regarded by her peers and respected as a professional by her fellow senators, but it’s hard to get behind her thought processes.

Barack Obama looks at problem solutions from the bottom up. He is very perceptive, can read your mind and can summarize your arguments better than you can.