Viewpoint: Traffic and Brentwood School

By Lauren Cole
Special to the Palisades News

You may have received an email from Councilman Mike Bonin touting that Brentwood School will meet Bonin’s “Sunset Standard” and reduce its peak-hour traffic by 40 percent. I wish it were true.

Brentwood School plans to increase enrollment by a whopping 38 percent from 695 to 960 students. They can increase to 775 students (11.5 percent) immediately. Once the middle-school building is completed, the school can increase enrollment to 850 (22 percent increase) and then over the next three years go to 960 students.

The proposed Brentwood Middle School would be on Barrington Place, just south of Sunset Boulevard.
The proposed Brentwood Middle School would be on Barrington Place, just south of Sunset Boulevard.

Westside residents were supposed to get a major reduction in peak-hour traffic. The City Planning Commission (CPC) issued a ruling December 13 requiring Brentwood School, located at the gridlocked intersection of Sunset and Barrington Place, to reduce its peak-hour traffic by 40 percent.

The CPC’s ruling was issued after the Brentwood Community Council (the umbrella group for over a dozen Homeowner associations in Brentwood) spent over a year negotiating with the Council Office and Brentwood School to reduce the school’s traffic impact. I was the chair of that committee.

The Archer School for Girls, also at Sunset/ Barrington, abides by strict transportation restrictions. If Brentwood School had similar requirements, it would contribute 45-percent less peak-hour traffic than it does today—even with a 38-percent enrollment increase.

The CPC agreed with the Community that Brentwood School must significantly reduce its peak-hour traffic.

So, what happened? Why don’t Westside residents and commuters get the 40-percent reduction that the City Planning Department required?

In late January, Councilman Bonin and Brentwood School negotiated a new agreement that made significant changes to the CPC’s ruling.

This revised agreement introduces several loopholes into the CPC’s conditions, including:

  • Brentwood School can enroll as many as 959 students and only reduce its traffic by 12.5 percent, not 40 percent. BWS can increase afternoon traffic.
  • BWS was required to install a parking reservation system so that it could limit the number of guests driving to campus for events and athletics. That requirement is gone.
  • The CPC required Brentwood School to meet a daily cap on peak hour trips. Now it only has to meet an average target over a semester. This allows the school to increase traffic many days per year and still meet its target.
  • BWS can substantially reduce its requirements by helping students from Paul Revere Charter School and other schools get buses.
  • These buses are coordinated and paid for by Charter School parents, not by BWS.
  • To get this “credit,” BWS never has to verify that these buses drive on routes that reduce peak-hour traffic on Sunset, or that students signing up for the buses actually ride them both to and from school.

It is disappointing that a councilman who runs on a promise to reduce traffic on Sunset Boulevard would throw away this opportunity to actually meet that objective.

(Editor’s note: Lauren Cole is the Transportation Representative to the Brentwood Community Council, but the views she expresses are her own.)

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