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Proposed Changes to Katella Intersections Draw Local Ire

About a dozen Los Alamitos residents spoke out against potential changes to the Katella Avenue/Enterprise Drive intersection and Katella/Lexington Drive intersection at a City Council meeting Monday.

Some were angry, some were surprised and some were simply baffled.

At Monday's Los Alamitos City Council meeting, about a dozen people spoke out against proposed changes to the Katella Avenue/Lexington Drive intersection and the Katella/Enterprise Drive intersection and against a proposed left-hand turn lane into 24-Hour Fitness in Cypress.

City Council members were scheduled to discuss whether to allow southbound Lexington Drive traffic to travel through the intersection at Katella, whether to allow an eastbound Katella left-turn lane into the 24 Fitness parking lot and whether to allow Cottonwood Church to remove the signal at Katella and Cottonwood Way and install a new signal at Katella and Enterprise.

The residents who spoke during public comment said they didn't want the changes made.

Rob Feldman, a 23-year Los Alamitos resident, said he was “kind of blindsided” by the item.

“A signal on Enterprise? We already have a ton of traffic,” Feldman said. “I can imagine what’s going to be floating through our neighborhood, especially Carrier Row (if the changes are made). We have an agreement in place, and all of the sudden, we want to go to the city of Cypress to reenter negotiations?”

That agreement is one of the reasons residents spoke out – the intersections have a long of history.

According to a city staff report, in March 2004 the Cypress City Council approved the proposed Cottonwood Christian Center, a seven-building 495,000-square- foot church campus and three parking structures on a 31.07 acre parcel of land located on a portion of the Cypress Golf Course at the northeast corner of Katella Avenue and Lexington Drive.

In response, Los Alamitos sued Cypress and Cottonwood for “failure to adequately identify and mitigate traffic impacts associated with the Cottonwood Project.”

In July 2004, the three parties settled and agreed to follow a local traffic plan.

One of the plan's requirements: southbound traffic on Lexington Drive wouldn’t be allowed to go southbound past Katella.

A number of commenters said that they didn't know why the issue was before the council again. 

Johanna Schleuter, who lives on Howard Avenue, said that the latest suggested traffic changes didn’t have anything to do with what local residents wanted.

“There’s no benefit to us at all, and the benefit I see is for the city of Cypress, and we’re the city of Los Alamitos,” Schleuter said.  “We in the neighborhood are going to stand our ground.”

“Leave us out of your political dance with Cypress," Schleuter added.

Los Alamitos resident, J.M. Ivler, who lives in Carrier RoW, said a number of residents are wondering if there’s already been an agreement with Cypress to put in a new signal or make the turn lane into 24-Hour Fitness.

“When we see the wires that are already going into the ground, when we see someone out there surveying a turn pocket, you gotta know, we think that the deal is done and we are getting hosed," Ivler said.

After the meeting, City Manager Angie Avery and Mayor Troy Edgar said that they had not heard of any renovations being done on those intersections in Los Alamitos.

Avery said that if there was any work being done, it might have been in the Cypress city limits, not in Los Alamitos.

Near the end of the six-hour meeting, Edgar thanked the commenters and said, the council will “have to see where this process leads us.”

After the meeting, Edgar said there were not any behind the scenes dealings with Cypress about the proposed street changes.

“Not that I’m aware of," Edgar said.

Mayor Pro Tem Marilynn Poe recused herself from the discussion because of potential conflict of interest and said “one portion of the item is where my house is located."  

Initially, Edgar proposed postponing the item for later discussion.

Council member Gerri Graham-Mejia asked Edgar to allow the locals to speak during public comments even if no action was taken on the item. Edgar agreed.

"I thank you for allowing them to speak," Mejia said to Edgar at the end of the meeting. "I just think that was the right thing to do."

After public comments, no action was taken on the item.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK IN THE COMMENTS

Should the city make the changes to Katella?

Nancy Hathcock September 18, 2012 at 03:26 PM
I agree that the city should allow traffic southbound on Lexington to continue over Katella. I travel to the base via this route and see the following: Illegally crossing Katella heading south, turning left off Lexington and an immediate right on the first street east of Lexington, then a right on Farquhar and a left to the base or to the baseball field. I also see people turn right onto Katella and make a u-turn to then make a right on Lexington. This is silly. One lane should allow people to go cross Katella.
Mel September 18, 2012 at 04:17 PM
What I want to know is why this was brought up again? hmmmm
enea ostrich September 18, 2012 at 04:44 PM
I am a patron of 24 Hour Fitness and I think it's ludicrous to have a left turn lane into it, period. It is quite dangerous enough with the opposite side of the road, where 24 Hour fitness patrons are making a left hand U Turn in the left turn lane (shouldn’t do it due to the awkward angle, but they always do!). I also think the westbound traffic bottlenecks at Cottonwood Church light and that sets off a long line of cars never seen before that traffic light came to be. If Los Alamitos is really truly planning on fixing traffic, then no more lights are needed, no more turn lanes either. Set your damn lights to sync together like Long Beach does on many busy streets. That will make everyone happier, at least for the most part!!!!!!!!!!!!
Richard September 18, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Again Los Alamitos standbys and does nothing as first Seal Beach and now Cypress forces their will on Los Alamitos and Rossmoor residents.
Richard September 18, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Again Los Alamitos City officials standby and first allow Seal Beach and now Cypress to impose their wills on Los Alamitos residents, Los Alamitos already allows Long Beach Police to issue citations within it's borders, what's next ?
Dave Emerson September 18, 2012 at 05:12 PM
For the time being, the City needs to stick to the 2004 agreement. Any changes to that agreement should be as part of a broadly developed very long term plan for our small town. Doing things piecemeal with no broadly accepted long term plan is why Los Alamitos is as chopped up as it is!
met00 September 18, 2012 at 05:57 PM
As a part of the team of residents that participated in the agreement I will tell you exactly what we (and Cypress) were thinking. 1) Lexington would go through and would relieve traffic off Bloomfield 2) Los Al wanted to make sure that Farquar didn't get more impact, Cypress didn't want Denni impacted 3) Los Al had the better negotiation position so we closed off "straight across Katella" and forced "straight across Cerritos" (just like we forced the light at Cottonwood Way and no light at Enterprise). BUT, we gave them an out on Denni. Every year they were to measure traffic and if it got to a point where it exceeded a reasonable threshold, then they could divert at Cerritos thus protecting their residential community. The quid-pro-qou deal here is to eliminate the traffic studies at the Denni end and just give Cypress control of that intersection and to give Los Al control of the Katella intersection. The rest of the stuff that Cypress/Cottonwood are asking for are about them thinking that they have a better negotiation position and trying to undo all the things that we did that they don't like. What is not being discussed is why they want the Enterprise light... And that has to do with the big empty plot of land that they want to develop. They want to have that plot have a way to turn left, and without a light at Enterprise they can't. So, they are trying to use our small pain to circumvent what for them will be a big one real soon.
met00 September 18, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Two things. The first is the pain being felt by one residential street in carrier row with additional cut-through traffic. That is why Los Al considered changing the Katella/Lexington light. The second is Cypress' development of the land north and east of Enterprise and Katella. They need to get a left out of Enterprise to make the development they are planning feasible (or they will send all the traffic down Cottonwood Way). It helps that Cypress City Council members have greased the skids by giving campaign donations to Mr. Edgar, which is the only reason that anyone can come up with for why Mr. Edgar brought this defeated issue back to City Council, and won't even hear it until he is sure he has all three votes in his pocket.
met00 September 18, 2012 at 06:10 PM
100% agreement. No more turns of any type across the median. That was part of the Cottonwood Agreement. What Cypress should be doing is putting an east-west street in between the race track and the church and any new development that dumps to Lexington and Walker. Then there would be easy access to all the businesses that they want to put back there without one more turn pocket. But doing that would reduce land use for taxable business and Cottonwood may have to give up some of it's existing parking lot. So, thinking that they have Los Al over a barrel because we want to protect one street in Carrier Row from cut-through traffic, they are seizing on that as an opportunity to mitigate all the stuff they had to give us to get the Church in. If we just wait until they try to develop the piece east of Enterprise, we will have the upper hand again, and they know it. It's in Los Al's best interest to just wait it out and do nothing now. So why does Edgar want to make this bad deal? He could have gone forward with it last night, but he knows it would lose again. He needs both Poe an Stephens in his pocket to give away the advantage to Cypress. So, who really thinks he represents the interests of Los Al?
met00 September 18, 2012 at 06:20 PM
@richard, Los Alamitos is not "standing by". Mr. Edgar is working for the best interests of Cypress against the residents of the Carrier Row community (as was evidenced by the comments last night). Los Alamitos has a fifth columnist sitting on the City Council. Mayor Edgar is their representative. He cancelled the vote last night because he can count to three. He needs both Poe and Stephens in his pocket in order to push through Cypress' agenda. He doesn't have Poe because of the Enterprise conflict (and I don't know why Stephens thought he was conflicted before, but doesn't now as nothing has changed in his employment). In fact, since Troy has taken money from someone in management at 24 Hour Fitness for his campaign as well as from two Cypress City Council members, the only change in conflicts I can see is the potential new conflicts by Edgar. But since Edgar can count to three, and he knows that Kusumoto and Mejia are NOT going to vote for Cypress' benefit and for Carrier Row residents pain, Edgar killed the vote (because he was going to lose). It was only Mejia's insistence that since the residents went down to say what they wanted and that the City should listen that Edgar was forced to sit through something he didn't want; the truth about what the residents want. This is about Troy representing those that pay him in campaign contributions.
met00 September 18, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Not so. This will come to a head again shortly when Cypress starts to develop the land east of Enterprise and North of Katella. Then they will need to either come to Los Al and work a new deal while they are disadvantaged, or do something expensive and unwanted (the mid-property east-west street that dumps traffic to Lexington and Walker rather than onto Katella). So they have Edgar on the payroll (campaign contributions) and they get him to get his majority to give them something that's bad for Los Al, but great for Cypress. That's why Edgar couldn't move forward with the deal without Poe there. He didn't have three assured votes (both Kusumoto and Mejia voted against it last time). Cypress already has a "broadly developed long term plan" for the LART development. It's really simple. Dump all the traffic into Los Al. So the os Al plan should be simple. "we get the traffic, we get 95% of the all tax base for any development done south of the new street that will divide the property." (that includes Costso!) Now, let's start the negotiations from there.

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