Traffic Jam!

How Sherman Oaks residents feel about being in the center of one of LA’s biggest problems.

The intersection of Sepulveda Blvd. and Ventura Blvd., where the two busiest streets in Sherman Oaks meet. (Photo by Zack Rome)

Every day 800,000 cars pass through Sherman Oaks, making it one of the most congested areas in Los Angeles, according to Ron Ziff, president of the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council.

At every city council meeting, he says, this is the biggest issue.

“Traffic traffic traffic.”

“I’ve never been to a city meeting where I didn’t hear the word traffic.” said Ziff.

“If something is not done about traffic, it could be a huge problem for the community for years to come.” Ziff said.

Ziff claims most traffic nightmares occur most during the work week during gridlock (peak hours) from 7:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Residents in Sherman Oaks say that, indeed, traffic defines their lives. In in person and online survey with more than 30 people, whether they got up especially early or late at night they planned their days to try to avoid gridlock.

This is a perennial problem, that Metro does not seem to respond to. But residents say it’s getting very bad.

First of all, what is and where is Sherman Oaks located?

Sherman Oaks, California is a city that seems to be smack-dab in the middle of everything. To the uninformed, Sherman Oaks appears to be a typical Los Angeles suburb. However, this city is more affluent than other areas in Los Angeles County with the percentage of households earning $125,000 and up. Because of this, Sherman Oaks hosts popular private schools and is a hub for entertainment such as popular shopping malls and restaurants. A Forbes article in 2007 called the 405–101 highway interchange in Sherman Oaks “the king of traffic that costs 27 million plus hours of delay each year.” That same article stated that this traffic hotspot was voted worst in a 2004 study, and also claiming that title in 1999 and 2002 as well.

Traffic is and has been a problem for years now, but what does the average Sherman Oaks resident feel when living with this traffic every day?

“I commute from South Pasadena to Sherman Oaks everyday, it take me about 45 minutes to an hour and a half depending on the traffic to get to my job. There’s usually 3 pockets of heavy traffic, and it’s terrible.” — Vince R.

Vince is just one of many who commute from long distances to work in Sherman Oaks and he like others, have to plan their day around traffic in some way or form.

“I usually have to wake up early, around 7 to get to work on time because I live in Koreatown.” — Evron F.

“I started my job here in Sherman Oaks in mid-August, and during the first few weeks, I had a hard time getting to work because of all the traffic. I had to find an alternate route through this street called Kester in order to arrive to work on time.” — Helen H.

“I commute from Los Angeles in the morning and I have to commute very early. If I leave anytime past 7:30 in the morning, it adds at least 15 -20 minutes to my commute.” — Candice M.

“I actually walk to work everyday. I do this because I live 5 minutes away walking distance but when I have driven it can take up to 45 minutes to get to work.” — Matt P.

According to Inrix and the Weather Channel, drivers in Los Angeles spent an average of 104 hours in traffic during peak travel times in 2016. That makes it the most congested city in the U.S.

So what do people of Sherman Oaks think needs to be done in order to fix the ever growing problem of traffic?

“We need more public transportation. I’m originally from the Bay Area and I used to take the train everyday. We need to possibly expand the Metro Line.” — Greg V.

“Self-driving cars might be a solution, but that opens up a whole new box of problems.” — Heath K.

“Everyone drives by themselves and nobody takes public transportation, we need more people to take the Metro” — Omer H.

“We can expand the freeway system somehow, more action needs to take place on improving our freeway system.” — Vince R.

“I don’t think there is anything elected officials can do about traffic because of the growing population in [Sherman Oaks].” — Angelo V.

What does the future look like?

Ziff made it clear that action is necessary by everyone. Ziff says we need to also spread awareness about this ever growing issue.

“There is a need for more public discussion. Nextdoor.com is a reasonable place online where people have discussions. But even that is limited. “We also try to get as much public discussion during our Neighborhood Council as possible.”- Ron Ziff