Friday, September 16, 2011

Public Street or Private Street? City Council to Consider a Recommendation to "Temporarily" Close and Gate a portion of Solar Drive adjacent to Runyon Canyon Park [Updated]

Intersection of Solar Drive and Astral Drive

Today, Friday September 16th, the City Council is considering a motion (Council File 11-1222) directing the Bureau of Engineering to prepare a report with recommendations relative to the "temporary" closure of Solar Drive at the intersection of Astral Drive. If the motion is approved by the City Council the Bureau of Engineering will complete the report and return to Council for final approval to install the gate on Solar Drive.

*Update: City Council approved the item.

This closure is being requested pursuant to Section 21101.4 of the California Vehicle Code, which permits a street to be temporarily closed to the public for 18 months and permits a maximum of eight 18 month extensions. CVC Section 21101.4 requires that the City Council find that "there is serious and continual criminal activity" on the street segment proposed to be closed and that their finding "shall be based upon the recommendation of the police department."

Alex Thayer, in an article in yesterday's Citywatch, had this to say about the proposed street closure on Solar Drive (emphasis mine):

I am concerned that the public is not being informed about city-sanctioned gating of public streets in Los Angeles.  I am also concerned that some city streets are being effectively privatized for the benefit of a few wealthy homeowners.

[snip]

Nine homeowners would be given possession of a key which would provide them with exclusive vehicle access to this public street, which is an important entrance for other local residents to Runyon Canyon Park.

Public notice of the proposed gate has not been adequately provided.  Despite frequent visits I have never seen a notice of the gate proposal posted along Solar Drive or elsewhere in the neighborhood. 

I completely agree with Alex's comments. Allowing the homeowners on Solar Drive to privatize this public street in the name of public safety is a bad idea.

As I've said here before regarding other "temporary" street closures in the Hollywood Hills (see here, here, and here), I believe the City needs to set, and meet, a high bar when closing public streets and limiting access to public land (in this case, Runyon Canyon Park).

While there may be some undesirable activity occurring on this street (and lets be honest -- what street doesn't attract some level of undesirable activity) I doubt that it is significant enough to warrant gating a public street. Installing a gate on this street may reduce the number of nuisance call the LAPD has to respond to on this street, but that is hardly a sufficient justification for effectively privatizing a public street.

1 comment:

rickabrams said...

I doubt that it would be an exaggeration to say that these street closures becoming an attack on an open and free society by Councilmember Tom LaBonge.  Many years ago, Councilman LaBonge tried to do the same illicit closure of the Saint Andrews Stairs and he convinced the LAPD to label the elderly residents of the area who loved to hike the stairs and school children who used the stairs on a daily basis as "nefarious pedestrians."  (The LAFD has identified the stairs as fire escape route for residents of The Oaks, but LaBonge did not care if they were  trapped between a fire and a locked gate.)

The residents of Saint Andrews and other Hollywoodians, some living as far away as Beachwood Canyon, fought against this illegal abuse of public power.  The stairs remain open to this day, although LaBonge has again raised the issue of gating the Stairs.  His friend  has a house at the top of the stairs and they would make a nice private stairway in her hillside garden. The residents are prepared to file another lawsuit against the City, and thus, the idea of closing this public staircase  is dormant

There were other attempts with CD #4  to allow certain wealthy people to gate off their little area of paradise.  One doctor in The Oaks (CD #4) claimed that his life was in danger by the Mossad, and thus, he needed his cul de sac to be gated.  Common sense, however, prevailed and there was no gating.  It was pointed out that if the Mossad had wanted the doctor dead, he would be dead already.

Los Angeles is awash in corruption and incompetence, and the only way for citizens who want to have a open society to fight back is to fight back.  LaBonge knows his action is illegal. Citizens Against Gated Enclaves v. Whitley Heights Civic Assn. (1994) 23 Cal.App.4th 812, 28 Cal.Rptr.2d 451)

Angelenos should remember that LaBonge is the council member who brought us the Bait and Switch Scam where he and others put on a worldwide, fraudulent campaign that the Hollywood Sign was in danger of demolition and/or in danger of being obscured by a real estate development on the land surrounding the H Sign.  This Bait and Switch Scam arose when LaBonge and Trust for Public Land discovered that they could not raise $12.5 Million to give to a Chicago real estate speculator, Fox River Financial, whom LaBonge had allowed to buy nearby Cahuenga Peak in 1992 for about $1.7 Million.  As Hollywoodians know but others did not, the H Sign is on Mt Lee and the land LaBonge was purchasing on the ridge to the west and north, Cahuenga Peak.   $800,000.00 of the $12.5 M was for the TPL and then LaBonge's Chief of Staff quit her job with CD #4 and went to work for TPL.

When councilmembers can engage in Bait and Switch Campaigns with impunity, we know that law enforcement works for the elected officials and not for the public.  While it is too much to ask the City Attorney to take action and we expect no help from the See-No-Evil DA,  it is sad for the LAPD to allow itself to be a puppet in this illicit charade.  After the Ramparts Scandal and a decade operating under e Consent Decree with the US DOJ, the department has risen to a higher level of competence and honesty.  Hopefully, it will not allow itself to be dragged down by the petty schemes of political hacks.

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