Friday, February 10, 2006

Simplifying L.A. Streets

There are 3 Cahuenga Boulevards in this City.

First, there is North Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood made famous most recently by Paris Hilton and the clubs there.

Then, there is Cahuenga Boulevard in Toluca Lake/North Hollywood, which starts at the L.A. River (Lankershim Boulevard) and ends at Valhalla Cemetery.

These two are the same street, but they're not connected. To get from one to the other, you have to go either on the 101 or through the other Cahuenga Boulevard: Cahuenga Boulevard West.

Cahuenga Boulevard West has one end that morphs into Highland Ave. (Rte 170) and the other morphs into Ventura Boulevard. Oftentimes confusing this stretch of Cahuenga is neither Hollywood nor Studio City - it's Cahuenga Pass.

So, on January 17, of this month, 12 years after the Northridge earthquake, Councilman Tom LaBonge, at the request of the frustrated businesses along this stretch (who have to give the most detailed directions in order to find their locations), directed the City to officially change the name from "Cahuenga Boulevard West" to "Cahuenga Pass." His text is simply as follows:

Motion - Community and business representatives along Cahuenga Boulevard West from Lankershim Boulevard to the Hollywood Bowl (Pat Moore Way) have indicated a desire to initiate a name change of that street from "Cahuenga Boulevard West" to "Cahuenga Pass."
Inasmuch as this portion of Cahuenga Boulevard West truly corresponds to the historic and geographic Cahuenga Pass, it is appropriate that the City initiate the proceedings to implement this name change.
THEREFORE MOVE that, pursuant to Administrative Code Section 19.1 et seq. the City Engineer be instructed to perform the necessary steps to implement the proposed name change of a portion of Cahuenga Boulevard West from Lankershim Boulevard to the Hollywood Bowl (Pat Moore Way) fountain as "Cahuenga Pass."

Simple enough, right?

Then, just this week, Councilman Wesson introduced a motion to rename 17th Street, not for clarification, but for social significance. He wished to honor the life and contributions of the late Johnnie Cochran. He, too, wrote a simple reason for it:

File Number
Initiated by
Wesson, Jr. Mover 2006 / Parks
Motion - The late Johnnie Cochran was not only a world famous lawyer but a great community leader who served Los Angeles in many capacities. As such he was, and continues to be, a great role model for all children and youth. In recognition of his achievements and contributions, it is appropriate that the City rename a portion of the street terminating at the newly renamed Johnnie Cochran Middle School as "Johnnie Cochran Drive."
THEREFORE MOVE that, pursuant to Administrative Code Section 19.1 et seq. the City Engineer be instructed to perform the necessary steps to change the name of a portion of 17th Street, from Bronson A venue easterly to its terminus just east of Norton Avenue, to "Johnnie Cochran Drive."

Now in 1982, Santa Barbara Avenue from Alameda on the east to Rodeo Road on west was renamed after the Dr. Martin Luther King. It took 9 months, from January to September for the action to be approved. The controversial Councilman Robert Farell(subject of TWO recalls) of council district 8 sought to rename this street after for some time fighting the grassroots effort. This decision was controversial as well, with concerns over financial impacts and politics. This change in 1982, two years before there was even a nation holiday, was not a slam dunk.

(Interesting connection: In 1987 during his second recall, Farrell was defended and represented by Cochran!)

Now, in 1993 it took 5 months for the City to approve the name change of 7 miles of Brooklyn Avenue, as well as portions of Macy Street and Sunset Boulevard to Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard. Controversial as well, this change brought concern that the Jewish history of Boyle Heights would be lost with the elimination of Brooklyn Avenue. The solution here: a historical designation of the public right-of-way. Signs now herald the Cultural past of the now Latino community.

Similarly, Tom Bradley Boulevard on First Street is honorary. Blue custom signs announce the 20-year-mayor’s impact in the Civic Center. But when outgoing Councilmember Nate Holden thought that was not enough, he attempted to rename Crenshaw Boulevard after the great Mayor in 2003 just two months before being termed out of office. Even greater controversy surrounded this attempt, and the change was ultimately denied leaving Crenshaw Blvd. - for all its good and bad parts – intact.

So, what we learn here is simple: name change for honoring is good and important, though not without controversy. Name change for clarification makes more sense.

So, hopefully, after the Cahuenga Pass street, well, passes, the city will deal with that other confusing street: National (especially where National intersects with National in Palms!)

1 comment:

Scott said...

How about the two different San Vicente Boulevards?