Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Manhole Covers

Who knew there were so many types of manhole covers in LA?

I found 4 of significance:

"Made In Mexico"

One from Grand Central Market: "under your souls - 38,753 streets"

"Made in India"

"City of Los Angeles"

Are there others out there? Take a picture and let me know.

City Nerd Extra:
During World War II, Los Angeles employed wooden manhole covers because the War Production Board prohibited the use of steel & iron for the sewer covers. They were made of treated wood that prevented termites and rotting. Take a look:

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Venice Boardwalk Update

Over at CurbedLA, they speak of new restrictions on the Venice Ocean Front Walk as outlined by the Venice Paper. Interesting to note, the "three well-attended meetings" mentioned in the article initially had to be broken up by Police because nothing could be accomplished with all the interruptions of music, chanting, and other free expressions. At one meeting, City officials actually walked out in frustration.

But to the current ordinance...
The ordinance actually established a "Free Speech and Expression Zone" that previously did not exist. The City bases it's rationale on the following seven points:

(1) The Venice Beach Boardwalk is a major tourist attraction in the City of Los Angeles, historically significant for its performance and visual artists as well as free speech advocates. Unregulated vending adversely affects the historic
character of the Venice Beach Boardwalk by deterring tourists from visiting and shopping along the Boardwalk resulting in an economic and cultural loss to City;

(2) Unregulated vending along the Venice Beach Boardwalk from tables, pushcarts, stands, or by persons impedes the orderly movement of pedestrian traffic and may make the Boardwalk unsafe for pedestrians by limiting the City's ability to effect crowd management and control;

(3) Unregulated vending along the Venice Beach Boardwalk may impede the ingress and egress of emergency and public safety vehicles by creating physical obstacles to emergency response and administration of aid to those in need of immediate medical attention and to victims of criminal activity;

(4) Revitalization of the Venice Beach Boardwalk requires a vibrant and stable merchant, artist, performer and free speech advocacy community. Unregulated vending could serve to undermine the Boardwalk's commercial life by reducing sales from local merchants thereby eroding the City's tax revenues due to unfair competition, and by offering additional opportunity for the sale of stolen, defective or counterfeit merchandise;

(5) Unregulated vending causes visual clutter/blight along the Boardwalk, impeding views of the beach and the Pacific Ocean threatening the City's ability to attract tourists and preserve businesses along the Boardwalk;

(6) Unnecessary, excessive and annoying noise detrimental to the public health, welfare and safety, and contrary to the public interest, on the Venice Beach Boardwalk harms residents, businesses, and the historic character of the Boardwalk, diminishing the quality of life for those who visit, live or work on or near the Boardwalk;

(7) The amount of space on the Venice Beach Boardwalk that is available for performing and visual artists and for political advocacy is limited due to the size of the Boardwalk and the large crowds of visitors that the Boardwalk attracts. Prior to the City's Board of Recreation and Parks Commission establishing a program for assignment of spaces, there were numerous
altercations over the locations and amounts of space that anyone person or organization could use. Frequently, the altercations became violent requiring law enforcement response to preserve the public peace. Persons wishing to secure spaces often arrived at the Boardwalk prior to dawn and created loud noises in setting up their displays, thereby disturbing the public peace and requiring law enforcement response. Unregulated, the Boardwalk became a lawless area, where only the strongest and earliest arrivals could secure space to exercise their rights of free expression without threat of intimidation. It is, therefore, necessary to regulate the use of the limited space on the Boardwalk to prevent breaches of the public peace and to allocate the limited space available fairly to all who desire to use it for lawful purposes.

Remember the City does have a ordinance that allows for creating a Vending District, which this is not. So, this was what had to be done, according to the Council starting with Ruth Galanter back in 1999. (Too bad she doesn't have a better Wikipedia entry; will she go the way of Pat Russell?!?)

Also, this isn't the first time that the folks along the Ocean Front Walk are upset at the Department of Recreation and Parks; back in 1978, people were upset about the limitations on performers and performances. Check it out here.

Here Comes the Rain Again

I guess I should have never asked...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Street Sweeping Dilemma in the L.A. Times

The recent L.A. Times op-ed about street sweeping is sad. Doesn't Paul Thornton know about the 5 minute rule?

I do know that posted routes are hard to complete every week under the current staffing levels that the Bureau of Street Services currently operates. They are the ones that run the street sweepers (though LADOT posts the signs and enforces the parking restriction), but those same crews must also fill potholes, do spot cleaning, patch raised sidewalks (truly fixing them could take 72 years based on current funding levels), address temporary resolutions to ponding water and empty all the white wire trash baskets along the city streets... among other things.

So, it's hard to blame LADOT for doing their job when the Bureau of Street Services can't to do theirs. But, then again, how can they do theirs when they're not funded enough to do it? It's a Catch 22 because the money collected from tickets could help fund more sweeper operators to actually do the work. Paul can at least be proud he lives on the same Hollywood street as did former-Mayor James Toberman in the late 19th Century... who probably didn't have parking & street sweeping issues.

Bandwagon Blogging...

If this City Nerd didn't publicly recognize what's happening right now in the City regarding the massive demonstrations relating to immigration legislation, I'd be failing to present the true City. This is not a political blog, and I try to present objective assertions about the City of L.A. and the region; so, I'm not trying to spew an opinion of the recent protests and public demonstrations relating to the Federal Government's immigration policy or what it will be. I'm just trying to share some details to clarify what's happening in the City of L.A.

First, anyone can assemble in Los Angeles on a City street, but there is a permit process through the LAPD to alert them of the type of demonstration and how many people expected. This helps with deployment issues and resource management for a smaller than needed police force. The permit process does not censor or guide the demonstration, only make aware organizers (if they want to talk) of issues that might arise based on where the public assembly is to take place.

Today's demonstration destination, L.A. City Hall, for instance, was held on the South Lawn, which is the officially designated First Amendment location for the City Hall area. The same is true for the Bernardi Plaza at the Valley Municipal Building in Van Nuys (Braude Center). That's why they were not on the main steps of City Hall on Spring Street.

It's interesting to see that twice now, major demonstrations have been taken to City Hall on an issue of which the City has no jurisdiction. The Federal Building is in the Civic Center, but City hall was the destination of choice. I wonder, how many of the students today knew that? Or, do the organizers look to our City (read: Mayor Villariagosa) to use it's political clout to influence federal law-makers?

One noteworthy effect exemplified by today's student demonstration:
Los Angeles may be a large city, but it's not so big that you can't walk from all ends of the City to its center. It's too bad it takes an issue that agitates and threatens people to get to them to join together. The other unification agent is a disaster. I guess law makers and earthquakes have the same strength in some cases. I'm not sure which I'd rather have wielding their force right now.

Ok, I'm going to get off the bandwagon now on this topic... for now. I wonder if this energy will be put to use after the issue calms down. This is another test of the City and its leadership (on all levels: from parents to the highest offices in government).

Hoover Walk

Signs are always an issue in L.A. Sometimes they become clutter on the street and in neighborhoods. But, sometimes, they are so obscure, they require a post on this blog. Hoover Walk is one such sign.

If you are on Prospect Avenue, east of Hillhurst in the neighborhood surrounding the Prospect Studios (where Wheel of Fortune was once filmed!), you will notice a sign that makes no real sense. It appears to be a Historical-Cultural Landmark sign, but only in color. Upon closer inspection, you will find it just a sign letting people know there is a walkway - one of fifteen in this Franklin Hills neighborhood. Hoover Walk. Sure, Prospect walkway signs are about 4 blocks east looking like a street sign, but denoting a walkway. Why is the Hoover Walk sign different?

Some signs in the City are posted to be honorary, like the Downtown "Broadway Theater District" signs which designate 12 theaters in 7 blocks that at one time seated 17,000 people (also on the National Historic Registry) or "Gallery Row" signs. Some are regulatory or mandatory. But some signs are ceremonial, like the many "Squares" throughout the city (from Raymond Chandler to Famous Amos to Iyitzhak Rabin to Gene Autry to Amelia Earhart to Bob Hope - and the list goes on.) This ceremonial type is the kind denoting Hoover Walk. Apparently, when built in 1923, people knew where the steps connecting the deadend at Hoover to what was then Hollywood Boulevard were. I guess they need a reminder now.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Disturbing the Peace

It's ironic, really.

Driving down Vermont at 8th Street, I was stopped at a red light when my car radio was overpowered by the volume from the speakers of a street preacher. This man (in the photo in grey shirt and tie holding firmly his bible), is literally screaming into his microphone the about Jesus being the Savior, at one point calling him the "Prince of Peace" (en espanol, por su puesto). Now, the man seems enraged that not everyone understands what he believes, and he demonstrates this passion with a raspy scream that is piercing to the ear. And technically, according to LAPD, he was disturbing the peace - my peace. You see, if anyone's peace is disturbed - and not just after 10pm - the law is being violated. I didn't call LAPD because I'm sure they would take a while to respond to this extremely low priority call, but I knew in my heart, he was breaking the law. I guess that would make him a martyr for his faith. Oh, and besides disturbing the peace, he would need to show a permit for amplified sound. (Notice his large speaker to the left of the fire hydrant.)

So, you see these preachers on Broadway & 5th, on Alvarado & 7th, Vermont & 8th, and on other busy pedestrian areas in the downtown areas of the city. I wonder, do people actually feel as though the would take Christianity seriously with that kind of evangelism? I wonder if Cardinal Mahoney should stand on Temple and Grand and yell into a megaphone - maybe more Catholics will sign up? I think there was some bible story about shouting from a mountain top; I guess mount Lee is too far away from the people to be effective, although that's what TBN does.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Barham Development

As talked about a lot today in the papers and online, the Universal City Backlot appears to be headed for development. This second attempt at development in the last 5 years means that the community knows how to organize. And, with the advent of Neighborhood Councils since that last "conversation" about expansion, NBC-Universal is going to have quite a time reaching comprise and gaining approval. The approval has to come from both the City and County, eerily similar to that other City/County issue at the other corner of the Valley: Sunshine Canyon Landfill. That means Zev Yaroslavsky and Tom LaBonge have to give their stamp of approval, basically, in order for the project to proceed. Will either stand up to the truly gargantuan Universal? (They don't call it Universal City because it's small!) The main issue with the community is infrastructure: sewers, waterlines, and mostly transportation (i.e. increased traffic!).

Some interesting points...

First, if you go to the Basement Level of the Museum of Natural History in Exposition Park (originally, you know, it was called "Agricultural Park"), you will find a whole display case next to a model of Downtown L.A. in the 1930s that is full of Universal City paraphernalia. This is where the artifacts revealing Universal "City's" first female Chief of Police confirm her existence as a fake officer.

Ok, that was interesting and quite City Nerd-like; but more relative is this:

A. In 1993, Barham Boulevard & Forest Lawn Drive, which will be main arteries if the backlot is developed, were designated "Congestion Management Program" routes based on the "Land Use Analysis Program". Basically, this meant that in order to comply with State Law and prevent the State Controller from withholding gas tax funds from the County, the local jurisdiction (L.A.) had to create plans that managed traffic in areas that were impacted by land use decisions. To quote, they had to be in compliance by "adopting and implementing a trip reduction and travel demand ordinance; [and by] adopting and implementing a program to analyze the impacts of local land use decisions on the regional transportation system." The ordinance's implication is for NON-residential development. (No mention of mixed-use, though.) The result may not be as intended 13 years ago; will a bulletin board really help? The text of what's required on these routes are here

B. Just a short 11 years ago in 1995, after spending $65,000 on continued studies (with the City of Burbank, the County, and the major private stakeholders: Disney, Universal, NBC, & Warner Bros.) in 1992 to come up with a project, the City of L.A. established a Community Advisory Committee "that includes representatives from surrounding homeowner associations, individual residents, businesses, civic organizations and concerned citizens in all jurisdictions participating in the Phase III project." This Phase III project was funded from the County at $1.2 million with a match from LA of $100K

C. Talks of dealing with traffic in the area of Barham started as early as 1981, with an agreement between L.A. and Burbank in 1977 that called for no development west of Olive until the traffic issues of the Barham Corridor were addressed.

D. In 1994, Burbank's transportation administrator, William Lundgren, said:
"The freeway itself is a source of problems because it doesn't connect well to the (Ventura Freeway) and spills a lot of traffic onto this corridor, traffic it wasn't meant to carry." Gridlock, he said, "would continue until the travel time on those streets is greater than on the freeway, and people would take the freeway again."

E. Finally, and quite ironically, it was then-City Manager Bud Ovrom - who now is L.A. City's Economic Development Czar - who said in 1988, "[Burbank] doesn't see any point for us to get involved in this, because we are already far down the road in implementing permanent controls. "Those permanent controls will be much more restrictive than any temporary measures Los Angeles is talking about." Well, now he's in L.A., and as Deputy Mayor of Economic Development, he'll have to advise the mayor on how to deal what could be quite a large issue for this regional transportation corridor.

So, what we learn from this: things never go away unless they are truly addressed. You know the conversation of the missing connector between the 101 north and the 134 east will be brought up again - and the even more recurring conversation of "how to pay for it."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

General Managers: "Seeya"

The City Charter approved in 1999 gave the Mayor the power hire and fire the city's department general managers with only the consent of the City Council. (This is why there was an issue with Mr. Stuckney just a few weeks ago.)

Rumor had it - which has since been confirmed - that the General Manager over the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) would be the next to go. It's the Mayor's prerogative to fire, but I hope he at least set and communicated his expectations to the Hahn-appointed GM, Greg Nelson, before deciding to relieve him of his duties. That is only fair. Rumors are also swirling that the Mayor asked for Greg to retire... or told him to. This was supported early on when the new Asst. GM Lisa Sarno was hired at what many believe to be the suggestion of the Mayor's office. She'll probably take over the department. What will happen then with City's Neighborhood Councils will be interesting to see, especially with the Neighborhood Council Review ("912") Commission getting revved up in the next few months.

Political replacements of key department heads in the beginning of a term is not new, though. In fact, it was this very Department, DONE, in which Greg Nelson has led for the past four years that then-Mayor Hahn made a large political move by replacing "departing" GM Rosiland Stewart with the enthusiastic Nelson. This wasn't the first and won't be the last. So far, Mayor Villariagosa has hired 4 new GMs for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Animal Services, Los Angeles World Airports, and the City Planning Department. Now, besides the interim head of the Community Redevelopment Agency, there's one more position to add to the head posts that need to be filled: DONE.

But if you recall, it was Hahn to brought in a new Police Chief in Bill Bratton for then-Chief/now-Councilman Bernard Parks. He brought in Margie Reese from Houston for Adolfo Nodal. Hahn also brought us early on Gary Lee Moore as City Engineer, Wayne Tanda as GM of LADOT (since replaced), Bill Robertson as Director of Street Services, Alvin Blaine for General Services, Jon Mukri (from General Services) to the Department of Recreaction & Parks, and 2 other GMs for Animal Services (as said, since replaced).

So, to Margie, Bill, Jon, Alvin, and Gary: look out! You're doing what you have to do, but one thing in city government holds true: politics outweighs the value (or job performance) of the individual. Since it's up to the Mayor, remember: it's not personal; it's political!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Mayoral Gallery

At the top of City Hall, just before reaching the Tom Bradley room on the 27th floor, there is a gallery of portraits of all the Los Angeles Mayors. Starting with the first painted, Mayor Benjamin D. Wilson, all the way to the last: Richard Riordan?

Yes, the last one hung is that of former Mayor Riordan. But, what happened to Hahn?

Well, it's been 9 months now since the full term serving Mayor of the dawn of the 21st century left office, and there is still no portrait of the mayor that kept the City united (like it or not), that implemented the system of neighborhood Councils, and that opened more new libraries, police stations, and municipal buildings. Where is Mayor Hahn? There is portrait of a recalled mayor and a resigned mayor, but not of Hahn. There's even one of a notable non-PC dead Republican Mayor! Is the new administration or Cultural Affairs so lacking that the most recent Mayor doesn't get a portrait? Is it politics or laziness? Really, though: is it fair?

Part of the City's Art Collection (which is composed of approximately 2,000 artworks acquired through gift, purchase and extended loan since the beginning of the 20th century), the Mayoral Portraits are a true link to our City's past. Take a trip up the three elevators it takes to get to the gallery and experience the past of L.A. (The bios on each are quite enlightening.) Maybe soon, they'll put up the portrait. Or, at least, go the route of Riordan and put up a photo made to look like an oil painting.

Post Script...
Regarding Frank Shaw, the recalled Mayor: Yes, even he has a portrait based on what he looks like in this photo - and he bears a striking resemblance to a certain German dictator. Yet Hahn doesn't have one. I find that somewhat disturbing, actually.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Traffic Alert - for real!

Sunday, March 19th, is the 21st Annual L.A. Marathon. For the last twenty years, it has caused some traffic snarls, but none like we'll see on Sunday. See, in years past, the marathon route has been monitored in the field by Traffic Engineers and remotely, by computer, by engineers in the City's ATSAC control room 4 stories below City Hall East. This has helped keep traffic flowing via cameras as well as the road closures to a minimum with a rolling closure.

This year may be different. All the engineers, who volunteer for overtime to work the event, have decided not to come in on Sunday. These engineers are members of the disgruntled EAA Union and are drawing attention to the fact that they feel they deserve equal pay to DWP employees in the same classification. Mayor Villariagosa has declined to address their concern except by saying there is no money to address their needs.

So, traffic will be handled on sit, without technical monitoring through ATSAC, and the street closures will be handled by sign-posters, LADOT Traffic Officers, & LAPD.

Good luck out there. My suggestion: stay on the freeways!!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Branding confusion...

One of the first rules of marketing is to establish a brand. Well, apparently Philippe's never got that memo. (and maybe they didn't have to!)

In the tradition of offering advice on how to order...
Here's a hint on ordering at Pilippe's: get the lamb! It's worth the extra dollar!
Also, I recommend using the hot mustard, but only if you can stand the fire. (My mouth waters a bit just writing this!)

Also, remember, they only take cash.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

5 Parking Tips for LA

So, conversation always swirls around parking challenges in L.A. In order to assist just a little, I have compiled 5 basic tips for parking in L.A. I hope they're helpful...

1. Yellow Loading Zones are open as unrestricted parking after 6pm. According to LADOT, "in the City of Los Angeles yellow curb zones are effective 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday (but not on Sunday)." This especially helpful in Hollywood off of Hollywood Boulevard (check out Orange Avenue north of the Boulevard) and in Westwood Village. Related, but not as frequent, Green Zones (15 or 20 minutes parking) are only enforced 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

2. There is only a 5 minute grace period on street cleaning days. So, if the sign says no parking 9am to 11am Tuesdays, you actually have until 9:05am and can park at 10:55am. This may be only 5 minutes of extra parking, but something is better than nothing.

3. In LA, parking enforcement is overseen by the Department of Transportation. Don't blame LAPD for parking tickets. But, since this is the case, usually, in the later evening hours, there are very few, if any, Parking inforcement officers out. For instance, in the 224 square miles of the Valley in the night shift, there are MAYBE two parking enforcement officers. This means less tickets issued, but also less help when trying to get a car removed that is blocking your driveway. Areas like Westwood Village, Hollywood Boulevard, and Ventura Boulevard have more parking enforcement officers at night, though, so be aware of that.

4. Parking meters that are broken are NOT free parking. Technically, you can get a ticket if you park in a spot with broken meter.

5. Don't be afraid to walk! Parking two blocks away for free in a residential area is not that bad if weigh the options. For example, parking around El Coyote on Beverly Boulevard is a mess unless you pay for valet parking. The areas immediately around the commercial core have no parking except by permit. [By the way, now, petitioners for permit parking have to allow at least one hour parking without a permit near commercial areas.] But, if you park two blocks north of Beverly Boulevard - no parking restrictions! The walk is nice and can burn those few extra calories so that you have their delicious Mexican Pizza.

I know I said I'd give five tips, but there's a sixth: Don't be naive: always read the signs (no matter how many there are) so that you don't get caught parking when you're not supposed to. There may be many signs at one location, but they spell out the restrictions -- so don't whine if you missed something and get a ticket.

It's true: parking in L.A. requires effort, planning and sometimes, some walking. The other option is to take public transportation. Again, weigh the options!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Broken Window theory....

Chief Bratton has always said that community policing and the Senior Lead Officer Program are important because they address the quality of life issues that can lead to crime. Basically, he bases his policing techniques on James Q. Wilson & George L. Kelling's much-touted "Broken Window Theory" which basically says that if a house has a broken window, someone will break in, and a chain reaction will commence that leads to the rise in crime and a decline of the neighborhood.

So, as a challenge and example, I give you the following situation:

An actual broken window!

This is on the north side of Pico, about a block east of Bundy. Notice the actual broken window, which has lead to graffiti, trash, and a general neglected property. How do the other businesses feel about this? What are Bratton & the LAPD, the City Attorney's Neighborhood Prosecutor Program, the Department of Building & Safety, the Mayor's Office, and/or the City Council Office doing about this? How long before more crimes occur in this area and other businesses leave?

This is an interesting study because it is in the middle of a vibrant commercial area, and this store front is clearly out of place. I wonder how long before it's addressed?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Living in the Capitol Records Building?

Recently, a high level Mayor's office staffer said that there has been a conversation about a proposal to convert portions of the Capitol Records Building to residential living spaces: apartments & condos.

This iconic building on Yucca & Vine (built as the first circular office tower in 1956) has been home to "the business" since it opened, with some of music's biggest stars recording there. (Founded by Johnny Mercer, Capitol was the first West Coast based recording label competing with the East Coast's Decca & Columbia.)

It's even a special building in the SimCity computer game:

If it does indeed turn into residential, it will be a blow to the business community symbolically more than literally. There's plenty of newer, sleeker office suites in the area, but to lose this landmark building to residents presents a perplexing challenge. Will the new residents start to complain about the nightspots that stay open all hours and create noise? Will they fight new development good for Hollywood? And how will the parade-producing Hollywood Chamber react to the loss of business space? In L.A., most folks don't complain about converting commercial zones to residential, but it never goes the other way.

So, as the famous needle atop the building's misnamed "stack of 45s" blinks "Hollywood" in Morse code, will the residents demand it to be changed to "No Solicitors" or "Business Not Welcome"?

What's next, converting the Theme Building at LAX to residential?

How about building townhouses along the San Pedro harbor coastline.
No one argues that we need more housing in the region, but as a City Nerd, I say, put housing where housing belongs, not just where there's empty space.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Annexation of Palms

On the same day that 168 square miles of the San Fernando Valley annexed itself to Los Angeles, four square miles of the county community of Palms did the same. It was a year after a failed attempt in the small community caused the petition to be gerrymandered to exclude the strongest opponents (a practice that still occurs today!). What makes it truly interesting is that there was a cry the follow year, not from the Valley, but from Palms saying that the annexation to Los Angeles would not benefit the community. For 10 years, a battle went on, stalling much-needed public works projects like resurfacing and sewer construction. In 1925, it was finally settled, paving the way (pun intended!) for the long-awaited improvements.

Later, in 1966, again the controversy of annexation swirled around the small Westside community of Palms. Residents and business people proposed to annex 40 acres of Palms to Culver City. The area was bound by Venice & Washington, east of Overland. By this time, the L.A. City Council and LAFCO had to approve the proposal before it could go for a vote of the people.

This annexation debate that swirled around Palms for the last 90 years comes up again in the form of the Neighborhood Council boundaries of the Palms NC related to those of the Mar Vista NC. Currently, the community of Westside Village is within the boundaries of the Mar Vista NC but feels it would be better served by the Palms NC.

It seems that Palms has the distinction of being sought by all for almost a century!

What's in Palms that so many have missed? Is it the Museum of Jurassic Technology or the Ivy Substation (in L.A. but leased to Culver City in 1987 for 10 years with a 10 year extension)?

Maybe it's the community's desire to get their own park - everyone wants to be able to say they did it. (Yes, there is no park in the Palms community, technically.)

(By the way, what ever happened to the Palms Chamber of Commerce, formed in 1907? Did it go the way of the Echo Park Chamber?)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Oscar's Street Closures

As a City nerd, I wanted to let you all know that the Street Closures related to the Academy Awards (with their 40 million dollar production budget) are absorbed by the City of Los Angeles. Like the resources allocated to Staple's Center events, Dodger Games, and other events in the City, the fees related to traffic control, street closures, etc. are waived. This year, the costs & fees waived by the City are estimated at 75,000 dollars. Should the City absorb that cost to be home to this worldwide event? With the production's budget as large as it is, should they be required to pay for these services?

Annually, the City waives over 12 million dollars worth of fees for special events. Should they?

Why Waterford Street is the 405's phantom off-ramp…

The southbound 405 Waterford Street Exit, which is proposed to be exit number 56 (with Lake Forest being 1A and Rinaldi being 72), has been closed for a decade. It is the 405's Phantom off-ramp.

You see, on October 9, 1993, a man in camouflage stole a bus in San Diego (not to be confused with the stolen tank from San Diego). He led police on an 8-hour chase to Malibu over the Santa Monica Mountains to the 101 to the 405 South where he exited on Waterford Street. He ran into police cars and eventually crashed into a house. All this adventure, coupled with other collisions related to the design of the freeway exit prompted L.A. City officials (Braude) to propose temporary a closure of the off-ramp in 1993 (which turned permanent in 1997).

CalTrans concurred, and citing low exit volumes (average of 50 cars during peak hours) and an outdated design, closed the off-ramp.

As of 2005, the State is also looking to close the Waterford Street onramp. I say, the more off/on-ramps they close the faster traffic will move because there is that much less merging and lane changes. If only exits were 5 miles apart - then traffic would really move! Forget the hype about signal synchronization!