VOICES-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.
Runyon Canyon Park is in the Hollywood Hills. The park has four public entrances. Nine homeowners who live near the Solar Drive park entrance have successfully petitioned LA City Councilmember Tom LaBonge to submit to the City Council a resolution to privatize Solar Drive. (Link) [[[ http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2011/11-1222_MOT_07-13-11.pdf ]]
This resolution, which was approved September 7 by the City Council Public Works Committee, calls for the public to be blocked from this city street and from one of the four park entrances by a city-sanctioned private gate which would prevent public access.
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.
Despite living nearby, we only learned of the proposal today, and just by chance, through the la.curbed blog.
It is my understanding that selective street closures are prohibited under California law except in extraordinary circumstances.
I interviewed a homeowner on Solar Drive who informed me that he was not aware of any serious crimes having occurred on his street, though he favored a gate because it would restrict non-residents and would increase property values for him and his neighbors. He also did express concern that gating his public street would substantially worsen traffic safety and parking issues on more narrow adjoining streets.
In Citizens Against Gated Enclaves v. Whitley Heights Civic Association, [link] 1994, the California court ruled in a similar situation that gating of public streets, even to reduce crime or to improve traffic safety, was unlawful.
The court stated, "If the streets are still 'public,' it makes no sense to classify them as public when it comes to the expenditure of public funds, but classify them as private when it comes to public use ... We doubt the Legislature wants to permit a return to feudal times with each suburb being a fiefdom to which other citizens of the state are denied their fundamental right of access to use public streets within those areas."
The idea of a tax supported public street can be privatized is disconcerting. The idea that the City and a City Councilman would support it is even more upsetting.
● See Also: “Los Angeles: Liberty and Justice for … Some”—this issue CityWatch
(Alex Thayer is a doctor and resident of the Hollywood Hills. He can be reached at [email protected]) -cw
Tags: gated streets, Runyon Canyon Park, Hollywood Hills, Tom LaBonge, Public Works Committee, Solar Drive
Vol 9 Issue 74
Pub: Sept 16, 2011