VOICES-The Los Angeles City Department of Transportation and past and current Los Angeles CD 14 staff members ignored their constituents’ concerns and recommendations which led to a massive power outage on August 12, 2021, in our Northeast Los Angeles area.
This outage affected more than 1500 residential homes and local businesses and lasted for more than 10 hours during a day when it was 102 degrees.
During the week of June 25, LADOT did a cone study for a Neighborhood Traffic Circle at the intersection of Avenue 50 and Meridian Street. (See Tony Butka’s CityWatch article on July 7, 2021.) On the date of this study, I, along with many other community residents communicated with Mariana Valdivia who stated that she was the supervisor and the person in charge of this Neighborhood Traffic Circle project. Constituents told Ms. Valdivia that we had never received any written communication from LADOT concerning this project, yet Valdivia stated that LADOT had sent out letters to all of the impacted community residents. However, we learned later on this same day from another LADOT employee that Ms. Valdivia had been less then truthful about letters having been sent out to all of the local impacted community residents.
Residents and constituents shared with Valdivia that the best location for this Neighborhood Circle would be on Avenue 51 and Meridian Street. Valdivia acknowledged that she was not familiar with our community and had no prior knowledge of any traffic incidents or concerns which had occurred on Avenue 50 and Meridian or on any other nearby intersections.
We explained to Valdivia that because of the heavy flow of traffic on Avenue 51 and the documented history of traffic accidents at the intersection of Avenue 51 and Meridian, it was far more feasible to construct this circle at the Avenue 51 and Meridian Street location.
Avenue 51 is a major connection route from Eagle Rock to Highland Park. It is not uncommon for individuals to drive at an excessive rate of speed -- 45-55 mph -- as they travel down Avenue 51 toward York Blvd. As there are two stop signs on Avenue 51, it is not uncommon for these drivers to fail to stop at the posted stop signs. It was also suggested to Valdivia that LADOT should install yellow caution lights on Avenue 51 as this would hopefully encourage drivers to slow down. Valdivia also was told that it took more than six years before LADOT -- after receiving requests from constituents -- to install four-way stop signs at the intersections of Strafford and Meridian on Avenue 51 and the same for Avenue 50.
These same concerns had been previously shared with former CD 14 staff members who worked for Jose Huizar and who did follow up with the installation of the stop signs. Currently, Kevin de León's CD 14 staff members have turned their backs and have been non-responsive to the recommendations surrounding the installation of yellow caution lights on Avenue 51.
Also, current staff members from CD 14 Kevin de León's office have failed to contact their constituents surrounding the Neighborhood Circle project at Avenue 50 and Meridian Street.
During the time period that de León resided on the 4900 block of Rangeview Avenue, this writer requested that he ask LADOT to install speed bumps on both Rangeview Avenue and Strafford. Rangeview Avenue is a very narrow street, and many drivers travel at excessive rates and also fail to stop at the posted stop sign at Avenue 50 and Rangeview. Unfortunately, this request has fallen on deaf ears.
On August 12, a few minutes past 6 a.m., a vehicle was traveling southbound on Avenue 51 at an excessive rate of speed when the driver lost control of the vehicle and struck a power pole on the eastside of the street just yards south of Rangeview Avenue. The vehicle landed on the west sidewalk up against a fence just south of Strafford.
Because of the dangling hot wires, the power was shut off completely by the Department of Water and Power and it remained off for more than 10 hours.
More than 1500 homes and businesses located east of Avenue 50 were impacted by the power outage. There were a lot of angry residents and constituents as the outside temperature ended up being over 102 degrees on this date.
The DASH bus route travels North and Southbound on Avenue 51. The DASH bus route was redirected to travel North on Avenue 50, East on Rangeview, and North on Avenue 51. The same with DASH's southbound route from Avenue 51.
If the City of Los Angeles wanted to make some revenue on that date, they should have had police officers from LAPD Central traffic assigned to Avenue 50 and Rangeview. Vehicles which had been redirected raced westbound on Rangeview failing to stop at the posted stop sign Avenue 50 and Rangeview and then again raced down Avenue 50 and again failed to stop for the posted stop sign on at Avenue 50 and Strafford.
There were close calls and near collisions with vehicles traveling westbound on Rangeview and the DASH bus traveling eastbound on Rangeview. The vehicles had to back up and make way for the DASH bus.
Now, I ask CD 14 staff members and LADOT: Could this traffic accident have been avoided if only they had listened to the concerns and recommendations shared with them by the residents impacted by this major power outage? LADOT should have installed those yellow caution lights on Avenue 51.
And here’s another bit of news (I could not have made this up if I tried): On Sunday August 22, 2021, as I was walking southbound on Avenue 50 towards York Blvd., I observed a small white compact vehicle illegally parked in the red. It had its hazard lights on and was partially obstructing the pedestrian walkway on the southeast side of York Blvd and Avenue 50. The male driver was handing out shirts to individuals on York Blvd.
I entered the corner coffee shop to leave off some flyers and when I exited, I was contacted by a female who gave me a flyer noting Kenneth Mejia is running for Los Angeles City Controller. I told the woman I have never heard of this person, and she responded that he was standing next to the white compact vehicle. Mr. Mejia was being given a traffic citation by a Los Angeles City Parking Enforcement officer for illegally parking in the red. I asked Mr. Mejia, “Seriously, you’re running for LA City Controller? The person responsible for the accounting of all the City’s monies and auditing the City’s funds?” Mejia responded, “Now I am going to contribute my own revenue to the City of Los Angeles.”
Mejia left me with the impression that he thought it was no big deal to be involved in a traffic infraction. Does the word “entitlement” sound accurate here?
(Caroline Aguirre is a retired 24-year State of California law enforcement officer, LAPD family member, community activist and Neighborhood Watch captain. Aguirre is a CityWatch contributor.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.