DWP finds walking creates congestion

Every once in a while, there's a sentence in a city report that seems so patently ridiculous it should be put in a museum.

Published October 22. 2007 by LA TImes
By Steve Hymon 

Every once in a while, there's a sentence in a city report that seems so patently ridiculous it should be put in a museum.

Take the recent report on the Festival of Lights, which is held at Griffith Park every holiday season. How it works: you drive to Griffith Park and then sit in a long line of idling cars for the chance to drive past a mile-long display of twinkling lights erected by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Attentive readers may recall that some residents of nearby neighborhoods have suggested that it is mildly stupid. Their beef is that the DWP has made a lot of hooey about going "green," yet the same agency is sponsoring another traffic jam in a city that has too many already.

The residents want the entire event to be pedestrian-only. Festival-goers do have the option of walking now, but they have to share the road with idling cars. So the DWP studied the issue for months.

And the Hall of Fame sentence the report contained was what?

"Transportation officials did voice strong concerns that the walking-only event could generate more traffic and congestion, due to established car-driving patterns and the limited number of parking spaces that are available in the immediate festival area," the DWP report stated.

Huh?

As a result, the DWP is allowing the festival to be pedestrian-only on the first five nights, Nov. 21 to Nov. 25 — when the light show has the fewest number of visitors.

It should be noted that Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose district includes the park, agrees with the DWP.

Walking creates traffic jams?

The DWP contends that the Los Angeles Zoo parking lot — adjacent to the festival route — and other places in the area have just 1,300 parking spaces, but 2,500 to 4,500 cars visit the festival each night.

That's a recipe for a traffic jam, the DWP says.

The zoo's marketing department said last week that the zoo actually has fewer parking spaces: about 1,100. So how come three other recent city reports have pegged the number at 2,635, 3,150 and 3,782?

Bernadette Soter, who lives near the park, believes there is plenty of parking at the zoo. In fact, she went out this week with some friends and counted 2,600 spaces.

She is especially livid that the festival's walk nights are only on a trial basis.

"You're asking someone to come walk in a park," she said, "and the city responds by calling a walk in the park a pilot program."

Soter let out a deep sigh. And we sighed right along with her.