City Weighs Closure of One Ballona Creek Bike Path Entrance

ballona creek_1.jpg 
Sepulveda Blvd. Over Ballona Creek Bike Trail

Responding to a letter from the LAPD and constituent complaints about crime, Councilman Bill Rosendahl introduced a resolution to the City Council that would close an entrance for the Ballona Creek Bike Path along Culver Drive between Purdue Avenue and Sawtelle Boulevard. The path begins at Syd Kronenthal Park in east Culver City and travels the river about 7 miles before meeting with the Coast Bike Path.

Speaking for the local community, Bob Thayer and Lou Corbin painted a nightmare scenario of the entrance’s impact on their streets. Corbin testified that local gang bangers use the entrance as an escape hatch and lookout when committing crimes in the neighborhood. Neighborhood children have been attacked while coming home, houses along streets have been burglarized, and there were even some shootings because the gate is a hangout for drug dealers.

Residents also argued that permanently closing the gate shouldn’t affect bicyclists use of the trail because there are other entrances close by, the nearest one being less than a quarter mile away.

Despite this bleak picture, bicycle advocates were sympathetic but unconvinced closing the gate will do anything but make the area even less safe. Cyclists encouraged increasing police patrols, adding cameras and lighting to the gate and other safety measures that would not change access to the Ballona Creek trail.

Enci Boxof Illuminate L.A. testified that, "Removing gates makes the trail and the community less safe. If as a pedestrian I see a gang up ahead, there’s less ways to escape. We need to be opening up the river trail and put more eyes on the community."

Kent Strumpellalso argued that closing an entrance to a corridor would never be considered if there were a perceived safety problem because of a road entrance. "This is a transportation corridor, not a recreational corridor . . . moving the entrance to another location is like shuffling traffic around the neighborhood."

The cyclists were not without allies. LADOT Senior Project Coordinator Michelle Mowery testified that moving or closing the gate would have no safety benefits for the community, "We believe the gate will be cut open, and the wrong people will continue to use it." Stephen Box also read letters into the record opposing the trail closure from the Ballona Creek Renaissance and the Center for Land Use Interpretation.

Nevertheless, most of the council people present sympathized more with the community than with the cyclists. Only Councilman Richard Alarcón questioned whether the gate closure would work and what message the closure would send. "I hate to see facilities like this closed to the community because it’s like saying to the gangs, ‘we lost.’"

Councilman Rosendahl encouraged LADOT to hold a meeting with the community, cyclists, LAPD and the Del Rey Community Council to come up with a safety plan for the gate. Unless a solution is reached that makes the community feel safe within the next 30 days, Rosendahl promised to push ahead with his resolution. Because of the trails use an access to schools in the area, approval from the state might also be required before the gate can be closed.

Photo:Andrew.Harmon/Flickr

  • Radical Transportation Engineer

    Closing the gate makes the area more isolated, more prone to crime, one might say a safer and better place for criminals, a haven. Sounds like a ridiculous idea to me. Cameras and enforcement are the way to go, they are the only answer.

  • Justin

    I totally agree with R T E. Closing a bike path entrance is going to reduce crime? Suuuuure. Now, I understand that LA has the least police/capita of any major urban city in America, but closing bike ramps isn’t really going to make a difference.

    I wonder if after they close the ramp, and the crime doesn’t go away, they will re-open it.

    Justin

  • Closing entrances to the bike path is exactly what we should NOT do. Wrong message. Wrong action. Wrong result will occur. Crack down on the gang bangers with cameras and patrols. Initiate a “no tolerance” policy and get the FBI to use the RICO Act (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) to break up the gang.

    WE ARE NOT GOING TO START CLOSING PUBLIC RIGHT OF WAYS BECAUSE GANGS ARE FLEXING MUSCLE!

  • Stu Press

    How the heck is closing a gate going to stop gangs from hanging out on the bike path!?! The gangbangers, many of whom live in the projects that are up against the path, can just jump the fence..not much to it. They know recreational and commuter cyclists are always going up and down the path…and will make even JUCIER targets when it’s even MORE isolated!! Councilman Rosendahl is quite naieve.

  • Greg

    I received the below this weekend after writing to Rosendahl expressing my displeasure over the possible closing. We need to get a large amount of people there:

    Hello,

    Thank you for contacting the Office of Councilmember Rosendahl
    regarding the Ballona Creek bike path. A public meeting will be held on
    Thursday, April 3rd 6-7:30pm in Councilmember Rosendahl’s Westchester
    Field Office located at 7166 W. Manchester Blvd.Westchester, CA 90045 to
    discuss community concerns. Representatives from the Los Angeles Police
    Department and Department of Transportation will be present. I encourage
    you to attend and share your perspective.

    If you have any questions, please email or call me.

    Regards,

    Nicole A. Velásquez
    Field Deputy
    Councilmember Bill Rosendahl
    City of Los Angeles, 11th District
    7166 W. Manchester Blvd.
    Westchester, CA 90045
    PH: (310) 568-8772
    FAX: (310) 410-3946
    EMAIL: nicole.velasquez@lacity.org
    http://www.councilmanrosendahl.com

  • I attended that meeting and it is clear that the residents of that gate are being terrorized by gangs, and that cyclists will be in greater danger if the access gate is closed. As one bike path rider said perfectly, “citizens use gates, criminals jump fences.”

    The LAPD has given up policing, either because of lack of resources or because of incompetence battling street gangs. The path itself is County turf, while the street-side intersection is City of LA. It is only by pressuring Rosendahl’s office to push the LAPD into effective policing, in cooperation with Burke’s office which has jurisdiction over that section of bike path, that both residents and cyclists will find a solution.

    I urge you to contact both Rosendahl and Burke’s office to express your concerns.

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