City Ends Traffic Officer Subsidies for Major Events

10_19_09_aids_walk.jpgPolitical events and charities, such as yesterday's AIDS Walk, can be exempted on a case-by-case basis. Photo: Dave Marez/Flickr

At last week's meeting of the City Council Transportation Committee, LADOT's Alan Willis presented on the status that the DOT has made with the owners of the Greek Theatre, Hollywood Bowl, Coliseum, Sports Arena, former Olympic Auditorium and Dodger Stadium in getting these traffic attractors to pay for their own traffic officers. In response to the budget crisis, the city has cut the budget to pay for special event traffic and parking officers for their events from $6 million to $2 million.

While the reasons for this cut have less to do with transportation policy and more to do with budgetary reasons; it's good and overdue to see the city ending what is basically a subsidy for drivers. After all, now that these agencies are going to pay their own way on traffic control, they'll probably pass the real transportation costs of the event on to the people that drive to the venue. 

Naturally, the response from the media is that Carmageddon may be upon us.

The Times ran the understated headline "Los Angeles budget crisis' main event: gridlock" for an article that actually took pains to explain that the change would lead to a very small decrease in the number of traffic officers on the street.  KPCC called the effort to force private corporations to pay for their own traffic control a "bailout," before a detailed article on the loans and other moves made by the Council to support the LADOT.

As a matter of fact, only the Sports Arena is going to opt out of paying for city traffic control officers so fans of sports, theater and music won't see much of a change on the street, but may eventually see a change in the parking costs as agencies seek the easiest way to recoup the costs of the parking control officers.

Signaled out for special praise both at the Council meeting by Willis and in the Times article was the Los Angeles Dodgers who quickly struck a deal with the city that removed only one person from one intersection leaving three traffic control officers at that place.  Howard Suskin, speaking on behalf of the Dodgers, explains.

"We believe that working cooperatively with the department of transportation that we have a deployment plan that will have no interruptions," said Howard Sunkin, senior vice president of the McCourt Group, which owns the Dodgers. "The level of service at those intersections for our fans and our neighborhoods will continue."

It's too bad that commitment to their fans doesn't extend to transit users.  You may remember that the Dodgers refused to lift a finger to continue last season's free Dodger Shuttle bus service and even sneered at the city's efforts at a public event.