Filed Under: D’oh! City Stamps Out Safety-Enhancing DIY Effort in Silver Lake, Leaves Massive Gang Signs in Place in South Central

Undisclosed Silver Lake intersection. Photo by Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
Intersection at Effie and Hyperion in Silver Lake. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Last month, I sent a photo illustrating some of the new designs that had popped up at Effie and Hyperion in Silver Lake (above) to Joe and Damien.

Joe, without disclosing the location, posted it to Streetsblog with a brief accompanying explanation.

As he noted, the intersection has seen various DIY interventions. The painting of the chunks of cement — which has been going on for years now — seems to have been part of an effort by the neighbors to get people to slow down on the side streets. Cars have had a tendency to fly up and down Hyperion, which serves as a sort of back-door connector between Sunset Bl. and Fountain Ave (where it turns into Hyperion) and faster than the adjacent Griffith Park Bl., which has stop signs every few blocks.

Other interventions I’ve seen have included bollards at the stop signs with fun signage (below).

The Department of DIY takes things into their own hands to make streets safer for bikes and pedestrians at Hyperion and Effie in Silverlake (sahra/LA Streetsblog)
Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me on the day the sign read, “Are you Tracy Chapman? No? Then, no fast car!” Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Ever efficient when it sniffs out fun and safety-enhancing DIY interventions, the city repainted the intersection in soul-killing shades of gray some time last week (below).

50 shades of sadness reign at Effie and Hyperion. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
50 shades of sadness reign at Effie and Hyperion. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

I find this turn of events disturbing for a few reasons.

For one, the paint was apparently deemed so troubling it could not stand, but the deep cracks and uneven pavement, which constitute genuine safety hazards for cyclists, skateboarders, and pedestrians (particularly those pushing children in strollers or using wheelchairs) trying to navigate the awkwardly sloped hill and its poorly marked pedestrian crossings and stops, are not a problem.

Second, the colorful paint — again, meant as a fun way to enhance safety and located a quarter of a mile from the blindingly green Sunset Triangle Plaza — was somehow more threatening than the gang signs painted in the middle of the intersection at 23rd and Trinity that I wrote about last year.

What’s that you say?

Allow me to explain.

South Central Primera Flats 23rd Street painted both “23” and their gang sign in the middle of the intersection at 23rd and Trinity several years ago (below).

Fingers painted on the street call out "23." Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
Fingers painted on the street call out “23.” Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

But as these photos show, as of this morning, they have yet to be painted over.

The sign for "Primera Flats" at 23rd and Trinity. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
The sign for “Primera Flats” at 23rd and Trinity. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

These are harder to see than colorful paint splotches, to be sure. But these guys are pretty diligent, and they’ve covered lots of surfaces, just to make sure you know who controls the area (see the hand signs from above thrown here).

"PF" and "PF23St" mark the curbs around the painted intersection. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
“PF” and “PF23St” mark the curbs around the painted intersection. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

In case you’re not looking down, they put some stuff at eye level, too.

Poles read "PF23." Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
Poles read “PF23.” Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

And on nearby walls and gates for good measure.

PF23 crossing out a rival that as dared to come in and mark up their territory. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
PF23 crossing out a rival that dared to come in and mark up their territory. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

These tags are all found at the intersection.

But there’s many more on walls of some of the industrial buildings, businesses, and in the alleys around the area. They mark the telephone poles and curb cuts around Trinity Park, as well, making clear who is welcome at the park and who is not.

I’m not against youth of a community banding together and finding a way to beautify their streets in a way that reflects their neighborhood and culture. But I’m pretty sure that most people would agree that gang signs and tags don’t really fit into that category.

In fact, most people, particularly those that live in neighborhoods where gang activity really impacts their ability to move through the public space, would probably argue that there is an inverse relationship between the extent to which a community is so blatantly and enduringly marked up and the amount of attention and resources it has gotten from the city.

I’m just sayin’.

So, rest easy, good people of Silver Lake. Your miserable intersection is safe from the Department of DIY. I wish I could say the same for the good people of Historic South Central.

  • David Bell

    In the alley behind our old house on Westmoreland, we used to get scads of gang tags. Then, one day, a bunch of graffiti artists painted murals on whatever space they could find in the alley. And the gangs stopped tagging the alley. That is until the City came and painted over all the murals with beige paint. Luckily for us, the artists came back and the City hasn’t been in to do its usual damage. To the people of Silverlake I say: get out your paintbrushes and DIY again.

  • patrick

    That intersection exemplifies the entirety of Griffith Park Blvd. The bike lanes are just one long hazard for bikers. I see increasing numbers of bikers use parallel Hyperion Blvd despite its high traffic and speeds, narrow lanes, and lack of bike lanes. Many cyclists deem those real hazards as less dangerous than the condition of Griffith Park Blvd pavement. I thought the DIY painting enhanced safety.

  • A different Patrick

    Love how they had time to paint over the “street art” but not fix the perpetually broken and hazardous cement.

  • Joe Linton

    It’s a sad double standard. (Let’s see if the city does anything at 23rd and Trinity… perhaps they don’t care about gang graffiti because it doesn’t help calm traffic? Sort of like the Army Corps of Engineers historically not painting out graffiti on the concrete walls of the L.A. River because the graffiti didn’t impact flood capacity. Maybe LADOT only buffs paint that’s intended to calm traffic.)

  • Alicia

    DIY is fine… but hopefully some of them DIY fixes to the cracks. You can get cement at any hardware store, mix it up in a wheelbarrow, and then start filling these things in.

  • James

    Perhaps next time any report on or posted photos of diy traffic calming should edited make it harder to locate. I’m inclined to think they learned of this by reading this blog as opposed to their usual methods of scouring the city in search of any decay and promptly repairing even the shallowest crack.

  • Joe Linton

    Well, we deliberately didn’t mention what intersection this was… next time we’ll have photoshop an easily recognizable L.A. landmark (perhaps Metro or Caltrans headquarters) into the background!

  • sahra

    This intersection has been painted off and on for a few years… it wasn’t new. So, it wasn’t that the city wasn’t aware of it (they recently repaved parts of Hyperion, and the intersection had some colored sections even then, and it is literally within spitting distance of the green plaza). I think calling it out made them feel something had to be done about it…Although, as I said, they clearly didn’t feel that same urgency in South Central.

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