Hell on Highland

An image from Jean-Luc Godard's "Weekend". Frustrated drivers, stuck in an endless traffic jam,  start attacking each other.

An image from Jean-Luc Godard’s “Weekend”. Frustrated drivers, stuck in an endless traffic jam,
start attacking each other.

I wish I’d had a camera with me last night. I got off the Red Line in Hollywood around seven, and started walking north on Highland. The northbound traffic was backed up and moving slowly, but that’s not unusual. Then I got to Franklin and saw that westbound traffic was backed up there, too. That’s when I realized something was probably going on at the Bowl. (Later I learned it was a Katy Perry concert.) Again, this is nothing out of the ordinary. As the Bowl continues to schedule more off-season events, the horrible congestion that used to be confined to summer is becoming a year-round phenomenon.

But then I got to Wilcox, and I saw that the westbound traffic on Franklin was backed up all the way to freeway. I’ve seen congestion on Franklin before, but never this bad. This was also affecting the traffic on Wilcox, which was backed up as far south as I could see.

Now, I’m not bringing this up just to whine about traffic. The reason this spectacle freaked me out is because it seems like a vision of things to come. Anyone who lives in Hollywood knows how bad the traffic is already, but the City of LA continues to approve massive projects, often over the vocal objections of Hollywood residents. Just days ago I learned about two new residential complexes that are slated to be built on Highland, in this same area. Right at the corner of Highland and Franklin, a developer plans to build a residential complex with over a hundred units. And at Highland and Selma, just about a half mile away, the plan is to build a residential/retail complex with over three hundred units.

The fact that these two projects will make traffic on Highland even worse is probably obvious to everyone, except the people in the Department of City Planning. They are pushing these two projects forward using Mitigated Negative Declarations (MNDs), which means they have determined that building over four hundred new units within a half mile of each other in an already congested corridor will have no significant negative impacts. Remember, the recently completed Jefferson, at Highland and Yucca, contains two hundred and seventy units. And on La Brea there are a number of projects already under construction which will total over a thousand new units. Much of the traffic generated by these projects will be travelling through the Highland/Cahuenga corridor.

Is the City Council ever going to stop this insanity?! Not unless local residents apply a lot of pressure. If you live in Hollywood, and if you think the traffic is bad enough already, please call your City Council representative. It should be either Tom LaBonge or Mitch O’Farrell, but check the maps to make sure. The boundaries are tricky. Here’s the link….

LA City Council Directory

By the way, last night I stopped to have a cup of coffee at a place on the corner of Franklin and Cahuenga. When I left about a half hour later, the westbound traffic on Franklin was still backed up to the freeway.

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