My commute to and from downtown Los Angeles is really not bad. I tend to come in early, so I zip through Echo Park before the school traffic clogs it up. Driving home's not bad, either, except when the Dodgers are playing and I time the drive wrong. There are choke-points in any route; I attribute them to urban living and accept them and use the time to listen to the news or music.
There's one exception.
When I leave work, I tend to turn left onto Grand Avenue up on Bunker Hill and drive to the Harbor Freeway — a half-dozen blocks featuring the Disney Concert Hall, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Cathedral, and the courthouse where I often litigate. It's a major thoroughfare, leading from the heart of downtown to two of the area's busiest freeways.
Yet there's only one choke-point on this stretch of road.
See, there's an underground parking garage for the employees of the group of Los Angeles County offices that inhabit the block bordered by Grand, Temple, 1st, and Hill. The entrance and exit for that parking garage is on the northbound side of Grand.
More often than not, if I drive home during rush hour, there's a choke-point there. There's a choke-point because a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy has parked his car in the right-hand lane of Grand Avenue, set out cones, and run a traffic break blocking one of the two northbound lanes of a busy street leading to the freeway, all just before that exit from the parking garage.
That gives the people leaving the parking garage a nice protected right turn onto Grand, so they don't have to wait for a break in traffic to merge.
Often I see the Sheriff's deputy — sometimes two — standing around, leaning against the cruiser, drinking coffee, waving to people as they exit underground parking.
Now, maybe there is science behind this. Maybe someone did a study, and found that the merging traffic from that parking garage slows down traffic on Grand so much that the best and most efficient way to handle it is to block off a lane during rush hour.
Yet I've driven around Los Angeles a lot, and seen a lot of traffic choke-points, and exited a lot of parking garages into heavy traffic. I haven't seen the Sheriff blocking a lane like that anywhere else, except occasionally at large entertainment venues like Dodger Stadium or the Staples Center after the game or the Hollywood Bowl after a concert.
Could it have something to do with the fact that County Supervisors and County Counsel and the County's Chief Administrative Office and judges and senior court staff and the County Civil Service Commission all have parking in that garage? Is that why law enforcement resources are being used to improve the commute of a few drivers, at the expense of others?
People say to me, "you're a libertarian? That means you don't trust government, right?"
Yes, this is a rerun, or reboot, or whatever you want to call it.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
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