EDITOR’S NOTE: Multimedia journalist Anna Albaryan spoke with Angelino Heights residents about what the city is doing to prevent street races. Click the arrow above to watch the video.
LOS ANGELES — As the latest high-revving installment of the "Fast & Furious" movie franchise hits theaters, residents in the Angelino Heights neighborhood, where many of the scenes are filmed, are breathing a sigh of relief.
After years of hearing wannabe street racers do doughnuts and burnouts outside their windows in the middle of the night, they’re hoping some long-requested road improvements might finally slow things down.
While the asphalt along Bellevue Avenue around Marion Park is still crisscrossed with streaks of asphalt from years of amateur racing, the intersection has been reinforced with additional yellow plastic bollards in the center of the street to narrow cars’ path of travel, as well as signage and large painted arrows on the asphalt indicating the proper direction to drive around new traffic circles.
There are also cement wheel stops in the roadway to slow vehicles and street signs clearly indicating the speed limit. Later this month, additional speed humps will also be installed.
“You’re in danger of hitting things a lot more now and injuring the paint on your car,” Streets Are for Everyone executive director and safety advocate Damian Kevitt told Spectrum News 1.
SAFE is one of a handful of safety groups that responded to requests for help from Angelino Heights residents, who have long complained to city officials that their streets are a playground for “Fast & Furious” copycats, endangering their safety by speeding through residential streets and keeping people away with noisy exhaust systems.
Over the course of two decades and 10 “Fast & Furious” films so far, the Vin Diesel character Dom Toretto has lived in a pale blue craftsman on Kensington Road, where he keeps the prized 1970 Dodge Charger he often races on the street. In real life, that house has become a touchstone for “Fast” fans who speed by, as have nearby Bob’s Market and Marion Park.
Last summer, during filming for “Fast X,” SAFE and several other safety groups protested in Angelino Heights to demand the city reengineer some of the neighborhood’s streets to prevent burnouts in front of Bob’s Market at Marion Park, a sliver of grass outside the classic LA bodega that has long been a feature in the “Fast” films.
“I won’t be satisfied until I know that all of these changes work because this is experimental,” Kevitt said. “There is no playbook that LADOT has or any agency has that says this is how you address street racing and sideshow activity in a residential neighborhood or on a major street. What’s being done here are the best ideas, and we’re hoping that it works.”
The roadway changes come as the city struggles to rein in illegal street takeovers, sideshows and street races, which have grown dramatically in the last couple years, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. On Thursday, just prior to the release of “Fast X,” officials with the LAPD, California Highway Patrol and LA County Sheriff’s Department warned the public about the hazards of illegal street racing.
“The popularity of movies such as the ‘Fast & Furious’ series and their upcoming latest release we believe is likely to influence copycats because of the movie glamorizing this very dangerous activity,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said.