LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Bemoaning the "rude, inexcusable, immature, self- absorbed behavior" that has forced multiple closures of the Sixth Street Bridge, Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León said Friday that people painting graffiti, doing donuts in their cars and even getting haircuts on the bridge since it opened three weeks ago in his district need to start acting more maturely.
What You Need To Know
- The LAPD announced Friday that officers will conduct a traffic enforcement operation on the bridge on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- The operation is intended "to ensure safe passage and movement along the bridge itself," according to police
- LA City Councilman Kevin de León pledged that "We're not going to allow a small group of individuals to taint the image of the city or the bridge itself"
- Police have made more than 57 citations and impounded six vehicles over the past week, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said
De León, speaking to reporters at City Hall on Friday, pledged that "We're not going to allow a small group of individuals to taint the image of the city or the bridge itself."
"Ninety-nine percent of the folks who have experienced that bridge love that bridge," de León said. "It fills them with a sense of pride. They are over the moon on this bridge right here."
The Los Angeles City Council's Public Works Committee, of which de León is a member, recommended Wednesday that the council approve $706,000 to remove graffiti and provide other maintenance on the Sixth Street Bridge after police closed the bridge to traffic four times in five days.
De León also introduced a motion Friday requesting that the city clarify its laws so that "it is clear what actions are illegal to do" on the bridge and that the city attorney prepare an urgent ordinance prohibiting activities such as street takeovers, drag racing and accessing areas outside the bridge's fencing. He requested that several city agencies, including the Los Angeles Police Department, report back with plans for staffing and resources for better security on the bridge.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the Police Commission that police hoped to install speed bumps in hopes of deterring the "dangerous speed displays and exhibitions" on the bridge.
A center median and fencing to discourage people from scaling the archways could also be installed on a temporary basis, Moore said.
Police have made more than 57 citations and impounded six vehicles over the past week, Moore said.
"We're not going to arrest our way out of this," Moore said. "Despite the hundreds of impounds and citations and arrests, we still see the proliferation of this. So I'm asking for the public's help and support and assistance."
The bridge, connecting Boyle Heights with the downtown Arts District, was reopened early Wednesday after another closure due to "illegal activity" that has included people converging on the span, performing spinouts, burnouts or blocking traffic.
The LAPD announced Friday that officers will conduct a traffic enforcement operation on the bridge on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. The operation is intended "to ensure safe passage and movement along the bridge itself," according to police.
The bridge opened July 10 to much fanfare, marking a key milestone in a construction project that began in 2016 to replace a 1932-vintage structure. But city officials, including de León, were not anticipating what would come next.
"I don't think that you consider and actually visualize or prepare for someone who was actually going to give a haircut or receive a haircut on the median in the middle of the bridge," de León said. "That's the height of absurdity. I don't know if that's what makes LA funky and cool and hip. With the good comes the bad and all that. But whoever would've thought that? In our wildest dreams."
To underscore de León's point that the Sixth Street Bridge fell victim to being the first major bridge to open in the social media era, several tweets showing a man getting a haircut in the middle of the bridge last week have thousands of likes on Twitter.
De León posed a question Friday that he has repeated all week: Do Angelenos deserve good things, given what is happening on the bridge?
He quickly answered himself: "Yeah we do. Hell yeah. No question about it."
Because what would be the alternative? de León continued. "An architecturally designed bridge that is just functional? We have a lot of that in LA We have a lot of that. That already exists in LA We want good things. We want beautiful things. Guess what? We're just going to have to step up and take care of them."
Graffiti is also an issue. Removal crews have cleaned up an average of 1,244 square feet of graffiti each day since the bridge opened and spent an average of 21 1/2 hours a day at the bridge. Part of the plan is to allocate more than $100,000 per month for three months for graffiti removal and tagging enforcement. De León said that graffiti is a ubiquitous problem that is not unique to this bridge.
"The graffiti's not going to disappear overnight," de León said. "I wish that folks could self-regulate their behaviors. And instead of costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars on an annual basis to clean up the mess they leave for all of us, that they would step up and do the right thing. Unfortunately, I don't think that's going to be the reality for the near future."
De León admitted that the bollards meant to separate bicycles from cars are not working, with pictures posted to social media showing cars running over them. He said he would reexamine the bollards because as is, they are "not going to protect the bicyclists or a family."
De León feared the worst-case scenario of the antics, such as someone slipping and falling off the archways or a car wiping out while doing a donut and crashing into a family.
"We're just going to work out those kinks that we have to work out," de León said. "This is not going to last for a long time."