The crowds are starting to converge on downtown L.A. today for a parade celebrating the Lakers world championship victory.
The parade comes after several days of controversy over who should foot the bill. The city of Los Angeles originally planned to cover the estimated $2 million cost, but that spurred objections from members of city unions who said the spending didn't make sense amid cuts and layoffs. Now, private donors are covering the costs.
The parade is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. at Staples Center and proceed south on Figueroa Street to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The route, too, has been somewhat controversial. "While the stretch of Figueroa south of Staples might someday be a vibrant connection linking USC to Downtown, it is far from that today," wrote Eric Richardson at BlogDowntown. "It's a stretch lined by car dealerships, strip malls and fast food. That's a tired image of Los Angeles."
Traffic is expected to be jammed this morning in the vicinity of the parade route, particularly in southern downtown L.A. and the USC area. The MTA says bus service will be affected by the celebration. Expect delays on the following MTA routes: 28, 30, 31, 35, 37, 38, 40, 42, 55, 70, 71, 76, 78, 79, 81, 102, 200, 204, 335, 355, 378, 439, 442, 444, 445, 446, 447, 450x, 460, 484, 485, 550, 714, 728, 730, 740, 754 and 770. The MTA has added trains to the Blue Line, Red Line, Purple Line, Green Line and Gold Line to help get people to and from the parade.
STREET CLOSURES: Dozens of streets will be closed, many as early as 6 a.m. Most of the closures are within an area bounded by Martin Luther King Boulevard, Jefferson Boulevard, Hoover Street, Union Avenue, 9th Street and Broadway. They include Figueroa, Flower Street, Pico Boulevard and Washington Boulevard. Several exits to the 110 and 10 freeways also will be closed.
The Los Angeles Police Department will be out in force on the parade route and at the Coliseum, hoping to avoid a repeat of the problems after the Lakers won the world championship Sunday night. “It is no secret we will have a very strong uniformed presence along the parade route,” said LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith. “It is no secret we will have undercover officers in the crowd, and we are going to be careful to arrest anyone out of control.” Smith said the LAPD will have extra jailers on Wednesday and a mobile jail ready to hold anyone who disturbs the celebration, which is expected to last about three hours. “If you throw something at the parade, you will go to jail," he said. "If you set light to something, you will go to jail. If you break anything, you will go to jail.”