L.A. fuming over Obama traffic, demands investigation [Updated]
The massive traffic jam that resulted from President Obama's motorcade and speech Monday night in Hancock Park is prompting calls for an investigation from some residents, who say they were caught in traffic for hours.
Obama was only in L.A. for a few hours, but his presence caused numerous streets to be blocked off. [Updated at 11:05 a.m.: Obama left Los Angeles in Air Force One about 9 a.m. Tuesday.]
Residents reported that commutes and errands that typically took minutes turned into hours-long ordeals. One particular complaint was that streets remained blocked for hours -- even when Obama was inside TV producer John Wells' Hancock Park home at a fund-raiser.
"What has occurred is way beyond reasonable and can only be described as negligent," L.A. resident Kevin McCarthy said in an e-mail to The Times. "If it isn't my story, currently evolving, of beginning my 1 mile journey home at 5pm and at 7:50pm now being 3 miles from home with no viable idea of how to get closer, it should be about the two sirens-wailing ambulances I have witnessed stuck in this unnecessary gridlock."
The Los Angeles Fire Department reported no delays for emergency vehicles. But the LAPD heard an earful from angry motorists.
One man, who did not want to give his name, said it had taken his wife four hours to drive home from Brentwood. Another man trying to walk west on 6th Street to his office shouted at the officers blocking his way and told them he wished he had voted for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Obama's opponent in the 2008 presidential race.
Carlos Garcia, a 25-year-old waiter from the Miracle Mile, had the misfortune of setting out on a run about the time the area went on lockdown. He had planned on a four-mile run, but it turned into 5.5 miles as he tried unsuccessfully to get back home, ultimately waiting 25 minutes at a yellow-police-tape barrier.
"They waved me through, but then they stopped me coming back," he said. "I can't believe they did it during rush hour on a Monday."
Photos, from top: President Obama waves to the media as he departs Los Angeles International Airport on Aug. 17, 2010. The president exits Marine One and walks across the runway to Air Force One at LAX. A Marine helicopter carrying Obama's staff comes in for landing above the nose of Air Force One shortly before the president departs L.A. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times