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Obama traffic nightmare leaves residents with lingering road rage

We have one word for you, Mr. President, the next time you want to sweep into Los Angeles on a weekday late afternoon: helicopter. That way you can avoid the streets the rest of us mere residents must drive to get around.

President Obama's fundraising mission in Los Angeles may have been a whirlwind trip for him, but it was a tedious slog for thousands of people who found themselves in traffic gridlock from the Westside to Hancock Park.

A two-mile drive on the Westside took 45 minutes. Frustrated drivers vented on the Los Angeles Times' website, among others. No matter their politics, Los Angeles residents were united.

"It was a beautiful thing," said Brentwood resident Myles Berkowitz, commiserating with his neighbors on Montana Avenue. "Young, old, black, white -- everyone was pissed off."

Despite complaints about the street closures as Obama made his way from the Beverly Hilton to the Hancock Park home of producer John Wells (whose credits include "West Wing," "ER," and "Southland") to raise $1 million for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, no official who had a hand in sweeping the grid of city streets clear for the president would specify what -- if anything -- was done differently.

One law enforcement official did say of the president's trip Monday night that "where he went is a very tricky area."

Residents trying to navigate their way -- at rush hour, no less -- from Beverly Hills to Hancock Park know what a patchwork of surface streets that trip is.

The Secret Service puts together the routes for motorcades along with local and state law enforcement agencies, according to spokesman Edwin Donovan. And traffic disruption is a problem.

"We always look at those issues," Donovan said. "We want to make as small an impact as possible on a community. That's always a consideration."

At least Obama availed himself of the copter solution on Tuesday morning. On his way back to Los Angeles International Airport, his motorcade took him from the Beverly Hilton to an open field near Brentwood. From there, he switched to Marine One to catch a ride to the airport, thus sparing those drivers who would have had to share the 405 Freeway with him.

-- Carla Hall

Comments () | Archives (37)

I bet all Mr. Wells neighbors were PISSED OFF with HIM! Unless he was nice enough to warn them ahead of time so they could schedule it to be away from home for the duration or stock up and stay home till it was Prez was gone.

It could have been worse. President Obama landed at LAX and took a helicopter to the Brentwood area. By worse I mean, shutting down freeways (I405 & I10) for Secret Service escorts as has been done in the past. That would have been chaos for L.A. commuters. Personally I feel that this anti-presidential sentiment is politically charged. A lot of residents out there dislike him, had the president been someone of their liking, this would not be the case. But I will not even try to beat around it, traffic in L.A. does suck so sorry to all of those who were affected.

The Times' statement that "Los Angeles residents were united" in venting fustration at Obama is not true. I for one, had my bus trip detoured to go around the area to get to my job, but I have no complaint. Whatever minor inconvenience I suffered (including lost time at work which I won't get paid for) was worth avoiding Los Angeles 2010 being remembered the same way as Dallas 1963. Judging by some of the comments here, there is now even more danger of a nut using his (or her) "right" to bear arms to get rid of the President who dares to cause any inconvenience. The lesson from this episode should be that we need more public transportation - maybe this will urge Obama to get more federal money for that purpose to L.A.

Mr. Obama comes to town and everyone talks about the traffic? LOL

It is bad enough that he disrupted commerce and quality of life, but the real problem is that it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars for street closures, police, fire/paramedic services, street posting etc... and the city does NOT get re-imbursed. This city is broke already, and he helps ensure we have no extra funds for police as the reserve fund is used for this "Fund raising"trip.
Good God, at least do something Presidential like visit the V A hospital so that you can write off the trip as an official function of his office !!!!!!!!!

I think there are a million pissed off people that would have rather given $1 each just to keep Obama out of our commute, and maybe out of our city... Then we wouldn't have to deal with the traffic, and the president would have done his fundraising. I think we should consider this next time. SO ANNOYING.

It seems the producers of 'The Closer' were in the know about Obama's visit months ago as they wrote the traffic jam scenario into their script that just aired last night. The detectives on the show were pissed about the timing of the Presidential visit as it created a nightmarish traffic debacle.
Gee, wish those in the 'in' crowd would have shared that info with the 'little' people, might have saved everyone from a hellish afternoon commute.

Meanwhile in Malibu, Mel Gibson was seen fuming as he attempted to get to the Presidential dinner and got stuck in cross town traffic. Apparently he
was given the wrong set of directions in his invitation.

Obama may have used Marine 1, but Barrington Ave. was still closed off. A large motorcade whizzed by, complete with armed escorts. Street was not opened until about 9 AM. Could not leave our condo parking until all tape removed. Actually nice to see my neighbors lining the curb since there was no where to go.

This morning was the worst traffic I have ever experienced, period. It took one hour to get from Pacific Palisades to UCLA. I feel that each one of the tens of thousands who were affected last night and this morning has personally sacrificed for the partisan Democratic cause. Do we get a tax write-off? I think this is fine when he is here on state business but fund-raising for his party should be done on his own nickel...and at his own risk.

Sorry, but anybody suggesting they weren't bothered is either lying or stupid. The President's advance staff needs to be fired! These morons should have the thoughtfulness to know that traffic in LA is already unbearable, so they shouldn't add to the traffic chaos. Delay the event 2 hours or use a copter. With California at 12%+ unemployment and the City of LA facing its worst budget crisis, depressed/stressed voters get angrier. Oh, and yes - I voted for Obama.

So many people are saying, "traffic in LA is always bad". I know, I spend every day in traffic. It's part of life, I accept it. However, last night was WAY beyond the norm, and if you weren't in it, you really have no idea. My drive home usually takes me 45 minutes. It has taken me up to 1.5 hours on a really bad day with a wreck, etc. Yesterday it took 4 hours. It's an 8 mile drive. I was told my 3 different officers that I had no way home until things were clear. This wasn't "LA traffic". Even when I was willing to park my car and walk the last 1.5 miles, I was told I couldn't cross to my neighborhood. It's LA, I can accept standard inconvenience. It comes with the city. This however, was negligent. It cost a lot of people money and valuable time. Someone needs to answer for it, or at the very least, they owe the residents who were caught up in this mess, a very sincere apology. Just make sure it doesn't happen again.

So, why is it the President's fault that the City can't plan its collective way out of a paper bag with both ends open. I'm sure the City was notified WAY in advance. Not to mention those people who just have to go that way when advised to avoid the area.

So, again, why is the Pesident at fault?

Don't blame it on the president. L.A. traffic sucks regardless.

Please, Los Angeles, get over it. Grow up.

How about a little advanced notice so we can all plan ahead? Children were waiting at basketball practice and nurses had shifts to report to.

The man is a civil servant, not a demi-god. Please advise the people who hired you when you will be an inconvenience to their already-overwhelming duties to modern life.

While in Brentwood, after the taxpayer funded copter ride after the taxpayer funded Air Force One trip, after the taxpayer funded motorcade, for the benefit of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and NOT the taxpayer, do you think Obama had the decency to stop by the VA hospital to visit our vets? No, because the next taxpayer funded political junket could not wait for that kind of respect being paid to our national heros.

Actually even the Tuesday morning commute in the west side was a nightmare. I work in the UCLA area and hundreds of patients at the hospitals were hours late for their appointments -- even the doctors couldn't get to work. My coworkers were several HOURS late because of the oh-so-brilliant decision for Obama to leave in rush hour --- AGAIN!

Ok, LA Times can you please name who will respond and not pass the buck!

Readers: Call the Mayor's Office and your local city council person to complain. I don't care what your politics are, yesterday's traffic nightmare was NOT acceptable.

Please stay on this story LA Times, we're all so mad about that mess!

So Obama is willing to lose more than $10 million in lost productivity by snarling people in traffic in order to seek a $1 million donation? That's foolish and inconsiderate. I suggest inviting the donor to the White House next time--no traffic interruption necessary.

I like Obama, but this disruption was selfish and irresponsible. Traffic is a significant source of lost productivity and anxiety, and our fragile economy can not withstand either setback.

Just think, if you leave Reid in control ALL of Obama's GOOD ideas can be put into place. Then you can have him coming to your broke state a few times a month to tell you how well his "Summer of Recovery" is going. Might want to ask him why it took him so long to go against Obama regarding the 911 Mosque. After all Obama said it should "strongly" be all right on Friday and it too Reid 3 days to disagree (after he saw which way the political wind was blowing).

I got stuck in it too...I think the real issue is not the inconvenience, but the totally unnecessary lack of thought that went into this. They completely shut down 3 major east-west arteries, and basically stopped the city dead in its tracks for 4 hours.

I have been stuck in Presidential traffic here with Clinton and W., and normally there is a temporary closure of the street the president is on for about 10 minutes while the motorcade moves by. This time the shut down was complete on Olympic, Santa Monica, and Wilshire for 3 or 4 hours for about a 7 mile stretch. He certainly wasn't on all of them at the same time.

I think everyone should complain. Via the National Journal, here is some contact info for the Director of Advance at the Whitehouse:
Emmett Beliveau
White House
Director of Advance

You know, I'll probably still vote for Obama next time. But he is really making it easy for a die-hard progressive like myself to despise him.

My oh my the President of the United States made someone sit in traffic. Where are your priorities?

My co-workers and I don't believe the police chief's response that no ambulances were caught in the gridlock, as mentioned in some articles. (A significant number of crimes never make it to the official map, why should this be different?)

How about announcing the the street closures prior to the next presidential visit? Like last time. Then the millions of taxpayers in this city would have a chance to plan ahead, and actually reach their hungry children, appointments, jobs, etc. on time or reschedule in advance.

Maybe he could have stopped a few times along the way and kowtowed, curtsied, bowed and kissed a few rings. That seemed to make things better during his overseas visits so why shouldn't it have worked here as well. Really, I don't care. Long, long time ago we frequented L.A. a lot. Now with all the traffic and other extraneous B.S. that goes on over there we avoid it like the plague unless it's an absolute necessity.

Don't blame the man, anytime any President goes anywhere its creates a mess. I remember the messes when Reagan, both Bushes, Clinton have come to L.A.

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