Obama's L.A. visit: Westside residents urged to stay home to avoid gridlock
Authorities said they were taking steps to avoid a repeat of past gridlock when President Obama arrives in Los Angeles on Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl urged Westside residents to plan activities at home during the period the president will be moving around or face “putting yourself into potential gridlock.”
Obama will arrive at Los Angeles International Airport at 2:45 p.m. He will spend some time at a fundraiser at the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City. He is scheduled to dine at the Tavern restaurant in Brentwood. It's unclear where he will spend the night, but the president is scheduled to depart from LAX about 9 a.m. Friday, at the heart of the morning commute.
Obama's visit to L.A. last summer closed numerous streets from downtown L.A. through the Westside, turning 45-minute commutes into three-hour ordeals. In his next visit in the fall he used a helicopter for some stops, and the traffic situation improved.
"Every effort is being made to minimize the impact to the residential communities and businesses affected by the president’s visit," the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement. "Although it is not always possible to provide advanced information regarding the specific routes of travel involving the president, we are committed to utilizing traffic control measures that minimize the impact upon commuters while still maintaining the safety of the President as well as the communities involved."
Rosendahl said that after the traffic nightmare last summer, he talked to White House officials and urged them to use a helicopter, which they ultimately did. He said the president’s advance team gave “encouraging signs that they appreciated that situation on the Westside.”
While there will be some hard closures and parking bans on designated streets, efforts would be made to quickly reopen them after the president’s motorcade passes by, he said.
“The president's security will be directly relate to the president’s movements and his security needs and will not be arbitrarily based. There will be flexibility,” Rosendahl said. “Frankly there wasn’t in that visit to Hancock Park. I'm hoping [this time] there will be a balance between the president’s security needs and the Westside constituents’ sensibility toward gridlock.”
-- Andrew Blankstein
Photo: Barack Obama speaks during a town hall event at Facebook Inc. headquarters in Palo Alto on Wednesday. Credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg