As 'Carmageddon' approaches, other cities offer incentives to avoid Westside
"Carmaggedon" is coming, but several Southland cities are encouraging residents to avoid the potential traffic nightmare by attending a full slate of activities this weekend.
Pasadena, Palmdale, Santa Monica and Newport Beach have several deals in place for the weekend to entice their own residents to stay home and to lure Angelenos away from the Westside during the 53-hour closure of the 405 Freeway, set to begin Friday.
Organizers of Saturday's L.A. Street Food Fest at the Rose Bowl are advertising their annual event as a potential "staycation" for those wishing to avoid traffic woes. In addition to offering a free shuttle service between the Metro Memorial Park Station and the Rose Bowl, free parking and a multitude of bicycle racks, the festival also has arranged for attendees to receive discounted rates at the Courtyard Marriot in Old Town Pasadena.
Palmdale officials are encouraging visitors to take advantage of the weekend activities taking place in the city — including a Thursday night open market, a Saturday summer concert and a Sunday grand opening of a Yardhouse restaurant — as well as permanent attractions such as the DryTown Water Park.
"Traffic is going to be rough around the I-405 and I-10 area as demolition activities will take place over the weekend for 53 consecutive hours," Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford said in a statement. "Since authorities are advising people to avoid the area until the project is complete, we're taking this opportunity to invite people to Palmdale to take advantage of the many summer activities going on this weekend as well as all the amenities we have to offer."
In Santa Monica, city officials are encouraging residents to "stay and play local," and are advertising "405-free" weekend activities. A wide array of local businesses, hotels and restaurants are also offering discounts during the closure.
In Newport Beach, six major hotels are offering visitors package deals or discounted prices, free services or other perks as an incentive to visit, reports the Daily Pilot.
Gary Sherwin, president of Visit Newport Beach, told the Pilot he came up with the idea after hearing Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa say people should "go on vacation" during the closure. His group's ad campaign says heading south to Newport Beach this weekend is "more than a vacation. It's a civic duty!"
"It was an opportunity that was handed to us," Sherwin told the Pilot. "If there has ever been a motivation to get out of L.A., this is it."
-- Kate Mather
Photo: Caltrans sign warns of 405 Freeway closure. Credit: Raul Roa / Times Community News