The Traffic Nightmare Before Christmas

August 26, 2009 at 4:59 pm in environment

ladwp_lightsThere are very few things in Los Angeles that make idling in traffic for hours tolerable. Seeing a positively giddy Yo Yo Ma play with the LA Philharmonic as conducted by Placido Domingo last night certainly counts as one of them. But alas, dear reader, I’m not writing to provide an account of how the virtuoso bent his cello like Beckham in front of an attentive sold-out Hollywood Bowl audience. No, I’m here to help bring light to a form of entertainment on the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

If you haven’t already guessed by the photo and title of this post, I’m talking about the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Festival of Lights display it mounts in Griffith Park every holiday season. For the uninitiated, for two nearly six weeks out of the year, the LADWP strings together an absolutely third-rate series of displays on Griffith Park’s Crystal Springs Drive that, for some bizarre reason, attracts thousands of visitors every year. Nearly all of the visitors drive through the light display, which means they idle in their vehicles for up to two hours on Interstate 5 and Los Feliz Boulevard as they wait to get to the main event. Not only are the displays amateurish and the resulting traffic congestion nightmarish for nearby residents, but the event also seems highly inappropriate for a municipal utility that claims it has “an obligation to take a leading role in the fight against global warming.”

Thankfully, somebody is trying to remedy the situation. As mentioned in an article in the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood City Council’s latest newsletter, the Council is advocating for the event to be turned into a pedestrian-only event. Huzzah! And the Council wants your feedback. If you have a thought or two (yes, even if you don’t agree with me), write to them at [email protected] and give them your two cents. I’ll scan the newsletter’s article and post updates in the months to come.

UPDATE (8/27/09): Scanned the article. Here it is.

Photo by Lisa Newton via a Flickr Creative Commons license.

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