Sixth Street Bridge: LAPD to increase security this weekend in effort to discourage dangerous antics

City News Service
Sunday, July 31, 2022
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Councilman Kevin de León said people painting graffiti, doing donuts in their cars and even getting haircuts on the bridge need to start acting more maturely.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- The Los Angeles Police Department announced Friday that officers will conduct a traffic enforcement operation on the Sixth Street Bridge on Sunday.

The operation, from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., is intended "to ensure safe passage and movement along the bridge itself," according to police.

The bridge opened July 10 to much fanfare, marking a key milestone in a construction project that began in 2016 to replace a 1932-vintage structure. But city officials, including Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León, were not anticipating what would come next.

Bemoaning the "rude, inexcusable, immature, self- absorbed behavior" that has forced multiple closures of the bridge, de León said people painting graffiti, doing donuts in their cars and even getting haircuts on the bridge since it opened three weeks ago in his district need to start acting more maturely.

De León, speaking to reporters at City Hall on Friday, pledged that "We're not going to allow a small group of individuals to taint the image of the city or the bridge itself."

"Ninety-nine percent of the folks who have experienced that bridge love that bridge," de León said. "It fills them with a sense of pride. They are over the moon on this bridge right here."

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The Los Angeles City Council's Public Works Committee, of which de León is a member, recommended Wednesday that the council approve $706,000 to remove graffiti and provide other maintenance on the Sixth Street Bridge after police closed it to traffic four times in five days.

De León also introduced a motion Friday requesting that the city clarify its laws so that "it is clear what actions are illegal to do" on the bridge and that the city attorney prepare an urgent ordinance prohibiting activities such as street takeovers, drag racing and accessing areas outside the bridge's fencing. He requested that several city agencies, including the Los Angeles Police Department, report back with plans for staffing and resources for better security on the bridge.

The bridge, connecting Boyle Heights with the downtown Arts District, was reopened early Wednesday after another closure due to "illegal activity" that has included people converging on the span, performing spinouts, burnouts or blocking traffic.

"I don't think that you consider and actually visualize or prepare for someone who was actually going to give a haircut or receive a haircut on the median in the middle of the bridge," de León said. "That's the height of absurdity. I don't know if that's what makes L.A. funky and cool and hip. With the good comes the bad and all that. But whoever would've thought that? In our wildest dreams."

To underscore de León's point that the Sixth Street Bridge fell victim to being the first major bridge to open in the social media era, several tweets showing a man getting a haircut in the middle of the bridge last week drew thousands of likes on Twitter.

De León posed a question Friday that he has repeated all week: Do Angelenos deserve good things, given what is happening on the bridge?

He quickly answered himself: "Yeah we do. Hell yeah. No question about it."

"Because what would be the alternative?" de León continued. "An architecturally designed bridge that is just functional? We have a lot of that in L.A.. We have a lot of that. That already exists in L.A. We want good things. We want beautiful things. Guess what? We're just going to have to step up and take care of them."

Graffiti is also an issue. Removal crews have cleaned up an average of 1,244 square feet of graffiti each day since the bridge opened and spent an average of 21 1/2 hours a day at the bridge. Part of the plan is to allocate more than $100,000 per month for three months for graffiti removal and tagging enforcement. De León said graffiti is a ubiquitous problem that is not unique to this bridge.

"The graffiti's not going to disappear overnight," de León said. "I wish that folks could self-regulate their behaviors. And instead of costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars on an annual basis to clean up the mess they leave for all of us, that they would step up and do the right thing. Unfortunately, I don't think that's going to be the reality for the near future."

De León admitted that the bollards meant to separate bicycles from cars are not working, with pictures posted to social media showing cars running over them. He said he would reexamine the bollards because as is, they are "not going to protect the bicyclists or a family."

De León feared the worst-case scenario of the antics, such as someone slipping and falling off the archways or a car wiping out while doing a donut and crashing into a family.

"We're just going to work out those kinks that we have to work out," de León said. "This is not going to last for a long time."

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