With holiday shoppers poised to jam downtown streets, the Los Angeles Police Department and city transportation officials on Monday announced a new, monthlong crackdown against violators of parking and traffic laws.
A beefed-up task force of police and traffic officers began rush-hour patrols Monday afternoon in the downtown Civic Center area in the first phase of a special program to ease the area's worsening traffic problems.
Police Chief Daryl F. Gates and Donald Howery, general manager of the city's Department of Transportation, warned motorists to expect tighter enforcement of traffic and parking laws as shoppers prepare to join the usual crush of commuters and commercial traffic in the downtown business district.
"We are engaged in what we hope is not an experiment but an effort to move traffic in the downtown area during the holidays," said Gates, who joined Howery at a press conference to announce the joint enforcement effort.
Downtown Business District
Gates and Howery said that the equivalent of a dozen more police officers and 16 additional Transportation Department workers have been deployed around the Civic Center area. And by mid-December, a total of 31 additional police officers and 48 traffic officers will fan out over the downtown business district with ticket books in hand.
The added officers will control the flow of traffic at key intersections, and they have been instructed to concentrate on pedestrian violations, illegal turns, double-parking and motorists who illegally enter those intersections, according to Gates.
Meanwhile, impound teams from the Department of Transportation will intensify the citing and removal of illegally parked cars. And a police helicopter will hover over the downtown area and help direct police to gridlocked intersections and other trouble spots, Gates said.
Howery admitted that the stepped-up enforcement will come as "a shock and a surprise to many people," especially pedestrians who may be used to dashing across city streets while the "don't walk" sign is still blinking.
The traffic control plan will be implemented in three phases--the first beginning Monday, the second Dec. 7 and the third Dec. 14, with the total area expanding with each new phase. The entire operation ends on Christmas Eve.
Gates said the crackdown on holiday traffic will cost about $50,000 in police overtime, but he described the program as a pilot project that could spread to other congested areas of the city, including Westwood and some parts of the San Fernando Valley.
Parking Administrator Robert Yates said there would be no additional costs to the Transportation Department because traffic officers would merely be transferred from other duties.
The holiday plan is the latest in city efforts to cope with traffic congestion. Mayor Tom Bradley and other officials had moved last month to swoop down on trucks that stop illegally to make deliveries during rush hour. And the City Council's Transportation and Traffic Committee voted unanimously last Wednesday to expand the scope of the city's ride-sharing ordinance by extending its requirements to companies with as few as 500 employees.
The council panel also voted to require companies with 200 to 500 employees to develop a ride-sharing plan by July 1, 1989.
TARGET: DOWNTOWN TRAFFIC
The Los Angeles Police Department and Department of Transportation on Monday began a three-phase plan to ease downtown traffic flow over the next four weeks. Additional officers from both departments, aided by a helicopter, will strictly enforce traffic laws within a defined area. Illegally parked vehicles will be towed, with a stepped-up effort to cite traffic violators such as jaywalkers and drivers making illegal turns.
Phase 1 (present-Dec. 6) covers the Civic Center area bounded by 1st Street, Alameda Street, Sunset Boulevard and the Harbor Freeway.
Phase 2 (Dec. 7-13) expands the Phase 1 area to include Broadway and Hill Street between 1st Street and Olympic Boulevard, and portions of major cross streets such as 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th streets.
Phase 3 (Dec. 14-24) expands the Phase 1 and Phase 2 areas to include Figueroa and Flower streets between 3rd and Olympic, as well as additional major cross streets.