No, it isn't the Fourth of July. The image above is a stand-in for the unexpected — and virtually unannounced — private fireworks display at Dodger Stadium on the night of Thursday, July 30th, and which will be followed by yet another fireworks display tonight, Friday, July 31st, following a Dodger baseball game.
An unvarnished look into how CD-1 and the Dodgers are collectively failing the residents of Solano Canyon
On August 4, 1960, under the administration of Mayor Norris Poulson, Huber E. Smutz, Chief Zoning Adminstrator for the Office of Zoning Administration for the City of Los Angeles, issued a finding of fact and determination in a case entitled Z. A. CASE NO. 15430: Dodger Stadium Site — Chavez Ravine Area, which became, in the absence of any appeal, the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for construction and operation of Dodger Stadium.
The existence of Dodger Stadium has had a major, negative impact on the residents of Solano Canyon in two primary and incredibly-important areas: traffic and noise. The issue of traffic has been explored on these pages several times already: see Community Service and A Disaster Waiting to Happen.
The issue of traffic
The issue of noise
Then there is the issue of noise. Quoting again from paragraph 3 of the CUP:
This exerpt from paragraph 3 of the CUP addresses the issue of the potential impact of traffic on the community — remember, this was in 1960, a full two years before the Dodgers began to play baseball at Dodger Stadium:
Note the reference in the second sentence that "... only short stretches of a few local residential streets will be directly utilized ...". [Emphasis mine.]
Let's look at that impact on the Solano Canyon community. Dodger game-day traffic, despite the DOT sign above to the contrary, is free to use both Solano Avenue (from North Broadway or from eastbound CA-110) and Academy Road (from westbound CA-110). The total length of Solano Avenue is 3,502', of which, 2,408' is used today for stadium access along with portions of both Amador and Jarvis Streets. That is more than 69% of Solano Avenue's total length; for Academy Road, more than 42% of its length is used to provide stadium access. Between the two streets, more than 61% of their combined total length is used on Dodger game days to provide stadium access. Does that sound remotely like "... only short stretches of a few residential streets ..." to you? I didn't think so.
This entire paragraph is worth reading again carefully. To summarize, it says that, even a stadium having "... considerably less than the seating capacity here proposed [Dodger Stadium seats about 56,000 people] would be materially detrimental to public welfare and to the character of the existing and potential development in the immediate neighborhood ..." unless certain conditions and limitations were put in place. [Again, the emphasis is mine.]
What conditions and limitations does this paragraph refer to? One that is particularly important is part (e): "The control of lights, public address systems, and signs so as to prevent annoyance to occupants of adjacent properties." [And, once again, the emphasis is mine.]
What is the character of Solano Canyon on Dodger game days?
In a word: it's bloody awful. (OK, that's three words.) Streets are choked with stadium-bound traffic at speeds approaching 20 minutes per block for long periods of time both before and after games. Then, if the game happens to be a Friday night game, there are fireworks, sometimes running well past 11:00 pm. On one Friday night recently, the fireworks began at 10:59; when residents complained, the response from the Dodgers was, "Well, it started before 11:00."
Now it's time to look again at the image at the top of this blog, so as to imagine this scene beginning at 10:59 pm when you're trying to do ... well, anything.
The City Councilmember for CD-1 is Gil Cedillo. His Field Deputy for the area that includes Solano Canyon is Melinda Ramos-Alatorre. Despite the many complaints to the Councilmember's office, a rigid protocol has been enforced that virtually guarantees that community concerns will never be discussed at the Councilmember level, which also guarantees non-resolution. That protocol is elaborated in an e-mail from the Field Deputy dated Tuesday, 09 June 2015, in response to a request from the community to meet with Councilmember Cedillo:
What is the response of CD-1?
"To say you were not granted the opportunity [to meet with the Councilmember] is just false. We have a protocol before anyone meets with the Councilmember. Sitting it [sic] at one meeting that discussed one topic does not necessarily qualify as the proper discussion that you were requesting either, to be fair. There is also no indication that we haven't tried to work with the community, as I have continued to make attempts at solutions to the major problems."
On the contrary: it is every indication that CD-1 is not willing to work with the community, because the same complaints are aired, over and over and over again, and yet nothing is done to resolve them.
In case it needs to be made clear, this e-mail is nothing but obfuscation and diversion; it effectively walls the Councilmember off from contact by members of the community on issues that either the Councilmember or his Field Deputy do not wish to address. What it does not deal with is the issue that was raised in the original e-mail, which in this case was about an agenda item for an Historic Community Neighborhood Council (HCNC) meeting.
This tactic of delay and obfuscation has been used repeatedly by Councilmember Cedillo through his staff. The following are paraphrases of the types of responses that have been received by various members of the community.
What do the Dodgers say?
Unfortunately, the responses from the Dodger organization have been no better than are those from Councilmember Cedillo's staff. The following is part of an e-mail that was sent in frustration to Oscar Delgado, the neighborhood liaison for the Dodger organization, by a long-standing and well-respected member of the Solano Canyon community.
"When you first introduced yourself to our community here in Solano Canyon you were very specific on how you would be as a neighborhood liaison, that you would answer all of our phone calls and emails. I confess, I really thought that as a community we would have a chance to have real input and that we could all start building a strong, collaborative, and mutually respected relationship. Lately, though, there seems to be a disconnect as some of my neighbors are not even receiving the courtesy of a response to their emails. Why is this?"
Again, there has been a litany of obfuscation and delay, as if the Dodgers hope they can get through the season, season-after-season, without their having to address any of the very-real concerns of the community.
It's the old 'Bait and Switch'
In a bait-and-switch, there is something of value that is promised (the 'bait' — like saying, "Oh, we're going to work with you on this."), but when it comes time actually to make something happen, what is offered is of lesser, little, or no value (the 'switch' — "Well, gee, see, we have this protocol ... sorry!") The Dodger organization — previously, under Frank McCourt, and more recently, under Guggenheim Management Group — has been practicing this patent dishonesty in its relationship with the Solano Canyon community for years.
Under previous CD-1 Councilmember Ed Reyes, there was interaction between the Councilmember himself (not just his Field Deputy) and the community. An example is the dedication of the "Historic Solano Canyon" monument on a rainy Saturday in December, 2008. Councilmember Reyes attended the dedication, but he sat quietly in the audience of about 100 people as the community dedicated is monument.
The entire community felt involved with this project. The priest from San Conrado Catholic Church was on hand to bless the monument, which was a touching gesture that was well-received by all.
And it is clear that the entire community was behind the project.
By contrast, at the recent dedication of the second Historic Solano Canyon monument, a more modest version of the original that is located at the intersection of Solano Avenue and Amador Street, and which monument was paid for entirely by the HCNC on land donated by Mr. Kim Benjamin, a former member and Past President of the HCNC, the dedication was made by Councilmember Cedillo and his staff as if it were they who had made the monument possible, rather than through the efforts of the community and the HCNC. It is reported that fewer than ten members of the community were in attendance.
Plus ça change, plus c'est le même chose ...
This elegant and historic French expression translates as The more things change, the more they remain the same. And sometimes, change means that things may actually get worse, as in that ominous line from the movie The Hunt for Red October, where Admiral Painter says, "Things are going to get worse before they get better ... and they're not going to get better."
One hopes that is not the case.
About the Author
Lawrence Bouett is a retired research scientist and registered professional engineer who now conducts historical and genealogical research full-time. A ninth-generation Californian, his primary historical research interests are Los Angeles in general and the Stone Quarry Hills in particular. His ancestors arrived in California with Portolá in 1769 and came to Los Angeles from Mission San Gabriel with the pobladores on September 4, 1781.
Lawrence Bouett may be contacted directly here.