Westside traffic in Los Angeles. LA Observed.
President Obama will be in Los Angeles Saturday for three quick fundraisers then gone. But the usual media laziness about the threat of traffic snarls is really in overdrive. The first thing to know is it's a Saturday and the traffic in many parts of town, while still present, is less than during the mid-week rush hour when Obama usually drops in. Just avoiding the double whammy of evening crunch and presidential security eliminates the worst cases of Obamajam we have seen. The LAPD and feds long ago got smarter about when and for how long they close streets. There hasn't been a massive newsworthy surface-street Obamajam in LA now in quite some time. Plus, the locations where Obama is stopping today are contained in traffic enclaves of the Westside — a hassle for sure if you are traveling near one of the streets that briefly closes, but isolated from most of us — even those of us who live west.
The worst coverage by far is on the Los Angeles Times website, which should know better and which reveals a head-shaking lack of local savvy. "President Obama’s whirlwind fundraising visit could create more headaches than usual because of the major sports matches on the schedule," the Times says breathlessly, to back up its transparently eyeball-seeking #Obamajam headline. It's the "grandaddy of traffic tie-ups: #Obamajam," the Times says. Groan. I bet Obama won't even be the biggest traffic event in Los Angeles today. It will be harder trying to get downtown from Santa Monica on the 10 freeway this afternoon — as it always is on Saturday afternoons, which I know because I repeatedly forget and get sucked into it, or witness it going the other way. The congestion around the sports events referenced — the Dodgers' playoff game and the US-Mexico soccer match at the Rose Bowl — will be much worse than any Obama-related closures, based on past experiences. Safe to say there will minimal traffic overlap with a presidential visit that never touches a freeway or even reaches as far east as Beverly Hills. If I were going to avoid anywhere, it would be Echo Park, Elysian Park and Chinatown an hour before or after the Dodgers game, and Pasadena and the 210 before and after the soccer match.
Obama is due to land at LAX around 1 p.m. and by the looks of the LAPD advisory will helicopter to Will Rogers State Park, off Sunset Boulevard in Pacific Palisades, which has been closed all day in preparation. He's going to an event at the Palisades home of director J.J. Abrams and wife Katie McGrath, and the LAPD offers this street closure guidance until 2:30 p.m.:
-Sunset Boulevard between Rivas Canyon Road and Monaco Drive;
-Capri Drive between Corsica Drive and Casale Road;
-Casale Road between Capri Drive and San Remo Drive.
Obama then moves to another fundraising event in the Palisades, with this LAPD guidance for drivers from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
-Amalfi Drive between San Remo and Capri drives;
-Capri Drive between Amalfi Drive and Sunset;
-Pavia Place between Sunset Boulevard and Amalfi Drive.
So if you're not at the west end of Sunset Boulevard this afternoon, you feel zero impact.
After 3:30 p.m. the president moves east via San Vicente and Wilshire boulevards — that will be disturbance in the force, but a short-lived one — toward a dinner in the Holmby Hills area. It's at the home of interior designer Michael Smith and former HBO exec James Costos, currently the U.S. ambassador to Spain. After that it sounds like Obama will helicopter from Rancho Park to LAX, as he has done in the past. That copter flight alone removes most of the potential for major traffic jams. It's supposed to be wheels up at LAX by 7:30 p.m. or so.
From 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., motorists should avoid:
-Sunset between Westcove and Minorca drives;
-Allenford Avenue/26th Street between Sunset and San Vicente Boulevard;
-San Vicente Boulevard between 25th Street and Wilshire Boulevard;
-Wilshire between Barry and Devon avenues;
-Beverly Glen Avenue between Ashton Avenue and Charing Cross Road;
-Mapleton Drive between Club View and Wynton drives.
From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., motorists should avoid:
-Beverly Glen Drive between Wynton Drive and Pico Boulevard;
-Pico Boulevard between Patricia Avenue and Avenue of the Stars;
-Motor Avenue between Pico and Monte Mar Drive.
Always a big caveat with these things. The LAPD advice on presidential trips is never precise, for obvious reasons. And if something happens all bets are off — helicopter flights can become motorcades just like that. But probably not. Enjoy the games if you make it to the stadium or Rose Bowl.
11 p.m. update: From LA Times coverage of Obama's day in Los Angeles: "Despite fears of possible major traffic tie-ups because of Obama's visit, no serious problems were reported Saturday. Police have also reported no safety issues or unusual traffic concerns." Yeah.