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Mayor Garcetti Launches Slow Streets Program, Extends Moratorium On Parking Tickets To June

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced today the launch of the city's "Slow Streets" program, which will temporarily restrict traffic to give pedestrians more room to safely engage in activities such as walking, skating and biking, while maintaining the suggested six feet of social distance.

"We're not closing any streets," the mayor clarified. “We know that families still need to be able to drive to and from their homes, so emergency access will always be allowed. But we're going to redirect traffic on some of our local roads for stretches of about two miles, so more of us can have some safety and [more easily] move through our neighborhood streets.”

The mayor said the city has already started the program in two westside neighborhoods -- Del Rey and Sawtelle. The partially closed streets there cover about seven miles. The city has already received a dozen other applications from neighborhood councils around L.A. He advised those who are interested in applying to do so at coronavirus.la-city/slowstreets, noting that sponsorships will be needed to fund closures at the local level.

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The Department of Transportation website includes this note: “The City will work with community based organizations in denser, park poor communities to ensure these neighborhoods have the resources needed to apply.”

Garcetti noted that the idea behind the program is focused on equal access to exercise, across L.A.

"It's about enabling folks to get some exercise while you're remaining closer to home, by not having to go to a park or a trail or a beach. It's also about equity. Not everybody lives right next to a park with hills; not everybody's close to the beach. We should make sure that hard hit communities, and those that are more inland or in flatter areas have the same exercise capacity as other places.”

He also said the program will address the recent uptick in fatal traffic collisions, caused by speeding on less occupied roads, by allowing people to walk safely.

PARKING ENFORCEMENT

When Garcetti first issued the safer-at-home order, he said the city wouldn’t ticket cars in residential neighborhoods for not moving their cars on street sweeping days. “We still were sweeping the streets, but we weren't going to ticket you simply because you couldn't move a car, because you were staying home you needed to be home,” he said.

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The city is also holding off on ticketing and towing vehicles that are abandoned, oversized, or have expired registration or parking permits.

All of these temporary moratoriums on parking enforcement were supposed to end May 15, but will now be extended to June 1.

Some regular parking tickets will still be issued, but the mayor said the city is prioritizing tickets for parked cars that are blocking emergency services or curbside pickup zones for newly reopened businesses.

MORE DETAILS ABOUT MASK ORDER

The mayor clarified a couple points about his mandatory mask order, which sparked public confusion and debate when it was announced yesterday. He said specifically that you don’t need to wear a mask while you’re in the car by yourself or if you’re just going outside to check your mail.

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Of course that leaves a zillion other scenarios left un-addressed, but the main point seems to be to wear the mask only if you are in close proximity to other people.

“Wearing a face covering isn't an inconvenience," Garcetti said. "It's actually a statement. Wearing a face covering says, ‘I love and I care for my neighbors.’ Wearing a face covering says ‘I have respect for workers on the frontlines.’"

Businesses can call LAPD if anyone violates the mask policy and enters their store or shop without a mask. Grocery stores and pharmacies also have the right to refuse service to anyone not wearing a mask.

“We can't have a police officer in every single store, but law enforcement is always available for confrontations,” he said, referring to a question about a recent incident at a Van Nuys Target store, where an employee's arm was broken.

WHAT’S GOING ON WITH THE CURVE

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Garcetti said the COVID-19 curve has flattened and plateaued.

  • New cases of the virus have plateaued to about 800- 1,000 new cases per day, countywide.
  • The number of deaths has now stabilized at about 300 a week.

“The stabilizing of the curve also means the pandemic is not growing out of control,” he added, “and that's a good thing for all of us to hear. We're not seeing the data skyrocket as we did in previous weeks.”
WHY CAN YOU SIT AT PARKS BUT NOT BEACHES?

In response to a question about the consistency of rules about where you can sit, Garcetti said the reason the city is allowing sunbathing/lounging/picnicing at parks, but not beaches because they tend to get more crowded than parks.

“Not everybody rushes to the same park the way that we all rush to the same beaches,” he said. So it’s more of a crowd control thing than a science thing."

He also said he doesn’t want to create a “police state” by stationing law enforcement at the beaches. Plus, they're are just too sprawling to monitor. Instead, he asked that everyone try to respect the guidelines so that we can move forward with reopening plans and not risk a second wave.

WILL COMMUNITY POOLS OPEN FOR SUMMER?

Pretty hard no on this one. Although coronavirus doesn’t spread in water, public health experts are concerned about crowding at pools, so the mayor does not expect them to open anytime soon.

“I hate to always sometimes be the bearer of bad news, but I don't think that is right around the corner,” Garcetti said.

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