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Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
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Monday, September 28, 2009

Fight to make Griffith Park Holiday Light Festival a shade greener

By Stephen Box at SoapBoxLA
Photo by Militant Angelino    

Holiday Light Festival - NC's Walk!

LA's Department of Water & Power has dusted off the Holiday Light Festival decorations and is busy investing the public's money in the event that won the "Eco-Moron" award last year for its ability to drawing idling vehicles in such numbers that Griffith Park, the adjacent communities and the 5 freeway all sit in gridlock for hours each evening of the holiday season. As the Park Rangers and the Department of Transportation grapple with the traffic, the DWP claims the "Going Green" title and then proceeds to go after more of your green.

The Griffith Park Holiday Light Festival is an old tradition, dating back to Councilman John Ferraro who visited San Antonio during the holiday season and came back all enthralled with the idea of a public light festival. In hindsight, it's only too bad that he didn't visit a city with Great Streets, one with holiday lights and people walking and talking and having conversations and singing and enjoying a human-sized people based festival. Of course, it's not too late to make some changes!

The Greater Griffith Park NC, the Atwater Village NC, the Los Feliz Improvement Association, the Oaks Home Owners Association and community members representing hikers, runners, cyclists, equestrians, and folks who simply like to breath clean air when standing in the middle of the America's largest urban wilderness park have joined together to ask the DWP to simply have motorists park their cars in the Zoo parking lot, then get out and walk through the Festival. The simple move to a pedestrian based festival, with ADA accommodations, would relieve the community from the idling queue that approaches the park from the south. It seems so simple!

The DWP's Public Affairs office, very nice folks who have one of the hardest jobs imaginable, putting a shine on the DWP's policies and programs, gave this year's version of "Why you can't have what you want but here is something shiny to distract you!" presentation, again to a full house and again to well-articulated arguments for the same old vehicular based paradigm for enjoying the great outdoors.

The Bike Writers Collective objects to the DWP's Griffith Park Holiday Light Festival for a few reasons, first because it excludes cyclists from the vehicular nights based on the recommendation of the LADOT that it is too dangerous to have motor vehicles and bicycles on the same road. This becomes a principle issue since one of the basic rights cyclists claim is the right to ride on the streets of Los Angeles. The DWP claims that it is exempt from the law and can exclude cyclists which leaves cyclists charging "The DWP is trying too hard to find a legal loophole to do something absurd, prevent cyclists from riding bikes in traffic that moves so slowly, the road resembles a parking lot."

Plans are already underway for a protest ride, The Festival of Rights, which will take place on Friday, December 18. The protest ride, which gathers at the Mulholland Fountain where cyclists decorate themselves with lights, has become an annual tradition and this will be the third year (2007 and 2008) that the absurdity of a vehicular light festival at the expense of the community, the pedestrians and the cyclists will be challenged by the cycling community. Cyclist should be cautioned that the ride is not without risk, participants who elect to breath while riding will be subjected to greenhouse gases, auto emissions and noxious odors.

As for the larger issue of the "Pedestrian Friendly" event that local community leaders have been proposing, endorsing and working to bring to fruition, the DWP Commissioners, the DWP Management and Councilman Tom LaBonge have all been notified that the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council has polled the community and concluded with a resolution calling for the "complete environmental reform of the annual LADWP Light Festival in Griffith Park."