Pedestrian Access Through Country Club Park
On July 10th, Twitter user Nia tweeted a TikTok of someone attempting to get to a bus stop. She was just south of Pico on Wilton and needed to get to Olympic Blvd. This should have been an easy walk if it wasn’t for the locked pedestrian gates of Country Club Park. Nia exposes a serious access and equity issue. It might not seem like an issue for those who drive, but the lack of pedestrian access into certain areas of Country Club Park results in significantly longer trips to get to other major corridors. For some folks, it could mean missing a bus. For disabled folks or families with young kids, the extra distance can ultimately be too much. History of Country Club Park The Country Club Park neighborhood was developed as the original Los Angeles Golf Club before moving west to Holmby Hills for more space. The land was subdivided in the 1910’s by Isaac Milbank for the construction of mansions and modest bungalows. In the mid 20th century, Country Club Park became a community that many wealthy African Americans called home after Frank Lloyd Drye challenged the constitutionality of racial covenants in that community. Despite developing into a racially diverse community, Country Club Park remained a community focused on keeping the “other” out. An LA Times Article from 1988 showcases Country Club Park’s push to differentiate itself from adjacent Koreatown. The community fought hard to require commercial signage to be in English. Today the Country Club Park Neighborhood Association, a 501(c)(4), remains active in keeping their community safe and crime free. There are active patrols in the community to prevent crime. They even boast about successfully advocating the city council member to erect gates to control traffic. But anyone fluent in dog whistles can hear what that really means: those gates are there to keep others out. The View from the Inside After seeing Nia’s tweet, I decided to take a bike ride to Country Club Park to see what the gates looked like from within the neighborhood. She was trying to access Wilton Place just north of Pico, so that was my first stop. I found it interesting to see that the pedestrian gate was secured with the same sort of Master Lock I use for my gym locker. It certainly didn’t look like an official that was issued by the city. Image of the locked pedestrian gate at Wilton and Pico. Shall we grab the bolt cutters? The pedestrian gates at St. Andrews Place and Gramercy Place also contained locks. Again, they didn’t appear to be issued by the city. Each lock looked different and like a garden-variety gym lock. A locked pedestrian gate flanked by anti-SB50 signs at Pico and Gramercy is big NIMBY energy. Are those gates even legal? Honestly, I can’t give you the answer to that. I’m not a lawyer; I don’t even play one on TV. I spend my day job analyzing court rules and litigation documents, but that doesn’t give me the authority to provide analysis on such court cases as California’s 2nd Appellate District’s 1994 opinion in Citizens Against Gated Enclaves vs. Whitley Heights Civic Association. This decision affirmed the lower court ruling that the City of LA has no authority to remove streets from public use. I’m not even sure if this decision would apply to the gates in Country Club Park considering they’re only along the southern boundary of certain streets. The gates make access difficult but it doesn’t restrict access in its entirely. Whether or not this is legal, these locked pedestrian gates are wrong and unneighborly. No community should be allowed to restrict access into or within its borders. Please contact Councilmember Herb Wesson’s office to demand these gates remain accessible and any home owner illegally locking them (if that is the case, help me out lawyers!) should be punished according to the law. Correction: My post initially stated that Nia is the woman in the TikTok video. She is not; Nia only retweeted the TikTok.
It certainly _seems_ like a clear violation of Citizens Against Gated Enclaves v. Whitley Heights Civic Assn. So, too, do all of the locked public stairways in Los Angeles, since public stairways are legally public streets. There’s a locked public walk street near me too, Garcia Walk. It’s my understanding that these streets being gated and locked are supposed to be reviewed by the city but most have been locked for decades and it’s abundantly clear that there’s no review taking place. These are all public assets that have been taken from the public and granted to a few private individuals.
I doubt too that this is properly being reviewed.
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Another illegal gate put up by homeowners without City sanction. “Cheviot Hills has a 20-year history of blocking access to public rights-of-way. In the same area as a potential bike path gate, there is a gate across the Dunleer Footbridge, connecting Cheviot Hills to the Palms Park (at Overland and National).” https://la.streetsblog.org/2013/08/19/will-the-next-expo-battle-be-about-access-to-the-bike-path-in-cheviot-hills/
Slightly off the path (pun partially intended):
If CAGE v WHCA says the city can’t legally remove streets from use, would that a priori negate any effort to create pedestrian-only streets? There are reports of smaller towns creating ped-only areas in their downtowns, in order to create more space for businesses — especially restaurants — to have outdoor, distanced seating options. Some residential areas have done similarly to create safe spaces for kids to play with distance & supervision. There are also reports of larger cities considering similar models. Does ped-only access satisfy use requirements, or does CAGE v WHCA only affect automobile access?
That’s a good question. Again, not a lawyer so I don’t have the authority to legally analyze the case. But it seems like it would not negate pedestrian only streets since that’s still for public use. But I’m curious what a legal expert would say!
[…] other day I wrote about a series of locked pedestrian gates just north of Pico Blvd in LA’s Country Club Park neighborhood which create some serious […]