Comments: Readers Talk Coliseum, Fairfax Avenue, and Stop-Sign Tickets
Gene Maddaus' cover story about malfeasance at the L.A. Coliseum thrilled readers ("Decline and Fall," Aug. 10). Chris Epting of Huntington Beach writes, "An exceptional piece of journalism — so refreshing in today's day and age. Keep up the terrific work."
Nando7 seems a bit more jaded — but also more angry. "Yeah. More white-collar crime surrounding sporting venues. I really hope those goons get what's coming to them — and I mean more than a slap on the wrist."
Last week's music feature about the changing character of Fairfax Avenue, credited to Odd Future's pop-up shop, got readers wound up ("Tourists Go Home," by Rebecca Haithcoat).
MidCityG is stunned that members of Odd Future are themselves complaining about the out-of-town visitors. "Stupid fucking logic. You don't want to sell to tourists, in Los Angeles, down the street from Hollywood Boulevard?!?! Guess you didn't realize you were in a major tourist capital. You want to keep tourists out and sell to whom? Your friends? As someone born and raised in L.A., I can say this is dumb as hell. Close up shop and sell out the trunk."
MykeWayne agrees. "Ungrateful pieces of shit. I look forward to the end of it all, that whole super-cool, hipster shit over there and Odd Future as well. What a bunch of dicks. Your downfall is soon."
KB77 is already over it. "What's wrong with Fairfax being basically an outdoor mall for wannabe skater boys (and soccer moms) again? LOL — it's over, dudes," he writes. "The cool people are further east now."
DThomas observes, "In five years, all of these stores will be begging for the tourist business they're throwing out today."
We received a very long, very emphatic letter from Dash Stolarz, director of public affairs for the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, or MCRA. That agency was the subject of last week's news story, "Mountains Authority: Show Us the Money," by Michael Goldstein, which revealed just how much ire the agency had stirred up with its stop-sign tickets.
You can read the letter in its entirety online; we've pasted it into the Comments section of Goldstein's story. But here are a few excerpts:
"Goldstein again files a report filled with inaccuracies and deliberate misrepresentation of a program designed to increase public safety in four heavily used urban parks," Stolarz writes. "Contrary to what the article states, in its California Public Records Act request, the L.A. Weekly did not discover 'hundreds of complaints.' Mr. Goldstein requested to see a sample of correspondence (both to and from the MRCA) regarding citations received. The MRCA prepared 114 pages of documents. Of those documents, there were a total of 25 letters or emails that had been written to MRCA from recipients of citations. Within that group, there were only 13 that could be considered a 'complaint.' The bulk of the remainder of the correspondence provided were letters written by the MRCA. ...
"The MRCA provided copies of 16 'Advance Deposit Hardship Waivers,' which were heavily quoted in the article. The MRCA does not force 'people to reveal personal, even humiliating things, in order to challenge their tickets.' These forms request self-reported financial information so that the MRCA can verify financial need. It is a simple and straightforward process that relies on the honor system. MRCA takes the information provided on face value and does not use third-party verification. Nonetheless, the Weekly reporter characterizes this as MRCA '...aggressively peering into Southern Californians' bank accounts,' and putting 'people through the wringer.'
"The MRCA is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in urban park creation, land-use planning, interpretation and park management. With his only documentation a handful of angry letters from violators who received traffic citations, and the opinions of critics best known for their opposition to automated enforcement, Goldstein contends that a majority of the public declares this agency is 'sleazy, outrageous and stupid.' ... Regardless of Mr. Goldstein's bold-faced slander, public safety in our parks will continue to be our No. 1 concern."
Goldstein responds that he was told his initial public records request seeking the agency's correspondence with the public would yield 4,000 pages. After going back and forth, the agency agreed to send him 114 pages as a "representative sample." He writes, "If we accept her figures that 13 of the 114 pages are complaints, and there are 4,000 letters, if what they sent us was the representative sample they claim, then there should be 455 complaint letters/emails" — and, hence, hundreds of complaints. Suffice it to say, we stand by our story.
Reader Newmoon51 might well have written one of the complaints we didn't see. "Every time the parks department gets their hands on a piece of land, they ruin it, mostly by doing things like closing it at sunset," he writes. "Top of Topanga, perfect example. Beautiful view, went there forever after dark to see San Fernando Valley lights. Now they raid the place and issue tickets."
V4Vacation agrees. "I also got a ticket a few years ago, and have boycotted these parks ever since. They should all be deeply ashamed. It does absolutely nothing to make anyone 'safer.' And they are abusing, punishing, robbing and insulting the only people that care about the parks. I regularly donate money to various nature preserves and environmental protection orgs, but all MRCA will ever get from me is my middle finger."
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