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Downtown L.A.'s Awesome New Civic Park May Be Designed to Keep Occupiers Out

So close, yet so far.
So close, yet so far.

Update: From the start, Civic Park has been more of an expensive tourist draw (and cement carpet) than a people's hangout. See LA Weekly print stories "Funny Math on Downtown L.A. Civic Park" and "Los Angeles Civic Park's Stillbirth."

Update: It appears there's some confusion over whether the park belongs to the city or the county. Details at the bottom.

The gushing has begun anew over downtown L.A.'s under-construction Civic Park -- a $56 million, 12-acre public space set to open this summer.

But don't expect to spend August nights gazing at its spectacularly lit central fountain. According to the LA Daily News, city politicians are hatching a plan to close the park early and avoid any unsavory overnights like the ones we saw back in Occupy L.A.'s wintertime heyday.

Los Angeles Municipal Code gives a default closing time of 10:30 p.m. for city parks. But last month, L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar proposed that City Hall Park (which served as camping grounds for Occupy L.A.) now close at the preschooler's hour of 7 p.m.

Huizar was reportedly coaxed into the motion by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has every interest, politically, in avoiding another expensive LAPD raid and lawn cleanup. Also, another embarrassing flip-flop from "Stay as long as you like!" to "Get the F off my front lawn and go back to Skid Row, ya damn hippies." (Not an actual quote, obviously. But in essence, yes.)

Architect's rendering of Civic Park.
Architect's rendering of Civic Park.
Rios Clementi Hale Studios

Now, a last-minute update to the motion by L.A. City Councilmember Richard Alarcon would lump the much-anticipated Civic Park, which stretches three whole blocks northwest of City Hall, into the strict new ordinance.

"I'm not so concerned about Occupy L.A. as I am about the homeless situation," Alarcón tells the Daily News.

But is it really the "homeless situation" Alarcon is so "concerned" about? Or is it the idea of the city's bums laying their weary heads on the sparkling new lawns of City Hall and Civic Park, instead of their designated scummy spots elsewhere in downtown L.A.?

This isn't just a slap in the face to Occupy and the city's homeless population.

What about those of us who want a safe public place to hang on hot summer nights? A 7 p.m. curfew is just the kind of thing foreigners (and New Yorkers, for that matter) squawk about when visiting Los Angeles. It's super square, and damn embarrassing. Why should we be forced to live in a permanent riot-state?

Looks like we may have to soak in these expensive new fountain lights from the sidewalk, a half a block away:

Pretty amazing, right? According to the Downtown News, the new park will feature "terraced green space, pathways, an event lawn, additional trees and a small dog run."

The motion to close this majestic new facility at 7 p.m. goes up for final City Council vote next Monday, May 8. Anyone down to raise hell?

Update: Joel Bellman, a spokesman for County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky (the same Supe who revived all this Bellagio Jr. excitement with a blog post yesterday), says the fountain is not part of the $56 million Civic Park development, although it borders the park to the West.

The fountain belongs to the county, says Bellman, so L.A. city officials will have no say in its hours.

There it is, on the far-left corner of the construction zone:


View Larger Map

Which is where things start to get tricky. All renderings of the park by its architect show the three blocks as one big leafy entity. But county buildings sit on the entire area undergoing development -- so where does the Civic Park end and the Civic Plaza within the park begin? And who owns what?

Bellman isn't quite sure. He does say, though, that "we don't have set operating hours" for the fountain yet, and that county staff will be meeting in about two weeks discuss that and other administration issues.

Daily News reporter Dakota Smith does note in her piece that "the city will have to work with county officials to agree on hours for the Civic Park." Looks like Occupy-fearing city pols are about to get an earful from the county over just whose park this is to police.

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]


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