Dodgers parking and illegal fireworks were some of the subjects that came up at the monthly Town Hall meeting Echo Park Improvement Association on a sweltering July night in Williams Hall at , located at 2000 Stadium Way.
Representatitves of the Dodgers, the Los Angeles Police Department and the L.A. City Council fielded questions from community members on a variety of topics.
Dodger Parking Prices Are Too High, Says Community Member
Attendees braved the Dodger Stadium traffic along Sunset Boulevard to hear from team senior vice president Howard Sunkin. Sunkin opened the meeting by inviting the audience to ask him questions. He promised to handle “any question you have on any issue you want.”
Area resident Susan Borden expressed concerns that the price of parking in the stadium has pushed game attendees into the local neighborhood.
Sunkin responded that the Dodgers would back community efforts to petition the city for “preferential parking on game days” and the team would foot the bill on such an effort. However, the Dodgers cannot lead such an effort: The “community would have to come together” to do so, he said.
Sunkin also commented on the opening day beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow as a “terrible tragedy” that has lead to a review of the Dodgers’ security practice and policies.
There is an additional police presence--“Every penny” of which is paid for by the Dodgers, according to Sunkin–and a tightened alcohol policy. Drunk patrons are not admitted, and beer is not served after the sixth inning, for instance. The Dodgers are “trying to curtail that behavior,” said Sunkin, and they are “failing miserably” if the stadium isn’t “family friendly.”
Area resident Santiago Perez asked about the shuttle bus from Union Station. Sunkin said that the Department of Transportation will not allow a special lane for the stadium bus, as there are only five arteries in and out of the venue. But he did say that ridership is up, citing the approximately 3,000 riders who took the shuttle bus on July 4th of this year.
Sunkin also referenced the troubles the Dodgers are having due to the divorce of the team’s owners, the McCourts. A meeting attendee asked about plans for the Next 50 expansion plan, which Sunkin said had been “mothballed because of the economy, and other issues” to laughter.
Sunkin also went on to say that he “never contemplated” that the Dodgers would need to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but he’s “100 percent convinced” that Frank McCourt will continue as the team’s owner.
Dodgers Seek Community Involvement
In reference to community involvement, Sunkin said that local residents “are our permanent guests” and that the makes a point of accommodating local residents, nonprofit organizations and students. Residents can contact Neighborhood Relations Manager Noel Pallais at email@example.com for concerns or a limited number of free tickets.
In response to the increased police presence since opening day, EPIA secretary Andrew Garsten said the stadium feels “Disneyland wholesome.” Senior Lead Officer Bobby Hill of the LAPD's Northeast division said he expects attendance will build up now, as the Dodgers are “on the right track”. Sunkin said that looking around you’ll now see “moms and dads and their children” at the games.
Local resident Isa-Kae Meksin had one more complaint though. Originally from New York, she said “You should’ve stayed in Brooklyn!”
Marines to Train at Elysian Park Police Academy
Councilman Ed Reyes’ office announced Summer Night Concerts in MacArthur Park, as well as a prescription discount plan.
Association Secretary Andrew Garsten was concerned that the U.S. Marine Corps would be using the Elysian Park Police Academy for training and that use of the helipad would create undue noise.
Residents shared information on expanded library hours, starting July 18.
And audience member Perez wondered why the “Welcome to Echo Park” sign is placed at the border of the neighborhood, as one is exiting the neighborhood. As the audience laughed, EPIA President Darren Hubert commented, “You’re the first person to comment on it!”
Attendees also heard from LAPD Lead Officer Bobby Hill, who encouraged residents to contact the department with crime reports and complaints so that the force could be deployed effectively. “The squeaky wheel gets the most officers,” he said. He also commented that newer gang members aren’t as expected in appearance, going into detail as to hair length and the lack of tattoos. “They look like hipsters,” commented Garsten.
Illegal Fireworks May Come from South of the Border
Residents expressed concern about the presence of illegal fireworks in the Echo Park neighborhood. Meksin wondered if there could be a statewide ban, but Hill said that “some cities allow it because of tax revenue.”
He went on to speculate that most of the illegal fireworks come from south of the border and that, as a city, “we have allowed it.” Rectifying the situation is “going to take years to fix,” as shooting guns off on New Year’s Eve did. Education on the illegality of the action as well as a swift crackdown will help the situation next year.
The meeting concluded with the treasurer’s report and a thanks for those attending. The next meeting will be the first Thursday of the month in the same location, Williams Hall at Barlow Respiratory Hospital.