Council Member Tom LaBonge and the LAPD’s Olympic Division held a meeting for citizens impacted by the prostitution problem along Western Avenue between 6th Street and Melrose. The problem effects homeowners in the neighborhoods on either side of Western Avenue, businesses along Western Avenue and families attending two local schools adjacent to the corner of 3rd and Western.
This gathering was a follow up meeting to an initial session held in late January (see Larchmont Buzz/January 27th).
CD4 Field Deputy, Ben Seinfeld, introduced the next step in battling the prostitution. Based on a recommendation from LAPD, Council Member Tom LaBonge will request that signs be installed along Western Avenue making it illegal to make a right turn off of Western Avenue – Monday-Sunday, 11p-6a – on to the secondary blocks between 5th Street and Clinton. This will be for all traffic heading both north and south on Western.
Motorists will be able to make rights at the major thoroughfares – 6th Street, 3rd Street, Beverly Boulevard and Melrose Avenue.
Motorists will not be able to make rights at 5th Street, 4th Street, 2nd Street, 1st Street, Council Street, Oakwood Avenue, Elmwood Avenue, Rosewood Avenue, Maplewood Avenue and Clinton Street.
Motorists will be able to make left turns off of Western Avenue on to all streets in this area.
Residents/motorists looking to enter the neighborhood via a right turn off of Western Avenue will be required to make that right turn at one of the major thoroughfares and then to access their destination within the neighborhood from the north or south, depending upon where they need to get to.
Again, this is between the hours of 11p-6a. It was discussed that most re-directs will add less than a minute to a typical drive.
LAPD Senior Lead Officer Joseph Pelayo noted that these No Right Turn Signs have had a positive effect in curbing prostitution in other parts of the city – most notably in Hollywood in the neighborhoods west of Fairfax, both north and south of Sunset. The signs send a signal to those involved in prostitution that both the neighborhood and LAPD are serious about clamping down on this activity.
Essentially, the signs work to send traffic out of the area – both to the north and to the south. Also, if/when a motorist makes an illegal right turn it allows LAPD to take a closer look. In the case of prostitution, the LAPD will be able to quickly assess that a crime is being committed and will initiate an arrest.
An over-whelming majority of the 40 citizens in attendance agreed that, based on the LAPD recommendation, the signs should be given a chance to work. There was good discourse on the pros and cons of taking this step and inconveniencing law-abiding residents and visitors to the area. However, in the end it appeared that most agreed that the prostitution was impacting the two schools – with enrollment of more than 900 children – and supported the action.
The next step is for LAPD Olympic Area Commanding Officer, Captain Tina Nieto, to request that the LA Department of Transportation Traffic Engineer research the project and request that a traffic study be conducted. Once the study is complete, Council Member Tom LaBonge will need to request funding for the project. This process could take as long as 6 months to get to the install stage.
In the meantime, LAPD and Vice will continue to crack down on the prostitution in the area. LAPD Senior Lead Officer Pelayo reminded the crowd to call 911 when they see a crime in progress. That call into LAPD will register the crime in the LAPD crime database and will help get more resources committed to the areas where the greatest number of crimes are happening.