Echo Park stairway turned into a gated community

A new pair of gates installed on an Echo Park stairway off Glendale Boulevard don’t look all that imposing. They are not even locked. But the new barriers, which went up shortly after Thanksgiving at the top and bottom of a stairway connecting Effie and Mohawk streets, have incensed writer and stairway advocate Dan Koeppel. The Silver Lake resident, who discovered the gates on Sunday, feared that another public stairway would be sealed off if no one complained. So, he did. On Monday, Council District 13 said it would look into the matter. Many residents who live on or near public stairways have over the years legally – and illegally – had stairs closed off in response to criminal activity, trash and vandalism. The base of the stairway where Mohawk dead ends west of Glendale Boulevard gets heavily tagged. But Koeppel said crime is no reason to block off a stairway.

“Stairs are streets,” said Koeppel, who wrote about the gate on his blog. “We don’t block streets to solve a problem. We solve the problem.”

It’s not clear who or why the gates were installed on the stairway, which climbs about 100 steps near several homes. Mitch O’Farrell, head of constituent services for the council office, promised quick action in an email. “This is an unauthorized gate and we’ll get street use inspectors out there to remove it.”

But Koeppel, who has come across at least 20 public stairways that have been barricaded and blocked, said his previous efforts to reopen stairways have proved frustrating. After Koeppel reported a blocked Silver Lake stairway on Fargo Street between Apex and Rockford, the city sent out and inspector, who determined the gate was illegal but a low priority. That gate is still standing, Koeppel said.

The removal of the gates from the stairways “should not take months or weeks,” Koeppel said. “It should happen right away.”

Photo by Daniel Koeppel/Flickr

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