ECHO PARK — Councilman Mitch O’Farrell asked the Dodgers tonight to postpone their controversial decision to reopen the Scott Avenue entrance of the ballpark on game days.
With the season opener only about a week away, O’Farrell made the request during a packed and often heated meeting between Dodger officials and residents, who vented their frustration about the reopening of the Scott Gate, a move many Echo Park residents fear will only worsen game day congestion and problems in the primarily residential area west of the stadium. Several TV news crews were on hand at Williams Hall as residents requested relief from traffic and shared stories about game-day congestion and unruly fans.
Dodger representative Renata Simril, who fielded questions during the two-hour meeting, did not directly respond to the O’Farrell’s request, and the team has not indicated it will reverse its decision, which is designed to speed up the flow of arriving and departing fans.
The councilman asked for a postponement of a month or more in order for the Dodgers to create and distribute placards that would allow residents to drive beyond a police checkpoint planned for game days at Scott and Echo Park avenues. Motorists without the placard would be ordered to turn around. The Dodgers have agreed to pay to staff the police checkpoint. However, with the placard program still not in place and the April 4 home opener only a few days away, O’Farrell said it would be best to postpone the reopening of the gate until everything was in place.
“It’s contingent upon the placards,” O’Farrell said. “Unless the placards are in place, it’s going to be a problem.”
While O’Farrell said he is opposed to reopening of the Scott Gate, it’s not clear how much leverage he has over the Dodgers. He represents Council District 13 but Dodger Stadium is located in neighboring Council District 1, which is represented by Gil Cedillo. Is Cedillo opposed to the reopening of the Scott Gate? A Cedillo official present at the meeting told The Eastsider that the council office will provide a response soon.
The Dodgers closed the Scott Gate on the western side of the ballpark nearly two decades ago to help shield nearby neighbors to game-day traffic. While the gate has been re-opened in recent years for especially popular games, the closure of the gate has helped build goodwill with residents as well as cut down on vehicle traffic. But faced with the prospect of record attendance this year, the team said they need to reopen the Scott entrance during all games to help relieve traffic back ups at the ballpark’s other entrances, especially the Elysian Park Avenue Gate off of Sunset Boulevard.
Simril, in an email to The Eastsider earlier this month, elaborated on the the rationale behind the reopening of the gate:
We believe the best way for us to minimize the impact to our neighbors is to get our fans into and out of the stadium as quickly as possible. The Stadium Way Gate B (formerly Scott Gate) is being opened from Stadium Way into the Stadium parking only as a ‘relief valve’ from Elysian Park Avenue. We are proposing to create two left turn lanes from Elysian Park Avenue which will then be directed to take a right turn onto Scott Avenue. This is critical to alleviating traffic along Sunset Boulevard which we all know backs up terrible. We are not changing any neighborhood protection along Scott Avenue from Stadium Way to Glendale Blvd. and in fact looking to add additional DOT officers to turn around cars who try to use this as an entry point.
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