Councilman wants to permanently close Silver Lake tunnel

The Sunset Boulevard pedestrian tunnel pictured in 2011.

SILVER LAKE — In 1924 a 75-foot-long tunnel was opened underneath Sunset Boulevard at Golden Gate Avenue to create a safe passage for children and other pedestrians walking to Micheltorena Elementary. It has been many years, however, since school kids have passed through the tunnel on a regular basis. The passage has been fenced off after it become a haven for the homeless and drug users, with the eight-foot wide tunnel often clogged with furniture and trash. Despite several attempts to clean up and secure the tunnel, it has remained a nuisance. Now, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell wants the tunnel closed permanently.

The locks on the tunnel gates are repeatedly broken, according to a council motion introduced by O’Farrell. With the tunnel hidden from public view, “it has become a site for criminal activity,” raising concern for the safety of students and nearby residents.

The motion, if adopted by the full council, would instruct the Bureau of Street Services and the City Engineer to come up with with recommendations and estimated costs to permanently close off the passageway.

O’Farrell’s plan to close off the tunnel comes as some members of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council have expressed an interest to keep it open to serve as a public arts space similar to a pedestrian tunnel in Cypress Park.

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  1. God forbid they cleaned out the homeless filth and opened the tunnel during school hours, so the kids can, you know, use the tunnel as it was intended. Why is every inch of public space in LA given over to homeless filth? They pay zero taxes yet entirely take over the public spaces that were built for the use of all citizens, not just lazy nutcases to piss and shit in.

    • Jesus! You’re miserable!

      • But… it’s true!

        • Is it? Let’s take a look. First, Is “every inch of public space in L..A. given over to homeless filth”? Not even close. The implication here is that the homeless are just lazy screw-ups who need to get their shit together so the rest of us don’t have to look at them. But let’s say you have some real mental issues and you don’t have a wealthy family that can take care of you or pay for your medical needs. What do you have left? A social safety net? Not in this country. So what’s left? Nothing. The streets. Have you ever talked to these folks before? Does it really seem like they’re pulling one over on hard working Americans because they’re lazy? Most of these people aren’t well and could use a little compassion from they’re fellow neighbors. In all honesty, I’d much rather have a homeless guy on my corner, than a hateful, mean spirited neighbor who sees other human beings as dirt that needs to be power washed away.

          • Feel free to jump in an help those poor junkies find a home. Maybe you can let them piss and shit all over your couch or driveway? Give them free needles, maybe a six-pack for breakfast? Typical liberal–love the homeless junkies, but only from afar. Bet you walk by these folks 100 times a day and don’t say shit to them either, so keep your high horse in the stable sweetie,

    • many are returning vets; our government has failed them.

  2. I like the idea of semi-privatizing the space as a mini art gallery (assuming there’s an interested party?)

    Otherwise, yeah, close it off in the cheapest, most effective way possible, and put a traffic signal and some of those sidewalk bump-outs they’re doing up the street, to calm traffic flow and allow students to cross the street at grade.

    • There’s already a light at Micheltorena. And at Maltman. But I’d support another one at Golden Gate for the kiddies.

  3. I notice O’Farrell is all haste to run the homeless out – and offers nothing, no program, no anything, to get the big problems the homeless have and to get them into housing and a productive life.

    Instead, O’Farrell is simply following the approach of his mentor, Eric Garcetti, who simply ran the homeless out of Riverside Drive, where homeless had been for longer than Garcetti had been alive because it was out of the way, not interfering with commercial or residential areas. He too had no options for the homeless, just ran them out. Of course, they only showed up someplace else, at first in Highland Park, where they were run out again, and then who knows. If they remain homeless, they have to be somewhere. If you do nothing but run them out of an area where they are of less impact, then they will have not choice but to be in an area of greater impact.

    All this ill considered half-action by O’Farrell will do is run the homeless out to some other location, maybe a location on the sidewalk in front of your home, since they are being run out of the commercial area.

    Lady Feliz, your may be happy, but your outlook about the homeless is flat out offensive and ignorant. Your lack of any basic humanity for those who have already lost everything is scary. Perhaps one day your turn to lose everything will come, and only then will you realize that homeless people aren’t homeless simply due to laziness. Gee, no one will even consider hiring someone who is homeless — they can’t even get jobs.

    • Well said, Mark! I’m looking forward to NOT voting for O’Farrell when election time comes up again. His visible priorities seem to favor the wealthy and influential and he apparently counts on to many to avert their eyes to avoid witnessing the inequity.

    • Mark, you are correct sir.
      Homelessness is a tragic and complicated social issue -that primarily afflicts the mentally ill.
      Dipsticks like “Lady Feliz” and “Jer” are typical examples of residents who lack the intellectual
      depth and emotional empathy necessary to even grasp the problem.

  4. Couldn’t agree with lady Feliz more.
    Is it me , or have certain parts of our neighborhood become overrun with drug addicted animals???
    Anyone notice the encampment underneath the 101 and silverlake blvd on ramp ?? It’s a zoo and a circus, grown men and women defacating and carousing for all commuter traffic to see.
    What about the 101 and Alvarado on ramps??!!
    It’s not only unhealthy but embarrassing . Our local leaders have got to get off their respective asses and address this ever growing problem before it’s too late.

    • Agreed. Someone has just commissioned a $500,000,000 house to be built in this city and we can’t even figure out how to deal with homelessness, its a fucking disgrace.
      I work on 7th and Gladys in Skid Row, drug taking is visible every day, I’ve seen people injecting each other in their necks, people smoking meth outside of the section 8 housing and all the Police do is go and pick up their needles.
      We have to tackle the drug issue foremost and it has to be done with the most aggressive stance possible, enough of the liberal pandering to these people, I see first hand every day that the vast majority of them are lazy and vicious drug addicts.

      • Uh, Paul, there has been no liberal pandering to the homeless in this city. Los Angeles is one of the most hostile of any city to the homeless, ever since the turn of this century. Back then, the City Council and mayor decided that the homeless “problem” needed to be addressed by throwing the homeless in jail rather than address their various needs and help them rise. We only two weeks ago have been told the expenditures of the $100 million budgeted to “help” the homeless: $80 million is being spent on the police to throw them in jail; only $20 million is spent to for anything related to helping them. And that $80 million does not include the cost of jailing them and the court case.

        Do you have any idea how many homeless people could be helped and housed for $80 million a year!

    • The 101 / Virgil underpass encampment is really fucked up. I see some real messed up shit going on there everyday. Where are the police?

      The underpass at Melrose / 101 also is a hotspot, alot of sketchy stuff going on behind that underpass.

  5. Having a dark tunnel where kids could go down a bunch of stairs, then back up, to cross Sunset, has turned out to be a bad idea. Should have closed it off years ago.

    Incidentally, this strikes me as another relic of a cars-are-king era of LA that is passing. Forcing people to go on stairs and underground sure keeps the traffic moving!

    • This is 2015, not 1985. Crime is lower but homelessness is not. If homeless people mess up the tunnel it should put pressure on finding them homes, not on shutting the tunnel.. That tunnel should be open 24/7 and have a camera on either end.

      • What purpose does the tunnel serve? Nothing. Crosswalks have proven to be sufficiently safe for pedestrians. If I’m a parent, do I want my kid making their way to school in the open where law enforcement and the community can observe what’s going on, or a dark underground tunnel where a predator could be lurking? Pretty easy answer.

        Get rid of it once and for all. The chain link enclosure is an eyesore. An art space…you’ve got to be kidding me, what council members recommended that, they need to be ousted.

        what do homeless have to do with any of this? it’s simply a public safety matter.

        • Busta, I think Parabanger was meaning that if homeless people can get some shelter from the rain and wind and blazing sun in the tunnel, then let them. We are not helping to get them into an apartment, so at least let them have a vacated tunnel.

    • I’m pretty sure it dates to streetcar days.

      • Yes, it does.

      • Please, let’s not let facts get in the way here LOL. Other commenters have an anti-car agenda, and are very liberal as they drive by the homeless folks. Of course, they don’t go anywhere near them, but feel very, very sorry nonetheless. Meanwhile, what kind of message does this send to kids going to school nearby? The city can’t keep open a tunnel so they can safely cross the street, but homeless junkies can live there rent free and piss all over. So much for priorities. LA is quickly becoming a third-world junkies’ paradise.

        • Lady Feliz, you are a full blown idiot. Before you open your skull, to let the gas excape -why don’t you read a few articles about the causes of homelessness (or addiction) and the systematic failure of society to address the root causes of the syndrome.
          Educate yourself and quit demonizing the victims.

      • I appreciate the correction. But I think I’m still trying to say the same thing: all these subterranean tunnels turned out to be design mistakes. People don’t want to use them.

        • But I should add one qualifier: when I lived in the neighborhood, I was never around at the time when classes at Micheltorena were starting. It could be that there is a serious throng of kids at 8:00am, which would change things. I don’t recall a big crush at dismissal time.

          A few cities have these “subway” tunnels. They can make sense if there’s a really high volume of pedestrian traffic.

  6. I think the answer is to reduce Sunset Blvd. to one auto lane each way all though Silver Lake

    • Actually, I would go even farther. There are some in Silver Lake who don’t believe in cars AT ALL, So I say, WTF, let’s make Silver Lake a car free zone and make them happy. 😉

  7. How’s it smell?

  8. All of the comments about this article read as complaints and or a long held rant. However, there are no solutions.

    Here’s a solution that can easily done with very little cost.

    The City owns a lot of one-inch steel plates that are used to temporarily cover trenches in streets that are being repaired.. These steel plates could be placed over the tunnel entrances temporarily to block off these tunnels until monies are budgeted for a more permanent solution.

    • Beverly D'Angeleno

      Dirt is cheap. Fill it with landfill and cover the landfill with sidewalk. Done.

      Next problem!

  9. Instead of whining from the comfort of your own homes about what the city is not doing about our homeless population, maybe you should look into volunteering at the many non-profit agencies that are there to assist these people. Or just make sandwiches and a get bunch of bananas to pass out to them. I do it once a month with a group of friends it not a lot but every bit helps.

  10. City Terrace1963

    I lived in Orlando Florida 25 years ago and the city had a great solution to deal with the homeless. They would arrest them and put them on buses for cities at least 500 miles away. The cops would tell them either get on the bus or you are going to spend a few weeks in jail for vagrancy. Maybe we should try something like this. Put them on buses for cities outside California.

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