SILVER LAKE — The L.A. City Council on Wednesday approved the permanent closure of a pedestrian tunnel under Sunset Boulevard that had become filled with trash and a haven for drug users but that others wanted to use for an underground art and cultural space.
The 75-foot-long tunnel was opened underneath Sunset Boulevard at Golden Gate Avenue in 1924 to create a safe passage for pedestrians walking to Micheltorena Elementary. The passage, however, has been fenced off in recent years to keep out drug users and the homeless. Despite several attempts to clean up and secure the eight-foot wide tunnel, it has remained a nuisance. That prompted Councilman Mitch O’Farrell to have the tunnel sealed off 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.
O’Farrell’s plan to close off the tunnel comes as 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. Last month, the neighborhood council voted against the tunnel closure. Instead, it authorized “a request for community partners to help re-open the Micheltorena Tunnel …. for a variety of community uses,
including seasonal art space and a place for cultural events.”
But with the L.A. City Council’s unanimous vote on Wednesday, the Bureau of Street Services and the City Engineer will be directed to come up with with recommendations and estimated costs to permanently close off the passageway.
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