Echo Park - Even back in the Before Times, when bartending seemed like steady work and baseball fans could attend games in person, living or working near Dodger Stadium always had its drawbacks. But now that the stadium has converted from a sports facility to the city’s hottest COVID testing spot, conditions have changed.
There are no more car loads of cheering baseball fans or concert goers clogging the streets leading to the ballpark. Instead, neighbors of the stadium now have front-row seats to a solemn and long procession of vehicles headed to the drive-up COVID-19 testing site in the Dodger Stadium parking lot, where more lines await. The drive-up site -- the largest in LA -- can reportedly test up to 6,000 people a day.
Julia Shimizu, who works at Barlow Hospital next to the stadium, said the long line of cars crawl in front of the hospital on Stadium Way, day and night.
“It got very quiet for awhile - near the end of summer, the beginning of September. It was just a little puzzling why it was so quiet,” Shimizu said. “Now it’s back to the long lines of traffic and it’s very frightening and sad.”
And yes, the lines have been long - sometimes stretching a mile along Stadium Way all the way to 110 Freeway exit. Shimizu has also seen the line stretch a mile in the other direction on Stadium Way through Elysian Park, nearly to the 5 Freeway.
The COVID line has posed some problems for residents.
Peter Reyes, who lives Boylston Street next to the stadium parking lot, has no qualms with the testing site itself. He's actually used it a few times. His main complaint is that traffic control officers are blocking the most direct path to his home.
“All they need to do is ask ‘Are you a resident,’ and let us turn left at Scott and Stadium Way, so we don’t have to stop and backtrack,” Reyes said.
But the worst of it, said Scott Avenue resident Kelley Erickson, are the news helicopters - circling endlessly over her house as they report on the long line of cars.
“We just want to watch the Queen’s Gambit,” Erickson said.
Despite the inconveniences, the Dodger testing site appears to have the support of its neighbors.
"I’m very glad it’s there," said Shimizu.