Commentary

Congested Culture

Later this month the LA Business Journal will publish a piece I wrote that examines how traffic congestion hurts the offbeat offerings that make cities interestingââ?¬â??basically establishments, from funky ethnic restaurants to performing arts venues, that serve niche markets. The LAT’s Steve Lopez explores the same general theme:

[L.A. County Supervisor Zev] Yaroslavsky said it’s a big topic at downtown cultural institutions, where they’re wondering if traffic combat fatigue is keeping Westsiders from filling up seats at music, dance and theater events. … [Santa Monica lawyer Kevin] Sheehy … told me he and his wife subscribed to the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood several years ago, in part because the trips to downtown arts and entertainment events had become such a nightmare. And patrons at Wednesday night’s chamber music performance at Disney Hall ââ?¬â?? which had 160 no-shows (people who bought tickets but didn’t attend) ââ?¬â?? told me Westside bottlenecks are making it harder to justify the trek. David Nimmer, who lives in Beverly Hills, said he recently picked up his mother in Westwood at 6 p.m. and they missed a 7:30 curtain for the L.A. Opera. “It’s definitely something I think about all the time,” said his friend Robert Smith, who lives at Pico and Robertson boulevards and is reconsidering his commitment as a volunteer at a kosher food bank near downtown. “You have to be there at 6 o’clock, and you just can’t go east after 4 in the afternoon.”

Apart from one-way street conversions, I don’t have much to agree with regarding the solutions discussed in the piece. But the whole thing is well worth reading. Related: Congested Cultureââ?¬â??Bay Area Edition Related: Congested Business

Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.