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Another Traffic Light?
Posted by Keith on Jun 1, 2002 - 12:10:00 PM

WEST HOLLYWOODThat's just excellent! Something we badly needed is being attended to here in West Hollywood, and we certainly owe a debt of thanks to Jeff Prang and the Boys over at City Hall for jumping all over it. Who said governing bureaucracy is unwieldy, aloof and unplugged? Our little town has given us.....Another traffic light! Is that great, or what!? Such benevolence is truly inspiring, and it's not even election time! It's like Christmas in spring. A collective birthday present for the hoi- pol-loi. Gee, Thanks.

Photo by Jessica Griffiths/Canyon News
O.K., so you don't like facetiousness? Well, I don't like traffic. In case you don't know, West Hollywood is the most densely populated city in the country west of the Mississippi, and with a relatively mobile local populous,that translates directly into more cars and, of course, heavier traffic. Add to that the entertainment industry people who work and hustle here, and the tourist thing, and you've got mission creep across the Westside. It ain't pretty. So, instead of imaginative thinking toward workable solutions, we get another impediment, and another repudiation of common sense. It's too bad there isn't a Hippocratic Oath for politicians; "Do No Harm".

The light is named "Farmers Market Place". That's actually the name of the light itself, as there is no cross-street under it. Fairfax runs north and south, on the east side is a parking lot entrance, and on the west side is a sidewalk. There is no intersection over which a traffic signal would be necessary. It's a cure without a disease, throwing off the normal timing of the two major lights at each end of this two-block stretch, causing gridlock. The whole thing is a fraud. Previously, pedestrians crossed on an occasional flashing red, and there was no parking lot. A reasonable display of civic give-and-take at work. Somehow you felt like part of it, and it cost you little. But politicos don't seem to like it when things run smoothly. Campaigning is their thing. Formulating the nuts-and-bolts type reasoning affecting basic quality-of-life issues isn't. Hence, we get something we neither need nor want. Of course, that could be said about more than just that light. Within the last year or so, at the same location, the Farmers Market was gutted so as to construct a monster parking complex and the attendant concrete metropolis. What a shame. I used to take my young sons to play at Kiddieland there, and at the big pumpkin and little petting zoo in the fall. We would browse through the quaint shops and sit on the sidewalk benches, slurping sodas and watching people pass by. It had a small-town flea market feel to it, and is part of my young family's lore.

But now it's gone, replaced instead by gigantic stone temples, a mocking tribute to the cultural bankruptcy and historical amnesia in which our society finds itself. The idolatry of the elite. A celebration of false gods. If you bulldoze it, pave it over, and proclaim it a tourist attraction, they'll come. I even miss that Goodwill truck, with its driver sitting alongside, where I used to drop off clothes and shoes. And I'm left to wonder why progress must forsake our basic sense of community? Why cement over our memories? Why regard history with such contempt? The same thing will occur at Sunset and La Cienega, when another concrete monstrosity displaces that beautiful little area. I think about these things now as I'm jammed in traffic at the new Farmers Market Place light, after having missed the light at Beverly Blvd. one block back, and am about to miss the light at 3rd Street one block ahead. And to those responsible for all of this, I'd like to say "thank you". This is just perfect.


Cliffside Malibu




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