Music Center parking loss creates traffic bottleneck for patrons


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A no-show actor, singer or soloist at a Music Center performance could throw things into disarray. Ditto for a missing parking lot.

Since last month, the parking lot at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power building has been off limits to Music Center patrons, resulting in snarled traffic and hasty dashes to make opening curtains.


Sitting across Hope Street from the Ahmanson Theatre, the DWP lot appealed to many in-the-know performance-goers who didn’t mind a bit of a walk: an easy-in, easy-out, above-ground lot that, until the price rose from $5 to $8 a couple of years ago, was a money-saver compared to the Music Center’s 1,000-space underground garage.

But the 350 DWP spaces vanished last month when the department decided that public parking after hours and on weekends could pose a security problem, spokesman Joseph Ramallo said this week. He wouldn’t elaborate, but some of the spaces are beneath the DWP’s high-rise headquarters, and experts say it typically takes extra staffing and alertness to secure parking lots beneath buildings from would-be terrorist bombers.

The loss of those parking spaces caused a particular headache during the Sept. 21 Sunday matinee....

Los Angeles Opera was performing Puccini’s “Il Trittico,” John Guare’s “House of Blue Leaves” was at the Mark Taper Forum and the Dolly Parton musical “9 to 5” was playing at the Ahmanson — all on an afternoon when Grand Avenue in front of Walt Disney Concert Hall was closed for a street festival.

Opera-goer Daniel J. Fink reports that with the Music Center’s underground garage filled, he was directed to a lot at First and Olive, only to encounter “three lanes of cars trying to find their way in.”

After finally parking, Fink said he “literally ran” and made it to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion just in time, but spent half the first act sweaty and flustered.


Officials of the Music Center, the opera and Center Theatre Group, parent of the Ahmanson and Taper, said they have received some complaints from patrons about recent parking hassles; the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which had no concert Sept. 21 and plays in a 2,265-seat hall that sits atop 1,700 parking spaces, reports no complaints.

Only after the Sept. 21 parking bottleneck did the Music Center learn that the DWP had closed its lots to performance patrons, spokeswoman Catherine Babcock said.

As a short-term solution, more attendants have been added at the First and Olive lot, said Nick Chico, who oversees parking for the county. However, that lot is in the footprint of the Grand Avenue redevelopment project, and could vanish as soon as year’s end, he said.

As a permanent fix, he said, the parking department has “secured preliminary aproval” to open 300 more underground spaces for Music Center patrons in a county lot across Grand Avenue. But a secure, reserved area first must be cordoned off for the county and courthouse officials who park there after hours and on weekends.

-- Mike Boehm

Robert Millard/LA Opera