Leaders of community groups concerned about traffic congestion around Dodger Stadium said they learned this week that two of their proposals to help unclog local streets during games have been accepted.
At a meeting on Monday, Dodger officials told representatives of several neighborhood associations in northeast Los Angeles that the team would send schedules of home games to 10,000 households near the stadium so residents can plan better to avoid traffic. Those schedules, to be mailed before the start of next season, will be printed in English, Spanish and Chinese.
The Dodger organization also has discussed with the city Transportation Department the possibility of a study of traffic problems in the area, and the city has agreed to at least undertake a volume count of the tens of thousands of vehicles that stream into the ballpark area, team officials said.
“We are really moving on this in a very significant and very pleasing fashion,” said Jeb Brighouse, a member of the Echo Park Renters and Homeowners Assn., who attended Monday’s meeting. “I’m very optimistic. I see us working in harmony and concert with the Dodgers now.”
The Echo Park group recently joined with those in nearby Silver Lake, Elysian Valley and Solano Valley to form a coalition called Neighbors of Dodger Stadium. Leaders of the organization say that streets sometimes are so jammed with ballpark traffic that residents cannot get in or out of their own homes, and that freeway rush-hour commutes are made especially unbearable when the Dodgers start night games at 5:30, two hours earlier than usual, to accommodate television audiences in the East.
Bill Shumard, the Dodgers’ director of community services and special events, said that, because of television contracts, nothing can be done to eliminate the early games. “We would much prefer to have all games start at 7:35, but we’re at the mercy of the networks,” he said.
But Shumard said the Dodgers have agreed to send out the 10,000 schedules next spring to the neighborhoods the residents’ associations choose. “I think we are addressing their needs in a real positive way,” he said. “This will give people ample time to prepare themselves accordingly for a home game.”
The mailing is expected to include a notice about the traffic situation as well as an order form for Dodger tickets. “We have no problem with people going to the game. We just want the traffic problem solved,” said Brighouse.
According to Sam Fernandez, general counsel of the Dodgers, the Transportation Department has yet to set a date for the promised traffic count.
Neighbors of Dodger Stadium want a broader traffic study, one that would include recommendations for new freeway construction. However, members of neighborhood groups say they welcome the volume count as a first step.
City transportation officials were unavailable to comment on the survey or a possible wider study.
A recent count of vehicles by parking lot attendants appears to support neighborhood complaints that many Dodger fans enter the stadium area from the Pasadena or Golden State Freeway but exit on local streets to avoid freeway bottlenecks.
For example, on June 18, the count found that 4,782 cars entered by the Pasadena Freeway but that 3,440 exited that way; on the same day, 1,663 cars came in through Scott Avenue, one of three neighborhood entrances to the stadium, but 2,566 exited that way.
The Dodger organization asked the neighborhood groups to support legislation proposed by state Sen. Joseph B. Montoya (D-Whittier) that would, in effect, ban scalpers from hawking game tickets alongside the roads leading to the stadium. Such sales further stall traffic, team officials say.
Scalpers ‘Causing Problems’
The local groups agree. “Our groups are willing to write letters in support of the bill because the scalpers are causing problems on Riverside Drive,” said Barbara Vineyard, an Echo Park resident who wrote a letter in April on behalf of the neighborhood groups seeking a meeting with Dodger officials.
Monday’s was the second such meeting. A third is set for next month. Still under discussion are neighborhood proposals to have the Dodgers encourage fans to park in outlying areas and ride buses to the stadium, and to have the cost of parking in stadium lots included in the cost of game tickets to speed the flow of cars.