Questions and Answers About Your Commute : Sniffing Out Wood Chips Near Freeway


Dear Traffic Talk:

In recent months I’ve had to drive into Los Angeles from Santa Clarita a couple times a week. Usually I come home after dark and that’s when I notice the strange odor on the Hollywood Freeway just before it joins the northbound Golden State Freeway (near the Osborne Street signs).

This is sort of a medicinal or strong herbal odor. I can’t help wonder what causes it and if it’s harmful. It smells like something you wouldn’t want to inhale too long. Could it have any connection to the one- or two-acre spreading pond that I see to the west of the Hollywood Freeway? This always seems to have about six inches or less of some liquid standing in it.

Dorothy White


Dear Dorothy:

To investigate your complaint, the South Coast Air Quality Management District sent an inspector out in late December to see what might be causing the problem. According to AQMD spokesman Bill Kelly, the district believes that the medicinal odor that you describe is coming from the eucalyptus chips and leaves that are spread on top of the Sheldon-Arleta Landfill located near that interchange.


If you don’t think the problem is caused by eucalyptus and you continue to be concerned, you may want to call the district at (800) CUT-SMOG.

Dear Traffic Talk:

My question is about two intersections, Owensmouth Avenue and Marilla Street, and Owensmouth and Lassen Street in Chatsworth. Owensmouth, which has two lanes in both directions, is the only north-south entrance into the industrial area bordered by Canoga Avenue on the east and Topanga Canyon Boulevard on the west.

This street at both intersections does not have left-turn lanes. This creates problems because northbound and southbound cars that plan to turn left tend not to put on their turn signals. When the light turns green, all of the cars in the left lane who want to go straight are stuck behind the left-turning cars.

They then pull into the right lane to go around, and this creates dangerous situations because of the people who have already started to change lanes because they anticipate the left turners. Can you explain why they do not have left-turn lanes on this street?

Steve Kopito


Dear Steve:

The city Department of Transportation can’t put in left-turn lanes at those two intersections because the street is too narrow to do so, according to city transportation engineer Ray Wellbaum.

“Installing left-turn lanes would require removal of substantial numbers of parking spaces on the side of the street,” Wellbaum said, and the city is loath to do that because there is a high demand for parking in the area.

Dear Traffic Talk:

Would you please publish the phone number that I can call to get a street repaired? The city looked as if it was about to repair a certain street after I sent a letter to you about it a while ago, but nothing has happened.

Shelly Smith

Granada Hills

Dear Shelly:

Certainly. Here it is: (213) 485-5661.

Traffic Talk appears Fridays in The Times Valley Edition. Readers are invited to submit comments and questions about traffic in the Valley. Please write to Traffic Talk, Los Angeles Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth, CA 91311. Include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers. Letters may be edited, and no anonymous letters will be accepted. To record your comments, call (818) 772-3303. Fax letters to (818) 772-3385.