Location scouts upset again over green bike lane in downtown L.A.

Cyclists, cars and buses pass on the green-painted bike lane in the 400 block of Spring Street in Los Angeles.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Location scouts are once again red-faced over the bright green bicycle lane in downtown Los Angeles.

City officials painted a 1.5-mile strip of Spring Street neon green in 2011 for a bike lane as part of larger effort pushed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to make streets safer and more inviting to cyclists.

But the bike path still rankles location scouts and filmmakers, who see it as another hurdle to filming in Los Angeles.

Their concern: The bright color would be a distraction to viewers, doesn’t belong in period movies and makes it harder for L.A. to do what it does best: play other cities.

“As we all know, unlike other major cities, our downtown footprint is very small and limited and we’ve used this stretch for [an] ‘anywhere in the world’ big city for years and it is vital to us for many projects, " Ed Duffy, business agent for Teamsters Local 399, which represents location managers, wrote in a recent email to members.

After weeks of negotiations, the mayor’s office assured location managers last year that the city would let the stretch of Springs Street between 3rd and 9th fade away, Duffy said.

Now, he said, the city is about to backpedal and give the lane a fresh coast of green paint.

“We spend so much time fighting to keep filming in the city and to keep the city film-friendly, and when something like this happens, we can’t take it lightly,” Duffy said in an interview. “We’re in a crisis mode, and every one of these little things just puts us more into a crisis.”

Two officials in the mayor’s office who are involved in the dispute could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, veteran location scouts such as Lori Balton are hoping the city will switch gears.

“I was just scouting on Spring Street yesterday, and the thing that I noticed was that hideous green paint had started to fade and I was grateful for it,” said Balton, who has worked on such movies as “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Inception” and the upcoming “The Lone Ranger.”

“That bright green strip doesn’t exist in any other city,” Balton said, “and if you’re shooting a period piece down there, which we frequently do, it removes you from the story and disturbs the willing suspension of disbelief.”


A fateful call keeps ‘The Call’ in L.A.

Web-based productions are taking off in L.A.

Seeing red over green: Some unhappy with Spring Street bike lane