Will Trumpjam replace Obamajam?
A presidential visit to Southern California can strike fear into the heart of even the most traffic-hardened Angelenos, who know too well that detours and closures for a White House motorcade can turn rush hour into chaos on the Westside.
Former President Obama’s frequent visits to Southern California created traffic tie-ups so ugly they earned their own moniker.
As President Trump prepares to make his first visit to California, a lack of details from federal officials on whether he will use a motorcade or a helicopter to travel across town has left commuters and officials uneasy — as has the threat of rain in the forecast for Tuesday night.
Even before Trump arrived in Southern California, traffic in downtown was hit by street closures around the Wilshire Grand hotel, where the president might be spending the night.
After a visit to San Diego to see prototypes for a border wall, Trump will arrive in Los Angeles at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. He is scheduled to attend a fundraiser in the Beverly Hills area, then head to downtown L.A. for the night.
With enough advance warnings, presidential street closures are miserable, but manageable, residents say. But local officials have not received a plan from the Secret Service detailing what streets would need to be closed to accommodate a motorcade.
“We’re waiting and wondering why it hasn’t come through yet,” Los Angeles Police Department Officer Luis Garcia said Monday afternoon. “We usually have it by now. We wish it was already at our office so we could send it out.”
Before past presidential visits, the Secret Service has typically provided a list of potential street closures about two days in advance, then provided more specifics close to the time the president arrived, Garcia said.
Secret Service spokesman Shawn Holtzclaw said in an email that any L.A. street closures will be released “when deemed appropriate.” He said that the Secret Service “does not comment specifically or in general the means and methods of our protective operations.”
One of the ugliest Obamajams occurred in 2010, when Obama attended a fundraiser at the Hancock Park house of a Hollywood producer. His motorcade’s path through L.A. at rush hour sparked hours-long commutes.
Palms resident Chris Bezenah spent more than three hours fighting his way through traffic to reach a meeting in Hancock Park, not far from the fundraiser. Since then, he said, he’s been careful to look for information about road closures.
“This time, it’s kind of a void,” said Bezenah, who works in Marina del Rey. “It’s anyone’s guess right now what’s going to happen.”
When Trump’s plane lands at LAX, travelers should expect some brief road closures, lasting about 10 minutes, said Los Angeles Airport Police Officer Robert Pedregon.
During most presidential visits, officers block off Sepulveda Boulevard between Imperial Highway and Lincoln Boulevard, Pedregon said. The Secret Service will share more detailed street closure plans with LAX officials Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s just a real quick closure for the arrival and departure,” Pedregon said. “Most people won’t even notice it.”