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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Controversy persists over iron gates on Pico Boulevard keeping non-residents out

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Is it justifiable to restrict neighborhood access for residents’ safety?

The Country Club Park community in LA’s 10th District, encompassing Koreatown, is split on the Pico Boulevard gates issue, prompting a discussion with City Council candidates.

The gates, also known as Pico gates, are located at the intersection of St Andrews Pl, Gramercy Dr, Wilton Pl, and Venice Blvd on the Pico Blvd line and obstruct both pedestrian and vehicular passage.

The entrance to Wilton Place on board the Pico Boulevard is blocked by a gate. [Sangjin Kim, The Korea Daily]

Constructed in the mid-80s, the Pico Gates were endorsed by residents and businesses to enhance safety and deter crime, with official permission. The area is known for its relatively large gardens, historic, protected homes, and high-income residents.

The nearly four-decade-long gate controversy ignited from nonprofit advocacy for pedestrian rights and anti-discrimination.

The central question is the fairness of restricting community access to safeguard a particular neighborhood.

“It would be unfair to keep that residents who pay taxes out of the way to make life easier for residents of luxury homes,” said a representative from Streets For All, an organization that has been working on the issue, adding, “It’s long overdue to open the gates.” “What would the city be like if all residents had to live with metal gates on their homes and communities,” some said.

Conversely, residents north of the gate assert they’ve adhered to due process, deeming the gate essential for protecting historic sites.

“If you take away the gate, which has served as a symbolic protection from all kinds of harm, the neighborhood will be a mess,” said one resident who was a victim of arson near the gate during a recent meeting with candidates for the district, adding, “The area around Western and Pico is full of cars picking up sex workers, and it is obvious that they’re going to come in.”

“I don’t understand why people who don’t live here are talking about the situation here,” some residents said.

Pro-gate residents are forming a group and reportedly funding the gate’s $1,000 to $2,000 maintenance costs.

Candidates for LA City Council District 10 offer varied views. “I think it’s better to resize the gates to allow pedestrian traffic but not vehicular traffic,” said candidate Grace Yoo, explaining that there are gates in other parts of the district, but they don’t block sidewalk traffic. “However, vehicular access should still be accommodated because the gates were created and maintained by residents approved by the council,” she added.

Incumbent councilwoman Heather Hutt gave a somewhat off-center response to residents asking for her position, saying, “I’ll do what the people want.”

Candidate Aura Vasquez said, “I think it’s right to remove the gate to ensure access for all.”

As the debate rages on, it’s also likely that the issue could sway local voters in the March election.

BY BRIAN CHOI, HOONSIK WOO    [ichoi@koreadaily.com]