The Los Angeles City Council unanimously backed a pedestrian bridge at the Da Vinci apartments in downtown Los Angeles May 16, that would allow its future dwellers to avoid nearby homeless encampments. The bridge proposal -- submitted by developer G.H. Palmer Associates -- initially was shot down by a citizen panel overseeing downtown development.The walkway would connect two separate buildings on either side of Temple Street, near the juncture of the 101 and 110 freeways.
The project, now under construction, includes 526 residential units.
``It's not really a homeless issue,'' said Councilman Jose Huizar, who stepped in to override the Central Area Planning Commission's April 8 decision to deny developer's request for the pedestrian bridge.
``It's simple for internal circulation among this development,'' he said prior to the council voting 11-0 to allow the developer to include the pedestrian bridge in its project.
``Secondly, the developer has agreed to actually light up the street area with additional funds and has agreed to fund the maintenance of pedestrian bridges in other parts of downtown,'' he said.
Concerns about the area's homeless population and crime were nevertheless brought up in recent correspondence between the developer and the City Council. A letter to the council from the developer's attorneys, Latham & Watkins, references a recent assault on actor Zac Efron and his bodyguard near the project site and said that ``within a one-mile radius of the project site crimes are occurring at an average of 3 to 4 crimes per day.''
The May 9 letter also said the project site and the nearby tunnel below the 110 freeway ``are often congregating places for homeless persons.''
The president of the downtown area business chamber, Carol Schatz, also submitted a letter to Huizar this month saying the pedestrian bridge is needed ``due to pervasive public safety concerns.''
The project ``is located near a well-known and growing homeless encampment, which the city and private property owners have little ability to address given current legal battles,'' Schatz wrote in the letter dated May 8.
``A pedestrian bridge will allow residents and staff to safely travel between the Da Vinci buildings, day or night,'' she wrote. ``The bridge will facilitate easy access to on-site amenities while addressing the public safety concerns related to the homeless encampment.''
``For these reasons, I urge the Planning and Land Use Management Committee to support the G.H. Palmer Associates' request for a pedestrian bridge as part of the Da Vinci project,'' she wrote.
The developer was not immediately available for comment.