The new Sixth Street Viaduct in Los Angeles has become a target for graffiti artists and exhibitionist drivers.
LOS ANGELES — A couple grinned at each other as they glided on bicycles across this city’s newest landmark, a glistening concrete bridge that connects the downtown arts district to the working class neighborhood of Boyle Heights.
A man wearing a suit rode an electric scooter down its length. Drivers reached out of their car windows to snap photos of the arches that form the Sixth Street Viaduct, as the bridge is officially known.
Six years after demolition began on its seismically unstable predecessor, the new Sixth Street Bridge opened earlier this month, and Angelenos love it. Maybe a little too much.
As my colleague Shawn Hubler and I reported this week, the long-awaited $588 million bridge has proved irresistible to Los Angeles residents, including all kinds of troublemakers.
Within 24 hours of the bridge’s celebratory opening, graffiti artists had tagged concrete surfaces. Illegal street takeovers have covered the bridge’s pristine lanes in skid marks. Skateboarders and climbers are trying to scale the arches. A barber even commandeered the median to give haircuts one evening.
The mischief has led Los Angeles police to repeatedly shut down the bridge. The city is now considering installing speed bumps, a concrete median barrier and climbing deterrents.
“Look, unlike the Brooklyn Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge, this is the first major bridge to be built in the social media era,” said Councilman Kevin de León, whose district includes both the bridge and the communities that bookend it. “Folks are trying to get their virtual fame and go viral.”
On an afternoon in Boyle Heights this week, four police cars parked at the entrance to the bridge and officers poured out into the sidewalk. Nearby, customers buying cut mango and pineapple from a fruit vendor gossiped about problems at the new viaduct, drawing arches in the air with their fingers.
Darcy Gomez, who works at a 7-Eleven in Boyle Heights next to the bridge, told me that its opening had transformed the block. From her storefront window, we spotted teenagers skating the bridge and pedestrians with cameras embarking across the sun-drenched expanse.
Gomez, 25, said the officers circling here were no longer novel. And crowds of pedestrians and cars typically begin gathering around sundown to flood the bridge, sometimes making it hard for her to leave at the end of her shift, she said.
The problems with the bridge have chipped away at her initial impression of the project: that it’s a perfect, beautiful expanse to traverse, especially with your car windows rolled down.
“It’s nice to drive on and relax, but once you think about all the things that go on there when you’re not there, it’s like, ‘Ouch,’” she said.
Los Angeles mask mandate: Amid a drop in Covid infections and hospitalizations, Los Angeles County officials announced on Thursday that they would not instate an indoor mask mandate that had been planned to start this week, The Los Angeles Times reports.
Drought official quits: Max Gomberg, an official on the California State Water Resources Control Board, is resigning because he thinks Gov. Gavin Newsom isn’t doing enough to address the worsening drought, The Los Angeles Times reports.
Kavanaugh plot: A California man who’s accused of plotting to kill Justice Brett Kavanaugh had an expansive goal to change the makeup of the Supreme Court “for decades to come,” The Associated Press reports.
Scandal at the Los Angeles Times: A book by a Los Angeles Times reporter has ignited debate about the way editors dealt with an explosive article about U.S.C. in 2017.
Gun laws: Burbank set a 45-day moratorium on new gun retailers while the city considers new restrictions on firearm sellers, The Los Angeles Times reports.
Councilman: Mark Ridley-Thomas, a Los Angeles city councilman, is suing City Hall to get his salary reinstated, The Los Angeles Times reports.
Oil spill: The Orange County Board of Supervisors has accepted a nearly $1 million settlement to cover the costs of cleaning up an oil spill in Huntington Beach, The Los Angeles Times reports.
Wildfire: At least 116 homes and other structures have been destroyed by the Oak fire near Yosemite National Park, The Associated Press reports.
Housing crisis: Fremont saw a 63 percent increase in its homeless population in the last three years, exacerbated by the pandemic and the increase of housing costs in the East Bay, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Monkeypox: San Francisco officials declared a state of emergency as monkeypox spreads, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
What we’re eating
Where we’re traveling
Today’s tip comes from Mona Patel: “My favorite place to visit in California is Encinitas — lovely beaches, gorgeous gardens and less touristy than other coastal parts of San Diego County.”
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
What California stories, big or small, do you want us to cover? Send your tips to [email protected]
And before you go, some good news
Step into Video Wave, in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood, and you’ll find stacks of DVDs and VHS tapes piled high. Around since 1983, the business is the city’s last full-service video rental store.
Its owner, Colin Hutton, offers personalized film recommendations that outdo the algorithms of streaming services, The San Francisco Standard reports. He has 27,000 films in his collection.
“I’ve been able to stay around and I probably shouldn’t have been,” Hutton said. “It’s really the community and their support that are why I’m still here.”
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back on Monday. — Soumya
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: ___ firma (5 letters).