INSIDE INGLEWOOD—This weekend, Viacom’s MTV hosted the Video Music Awards (VMA) at the Forum in Inglewood. Prairie Avenue and the west segment of Pincay Drive (south of the Forum) was closed off to all traffic save those with the proper event entry passes. Manchester Avenue, which runs immediately north along the Forum’s parking lot, was jam-packed with motor traffic. Residents and local press were not allowed to drive along parts of Pincay, and all of Prairie adjacent to the Forum.
The main broadcast event was Sunday, August 24. For the better part of Sunday morning and into the early afternoon, the traffic lights east of Prairie all the way to Van Ness Avenue (the eastern border of Inglewood) along Manchester Avenue were down. There were no traffic control personnel, and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) deputies which the City of Inglewood paid $25,000 to hire for the day were not to be seen.
There was one unmanned City of Inglewood parking Enforcement pick-up truck in the middle of Pincay Drive; the employee was seen mingling with soccer fans in the baseball field on the northern end of Darby Park along Pincay. (see photo below)
The Forum, which Inglewood’s mayor, James Butts, has repeatedly stated will bring great revenues to Inglewood, may be to blame for the traffic light outrage and resultant traffic jam that made a three-minute jaunt between Market Street and Crenshaw Boulevard a resemblance of the 405 Freeway during drive time.
Shortly after noon, two Southern California Edison (SCE) trucks parked in the alley behind FatBurger south of Manchester and east of Crenshaw. Asked if the traffic light outrage may have been cause by the VMA event, both SCE employees stated it was “just an power interruption.”
Earlier this year, SCE employees spent a month along the same Manchester block replacing the utility infrastructure. In a June 25 press release, SCE’s David Song stated that SCE would “ensure continued reliable electric service” and that “SCE will invest more than $400,000 to upgrade a distribution circuit that serves parts of Inglewood.”
The work began the third week of June and continued for four weeks until July 21.
Neither Butts nor any Inglewood employee was available for comment.
To date, the Forum has been the recipient of Inglewood taxpayer funds via a $300,000 street-camera award approved by the city council on August 5, a $25,000 award (also on August 5) to LASD for a single day’s security service and an $18 million California Redevelopment Agency (RDA) sloan that helped Faithful Central Bible Church out of its two-year-old foreclosure concerns regarding the Forum.
The Forum had signed an agreement to lease nearby empty lots as parking areas when it opened. The agreement was for $200,000 annually if the Forum used the lots. According to an e-mail response from Inglewood’s Chief Financial Officer David L. Esparza in late July: "Although MSG has the option [emphasis his] to use the described lots for ‘over-flow’ parking, they are not required to pay the City the $200,000 until such time as MSG starts to use the lots. So at this time the City has not received any payment from MSG for the use of those lots."
According to a resolution handed down by Butts and the city council on Tuesday, April 22, those lots have since been re-fenced by the City of Inglewood at a cost of approximately $300,000.
Faithful Central bought the Forum in 2000 for $23.5 million. By 2010, the church’s famed property was in foreclosure. That year, the L.A. Business Journal wrote on December 9 that Madison Square Garden (MSG) was rumored to desire the iconic venue and that “the price of the arena will run $23 million and there will be a $50 million renovation budget.”
In January, 2012, Butts and the Inglewood city council awarded the $18 million RDA grant with the condition that MSG fulfill its already obligatory renovation budget. In January, Butts attempted to have the loan forgiven in a 208-page budget report but suddenly pulled the “forgiveness” clause at the beginning of the July 29 Inglewood city council meeting.
“We’re going to re-write that line since the (Morningside Park Chronicle) had a lot of fun with that story,” said Butts within minutes of the meeting’s opening.
This reporter is the editor-in-chief to Morningside Park Chronicle; the mayor was referring to a July 25 on-line announcement on the MPC’s Web site regarding the loan forgiveness sentence.
(Randall Fleming is a veteran journalist and magazine publisher. He has worked at and for the New York Post, the Brooklyn Spectator and the Los Feliz Ledger. He is currently editor-in-chief at the Morningside Park Chronicle, a weekly newspaper based in Inglewood, CA and on-line at www.MorningsideParkChronicle.com. Mr. Fleming’s views are his own and do not reflect the views of CityWatch.) Photo credit: Randall Fleming
Vol 12 Issue 69
Pub: Aug 26, 2014