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Filming Conditions for Downtown Introduced at Council

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, June 10, 2009, at 09:42PM
Criminal Minds Shoot Eric Richardson [Flickr]

This late-night shoot for the TV show "Criminal Minds" took place at 6th and Spring in June of 2008 and involved closures of both streets.

Rules aimed at easing the conflict between filming and residents took one step closer to being law on Tuesday, as Councilwoman Jan Perry introduced a set of special conditions crafted by the Downtown community.

Downtown has long been Hollywood's favorite backlot, but in recent years shoots have increasingly butted heads with the neighborhood's new residential population.

The process of creating the conditions, which would be the third to be put in place around the city, has spanned more than two years. The effort kicked off in March of 2007, after late night helicopter activity created community outrage.

Numerous meetings between community stakeholders and the film industry led to the creation of a set of conditions that address noise, fume, lighting, parking and traffic issues associated with filming activities.

Many of those conditions have been voluntarily adopted by FilmL.A., which handles permitting services in Los Angeles, but passage by Council would make sure they are always applied.

Bert Green, who led the community effort on the conditions, said today that passing the conditions into law will help with enforcement. "Once Conditions are passed by City Council, violations are legal infractions rather than simply an oversight."

While the rules would apply to all of the area covered by the Downtown L.A. Neighborhood Council, special rules apply to the Old Bank District and the Broadway corridor. The rules also vary depending on proximity to residential buildings.

That has some in the film industry concerned. Todd Lindgren, V.P. of Communications for FilmL.A., says that his clients would prefer a consistent set of rules. "From our perspective, we hear that carving out a micro-district from a larger district only causes confusion," he said.

Residents should not expect these new conditions to solve all filming issues. "What we're trying to do with the conditions is create some baseline standards," Green said. "You can't blow shit up at 3am."

Many filming complaints have had their root in the notification and survey rules, which requires FilmL.A. to alert property owners of upcoming filming and get their permission for exceptional activity. Residents of rental buildings have often complained of situations where management has failed to pass on word of an impending shoot.

Both Green and Lindgren encouraged residents to subscribe to FilmL.A.'s eNotification service, which delivers filming notices via email. By being aware of upcoming activity before it begins, residents can help avert problem situations.

Sometimes, that might mean calling a building's management to ask why they signed off on a certain shoot. "Putting pressure on the landlords is going to make them ultimately more responsible," Green said.

Despite the length of time these new rules have been under discussion, they are still likely to generate some lively opinions when they appear at council's Public Works committee.

Lindgren said that is just the nature of filming talk. "To be frank, filming is really a hot-button issue," he said. "People are not indifferent to it. They usually feel pretty strongly one way or another."

Those interested in reading the proposed conditions can find them online as a PDF.

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