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City Moves to Streamline Filming Process, Limit Disruptions

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, April 28, 2010, at 05:40PM
Downtown Filming Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Filming for this commercial in 2007 required the closure of 7th street, a process that would now be quicker with new electronic permitting systems.

Looking to keep more filming taking place here in Los Angeles, the City this week unveiled two systems designed to streamline the process of permitting parking restrictions and street closures, while LAPD discussed its new power to arrest those who try to disrupt permitted shoots.

The City Council last year instructed the City Attorney's office to draft an ordinance that would give LAPD the power to cite productions shooting without a permit and "[make] it illegal to disrupt a properly permitted film shoot."

Turns out, they had passed just such an ordinance eight days before that October 7 vote.

At Tuesday's meeting of the Jobs and Business committee, Lieutenant Ray Garvin of LAPD's Contract Services Division said that the department can use the recently-passed special events ordinance to handle both aspects of film shoot enforcement. That ordinance, now codified as Los Angeles Municipal Code section 41.20, includes the provision that "No person shall in any manner interfere with the progress or orderly conduct of a permitted Special Event."

Those enforcement powers were put to use this Monday, when police officers arrested an individual on the Venice boardwalk who was demanding payment to stop playing loud music during a film shoot's takes.

That's not something that happens every day, though. "The reality is it's been around for several months now, and there's been two arrests made," said Paul Audley, President of FilmL.A., the non-profit contracted to handle film permitting for the City. "If you're doing your business in the area, you're not interrupting."

Before LAPD is involved in a dispute, FilmL.A. monitors first try to intervene in the situation and find a resolution. LAPD officers are instructed to do the same before placing anyone under arrest.

Keeping filming in Los Angeles has been a favorite goal of the city over the past year, and at the same meeting the Department of Transportation demonstrated a system designed to make it more efficient for shoots to get their 'No Parking' signs ordered.

The "Traffic Event Asset Management System" is eventually intended to handle all of the roughly 160,000 temporary parking signs the city posts each year.

"We are now able to enter directly onto their system our request instead of sending them a piece of paper," Audley explained. That cuts down on faxed documents, and makes it easier for all parties to track the requests. "The true benefit of this system is that it's going to communicate instantly to the crews out in the field."

In presenting the system, LADOT said that it believes the database adds transparency to the permit process. A department spokesman told blogdowntown that he believes the data is intended to be made publicly available via the city's NavigateLA mapping system.

A similarly streamlined system was unveiled today by the Board of Public Works, which handles permits for street closures. Commissioner Andrea Alarcon, the daughter of Jobs and Business chair Richard Alarcon, used the "Paperless Permitting in Real-Time" system to approve a closure request.

With the new system, closures are no longer required to be noticed and approved as part of a Board of Public Works meeting. That cuts what had been a two to seven day process into one that can take place in one to two days.

But does it also reduce public input into the closure process? "The public process part of this happens anyway through our notice," Audley said. "Part of what we deliver to public works is any complaints we receive."


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