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Art Walk Task Force Focuses on Trucks and Vendor Safety for August Event

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, August 05, 2011, at 06:47PM
Art Walk Streets Eric Richardson / blogdowntown

Attendees of the July 2011 Downtown Art Walk cross a closed-off Spring Street after the tragic crash that left an infant dead.

The city's Art Walk Task Force may have only been officially created on Wednesday, but the body has already held a trio of meetings to discuss how to ensure safety at Downtown's largest monthly event.

In the group's crosshairs are the food trucks and vendor lots that have popped up with increasing density over the past few years.

While past efforts to manage the event have relied on the voluntary cooperation of the trucks and parking lot owners, this newest effort has focused on bringing together a variety of agencies to get creative about what means the city has to exert control.

"We're going to do what we can do," said Rick Coca, press deputy for Councilman Jose Huizar's 14th district. "We want to get back to the integrity of what the Art Walk is about."

Huizar's office partnered with Councilwoman Jan Perry's office in introducing the task force motion last Friday. Council officially created the group on Wednesday.

While LAPD has had a very public role in the Art Walk, it could be the Fire Department that sets the tone for next Thursday's event as inspectors take a situation-by-situation look at issues like occupancy and safety hazards.

The concept of street closures dominated the conversation after July's tragic Art Walk crash that killed a two-month-old infant, but the idea is not currently one of those under consideration due to LAPD opposition. The department believes that closed-off streets could encourage even larger crowds and more dangerous conditions.

With just a week to go before the event, not everyone is yet on the same page. A release put out on Wednesday by Huizar's office called out events that occur in privately-owned parking lots, but one major lot at the heart of Art Walk that has hosted vendors and trucks is actually city-owned.

434 S. Spring, soon be closed off for construction of the Spring Street Park, is again advertised as the site of "Art Square." A website for the event—a link to which is featured prominently on the Downtown Art Walk website and the site of the Art Walk Lounge—says that 10x10 vendor tents are sold out for August at $125 each.

A representative from Councilwoman Jan Perry's office said on Friday afternoon that she does not believe that the event will be allowed to use the space.

The Task Force will meet again on Tuesday, and hopes to get the word out to potential Art Walk attendees about any new rules before they get to the event. "We want to give enough time where folks can adjust," said Coca.

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