|This map shows the incorporated areas in Los Angeles County, California. Hawaiian Gardens is highlighted in red. I created it in Inkscape using data from the Los Angeles County Website (Los Angeles County Incorporated Area and District Map (PDF). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
First let me respond that the Long Beach Police Department is working very hard both overtly and undercover to stop the crime in the area. Long Beach Police Commander Paul LeBaron has also been in numerous discussions with the LA County Sheriff’s command staff about coordinating efforts to make certain that criminals in Hawaiian Gardens are apprehended.
Police also tell me that while there is a criminal element in Hawaiian Gardens, it isn’t responsible for all the crime that occurs in our area. That being said, the issue of access to El Dorado Park Estates has been something hotly discussed long before I came to City Council.
When El Dorado Park Estates was originally constructed, the north end of Ritchie/Claremore was closed and barricaded. At the time the 605 Freeway was constructed, Long Beach granted a petition by Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) to open Ritchie/Claremore to Pioneer to permit freeway access.
In 1994, frustrated by traffic coming into El Dorado Park Estates, residents pressed the City to block Pioneer Blvd., so that access would be limited. The court ruled that Long Beach did not have the right to close a street that would affect Hawaiian Gardens, stating that the closure . . . promotes the health and safety of some of (Long Beach's) own citizens by interfering with the rights of others.
The City of Long Beach appealed the ruling but in 1998 the higher court also denied any efforts to block off traffic from the north stating about Pioneer Blvd., that: "(1) it provides motorists, including residents of El Dorado Park Estates, direct access to the 605 Freeway; and (2) it provides motorists, including residents of El Dorado Park Estates, a direct link to regional facilities such as shopping centers in Cerritos and Lakewood, employment centers in Long Beach and in the surrounding communities, and the Long Beach Airport."
Three years ago, I asked our Traffic Engineer to study traffic on Pioneer Blvd., to determine if more were coming in than going out. He completed the study and found that the traffic flow north and south was 50-50.
Many residents of El Dorado Park Estates use Pioneer Blvd., to exit the area and access the 605.
I understand the frustration of residents and we will continue to work closely with the LBPD, but there are few circumstances under which a court would change that ruling and allow one city to block off access to a public road.