Task Force to Picture Safety at Downtown Art Walk

The recommendations are expected to be in place by the next Art Walk

A task force will consider safety improvements at the Downtown L.A. Art Walk after a vehicle struck a baby in a stroller at last month's event.

The City Council voted Wednesday to form the safety improvements task force. The action comes after the July 14 Art Walk, at which a driver attempting to park near Spring and Fourth streets jumped a curb and struck people, including the 2-month-old, on the sidewalk.

The baby died died early the next day.

The Art Walks occur on the second Thursday of each month. The event began in an open house in 2004, and crowds have numbered in the 10s of thousands.

"At its core, Art Walk is a downtown open house," said Russel Brown, executive director of the Historic Downtown Business Improvement District. "A lot of this is on  private property. Unfortunately, we're at a saturation point on a lot of our sidewalks.  So this motion allows us to help coordinate with all the city departments...  to help manage this to not only keep it sustainable but keep it safe for everyone in the community.'' 

The task force will review traffic, crowds maintenance and other safety issues. It includes representatives from the transportation, police,  fire, planning, building and safety, and public works departments.

"Even without any of the incidents that have happened, the event was  ripe for some more regulation,'' Councilman Jose Huizar said. "At some point we do have to  step in to help regulate it to make it safe for everyone, so that it can  continue and we wouldn't have to shut it down because of its success."

Huizar said police have discouraged the idea of closing streets during the events. Artist and gallery owner Victor Wilde started a petition in support of closing streets between Spring and Main from Second to Eighth during Art Walk hours.

The online petition had 668 signatures early Wednesday afternoon.

The task force is expected to provide recommendations in time for the next Art Walk, which is scheduled for Aug. 11.

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