A swiftly canceled Los Angeles Police Department street carnival, originally slated to unfurl this week on Sherman Way from Topanga Canyon to Canoga Avenue, put members of the business community along the route on edge.
According to the original plan, prep work for the carnival was to begin Wednesday at noon, closing the street through next Monday at 4 a.m.
The event’s implied threat of street closure for the better part of a week upset several business owners.
On Tuesday, Nancy Bergquist at Green Thumb Nursery, located at 21812 Sherman Way, told the Business Journal that she was relieved when she discovered that the LAPD Carnival had been postponed indefinitely. She said she learned about the event only the day that it was canceled, which she believes was July 12.
“We never even got a notice about it,” Bergquist recalled. “If you’re going to shut down our street for a day, that’s going to make me a very unhappy woman.”
The proceeds from the carnival would have benefited the LAPD Museum. A call placed by the Business Journal to the LAPD contact given for the event by the office of Councilman Bob Blumenfield was not been returned by press time.
According to a July 12 memo sent to one business owner from Blumenfield District Director Michael Owens, the councilmember’s office felt equally blindsided by the LAPD event.
“They did not tell us that it was going to happen for sure until the last minute,” Owens wrote. “Bob sent the (July 12) letter out to let the community know since the turnaround time was so short.
“I have spoken with LAPD and we have advised them that we received numerous calls about it,” Owens continued in his email. “ The event will not be happening as planned as we informed them that while we wanted it to happen it has caused too many concerns. Please let anyone who inquires with you that this is no longer happening and we do apologize for the inconvenience.”
Aron Celnik, owner of Grandi Italiani restaurant, also felt “very concerned” by news of the carnival. Celnik, who just opened Grandi Italiani at 21730 Sherman Way on June 27, said he received a notice from Blumenfield's office last week regarding this LAPD Carnival and “I was concerned, so I called the contact person noted on the letter to get more information. (She) wasn't able to address my concerns, and she was wondering out loud why they put her name on the notice.”
After the contact person referred Celnik to Blumenfield’s office, the restaurateur left a voice message but did not hear back.
“I subsequently spoke with a neighbor on Sherman Way about it, and she told me that she had contacted someone in local government, who stated that the carnival was postponed indefinitely,” Celnik said. “I just got off the phone with someone at Blumenfield's Reseda office who confirmed this.”
Celnik believes that “the event wasn’t planned for properly,” and that the councilman’s office was “ill prepared to assist the local businesses with their concerns.”
Green Thumb’s Bergquist believes that such an event would have negatively impacted access to her building.
“The weekend is our busiest time,” she said.
Alternately, Celnik said that perhaps “the weekend of the carnival would've brought us a lot of customers.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Blumenfield’s communications director Jake Flynn confirmed that “as of now, the event has been postponed at our insistence (due to short notice from LAPD).”
“It is my understanding that LAPD should have done a petition to the businesses to get their support but then came to our office with less than 30 days to do so and would not have been able to meet the process,” Flynn told the Business Journal.
That said, Flynn noted that street closure regarding this fair “isn’t a new concept,” citing such examples as Councilmember Nury Martinez shutting down Van Nuys Boulevard and former Councilmember Dennis Zine shutting down Vanowen Street “for this same event.”