Downtown traffic

Let’s face it, living in Downtown has its ups and downs. Despite its troubles, Downtown living is pretty cool, if you know how to survive DTLA. Here’s a list of our 10 GREATEST PET PEEVES of living in DTLA and how to get around them.

Pet Peev 1- The Price of Parking

DTLA towing

Let’s just come out to say it. Almost everybody in downtown Los Angeles has gotten at least one parking ticket. Or even worse, they had a car towed and accumulated hundreds of dollars in citation and towing fees. It’s an embarrassing moment coupled with anger, disbelief, and helplessness that a few simple steps can avoid. Firstly, read the signs!

Did we say “simple step”? We might have to take that back. Some of the parking signs are hella confusing. But after living here for an extended period, you begin to learn how to interpret them. Between the circling shark patrol and the vulture tows, it’s unlikely that your car will get away from a citation if you are more than a few minutes late. Our meter maids and tow trucks live for this __, so you’ll do best to just out to think them. Get in the simple habit of setting your cell phone timer whenever you leave your vehicle. It works better than being shark bait. Or, to avoid the headache of downtown parking, park in a paid lot, or use a parking garage attached to a shopping center, buy an item, and get your parking ticket validated.

DTLA parking

Some parking lots allow up to 3 hours for as little as $3. Be warned, some of our parking lots do monitor your whereabouts. If you’re going to leave the premises – Don’t get caught.

Pet Peev 2 – Street Noise

Ask any downtown dweller. Downtown is a major metropolis. Living in DTLA, there will be NOISE. Depending on where you live, you may be exposed to urban noise pollution 24/7. Downtown ears will ring from car alarms and horns, reverse caution signals, metro bus intercom announcements, revved-up engines, screeching tires, ambulances, and fire truck sirens, and even loud bombs or people getting shot and killed.

The trick to living downtown aurally undisturbed is to rent a luxury loft high above the city. Anywhere above the 15th floor with tightly fitted windows works nicely; anywhere below, you’ll still be taking a gamble, especially if your building is anywhere near a club or concert hall. Maybe rent an apartment that doesn’t face the street. If that doesn’t work, you might want to invest in a pair of earplugs or white noise headphones.

Pet Peev 3 – Mentally Ill Vagrants

Well, here’s something that’s not going away anytime soon. It’s a 100-year-old problem that seems to be getting worse. And if you ask the people who live Downtown, some districts are just better than others. The reality is, while living Downtown, you will be exposed to the mentally ill. You might even be traumatized by some of their behavior at one time or another.

DTLA mentally ill

The trick to avoiding trauma is to avoid living in areas that have high transient ratios. This will determine whether you’re going to see one vagrant or whether you’re going to see dozens. For instance, if Bunker Hill is where you’ve made your home, chances are you’ll be exposed to museums and exceptional dining way before you’ll ever come across a hobo. Not to say you’ll never see a hobo on Temple or First Street, but we think there’s something about the climb up Bunker Hill that just sways the hobos away.

There aren’t the same amenities for the hobos in specific areas like Bunker Hill and the Arts District that attract the transient population. For example, the Historic Core might fill with five to ten to twenty, sometimes 30 mentally ill transients on every block, while Chinatown will hardly see a vagrant ever.

Typically, areas where happy hours and mega parties, bus stops, open trash cans, dark enclaves, and warm, wide streets coupled with people willing to share with the less fortunate can be the determining factor.

Skid Row is known for its tremendous humanitarian outreach. So the largest population of needy people may frequent the area for its life-giving social services, shelters, and a rotating cast of caregivers. Still, even this area seems poorly equipped when it comes to developing stand alone mental health facilities.

South Park has invested heavily in a dynamic security team that seems to be everywhere simultaneously, while the Historic Core appears to have fumbled the mentally ill, transient ball.

Bordering the unhoused capital of America and embracing the intoxicating debauchery of Spring Street Strip probably doesn’t help lessen the vagrant to tax payer ratio of the Historic Core. There are more reasons for the underserved population to dwell in this area than most the others, ranging from subsidized housing, access to metro stations, easily accessible trash cans to a high concentration of compassionate business owners and party-goers on any given day.

Shade trees and safety in numbers may attract some; this district also has the most vagrant “celebrity sightings,” with many of the same transients touching down day after day at their favorite posts.

Pet Peev 4 – Price of Rent

Well, if you have to ask…you can’t afford it. In Downtown, you’re not going to avoid paying high rents unless you’ve secured subsidized low-income housing or a nice tent. Thanks to the market-rate housing boom and just our overall urbanized vibe, living in the city is still very attractive, with people from all over the world still willing to pay top dollar to be here.

We’re just not paying for bragging rights. Most of our apartments and condos come with security, state-of-the-art gyms, communal areas, heated pools and jacuzzis, modern-day appliances, and beautiful views that you just can’t find anywhere else.

Downtown the

Luxury, calm, and safety come with a price, and you’re going to pay for it in downtown LA.

And although many may claim the high price of rent is a pet peeve, most buildings have elaborate pet walks, along with a list of other reasons to never have to leave your building. Speaking of pets…

Pet Peev 5 – Bad Dog Owners

Ugh – Bad dog owners are everybody’s pet peeve. If you’ve ever stepped in a pile of poop in the middle of the city or had to step over a line of urine, you know that some pet owners sometimes – don’t give a doggie biscuit about the needs of others. Good pet owners, however, adhere to 3 simple rules that keep our pet community thriving. Good pet owners keep their pets on the leash to ensure they don’t get in the way of passersby’s, run over by cars, bite other pets, or poop in undesignated areas. Two, good pet owners always pick up their pet’s poop and wash away urine. Three, good pet owners wipe their pet’s feet when they get home. Miss any of these steps, and it could turn out to be a pet catastrophe.

Pet wiping and pet shoe-wearing may seem like much, but shoes and doggie paws collect residue from the gritty downtown streets. We’re talking spit, vomit, poop, urine, mites, bug legs – you name it. If your feet aren’t properly washed, contaminates can easily find their way onto your bedsheets, making Bad Pet Owners one of Downtown’s top pet peeves.

Pet Peev 6 – Lights, Camera, Infraction!

Whoever said it was OK to film in downtown Los Angeles every day while blocking the streets, taking up sidewalks, and sometimes stopping us dead in our tracts so that film crews can get the perfect shot?

Well, there’s an old adage, “whoever rules the money makes the rules.” And Hollywood rules the money. On any given day, a film shoot can pay anywhere from $20,000-$20 million. That being said, the city, local business and private venues will see no problem in inconveniencing anyone, so don’t try to fight it.

Just watch. It’s kind of cool actually, when our city hits the big screen, especially when the film features major celebrities like Tom Cruise, the Rock, and Denzel Washington.

The next time you’re watching a movie, supposedly filmed in New York, or set back in time, but easily recognize Downtown and realize it’s all Hollywood magic, you’ll be grateful our humble metropolis made the BIG SCREEN.

Pet Peev 7 – Riding On The Metro

Metro sometimes gets a bad rap. Considering all the people who take the trains, buses, and rental bikes to and fro every year and considering Metro is one of the top employers of minority workers, Metro Transit Authority is pretty cool, actually. And these days, most rides are free.

But, what’s not so cool about Metro, is some of the people who ride Metro. On any given day, you could find yourself anxiously awaiting the next move of a mentally disturbed person three stories below while waiting for the metro train or metro police to come to rescue you.

Metro station

Once in the train car, it’s anyone’s guess, it could be a nice relaxing ride or aisles turned into a no-holds-barred boxing matches.

The air is tight during rush hour, and no amount of mask will hide the smell of the unwashed feet of public transportation. If only there were safety monitors or sanitation workers for each metro train to observe the impolite and throw away the unwanted trash and liquid drinks that can leave you in a sticky situation. But there isn’t. So for now, we’ll have to depend on each other.

And where are the bathrooms? Or is that asking too much?

Overall, downtown riders see Metro as taking care of the big things, such as providing us with decent public transportation, regional connectors, jobs, and reliable bus service. With a new CEO, there’s new hope and changes on the horizon. An added plus, Metro bus rides come with a free mask dispenser with drivers urging passengers to take as many as they want.

Pet Peev 8 – Right of way!

Scooters, Scooters, Scooters, both a blessing and a curse.
We’re going to keep it real with you; Downtown really loves our scooters. Scooting is one way we can get from one district to another quickly without having to worry about traffic, crime, or stuffy air. Plus, it’s cheaper than ride-share.

DTLA scooters

Downtown LA has a whole new set of bike lanes, and at 15 miles an hour, if you ride your scooter with the proper stance, you can even look kind of cool.

Introduced a few years ago, scooting became indoctrinated in our downtown city lifestyle almost overnight. However, our pet peeve is when people leave their scooters in the middle of the sidewalk, when scooters ride in the middle of traffic, or when some people scoot on the sidewalks, demanding pedestrians move or face destruction.

There’s plenty of room in the city for all of us, especially if the “scooter people” would follow the scooter rules.

Pet Peev 9 – Horrific traffic!

What can we say about traffic that hasn’t already been said? We recommend drivers go with the flow. That doesn’t mean stopping at waiting for the lane next to you to clear up, and it doesn’t mean driving too fast and putting other drivers in danger. It doesn’t mean it’s okay to get all bent out of shape to the point of road rage because you think you own the road, and everything is always supposed to go perfect every time you get behind the wheel.

Learn the freeways! Certain junctions will get clogged from time to time, and knowing those times, it what’s going to keep you out of traffic.

Downtown traffic

Also, knowing what alternate routes to take besides our rush hour traffic lanes can help you get to your destination quicker. This could take years to learn, but it’s worth it. Construction can always be a factor, so the best advice to counterbalance this pet peeve is to be patient and figure out what roads, freeways, and one-way streets are clear to use, at whatever time you may need them. Or talk radio.

Pet Peev 10 – Price of Gas

How in the hell is the price of gas so high Downtown?

You can go to a gas station anywhere within the freeway borders of the city, and they will charge what seems a 20-30% mark up. What are they putting in their gasoline, gold?

Yet, drive east, and the price of a gallon begins to stabilize. Penn pinchers choose Valero on Alameda and forth, while true OGs choose Arco on Valley Blvd in El Sereno. Echo Park has long been gasoline gentrified so don’t try it, while Expo/USC Figueroa stations keep their price of gas moderately low to help out students, no doubt.

Author: Keri Freeman

Military mom and proud parent, artist, writer, musician and film maker. Cocktail connoisseur. Publisher of DTLA Weekly.