Los Angeles braces for traffic gridlock during today's Obama fundraising visit

Demonstrators protest in front of Sony Pictures Studios on April 21, 2011, as President Barak Obama attends a major fundraiser for his 2012 billion-dollar presidential reelection campaign.
Demonstrators protest in front of Sony Pictures Studios on April 21, 2011, as President Barak Obama attends a major fundraiser for his 2012 billion-dollar presidential reelection campaign.
Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

Traffic is expected to particularly heavy throughout West Los Angeles and Culver City today to accommodate President Barack Obama's fundraising visit to the Southland.

Updated at 6:55 p.m. | Permalink

Hundreds of protesters greet President Obama

Several hundred protesters have gathered outside Sony Studios in Culver City where President Barack Obama is attending two fundraisers.

Demonstrators chanting "No Justice, No Peace," are voicing their opinions on a range of issues Thursday, including immigration rights, animal abuse, the economy and recognition of the alleged Armenian genocide.

Carlos Amador, an undocumented graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, says he came to the protest to urge Obama to pass an executive order to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrant students and allow them to receive work permits to work in the U.S.

The protest has been peaceful and there have been no arrests.

— Associated Press

Updated at 6 p.m. | Permalink

Traffic slows to crawl in West LA as Obama arrives

Fears of traffic gridlock are becoming a reality in parts of West Los Angeles where President Barack Obama is attending some fundraisers.

There have been reports of bumper-to-bumper conditions on Olympic Boulevard and some exits on Interstate 405 have been closed.

Air Force One landed at Los Angeles International Airport at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday. The president then boarded a helicopter for a short flight to an unspecified landing zone, then rode in a motorcade to the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

— Associated Press

Updated at 3:45 p.m. | Permalink

Protesters call on Obama to officially recognize Armenian Genocide

About an hour ago there were only a few protesters outside the Sony Studios in Culver City where President Obama is speaking this afternoon. Now, there are hundreds of protesters, says KPCC’s Corey Moore.

They’re chanting “Obama, keep your promise,” says Moore.

The demonstrators want Obama to make good on a campaign pledge to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide.

During his election bid, Obama said he would formally recognize the Armenian Genocide, in which an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Turks beginning in 1915. Turkey officially denies that a genocide took place.

Since his election, however, he has not used the term “genocide.'' At a remembrance ceremony of the massacre last year, he called it “one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.''

Serouj Aprahamian, executive director of the Armenian Youth Federation western region, said he would like the president to stop sidetracking legislation that would make acknowledgement part of U.S. foreign policy, “and pass on the message to Turkey, that as a country, it needs to come to grips with its history and atone for this crime that it committed.''

— Corey Moore and KPCC Wire Services

Updated at 3:35 p.m. | Permalink

Obama arrives in Southland for Westside fundraisers

The president landed at Los Angeles International Airport at about 2:30 p.m. for his sixth visit to the Los Angeles area since taking office and his fourth exclusively for fundraising.

Obama is scheduled to attend a pair of fundraisers at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City. The first will be a dinner with about 100 people at the studio commissary, with tickets costing $35,800 each.

A second event will follow at the studio, with tickets priced at $250 for general admission, $2,500 for VIP seating and $100 for those under 40. About 2,500 people are expected for the event, including Academy Award-winning actor Jamie Foxx.

Obama will later speak at a fundraiser at the Tavern restaurant in Brentwood, with tickets also costing $35,800.

All proceeds from the events will go to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint account of the Democratic National Committee and Obama for America, his campaign committee.

For the $35,800 ticket, the campaign gets the first $5,000 – the maximum $2,500 contribution for the primary season and another $2,500 for the general election campaign. The $30,800 is the maximum an individual can give to a campaign committee in a year.

As is typical with presidential visits, protests were held.

A group of Armenian Americans gathered outside Sony Studios, calling upon Obama to honor his 2008 campaign pledge to appropriately recognize the Armenian Genocide and visit the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Memorial in Montebello, according to Rostom Sarkissian, a senior adviser to the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles also staged a rally outside the studio to remind Obama “of his pledge to update immigration laws,'' said Jorge-Mario Calbrera, the group's director of communications & public affairs.

Several groups, including the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and
End Racism) and Code Pink, protest federal budget cuts and U.S. involvement in the uprising in Libya, Ian Thompson of the ANSWER Coalition said.

The Los Angeles-area appearances are part of a West Coast swing by Obama, primarily for fundraising.

“It looks like the president prefers campaigning over providing the leadership that America needs to get back on track,'' California Republican Party communications director Mark Standriff told City News Service.

“It seems to me rather than ramp up his re-election campaign a year-and-a-half out... he should be back in Washington D.C., dealing with the issues that Californians and Americans all over the county are worried about.''

Obama is set to leave Los Angeles Friday morning.

— KPCC Wire Services

Updated at 2:35 p.m. | Permalink

Air Force One lands at LAX

The City News Service reports that Air Force One has landed at LAX. The president is then expected to make his way to Culver City.

— KPCC Wire Services


Obama is scheduled to arrive at Los Angeles International Airport at 2:30 p.m. He will attend a fundraiser at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, where he is scheduled to speak around 4:30 p.m., then attend a private fundraiser at a Brentwood restaurant.

The president riled Angelenos when a fundraising visit last August in Hancock Park snarled traffic for hours all across the Westside. The traffic was so bad Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who chairs the Transportation Committee, called for an investigation into ways such traffic jams can be avoided in the future.

"I told the White House they might have raised $1 million, but they lost one million votes," Rosendahl said.

On a subsequent visit to USC in October, Obama moved around the city primarily by helicopter, largely avoiding massive backups.

Rosendahl said the White House has been responsive this time around as well. He said there was a coordinated meeting yesterday with Secret Service, FBI, LAPD, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and others.

"I get the assurance the roads won't remained hard-closed for hours and hours, that closures will be based on the president's real-time movements," Rosendahl said. "They're giving me comfort – we'll see – that they're sensitive to our issues, and I'm hopeful."

He said Obama's advance staff alluded to travel by helicopter, but did not go into detail.

The LAPD and the city Department of Transportation both declined to comment on any specifics of Obama's route, noting that the Secret Service controls the operation and often gives orders for street closures at the last minute for obvious security reasons.

But people on the streets – either in cars or on buses – should be ready for delays.

"Please anticipate Westside area bus delays and detours," according to a statement issued by Metro. "Detours will be updated as they go into effect. Buses will return to their normal route as soon as roads are reopened."

Metro encouraged passengers to use its Nextrip program online at www.metro.net/nextrip for real-time bus schedule information.

Some office building management companies sent warning notices to tenants about the anticipated traffic tie-ups.

"We have experienced severe traffic conditions in West LA on previous visits, but there is no way to determine exactly what streets will be affected for this visit," according to a memo sent to tenants of a West Los Angeles building run by Douglas Emmet Management.

A Culver City School District official said no changes in school hours are planned because of Obama's visit. Schools will be getting out between 2:30-3:05 p.m. as usual.

FAA puts in flight restrictions for Obama visit

The Federal Aviation Administration has some temporary flight restrictions in place today while President Barack Obama is in Los Angeles.

"Any pilot who violates the restrictions can face FAA sanctions as well as criminal charges," Ian Gregor of the FAA said.

Obama is scheduled to arrive at Los Angeles International Airport about 2:30 p.m. He is scheduled to attend at a fundraiser at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, where he is scheduled to speak around 4:30 p.m., then attend a private fundraiser in Brentwood.

Here's a rundown of the flight restrictions:

– Only airlines, law enforcement aircraft and approved air ambulance aircraft will be able to fly within a 10-mile radius of Santa Monica Airport between 2:30 p.m. today and 9 a.m. Friday.

– During that time, private pilots will not be able to fly into or out of Los Angeles International Airport, Santa Monica Airport and Hawthorne Municipal Airport.

– While the restrictions are in effect, private pilots will be able to fly into and out of airports within 10-30 miles from Santa Monica Airport. Private pilots will be able to transit through that airspace provided air traffic controllers can handle the workload. However, all pilots flying in this area must have filed flight plans, must be talking to air traffic controllers and must be using transponders, which provide controllers with data on the type of aircraft, its altitude, airspeed and destination. The transponders must be broadcasting a code that is unique to each aircraft.

– At times, the center of the restricted area will be LAX. Only airlines, law enforcement aircraft and air ambulance aircraft will be allowed to fly within an 8-mile radius of LAX between 2:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. today, and between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Friday.

The restrictions can be viewed on the FAA website.