Off-Ramp | Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

Is the LA Fire Department "Red Flag" parking map confusing?

A little background first: On windy, warm and dry days like today the LA Fire Department restricts parking on certain streets in order to allow their trucks to respond to fires in a timely manner, in the event of a flare up. It makes perfect sense to me: most of these streets are narrow and in or near fire-prone areas. A few extra feet of clearance, I'd imagine, makes all the difference for an emergency vehicle getting their as quickly as possible. Cars that impede that right of way are subject to towing.

When a Red Flag day comes, the LA Fire Department makes every effort to alert the public with news bulletins, blogs and plenty of social media efforts. You can call 311 for more information, too!

But how do you know if your street is a restricted zone? There are signs on the street, of course. But if you aren't sure, the Fire Department's Red Flag website also has a map--but the layout is a little problematic. The maps are separated out by City Council district. Here, take a look at CD-1:

(Click here to see the entire, zoomable PDF)

Actually, this map is pretty bad. Here's the legend:

So where are the red flag parking zones? According to the legend, those pink areas aren't necessarily restricted--just "very high fire hazard severity zones". And those thick red lines represent the Council District border--not sure how that helps people figure out where to park. The thin, dark red lines are for freeways... and the parking restricted areas? Those are thin, light red lines. That's a lot of red. And it makes places like this:

...look particularly confusing. And getting your car towed is expensive. None of these other lines could be a different color? Or pattern?

The first time I looked at this map, I was exasperated. I tweeted my frustration earlier today and to my delight I got an official response within minutes! The Fire Department's official communications Twitter responded by sharing my tweets, giving me an email address to write and reminding followers about other methods to find the blocked street. So kudos to the Fire Department for having an excellent social media team and engaging with the public!! But I say that map still needs work. What do you think?