Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

MMRA and Academy Museum Tangle Over Fundraising Gala Street Closures

Image from the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.


After years of construction and then various pandemic-related delays, the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, in the redesigned and repurposed May Company building at Wilshire and Fairfax, is finally scheduled to open on Thursday, September 30.

In general, excitement for the opening abounds in the area…but the museum’s annual fundraising gala, to be held on September 25, a few days ahead of the general opening, already has the museum butting heads with the Miracle Mile Residential Association, which spent several years negotiating conditions of operations for the museum – including things like street closures – prior to its approval by the city council in 2015.

At issue, according to MMRA President Greg Goldin, is a special condition, known as a “Qualified Condition” or “Q Condition,” that was a part of the city’s ordinance granting approval to the museum project.  The Q Condition is part of the approved Traffic Management Plan for the Museum, and under a sub-section devoted particularly to “Theater Special Events” that starts on p. 18 of the document, it says the city will “Prohibit lane closures of Fairfax Avenue.”

So Goldin said he was surprised when the museum submitted an application to StreetsLA to close Fairfax for the September 25 gala event.  And he said he was further surprised that the requested closures were even more extensive than just Fairfax Ave.  In fact, according to the permit application, the requested street and sidewalk closures (all from 3 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, September 25,), include:

  • Full closure of southbound Fairfax from 3rd St. to 6th St. from 3 p.m-11:59 p.m.
  • Full soft closure of northbound Fairfax from San Vicente Blvd. to Wilshire Blvd. from 3 p.m. to 11:59 p.m.
  • Full soft closure of Orange St. from S. Crescent Heights Blvd. to S. Fairfax Ave. (local access allowed) from 3 p.m. to 11:59 p.m.
  • Full closure of Fairfax Ave. from 6th St. to Wilshire Blvd. from 3 p.m. to 11:59 p.m.
  • Complete closure of east sidewalk along Fairfax Ave. from 6th St. to Wilshire Blvd.
  • Partial closure of west sidewalk along Fairfax Ave. from 6th St. to Wilshire Blvd. (8′ of pedestrian access maintained for businesses)
  • Closure of westbound/north curb lane on Wilshire Blvd., from Spaulding Ave. to Fairfax Ave.
  • Closure of north sidewalk along Wilshire Blvd. from Spaulding Ave. to Fairfax Ave.
  • Partial closure of westbound #1 lane along 6th St. from Spaulding (Curson)  to Ogden Dr.
  • Closure of south sidewalk on 6th St. from Fairfax Ave. to Ogden Dr.

Both buses and car traffic would also be re-routed during those hours.

But while the MMRA sees the Fairfax closure, in particular, as a clear violation of previous agreements, the museum disagrees.

In response to an inquiry from the Buzz, the museum provided a statement from Chief Operating Officer Brendan Connell, Jr., saying the MMRA is incorrect, and that prohibition of lane closures of Fairfax does not pertain to the fundraising gala.  “The language from our 2015 Conditions of Approvals regarding lane closures on Fairfax is specific to our “Theater Special Events,” which refers to screenings and film premiere events,” Connell said. “Our annual Gala is not a “Theater Special Event,” and is not impacted by the intent of the ordinance. The museum has filed an application with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, following normal and standard procedures.”

But Goldin begs to differ.  “The Theater and Museum are indivisible,” he told the Buzz, “and if one reads the list of conditions, they specifically mention “Special Events” under the exact heading of “Theater Special Events.’ The Academy is trying to hoodwink the City by playing semantic games. They are wrong.”

Goldin says he also worries that if the city grants this street closure permit, it would set an unwelcome precedent for the future.  “Were the city to grant this street closure, the door would swing open, and there would be no end to these requests,” he said. “The city, once they’ve granted one would be in no position to deny a subsequent request. And that’s why the conditions were imposed. To ensure that no lane closures would occur on Fairfax. The Academy is hoping that by gaining this permit, they’ll be free to pursue ones in the future. They’re looking for a game-changing precedent.”

But the museum says this, too, is not true.  At a presentation to the Mid City West Neighborhood Council last night (video available here), more generally about the museum’s opening activities, Connell acknowledged that the museum has applied for a full closure of Fairfax (which he said would be in place from 5:30-10:30 p.m) for the fundraising gala.  He also said that while he realizes the full closure will be inconvenient, he thinks it will actually be safer for both the public and the event’s expected 500 attendees than a partial closure.  More equipment (like large K-rail traffic dividers) would be required for a partial closure, he said, and  allowing traffic to continue flowing on the west side of Fairfax could also result in those drivers being distracted by the big event across the street and create a “rubbernecking” situation.

“We recognize the inconvenience of this, but we feel that for safety reasons, we really felt that this was the best way to go,” Connell said.

Interestingly, though, Connell did note that the fundraising gala is expected to be an annual event, and that street closures for the gala could be annual as well.  “We’re hoping it’s something, maybe down the line, it’s just a, something we might do with our annual gala like once a year,” he said. “But to be clear, this is not something we’ll be doing for every premiere. In fact, it’s precluded by the ordinance that governs how the museum operates.  It’s not like a theater event, regular thing.  It’s really what we’re hoping is like an occasional thing, and we’re just asking for that consideration here for our annual gala.”

But despite Connell’s comments, Goldin says the MMRA’s position has not wavered.  “Officially, the position of the MMRA is: NO! We absolutely oppose this permit application, all of the street closures, soft or otherwise, all of the sidewalk closures. The Academy has an ample porte cochere, which was designed to address the very issue of drop-off and pick-up during “special events.” They have grounds sufficient to accommodate a much larger crowd. They have ample parking in the Pritzker Garage, and, dare I say, they could unroll the red carpet from there to the museum and theater (at an incredibly lower price than the proposed closures). This is precisely why the prohibition on lane closures was made by city ordinance, and there is no wiggle room here, no matter how many semiotics professors parse the language on behalf of the Academy’s self-serving purposes.”

Currently, StreetsLA is still reviewing the street-closure permit application, which, according to Goldin, will also be reviewed by LAFD, Emergency Services, the City Attorney, and City Planning before it can be approved.

For more information about the Academy Museum opening or any of its upcoming events, see or contact museum spokesperson Mariko Yoshimura-Rank at  [email protected].  There is also a community complaint hotline available at (323) 930-3011.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Latest Articles

.printfriendly { padding: 0 0 60px 50px; }