LAPD, CHP Address Pacific Palisades Motorcycle Concerns

Two traffic officers addressed motorcycle concerns at the May 5 PCH Task Force meeting, held in the Palisades Bowl mobile home park on Pacific Coast Highway.

Leland Tang of the California Highway Patrol said three different motorcycle clubs ride through the area and often will alternate nights, either Wednesday or Thursday.

One group starts in Hollywood and travels along Sunset to PCH. A second club comes through the McClure Tunnel and travels along PCH, and a third group starts on the 101 and travels along Topanga to PCH and back through Pacific Palisades.

LADP West Traffic investigators (green vests), walk away from the white tent set up to protect the deceased until the coroner arrived on April 2, 2017. Other investigators examine the motorcycle debris by the tree that was hit by the Kawaski driver. Photo: Hugh Slavitt

LADP West Traffic investigators (green vests), walk away from the white tent set up to protect the deceased until the coroner arrived on April 2, 2017. Other investigators examine the motorcycle debris by the tree that was hit by the Kawaski driver. Photo: Hugh Slavitt

The CHP has received repeated complaints from people in Topanga, and also from Palisades residents.

“Enforcement won’t work. We need to talk to them,” said Tang, who has recently spoken to riders and has suggested an alternate route along the Los Angeles Crest Highway, an area that is largely uninhabited.

“I explain to them about resident concerns,” said Tang, who noted they are receptive and it has made a difference.

The LAPD has stepped up enforcement, according to West Division Officer Ryan Basaker. Most of the arrests have been for equipment violations or suspended licenses or no licenses. (The motorcyclists have driver’s licenses, but must also have a motorcycle license.) There was a police presence on Sunset on April 26, resulting in five written tickets, including one to a Palisades resident.

Basaker was asked about the recent automobile-motorcycle collision on Sunset (at Chautauqua), which took the life of motorcyclist David Babalyan.

“The accident is still under investigation,” Basaker said. “It appears there are contributing factors from both sides.”

He noted that left-turn accidents are almost always the fault of the driver making the left turn. Cars and motorcycles driving through an intersection have the right of way.

Additionally, the car’s driver was a teenager with only a provisional license, which means he was not allowed riders in the car. But motorcycle speed may have also been a factor.

Babalyan’s fiancée, Angelina Khachaturova, shared a letter sent to the Ruthless Ryders on April 26, postmarked from Pacific Palisades. It read: “Now one of your posse is sleeping for good. That’s f**king great. Maybe now you all will get some class and become considerate. If not, hopefully another of your worthless ass**** bastards will bite the dust.”

The letter, typed on a narrow piece of stationery with flowers, was viewed as a possible threat and shared with West Traffic Captain Valencia Thomas.

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