“Red Flag” days probably won’t mean much to most readers – unless you happen to live along one of the narrow canyons north of Sunset Boulevard, or regularly frequent the trailheads at the end of the roads. For local hikers, the new layer of parking signs are another restriction to accessing the trails, albeit an arguably valuable precaution. The little signs that simply say “No Parking – Tow Away on Red Flag Days” have been posted every 100 feet or so throughout the winding residential streets. The real challenge is knowing whether its a Red Flag Day or not.The idea was to make the canyon roads accessible to fire trucks when the temperature is up and the Santa Anas are blowing. The apparent stimulus for the program was the disastrous fires in Northern California that were made worse by the congestion of cars on the narrow streets. Not a bad idea conceptually, but it requires a leap of faith in our communications and creates a new boon for the towing industry.This past Super Bowl Sunday was beautifully warm and also a Red Flag Day, or so it was rumored. Folks near the trailheads were arguing and debating whether parking was allowed or not. It was an odd trial run for the program. I don’t know if canyon visitation was actually up or down but I didn’t see a lot of residents clearing the streets of their cars from their usual parking spots. Cars seemed to be left where they always are and there were no fleets of tow trucks cruising the roads.Either the rumor wasn’t true, Red Flag Day was called off, tow drivers were busy watching the game or the whole program is a paper tiger. I don’t know which.Not to sound naive, but how are folks supposed to know for sure whether its a Red Flag Day or not? I suppose the best ethical answer is the question, what are your neighbors supposed to do if there is a fire and the fire trucks can’t get past your car?Clearing the streets when the risk of fire is realistically elevated makes obvious sense. The problem is in legislating the rules. There will be many more Red Flag Days than actual fires and a likelihood of hundreds of cars towed for no other reason than the momentum and economics of enforcement. Its an issue that will fester or mature much like the intersection cameras as enforcement becomes more diligent.Fearless readers interested in free Monday – Wednesday night hikes should call Scott Regberg at (310) 475-5735.
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