Grace Godlin always thought she gave specific directions to delivery companies for how to reach her home in the Venice Canals, but somehow, many of her deliveries would end up at a different location first.

The same thing would happen to visitors who were trying to find her home on the scenic canals, so over the years, she just anticipated the delay.

“You knew people were going to get lost and you prepared for it,” said Godlin, president of the group Voice of the Canals, who has lived on Carroll Canal for 30 years.

Godlin and many of her canal neighbors attributed the misdirection of visitors to a confusing system of court names and signs at the canals.

Homes in the canal area are in a canal waterway system where vehicular traffic accesses the residences through a system of “courts” between the canals. A court is shared by residents of two different canals, and residents say this was very confusing because the court was not named after both the canals whose houses it served and there was no signage indicating which numbers on which canals the court served.

For people unfamiliar with the system, it could be a real puzzle. For example, residents living on the odd-numbered side of Sherman Canal share vehicular access with residents living on the even-numbered side of Howland Canal by way of Howland Canal Court.

“No one could ever find my home,” said Bev Weise, who has lived on Carroll Canal for five years.

But more than just the expected delay of visitors and delivery trucks was the concern of emergency and law enforcement vehicles potentially getting lost while trying to respond to the area, residents say.

While a late package delivery can be an inconvenience, an emergency vehicle not being able to find a residence in a timely manner can be a “serious issue,” Godlin noted.

Residents no longer wanted to take the chance and decided to begin an effort to improve the confusing system of canal court names. They formed the FastFind Committee, which worked in collaboration with the Venice Canals Association and Voice of the Canals, and after two years, the residents were able to get new court signs installed.

The new signs, which give an alpha designation from “A to E” to each court that intersects with Dell Avenue, were installed on the canals at the end of August, along with new directional signs bearing the name of each canal.

Canal neighbors celebrated the signage improvements along with Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl and representatives of the Los Angeles Police and Fire Departments, the Public Works Department and Department of Transportation at a ceremony at Linnie Canal Park Saturday, September 29th.

Rosendahl lauded the effort of the canal residents to bring the improved system of court names to the neighborhood, calling it “democracy at its best.”

“Through the hard work of Venice canals community members, specifically the Venice Canals Association, Voice of the Canals and the FastFind Committee, we were able to see this project through to completion,” Rosendahl said. “This shows what can be done when people come together, in a grassroots effort, to make the community a safer place.”

Weise, who co-chaired the FastFind Committee with resident Renee Kaplan, said she is “delighted” with the new signs and added that they are already making a difference for providing direction.

“I think it is a huge sense of relief,” Weise said. “The signs have been a huge help and people are really pleased.”

The former system of canal signage “posed a huge public safety problem” for the community and even lead to some close calls with emergency vehicles trying to locate a residence, Godlin said.

Weise referred to one resident, Mark Heninger, who called 911 when his daughter was choking but had to go outside and find the emergency responders, who were at the wrong location. His daughter was treated, but if Heninger hadn’t tracked down the paramedics, it would have wasted critical time, Weise recalled.

Canal residents are hoping that the new system will prevent other emergency close calls from occurring in their neighborhood.

“I think it’s a vast improvement,” Godlin said. “It seems to eliminate a lot of the confusion we had with the previous signage.”

Mo Blorfroshan, a transportation engineer for the Department of Transportation who worked with canal residents during the signage process, agreed that the new system should eliminate most of the confusion.

“It gives better direction for emergency vehicles as far as responding to a specific location,” Blorfroshan said.

Weise said the key to eliminating much of the confusion with the canal locations is that the new alpha designation for court names is very basic and simplifies the names.

The court name changes at the Venice canals are:

n Court A: formerly Sherman Canal Court, between Grand Canal Court and Ocean Avenue;

n Court B: formerly Howland Canal Court, between Grand Canal Court and Eastern Canal;

n Court C: formerly Linnie Canal Court, between Grand Canal Court and Eastern Canal;

n Court D: formerly Carroll Canal Court, between Grand Canal Court and Eastern Canal; and

n Court E: formerly Virginia Court, between Grand Canal Court and Eastern Court.

During its two-year effort to change the court names, the FastFind Committee held community meetings to get input from canal residents, as well as law enforcement representatives, on potential solutions and it was determined that the alpha designation was the most effective.

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved the court name changes in July.

Residents of the Venice Canals say they have always loved where they live, even with the formerly confusing court names, but now hope that they are a little easier to find.

“We feel it will be a much safer community,” Weise said.

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