Los Gatos Main Street Bridge Love Locks Controvery is Preposterous

Trying to understand how the world works, I ask questions.

I cannot think of a more appropriate tempest in a teapot than the tiny controversy of the love locks on the Los Gatos Main Street bridge.

Frankly, I'm wondering why we can’t find some really more significant wrongs to be righted with all of our righteous energy. I’ve seen the love locks and the fact that there is a controversy at all strikes me as absurdly ridiculous.

Since the early 1970s, I’ve been dealing with a discreet and personal disability that I don’t like to talk about but for a very long time it has kept me involved with numerous bureaucracies with specialized services and many levels and tiers and sub-strata and side compartments.

For some reason it seems that each of these “compartments” have their own set of rules, regulations, each with their own overdeveloped and little understood vernacular of three-letter acronyms and secret, ultra-important, privately held dialects.

The problem is, the ultra-importance is only important to them, the big fish in the little pond, all the little ponds, the tempests in so many tiny teacups. And the big fish, and all their supportive little fish, take all this “importance” so seriously. They will fine you or put you in jail if you don’t respect each and and every important thing that they cherish and fear in their particular pond.

How many big fish, in how many little ponds, did it take for the faceless “powers that be” to become aware of the locks on the bridge. And how many other big fish got involved enough to design, then print, then put up all of those faceless signs all along the bridge?

Oh, yeah, I wonder how many over-manned road crews it took to put up those plastic covered pieces of paper? How much did it cost the taxpayer to pay for these “important” attentions and actions? And why did they even bother with it in the first place?

Are the one or two dozen or so locks going to throw the bridge off balance and dump it down onto Highway 17? Are they going to blind the view of the picturesque freeway? Are they eventually going to rust and contaminate the cyclone fencing, which is covered in protective plastic anyway?

Why don’t these powers that be go down to some of the underpasses and overpasses in the area and get rid of some of the very obvious, ill-intentioned graffiti and leave these tiny, romantically intentioned little tokens alone?

The entire thing is simply preposterous. Why doesn’t the town manager or Los Gatos Town Council or whoever represents us, tell what ever department to leave our town locks alone? Oops, that’s just dragging in one more little pond and even more big fish.

 If anyone can’t tell, bureaucratic idiocy is at the very top of my list of things I feel free to bitch about, as much as I want.

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Joni Holland January 22, 2013 at 07:01 PM
I think they're harmless and very sweet. Your point is well taken Ed!
Larry Cargnoni January 22, 2013 at 07:21 PM
We live in an etitlement, self-centered world. Many people decice to follow (or not) any number of laws and regulations as one chooses food at Harry's Hofbrau. One person's tempest in a teapot is another's raison d'être and providence help the person that seeks to shine a light on it or tip it over. The sad thing is that if people can band around reasonable and important objectives in a rational, not violent manner, then things can get done...so instead of getting wrapped up in "love locks" (whatever those are), those same could be out helping the homeless, mentoring under priviledged kids, etc....And for the City Council....do you really want your elected officials deailing with stuff that the mass majority doesn't care about?
Ed Bellezza January 22, 2013 at 08:30 PM
I don't want them to bother with petty details but I think they should make sure that the people they pay to operate the town don't waste the town's tax money on such frivolous issues as well.
K January 22, 2013 at 11:18 PM
Why are people surprised at the results and push-back when they covet property that is not theirs? In this case it is not a secret that Caltrans controls and maintains our state transportation routes and associated property. Wouldn't it be nice if some art docent group makes lemonade out of the situation and found a place for this to turn into a living / interactive art exhibit. Unless someone has some private property to donate to the cause... Locks for Love and Hope for the Future - great idea - Caltrans bridge - bad location for many many reasons.
Esmée St James January 23, 2013 at 12:28 AM
Perfectly perfect, Ed, thanks for the great rant!
Gary Hinze January 23, 2013 at 03:44 AM
There are very good reasons to prohibit locks on the fence. It has nothing to do with the sentiments that are expressed on the locks or bureaucratic idiocy. This is like smog. One car is not a problem. A couple dozen cars are not a problem. Several hundred cars are not a problem. When you have millions of cars, it becomes a problem. Do you remember the smog in the late 60's? You would come over the hill from Santa Cruz and the entire County looked like a muddy lake. A couple dozen locks are not a problem. Search 'Love Locks' on the Internet and look at what happens where this is permitted. Every available spot will become covered with locks in a few years, several deep. I estimated a million pounds of locks on that fence. It was not designed to carry nearly that weight. At some not too distant future, one of the support points will break loose, the loads will be transferred to already overloaded adjacent support points, the entire thing will come unzipped and land on the freeway. It should be stopped now. CalTrans has very good reasons for prohibiting private property on highway facilities, CalTrans is responsible for insuring the safety of those facilities. Those putting locks on the fence will not accept liability when the fence comes down.
Dianna Bolin January 23, 2013 at 03:50 AM
What Ms. St James said...perfectly perfect, Mr. Bellezza!
Gary Hinze January 23, 2013 at 03:58 AM
Proponents have not even considered alternate locations. None have taken up the suggestion to establish a dedicated place. This tells me it is not very important even to them. Another thing you will find on the Internet is that places that allow locks must occasionally prune them. Eventually every available spot is taken and there is no place to put new locks, unless the old locks are removed. It really makes much better sense to place your locks somewhere at home.
John Q Public January 23, 2013 at 06:11 PM
Gary, you obviously are a heartless, paranoid idiot. A million locks? Was there some scientific basis to your estimation or is a million just the biggest number you know of? There are only 30 thousand people living in Los Gatos and if each couple put a lock on the fence then there would be 15,000 locks. Of course, not everyone would be capable or inclined to do so (such as heartless people like yourself). So let's just say that half the people attach locks to the fence. That would be 7,500 locks. At a half a pound per lock equals 3750 pounds - about the weight of a typical car. This weight would be distributed over the entire length of the bridge, which can handle 17 parked cars plus another 17 on the roadway (even more if you count trucks). However the point of all this is not the engineering involved and your flawed reasoning, but the ability to express love in the face of bureaucratic overbearance.
AR January 23, 2013 at 06:40 PM
John Q Public - the fence would bear the load, not the bridge. you might want to brush up on the high-school physics
Gary Hinze January 23, 2013 at 09:35 PM
Ed, Look at the letter from Emely Welch of the Los Gatos Museum. This is an opportunity for Los Gatos Art Bridge to get involved. Do you know any Los Gatos artists who could do sculpture like this? A gathering of interested parties to discuss and develop proposals seems to be in order.
John Q Public January 23, 2013 at 09:49 PM
AR - you have a point. However, if you look at the fence it is supported by arches and vertical posts that transmit the forces to the bridge. The bridge is roughly 160 feet long, so that even if there were 7.500 locks, then the added weight would be less than 12 pounds per linear foot (7500/ 2 sides of the bridge x 1/2 pound per lock / 160 linear feet).
KMD January 24, 2013 at 02:29 AM
They are sweet, but then again I wouldn't want someone to graffitti my house, car or a public/private building justifying it in the name of "L♥ve."
Ed Bellezza January 24, 2013 at 04:54 PM
Gary, Art Bridge is all about promoting our established and professional artists, people who make a living producing art, not hobbyists or dabblers. Who would pay for such a sculpture? But, that said, I stick to my original premise, this is a non-issue, not warranting any effort. Frankly I don't care if the locks stay or go. What bothers me is that a town official went to the trouble to call Cal-Trans and have signs posted. That is when it became an issue. I should think town staffers have far too many other REAL issues to deal with. Bickering about a dozen padlocks on a fence 130 feet long (didn't someone say 130?) is just ridiculous. I am much amused at how much effort has been generated by the signs, not the locks.
AR January 24, 2013 at 05:24 PM
you've dedicated much more time to this than the town staff, who likely dedicated three minutes to emailing caltrans
Ed Bellezza January 24, 2013 at 05:30 PM
yep, but this IS my job!
Gary Hinze January 24, 2013 at 08:39 PM
Ed, I assumed this was a project for professional artists. See the above photo of "Barreled by Plastic", a sculpture presently at the LG Art Museum that contains appropriate elements, rods and screen, for lock art. I assumed that Art Bridge would prefer that any request for proposal be directed to local artists. There is also an opportunity for Art Bridge and local artists to shape the project from the beginning. Funding is part of the process of bringing together artists and patrons, especially for public art. It is an opportunity for Art Bridge to grow. I am not aware that it was a member of Los Gatos Town staff who reported the locks. The bridge is not within their jurisdiction. I would expect that it would have been a CalTrans staffer or California Highway Patrol officer who made the call. It is their responsibility to maintain the safety of the State highways. And, yes it is a public safety issue, as I have shown elsewhere. It is unfortunate that they must expend resources placing and replacing signs and cutting down locks. The locks WILL be cut down and that will destroy them.
Gary Hinze January 24, 2013 at 08:50 PM
Here is the link: http://losgatos.patch.com/articles/letter-to-the-editor-museums-of-los-gatos-wants-your-locks-of-love
Gary Hinze January 24, 2013 at 10:05 PM
Review of Internet photos shows this will not end with a few dozen locks placed by locals. People in Los Gatos are talking about this as a major, worldwide tourist attraction. The fences will be completely covered in locks within a few years. It has happened in Europe and Asia within the half dozen years since this arose. I estimated the fence to be about 7 1/2' high. I paced it to 69 1/2 paces at 16 paces to 50'. That puts the length at about 217.19'. The screen is 1" pitch. That means there are the equivalent of 90 horizontal runs of 2,606 links and 2,606 vertical runs of 90 links, or 469,125 links. I estimate each link could hold four locks for a total of 1,876,500 locks. Internet listings show locks weighing from 3.2 ounces to 10.4 ounces. The average was about 4 ounces, 1/4 pound. (A scientific study would remove and weigh samples of locks from existing facilities, but I could not get grant funding for a world tour of Love Lock sites.) Love Locks need room for inscriptions so they might be larger than average, but this puts us at 469,125 pounds for one layer of locks. Perusal of Internet photos worldwide shows that locks are often applied in pairs and chains. When the last available clip point has been taken, people start clipping locks to other locks. That estimated 469,125 pounds per fence could easily double or quadruple to 938,250 to 1,876,500 pounds. I'd say a million pounds is a good enough preliminary estimate for purposes of discussion.
Dianna Bolin January 25, 2013 at 04:43 AM
Mr. Hinze, thank you for providing scientific, mathematical, photographic and other data. Although it is all well written and based in fact you are predicting the future looking into a crystal ball ball. This is Los Gatos not Asia. With that said, not attacking you personally, most disturbing, is the hateful comments of the people who oppose the locks. You provide data and attempted solutions. Thanks to the Museum the locks can move on. Most disturbing, it the hateful attacks that began over an act of love. Sadly, those who attacked will never apologize. We, as a community, should be ashamed.
Dennis February 26, 2013 at 10:45 PM
One very important fact missing Gary, the first lock placed on the LG Bridge was in 1997, yep! That was 16 years ago and there was 24 Locks removed in 2013, that averages 1.5 locks a year. So to keep with your theory it will take 1.25 million years to get to your 1,876,500 locks. The reason that makes the most sense to remove them, was "they pose a risk of hitting motorists on 17, if they fell off or where accidently dropped, etc". I support the love locks, but lets find a new place to put them!
Gary Hinze February 27, 2013 at 12:07 AM
As best I can determine from the record, the first lock was placed in August, 2012. There were 28 locks observed at one time in January 2013, when signs were posted prohibiting the practice, so uninterrupted growth was not observed. There were 35 at the Los Gatos Art Museum last Sunday. That's about 112-140 locks per year, in the beginning. This kind of epidemic spreads exponentially. It starts slowly and accelerates as word gets out. We have no reliable way of estimating the rate of growth in future years. That proponents were advocating this as a tradition and tourist attraction suggests a far greater rate of growth. The only example we have is Europe. The idea was first made public in an Italian novel in 2003. By 2007 it had become such a problem that jurisdictions had passed resolutions banning them and began cutting them down. It had also become a problem in Asia. If you look at pictures on the Internet you can see what has happened in only a few years. Structures are entirely covered in locks, several layers deep. There is another place for them. I was the first to suggest that idea. The Los Gatos Art Museum has installed two fence like structures for Love Locks. See my pictures on the Los Gatos Patch post on that event.
Gary Hinze February 27, 2013 at 12:27 AM
I uploaded photos of the Love Lock sculptures at the Los Gatos Art Museum.


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