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Ooze bugs La Brea Tar Pits’ neighbors; it’s a ‘feature,’ city says

Less than half a mile from the La Brea Tar Pits, a block of L.A. residents has been caught in a sticky situation.

Puddles of oozing tar have been showing up over the last week, mucking up car tires and anything else that gets mired in the sticky black substance.

The primary location of the tar has been along South Masselin Avenue near Olympic Boulevard in the Miracle Mile neighborhood. Video from the scene shows traffic cones and warning signs posted around pools of tar that are covered with sand.

The Los Angeles Department of Public Works and the Bureau of Street Services did not respond to requests for comment.

The bureau told KTLA that it was aware of the issue and that the tar is a “naturally occurring feature of the area that can occur when the ground below the street is either saturated from rain or during extreme heat.”

The statement continued: “There are ‘sumps’ or collectors in place to collect any tar, which are being regularly pumped out and assessed. StreetsLA dispatched a contractor to the site last Friday when we were informed about the situation. The contractor cleaned the area and installed cautionary signs and barricades at the location to warn motorists. We will continue to monitor the location for additional maintenance needs.”

Some residents, however, believe not enough is being done to remedy the issue.

“The city is going, ‘Not my problem,’” Ron Bernstein said. He said when he reported the tar to the city, he was told to contact an environmental geologist.

Residents have been dealing with seeping tar for decades near the La Brea Tar Pits.

In 2019, a pool of tar developed on the street and sidewalk along Wilshire Boulevard and Curson Avenue. The Times reported in 2000 on neighbors dealing with tar seeping into a condominium complex, where a maintenance worker would scoop the tar into 55-gallon drums.

The La Brea Tar Pits, a geological heritage site, have been bubbling since prehistoric times, with more than 3.5 million fossils discovered.

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