Thursday, December 28, 2006

My obligatory 2006 Top 10...

I sometimes forget that everyone who reads LA City Nerd doesn't always read every other LA-based or LA-centric website (That's only for the true City Nerds, I guess).

So, earlier in the month, I submitted a list to the LAist called "LA City Nerd's Top 10 Events in 2006 that Impact the Future of the City of Los Angeles."

So, in case you missed it, here it is.

(I still stand by it today, 3 weeks later.)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Are you bored this week between Christmas and New Years? No phone calls coming into work? Or, are you just sitting at your computer online waiting to find something interesting to do?

Here's a few things you can do online during this lull week:

1. Watch the Los Angeles Children's Museum being built.

2. Track your favorite flight.

3.Search for Zuma Dogg at Venice Beach's Oceanfront Walk (like Where's Waldo)

4. See if there are any terrorists (or hikers) scoping out the Hollywood Sign

and finally, an activity online that is outside of the LA City limits...

5. Check in on the progress of the Rose Parade Floats being built.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

5 things you don't know about me...

Mack Reed tagged me and then so did Ed, so I guess I have to tell you "5 Things You Didn't Know About Me":

1. My name
2. What I look like
3. Where I live (besides in LA)
4. How old I am
5. What I do for a living

It's amazing how much people don't know.

OK, well, since you really know nothing about me, here are 5 things that are true about me. Consider it a Christmas gift:

1. I've spent time looking down at helicopters in flight from the top floors of downtown skyscrapers.
2. I've been to the four airports within the City limits (including Bob Hope Airport, whose western runway is in Los Angeles).
3. I was on TV as a kid, but not in any way like Wil.
4. I've got a fascination with brick gutters like you can find on Sunset near Marion Avenue (south side) and in Hollywood on Wilcox (the west side) north of Franklin Avenue.
5. I've ridden in a helicopter over LA.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Buried Treasure in City Hall

When people talk about the buried treasure at City Hall, they are often referring to the hidden monies in the City Budget that the electeds use for pet projects. Nothing illegal, just not aired out in front of the public. We can talk about that every time the budget is discussed - especially this upcoming budget year in the City where there will be a $450 million shortfall. But this time, the buried treasure is different - it's real!

Los Angeles City Hall was built as a monument to all to show the importance of the growing metropolis in the 1920s. Completed in 1927, the building has stood almost 80 years as the seat of municipal government. (It actually made money its first years of operation, as it was over-designed which allowed space to be rented to the Courts for 10 years.) It was re-dedicated and fully restored in 2001. Though the City has outgrown it, it is still a tribute to the great city.

Well, back when the building was being completed, the City thought it would be appropriate to insert a time capsule into the cornerstone of the 28 floor building. According to the LA Times:
"Just before the corner-stone was lowered into position, a copper box was placed inside which contained more than a score of historical documents and other articles. Among these was an autographed photograph of Mayor Cryer, his annual message, the charter of Los Angeles, a history of the California pioneers, a copy of the city budget for 1927-28, an account of the discovery of gold in 1848, three gold nuggets and numerous other articles."
"Three gold nuggets?" - that's treasure to me! Mayor Cryer seemed a bit like our current mayor in his placement of a signed photo - even 80 years ago the mayor of LA was a celebrity!

Well, in 2001 when the building was restored, the corner stone was allegedly removed, according to Kevin Jew, Chief Operating Officer of Project Restore. No discovery of a time capsule was made when the corner stone was removed. But who knows: maybe the corner stone we knew about in the late 1990s was different than the one from 75 years earlier. In talking to the Bureau of Engineering's Construction Management Division, which oversaw the restoration, no time capsule was known about at that time and they were not looking for a time capsule.
So, start your digging - maybe we can reduce the budget shortfall a bit this year! That time capsule may still be there - if the City is willing to look for it.

"There's gold in them there walls!"

City Nerd Awards Update

The polls for the 2006 City Nerd Awards will be up later next week, for those wondering. Sit tight, and don't worry: you'll have plenty of time to vote.

Now, go spend money within the City limits so the tax revenue goes to Los Angeles City.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Life without the 101 and other holiday tips

I wish I could remember life without the 101. Here's the heart of LA 97 years ago:

Think of the traffic flow - no one would ever imagine ATSAC. And Traffic Officers from LADOT (not LAPD) at 55 intersections - probably not even a glimmer in the eye of the 1909 Christmas shopping season (which was probably mostly done by catalogue - not too far off from what we do with our online purchases today!). It's interesting: the Mayor announced these officers at the 55 intersections around malls, yet for years, the malls have been paying for them to be out there without the Mayor ever announcing it.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Elimination of Palm Trees

You wonder why palm trees are not being replaced? Look no further than here. See what the City has to go through once they're grown to keep them alive: patches!

Also, I just wanted to clarify that though palm trees may not be replaced when removed per new policies of the City, it doesn't mean they're "illegal" or will be removed. It'll be decades, if not longer, before (if) palm trees are ever eliminated from the landscape of Los Angeles.

"Patches? We don't need no...." Ah, you know the line.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Los Angeles: when 10 City Halls are not enough...

In 2007, Los Angeles City Hall - the third such building with that name - will be turning 80 years old. When it was built in the years prior to 1927, it was lauded as a building with statewide significance. Sand from every county in the State was brought in and mixed in the concrete to build the structure, which was the tallest building in Los Angeles from the time it opened until 1968.

In 1917, the first "branch city hall" was opened in Van Nuys not far from the Municipal Building built about 15 years later. During the 1920s, under Mayor George Cryer (who was known for wearing suspenders but never a 2-quart hat), the City established "branch" City Hall in San Pedro. (It was a campaign promise of Cryer's to San Pedrans that a local City Hall would be built.) So, branch City Halls in far-flung reaches of the City have not been unheard of. But things are getting a little too politicized, if you ask me...

Earlier this year, on October 20th, Councilwoman Janice Hahn introduced a motion to analyze the need/distance of regional City Halls. The September 26 report shows that there are gaps, but they are not as glaring as they theoretically could be in a City this size. Should the City be spending more resources in this increasingly digital age to build brick and mortar Neighborhood City Halls? Facing a $450 million shortfall in fiscal year 2007/2008, shouldn't we be spending the City's energy on streamlining existing services instead of studying more?

Well, on Monday the Budget and Finance Committee will consider adding another "Branch City Hall" to the collection. The strange part is, this regional city hall will be only 2 miles from the main City Hall. In a city of 465 square miles, wouldn't regionalizing mean something a little different? The Committee will be considering a:
"Department of General Services report, and the City Administrative Officer (CAO) to report, relative to acquisition of the Chicago Plaza Building, located at 2130 East 1st Street, for the Boyle Heights Neighborhood City Hall, in Council District 14."
It will cost $13.6million to acquire, renovate, etc. and will not make that much difference to really bringing services closer to the people. True, there is an opportunity bring in $449,941 in rents from non-city tenants each year, but that is only half the amount needed for the annual debt service of $927,000 each year. And, seeing how long it has taken the City to lease its space (i.e. that in the Braude Center), I wouldn't count on that tenant income for a while. I see this as a waste of resources at this time.

Look at what we have right now in the City: nine existing Municipal Buildings/Regional City Halls:

San Pedro City Hall

Eagle Rock City Hall

North Valley City Hall in Sunland/Tujunga (not to be confused with the area's one-time City Hall, Bolton Hall.)

West Valley Municipal Building

Valley Municipal Building (aka "Van Nuys City Hall")/Braude Center

Mark Ridley-Thomas Constituent Service Center

Westchester Municipal Building

Hollywood Municipal Building

Sawtelle/West LA Municipal Building

Additionally, two years ago, funding had been approved for the design of ANOTHER City Hall in the Valley: in Pacoima.

How effective/full are these "regional City Halls?" The City still rents space throughout the City for offices that could be housed at Municipal Buildings. And there is still much underutilized or empty space at many of these facilities. Why spend more money on another building just to appease a community so that they can claim that they "have one, too"?

Approving further expenditures on a Boyle Heights City Hall is not a good use of City funds.

Nine Crane Salute!

Somebody in Downtown get a camera! I've never been one to be a great photographer, so even though I had a digital camera as I drove up the 110 through downtown today, there's no way I could have captured what I encountered and counted. Just north of Staples, from the 110 looking out over the LA Live project, I saw before me nine cranes at rest. These nine cranes (unless I missed one) were for more than just LA Live, though; they were building the City. Residential construction, entertainment construction, business construction - it was all happening. It was a Nine Crane Salute to the City.

So, quick, someone who's good at these things: go grab a camera, a wide angle lens and a tripod (I assume that's what's needed) and go take a picture of the long-necks in tribute!

(I heard rumors there was a webcam on the LA Live construction, but I can't seem to find it.)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Mayor of LA County promotes Orange County

Los Angeles County Mayor Mike Antonovich rides in a lot of Holiday Parades. Apparently, he also is confused about those "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" in Orange County, not LA County....

Thursday, December 14, 2006

One day left!

Only one day left to send in those nominations...

2006 City Nerd Awards

The deadline is midnight on the 15th of December.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tip of the Iceberg: Industrial Zoning

Here's another Tip of the Iceberg for you...

In the City of LA, only 8% of the land is zoned for industrial and manufacturing uses out of 465 square miles which is only 37.2 square miles. It sounds like a lot, but of the 8%, only half is now utilized as industrial and manufacturing - the rest having been allowed to be used for other uses like residential, retail, etc. So, now, we're at 18.6 square miles or only 4% of the second largest city* in the US. Is that the right level to be at to create a sustainable City?

Recently, there has been a movement to allow for more industrial zoned land to be converted to non-industrial uses. This seems to be stemming from the Central City Association and their push for more conversion in the downtown area of industrial zoned properties into residential (and other) uses. There is some concern over the job/housing balance that is essential in a truly livable community. once land is converted from industrial, it almost never goes back to it.

Who are CCA's members these days? Business or residential developers? Should we as a City be creating new zones or removing existing ones which would in turn that take away the opportunity for the job creation that comes with modern industries (not many smoke stacks are built these days; industrial can mean research and development from apparel to media to high tech components)?

*True, the measure of size is based on population, not land area. But we're pretty big in size, too.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

LA's futuristic structures of the past

Recently, there has been some interesting information shared about LA's futuristic structures of the past. These monuments to the future and technology (at the time of their creation) now hold a strange place in the hearts of Angelenos.

There has been some great news as to the future of the Triforium (which was glowing in flashing lights tonight).

Also, there is an interesting interview regarding the Theme Building (with interesting photos and plans) at LAX.

This leads to today's competition about Los Angeles of 2106. The ideas put forth by the architecture & engineering firms looks at a City where - it appears - there is no political conflict. With sweeping new aerial transportation systems to a cloud hanging over the City, these ideas were of the future that looks at the natural environment as a key player in the development of the Los Angeles of the future. It's not so much like the Theme Building of the 1960s or the 1970s' Triforium!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Pushing the Button & Signal Sensors

In a post today at BloggingLA, Sean tells the "Lady Standing on the Corner Pressing The Crosswalk Button Hundreds of Times" that she "only need[s] to press it once."

He's right: one push of the button will trigger the mechanism in LA City crosswalks. No need to hit it multiple times. It's like an elevator call button - pushing it multiple times doesn't make the elevator car come faster. And, unlike in New York, pushing LA buttons actually works. See, those that have buttons need them - it holds the "walk" or "PedHead" longer for pedestrians to cross. Sometimes, if the button is not pushed, the "PedHead" doesn't even appear. Those lights that ARE calibrated via the City's ATSAC system don't often have thew push buttons, and if they do, it's worked into the system so that the lights remained calibrated... BUT this might take a few signal cycles to get back into "the loop."

Also, flashing your lights does not effective the signals in Los Angeles. If any sensor exists that controls the signal, it's in the ground behind the crosswalk line. (Those visible in the above picture as loops are counting traffic, not controlling the signal). The weight of a vehicle will trigger the signal to change, so driving over it multiple times does not help - you must let it sit long enough to trigger. True, some of these sensors are sensitive and only trigger when the vehicle is in the exact spot. Sometimes backing up to reposition will work, but it really has nothing to do with the back and forth driving over the sensor.

photo via slimdandy at Flickr

Sunday, December 10, 2006

5 days left for nominations

Only five days left to send in those Nominations for the 2006 City Nerd Awards. They're due on December 15th at midnight - then, the voting and selections begin.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Mayor misses the Valley

Today, Mayor Villariagosa announced his team to help reform the three LAUSD clusters he'll oversee come January 1st. He has assembled a 5-member team that "brings nearly 100 years of experience in the area of education." Additionally, and wisely, the Mayor will be working with local universities to look at ways of furthering achievement in the LAUSD. Quoted from the press release (via LA Observed):
"In addition to the new team, the Mayor’s office announced that it work with California State University Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University, University of California Los Angeles, and University of Southern California to improve education and reduce the achievement gap in the LAUSD. The purpose of this partnership is to work collaboratively with educators, parents, and the community to ensure that we meet the needs of students and families within the Mayor’s School Partnership for Excellence."

It's interesting that the Mayor seems to have selected 5 leading Los Angeles universities, but fails to select CSUN, whose mission is teacher education and is the largest teacher training institution in the State University System. From their website:
"Cal State Northridge is considered a leading producer of teachers among public institutions in California. It was one of only four universities nationwide recently tapped by the Carnegie Corporation of New York to take part in a landmark initiative designed to strengthen K–12 teaching by developing state-of-the-art programs at schools of education."
Maybe the Mayor's office missed something? Perhaps looking at teachers training should be a part of comprehensive school reform?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Honorary Mayor's of Los Angeles' communities

With the recent post by Independent Sources here, it's time to relate the fun politics of community honorary mayor's of today. Here's who we've got, some serving an annual term, some honorary for a long time:

Chatsworth: Jerry England
El Sereno: Margarita Torres
Encino: Ronnie Schell
Granada Hills: Mike Casey
Griffith Park: Louis Alvarado
Hollywood: Johnny Grant
North Hollywood: Beverly Garland
Northridge: Nancy Cartwright
Pacific Palisades: Gavin MacLeod
Sherman Oaks: Dick Van Patten
Tarzana: Charlie Tuna
Toluca Lake: Fritz Coleman
Westchester: Patricia Morrison Lyon
Wilmington: Mary Gutierrez
Woodland Hills: Michael Miller
Reseda: Kevin Dobson
San Pedro: Anthony Misetich

Who else is there out there in this City serving on behalf of a community?

One famous past Honorary Mayor of a large region in LA was ex-Mayor Sam Yorty.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Owens River Flows Again!

Apparently, Angelenos are unaware that there has been ongoing restoration in the Owens Valley to mitigate the effects of Los Angeles obtaining the water rights and then bringing that water to Southern California 100 years ago. Disputes have been raging for years as to the level of responsibility the City has to that region, of which it owns the majority (but not all) of the land and water rights.

Today, the Mayor was up in the Owens Valley to "release" some of the water back into the Owens River, diverting it from the gravity fed aqueduct system that brings it to Los Angeles. Many say that today the water started to flow, but as this picture shows, six months ago the water was flowing. Yes folks, this is a a photo of the Owens River after some diversion had already started to take place. Today was a photo op and a media event - and sadly, there was no memorable quote like "There it is. take it."

(This is also a good time to remind people that Roman Polanski's 1974 film Chinatown was not related to Mulholland directly, and the facts are nothing like the real ones surrounding building the aqueduct.)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Eastside, Westside, all around the town...

There has been an ongoing conversation about where the Westside and Eastside Boundaries are in LA. In the broader scope of things, places like Montebello, Arcadia, and Pasadena are considered Eastside, while Santa Monica, Hermosa, & even Torrance could be considered Westside. But for the sake of this conversation, we're defining it to Eastside/Westside in the City of LA (and those cities that influence the monikers).

So, today, MayorSam writes a post that refers to Mack Reed, a Silver Laker, as an Eastside white guy. Now, just focusing on the fact that MayorSam calls him an eastsider, is he correct?

In having this discussion, here are some points to consider:
1. No matter what boundaries are discussed, there is no real street line that divides the Westside from the Eastside (or any other larger area of the City) - the borders are slightly blurred, depending with whom you speak. (One exception could be argued in that the Valley is clearly the area north of Mulholland.)
2. It is commonly known that Downtown is neither Eastside nor Westside. Downtown can be descirbed as the area north of the 10, west of the LA River, South of the 5/Elysian Park area and east of Alvarado. (This western border may be a sticking point for some - is Echo Park part of Downtown?)
3. The Westside and the Eastside are not the same as "West LA" and "East LA," respectively; we're talking here about the sweeping generalizations of the Westside of Los Angeles and the Eastside of Los Angeles.
4. In an Eastside/Westside conversation, the Valley nor the Harbor area are included in that east/west thing. Also, in terms of the City, the area south of Downtown is known as South LA to about Harbor Gateway (hence the name), as well as the area that makes up Council District 8. So, that area is also not part of the Eastside/Westside topic. (True, there are many communities within this broader "South LA," but that is generally its boundary with only minor conversation of whether to use the 10 as the divider or Washington (see #1).
5. There is an area of Los Angeles known as Mid City that is not Downtown, Eastside, or Westside. It is west of Downtown and includes the places like Miracle Mile, The Grove, & Koreatown.
6. Hollywood is it's own larger moniker that also includes other communities like Los Feliz and Franklin Hills as well, though part of it meshes with Mid City as you move south on La Brea.

So, understanding all of that, here's what I would use to define the Westside and the Eastside of the City:
The Westside
The areas east of (& including) Beverly Hills & West Hollywood are NOT the Westside, and that south of there, La Cienega would be a general dividing line as to what would be Westside. So, the Westside would be the areas west of the Beverly Hills border and La Cienega, in general, to the ocean. No matter how you slice it, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms, Westchester, Westside Village, Rancho Park, Beverlywood, Cheviot Hills, West Los Angeles, Westwood, Century City, Bel-Aire, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, Playa del Rey, SoRo, Venice, and Playa Vista are all "Westside" (basically all of CD11, a portion of CD5, and a small piece of CD10.

The Eastside
Again, for the eastside, Downtown & Chinatown are not inlcuded, so you're looking at the LA River east from about the 10 north. This includes Lincoln Heights, Boyle Heights, El Sereno, Montecito Heights, Highland Park, Monterey Hills, Glassel Park, Hermon, Mount Washington, Cypress Park, Eagle Rock, and Garvanza. These ar the areas that are partly in CD14 and partly in CD1.

There is the question as to whether Atwater Village is eastside or not - some might argue not or try to get lumped in with adjacent Silver Lake. Some might even argue it's in the Valley as Glendale - its northeastern neighbor - is. I say: even though it's east of the river, it's not really Eastside, the same way that Silver Lake, Solano Canyon, Elysian Park, Los Feliz, and Griffith Park are not. Heck, Griffith Park used to (and technically still does) extend east of the LA River before the 5 was built. That's all part of the same community of "NoDo" North of Downtown (be it slightly northeast or slightly northwest).

Here is a "just ok" map of the communities in LA - it's not as detailed as I'd appreciate, but it'll have to do. (See how the Atwater delimma occurs?)

Also, here are some facts that may be just confusing the whole Eastside/Westside issue...

The Eastside Market (great meatball sandwiches!) is in Chinatown, which is really known as either "Downtown" or "Chinatown," not the Eastside.

The Silver Lake Film Festival believes that Echo park, Silver Lake, & Downtown are part of LA's Eastside.

The Westside Economic Collaborative defines the Westside as including Hollywood, Korea Town[sic], and the Wilshire District - which is clearly not the Westside.

Westside Rentals lists apartment rentals all across the region, not just on the Westside. doesn't even mention any portion of LA City. (LA.Inc's competition, apparently.)

NOTE: Western Avenue and Eastern Avenue were once the west and east boundaries of the City - not any more...

Speaking of parks...

I just posted a post about giving input to the Recreation and Parks department. Well, here's my first piece of input: update your photos to not include politicians who left office midterm and have since been charged with & convicted of felony conspiracy charges.

Below you will see a screen shot from this page:
Why is Martin Ludlow still featured on a City website?

Input needed on City Parks!!

Not much as been mentioned about this, so I wanted to post a notice about some public meetings in the City regarding the future of our parks. I tried linking to the Rec & Parks blog post, but it wouldn't let me for some reason. So, here's what they post:
Community Needs Assessment meetings in December and January

LOS ANGELES – The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks will hold community meetings in December 2006 and January 2007 at which the public can express concerns and give compliments, provide improvement ideas, and participate in determining the future of their local park, recreation center, and/or other Department facilities that serve them.

All citizens are encouraged to share their thoughts about the strengths and weaknesses of existing Department services, help develop a mission, and engage their neighbors, businesses, community organizations, and other agencies in building dynamic and creative programs, events, and services through partnerships.

There will be two meetings in each of four geographic areas; the first session will be for stakeholders to provide input and the second will be when feedback is given. The schedule is:

· METRO: December 7 and January 25 (both of which are Thursdays) at Lincoln Park, 3501 Valley Blvd., Los Angeles, 90031, (213) 847-1726 (contact is Cassandra Bruno).

· PACIFIC: December 13 and January 31 (both of which are Wednesdays) at Exposition Park Intergenerational Community Center (EPICC), 3980 S. Menlo Ave., Los Angeles, 90037, (213) 763-0114 (contact is Kimberly Simonet).

· VALLEY: Thursday, December 14, and Tuesday, January 30 at Valley Plaza Recreation Center, 12240 Archwood St., North Hollywood, 91606, (818) 765-5885 (contact is Caroline Lammers).

· WEST: Tuesday, December 12, and Thursday, February 1 at Cheviot Hills Recreation Center, 2551 Motor Ave., Los Angeles, 90064, (310) 837-5186 (contact is Kelly Werling).

All meetings are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. except December 7 at Lincoln Park, which is set for 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Child care will be provided and refreshments will be served. For more information about the series of workshops, call (213) 485-1310.

I would say everyone should go and give feedback - how often does the City ask for input and then actually have a meeting pre-scheduled in order to respond? Fairly impressive (and gutsy) if you ask me!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

City Nerd Awards...13 days...

There are only 13 days to send your nominations in for the 10 2006 City Nerd Award categories listed here.

Avoid the red flag day and nominate those that shape this City.

Before heading out to a Victorian LA Christmas tonight, jot down those who've made our City better.

Get your North Pole fix at the LA Zoo in the late afternoon and then take the free shuttle through the DWP Light Festival - but first nominate the thing that has impacted this City this year.

And, yes, you can still nominate Fir Chief Bill Bamattre for the #5 Category of "Department Head," even though he's just another one in the list that has "retired" in the 18 months. Look how many have been replaced.

Fire Chief departure is #14

Back in March, when DONE GM Greg Nelson "retired," I warned this might not be just a retirement. (I actually pointed out Margie Reese, who did end up leaving a few months later.)

Now, with the "retirement" of another City GM in Chief Bamattre, that brings the Villaraigosa-filled positions just another tick higher. Since Mayor Villaraigosa has taken office, he has essentially hired (or appointed interim) General Managers for 14 of the 39 non-elected departments of the City over which he has control. That's a lot of change in 18 months.

So, of the 39 Departments, here's where the changes are (marked with an asterisk*):

Airports (LAWA)*
Animal Services*
Building & Safety
City Administrative Officer*
City Clerk
Commission on Children Youth and their Families*
Commission on the Status of Women
Community Development*
Community Redevelopment Agency*
Contract Administration Bureau (Public Works)
Convention Center*
Cultural Affairs*
Department on Disability
El Pueblo*
Emergency Preparedness Department
Engineering Bureau (Public Works)
Environmental Affairs
General Services
Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles
Human Relations Commission
Information Technology Agency*
Neighborhood Empowerment*
Office of Finance
Port of Los Angeles
Project Restore
Recreation and Parks
Sanitation Bureau (Public Works)
Street Lighting Bureau (Public Works)
Street Services Bureau (Public Works)
Water & Power

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Safe Giving in LA

Over at Blogging.LA, Hexodus writes about a nighttime solicitation at his door. He also handily provides a link to a database for legitimate charities in the State.

Well, here in the City of LA, it's the Police Commission that sets the rules for asking for a charitable contribution. They have a number of resources on their site about what a charity must do before asking for money and other rules for actually asking. (In Hexodus's post, he was visited at night - well, if it was after 8pm - that alone is a violation even if the Charity was legit.)

So, if someone asks you for money in the City - ask them to see their Police Commission issued Information Card. And, anyone that is a paid solicitor must have a Solicitors License. The City has a lot of mechanisms in place to prevent fraudulent fundraising. Be aware, though - it's up to the donor to know.

If that sounds like a great protection, here's something even better for all the Seniors out there: you can rest assured that you're safe when you go to Monday night Bingo at the church hall. See, a Bingo operator have to get permission from both the Police Commission and the Fire Department if they want to host a Bingo Game. And to protect you further, the LAPD even has a special "Bingo Gaming Enforcement Unit."

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Web Notes on LA

Some things to note about Los Angeles on the last day of November in 2006...

Some claim the Farmer's Market is "The Vortex of Los Angeles" - I'm not sure if I agree.

BloggingLA celebrates victorious emergence from the Terrible Twos.

LA Observed quotes Eli Broad regarding the LA Times - what strikes me about the article is that they spell our origin moniker "Angelino." We're not Italian here, we're from LA - we are Angelenos!

tykejohnson at MetroRiderLA proposes that buses have the right of way. I don't know about that one...

LA Taco says Pie & Burger is awesome, especially the Pie. I totally agree. (I know, it's not in the City, but I still like good pie even if I have to cross over into a City that merely borders Los Angeles. Yes, Pasadena shares the very northeast border of LA City at the communities of Eagle Rock and Garvanza.)

My muse worked!

So, I know you all wonder what I do in my free time. Ok, no one does. Well, I'm not sure if Tony finished his 50,000 word novel yet, but I wanted to thank all of you who kept reading this site even when I wasn't posting as often as usual.

See, this City Nerd spent the last 30 days working on cranking out a draft novel for NaNoWriMo. Yep, I was busy writing a very rough draft of a novel that will take months and probably years to edit to the point of even sharing it with close family members. Some day, maybe I'll post an excerpt or two. Ok, that's the one personal post I'll make this year.

Anyway, now it's time to return to the City that inspires us all and which I claim as my muse.

LA City Slogan

When you go to most cities, they have mottos or slogans that define who they are. In the past, this City as had official adopted and commonly used slogans. I'm not talking nicknames, but actual, official slogans. For instance just to name a few, Victorville's is "The Key to High Desert"; Long Beach's is "Welcome to the International Hometown"; Culver City's is "The Heart of Screenland"; and Palmdale's is "“A Place to Call Home."

Remember not too long ago in the late 1990s, Riordan had marketing folks come up with "Together, we're the best: LA!" Some say this was in part to stave off the growing secession movements across the City, but it also promoted the City as "the best." It was never officially adopted as the City's Slogan, and faded into the past when Riordan left office.

But, technically, we do have an official City slogan dating back to the early 1980s. Around the 200th Birthday celebration for the City, "LA's the Place" was adopted by the City in 1981 at the urging of the LA 200 Committee. It was actually approved to be used on all City letterhead, and once the 200th anniversary was completed, the slogan was provided to the visitors & conventions bureau to continue to be used as the official slogan in the promotion of the City.

So, we still have that 1981 slogan as official until another one is officially adopted. In 2005, New York City adopted "The World's Second Home" as a new slogan; perhaps it's time this City officially took action to re-affirm that "LA's the place" or find something new to tout to the world.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Lost LA: Sherman Oaks Real Estate

When a midblock building is torn down, voila: an instant window to the past. Here, you can see a former real estate office on Ventura Boulevard at Colbath on the south side of the street. Was this the tract office fro the subdivisions of the 1930s, 40s, & 50s? What happened to it? Was is a precursor to Re/Max?

On the other side of the now vacant lot, you can see remnants of a hardware store's sign:

Yes, Ventura Boulevard was one of the Valley's "Main Streets" 50 years ago... as it continues to be today (with a lot of other streets claiming the same title depending upon which community you're in.)

I wonder what will be revealed if the Ventura Club, just up the street, is ever torn down for development. Behind the buildings we see today are links to the Lost LA. We do have a history here in Los Angeles and even (gasp!) in the Valley... if you know where to look for it.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Where in LA?**corrected**

Today, LA Frog posts about "Santa Monica's Muscle Beach." Well, there must be some confusion. Santa Monica doesn't have a "muscle beach"; Venice does. So, the image being referenced must be either in Venice or not at Muscle Beach.

Note: LA Frog is written by a Parisian transplant to LA, so I guess it could be confusing.

Note after posting: See Eric's comments below. I stand corrected. (To err is human, after all.)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Hospital High: Not in Granada Hills

I've just received word of a community protest alert. I've seen nothing of it online or in the media, so I thought I'd share. Now ,for perspective, Granada Hills is one of the most active neighborhoods in Los Angeles. For years, the community has banded together to fight the Sunshine Canyon Landfill. They are also home to the largest Charter High School in the nation: Granada Hills Charter High School.

So, the community of Granada Hills will be coming together again, this time to fight the LAUSD. The school district had purchased the former Granada Hills Hospital at Balboa and Devonshire to build a high school, but the community is fighting the district saying they have lied to the community, they don't have the students from the local community to attend the school, that there are traffic and parking issues the District has refused to address (and may not be able to), and that a hospital there better serves the community.

The community will be holding a press conference tomorrow at 9am at the location of the proposed high school/former hospital. What follows is the text of the media alert:

For Immediate Release: November 22, 2006

School Board Candidates, Neighborhood Councils and Chamber of Commerce Hold Joint Press Conference Calling on LAUSD to Stop Proposed High School in Granada Hills

Granada Hills: Monday, November 27 at 9:00 am, Granada Hills South Neighborhood Council, Old Granada Hills ResidentsÂ’ Group and Granada Hills Chamber of Commerce will call on the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board to vote against building a proposed high school in Granada Hills.

The community groups will be joined by Councilmember Greig Smith, whose 12th District includes the proposed school site, many of the opposition candidates running for Board Member of LAUSD District Three, and community residents. They have all joined together in urging the LAUSD Board to vote on November 28 against building Valley Regional High School #4 in Granada Hills.

LAUSD has failed to provide the community the formally requested demographic and quantitative data specifically justifying the need for the school on the site of the former Granada Hills Community Hospital. LAUSD proposes building this $100-million school where it is not needed, while many communities throughout the region have a great and urgent need for new schools and while LAUSD claims it doesnÂ’t have enough money to complete the schools it planned to build with its $20 billion bond.

Residents have conducted their own analysis that disputes LAUSD'’s claim that a high school was needed at that location, so Councilman Smith submitted a Freedom of Information Request to the LAUSD School Board on behalf of the community seeking specific data justifying the need for the school. He also sent letters urging the LAUSD School Construction Bond Oversight Committee to investigate whether the school should be built there.

The proposed high school also takes away a hospital with an emergency room at a time when the entire region is facing an alarming shortage of emergency room beds, resulting in serious delays in providing emergency healthcare and placing lives at risk.

WHO: Neighborhood Councils, Chamber of Commerce, LAUSD candidates, elected officials, residents

WHAT: Press conference, groups urging LAUSD Committee to reject proposed high school

WHERE: 10445 Balboa Blvd., Granada Hills 91344 (1 block north of Devonshire)

WHEN: Monday, November 27, 2006. 9:00 am

VISUALS: On the steps of the closed Granada Hills Hospital

CONTACT: Dave Beauvais, President, Old Granada Hills Residents'’ Group

(818) 831-2318 // Cell: (818) 634-1511 //

Celebrating Christmas in L.A. like they used to..

With talk of Holiday Pageants around town, it is good to mention the way things were. Heritage Square Museum will be hosting their 12th Annual Holiday Lamplight Celebration this weekend, December 2nd & 3rd.

From the Heritage Square site:
"Costumed hosts will transport visitors back in time to Christmas, during the '“Gilded Age.'” Traditional dance, music, and Victorian games will enliven the night, as guests discover exactly how the Victorians partied! Of course, no Holiday Lamplight Celebration would be complete without a tour of our exquisite Victorian homes, beautifully decorated for the holidays. A special visit from Father Christmas and author Georja Skinner round out this incredible holiday program."

Advance ticket purchase is required, so call the Heritage Square Box Office (323225-2700 ex. 224) to celebrate the holidays the way they did 100 years ago in Los Angeles. This is also a great time to check out the Heritage Square Museum, if you've never been there. With their relocated & restored Victorian homes & buildings, visiting is like no other experience in Los Angeles.

Due to the historic nature of the facility and structures, no wheelchairs, strollers, or child carriers are recommended. Also, the Holiday Lamplight Celebration is not recommended for children under six years of age.

Check out a movie of last year's event here.

Check their website for more details:

Heritage Square Museum is located at 3800 Homer Street below Montecito Heights in Highland Park, off the 110 Freeway at Avenue 43.

Hollywood Christmas Parade

As MetroRider reported and others reminded, the Hollywood Christmas Parade was back tonight for year 75!

Tonight's Grand Marshal was two: George Lopez and Regis Philbin as the Diamond Anniversary Grand Marshal.

Since 1978, only two men have served as grand Marshal twice: the iconic Bob Hope and... the Italian Tony Danza.

Yep, Tony Danza has been Grand Marshal twice. Who's proud to be in Hollywood now?

What's redeeming about the list of past Grand Marshals is that George Peppard was Grand Marshal in 1983, the year that A-Team came on the air and forever changed the world's perception of the "Los Angeles Underground" (no, not this underground).

I love it when a plan comes together.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

5 Reasons to be Thankful for Los Angeles

Since it's the Thanksgiving weekend, I'll leave you with this for the next few days:

5 Reasons to be Thankful for Los Angeles

1. We've hosted two Olympics

2. The famous food.

3. Los Angeles Innovation

4. We're the entertainment capital of the world (even if some contest the capital therein!)

5. There is always something interesting and new to do here.

What are your five reasons?

(Don' forget to send your nominations in for the 2006 City Nerd Awards!)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

History Lesson from Downtown...

Here's a another reason for the Valley to feel connected to the City... especially Sherman Oaks.

Nice article, Eric.

Photo from

Monday, November 20, 2006

Thanksgiving = Free Street Parking!

Just in case people were wondering...
On Thursday and Friday of this week, the City will not be operating any of the posted street sweeping routes. This also means you can park where it is posted for weekly street sweeping without fear of a ticket.

Also, you can park at LA City parking meters on Thursday only without paying... and for as long as you want. IN fact, none of the time restrictions will apply on Thanksgiving, so park out in front of Honeybaked ham for as long as you want!

To clarify all the details, check out the official policy here.

Happy Free Parking!

I found the stars!

People from outside of Los Angeles sometimes look down at us because they come to our City and don't see any stars (the heavenly body kind, not these kind).

Well, with the opening of the Griffith Observatory, the world can once again see the stars in LA! But not unlike these stars, to seem them, you must look down, and not up.

Behold the stars from The Griffith Observatory:

You see, in Los Angeles, the stars may not always be visible in the sky; but who needs sky when we have the uniquely Los Angeles "Scattergood Constellations."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Citywide Calendar: use it!

Well, on a sad note, both Adrienne st LA Brain Terrain and the LA City Nerd missed the LA as a Subject First Annual Los Angeles Archives Bazaar. Now, I knew about it but couldn't go because of work; but in her post, she brings up an excellent point:
"So many conferences, how can one keep up? Is there a master calendar for all conference events in the SoCal area?"
She's right to ask, but this is a daunting task. She points out the LA Convention Center site, which is a good start, but there is so many more venues even beyond the hotel conference centers and ballrooms where events meetings, and conferences are being held. So, as a City Nerd, I know it must be done: some needs to set up a true LA City (at least to start) Master Calendar.
Sure, we have ExperienceLA which claims to be LA's Official Cultural Calendar. (But, really, what does official mean?) And, that only has a portion of what's going on, too.

Even this weekend, there was so much going on, but you could only find out about it all by going to many different sites. And even, then, I missed that the DooDah Parade was today.

So, I want to point out an under-utilized resource...

The City of Los Angeles Citywide Calendar.

Now, if in the budget, the Mayor would place and the Council approve a "Calendar Master" to scout the City and post the events, meetings, etc., this calendar could be the one-stop source of event information for the City. What's sad is that the city departments don't use it already. For instance, Cultural Affairs could use it to promote their events and the events they co-sponsor. The framework is there for a great resource for the people... if someone is willing to do the work!

The City should have a searchable master calendar for the City at one location for anything the City sponsors, funds, is affiliated with, hosts, or has any connection or relevance to the City and/or Angelenos.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Busy weekend, LA! **UPDATED**

Lots going on this weekend...

First, who's going to Watts? If you've always wanted to check out the Promenade of Prominence or the Rodia Towers but were too shy, join the anticipated 5000 Angelenos on Saturday for the Mayor's 12th Day of Service in Watts. There will be 62 projects to choose from, and contrary to others' statements, the City is still planting palm trees, at least on 111th Drive. All the details are here.

Saturday at 2pm is when they'll be hosting a community event in Atwater Village: the Dedication of the Acresite Gate. Partially funded through the City, this is another addition to the growing list of neighborhood initiated beautification projects.

In Hollywood on Saturday, you can find the Urban Film Festival, which is co-sponsored by the City. It's at Barnsdell Art Park.

Also on Saturday, Franklin Avenue will be"Walking the Walk"... the entire length of Wilshire. Remember, this is the same Wilshire that hundreds of thousands marched on earlier this year, where the Ambassador once stood, and where at Veteran has often been called the busiest intersection in Los Angeles. Remember what it was like? Also, don't forget to check out the new signs. So much to see, if only I could attend... perhaps I'll drive by & honk!

Realizing that Wilshire was once known as Orange Avenue when it cut through the swamp land that became MacArthur Park... it's a nice transition to Sunday SATURDAY, when you can head out to pick oranges (and other citrus), as LAist's Zach points out. They will never run out of fruit on the trees, but my suggestion is to walk past the first few trees and survey the whole of the City-owned park before starting to pick. The grounds are quite unique and worth the moment or two of exploration (go BEHIND the buildings to the less crowded picking locations).

Also on Sunday, see Miss Boyle Heights and her court at the Boyle Heights 2nd Annual Multicultural Parade & Festival, presented by the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council (who have no available website). More information (and some other events) can be found at's Calendar page.

"Big Brother" is us

The past few days have revealed that our society, which complains that cameras from the LAPD on Hollywood Boulevard and in MacArthur Park (and other areas) would be intrusions into the private lives of citizens, has more cameras at more opportune times than the government will probably ever be able to have.

I don't think we should ever hear a complaint of "Big Brother" again because this week just proves a growing suspicion: we're all voyeurs. Forget police videos (LAPD or otherwise), the public is obsessed with the private lives of others. From YouTube to true Reality TV (from the game show contestants to those in need), the general public loves to watch.

We are Big Brother. Not the government or the police; American society - LOS ANGELES - is Big Brother.

And to that, I say: so be it.

Now, as an LA City Nerd, I really can only speak to the issues in LA. So, looking at the latest, riveting (we're all voyeurs, remember? even yours truly) video of police confrontation, what is evident to me is that the people around the situation who are filming are trying to capture the moment. Why? For their friends? To show the arrestee later on? As evidence because they see something awry? But many students were snapping photos with camera phones, and the main camera person was obviously trying to get a more clear view. I'm not saying what took place was appropriate based on what is evident from the clip; but I'm intrigued by the reaction of those watching and, really, those filming. The real reactions of the people on the screen stir emotions in the viewer from the safety of their computer. (I had to laugh when the student yelled out, "We want your badge number!" What people should really ask officers for is their serial number. The badge number is not really that commonly used for identification.)

Are these amateur videographers, or cell phone cinematographers, trying to capture a moment for the sole purpose of YouTubing it? In a disposable society like ours, where digital media can be erased if unneeded, everything is worth capturing. There are no mistakes anymore - nothing is forgotten unless deleted.

And so, what was the top videos today on YouTube? You guessed it: the UCLA Taser video posted yesterday. (There are two different versions, ranked 2 & 3, but combined they were viewed more than 10,000 times more than the #1 clip: a Fast Food Nation "Behind the Scenes" [read: voyeuristic] clip.)

I think we can look no further than this webpage. People visit blog pages of individuals because they can read into someone else's "personal" & "private" life. Do people visit LA City Nerd because they want to learn about getting their street paved or who to call in LADOT to get the walk time extended? Maybe. But aren't there people who want to know if they can find some inside information about what goes on in politics. That's what made Mayor Sam thrive early on, and so many other personal blogs, too. What's up with the now-Blogger Toddler, or how is that view from a loft? What's really happening a The Daily News and on set?

People want into the life of others.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

2006 City Nerd Awards

So, as we start to look at the dawn of a new year, it's time to look back at the year that was. What better way to reflect on the last 12 months than to think of about the best of times (and sometimes, the worst).

In doing so, LA City Nerd will be presenting the "2006 City Nerd Awards" in January. Now, it could easily be the LACN braintrust that just picks winners, but we'd like to have some input.

So, based on the following criteria, we'll be selecting the winner (and there may be a vote involved in some of the categories):

- passion for Los Angeles
- knowledge of Los Angeles
- promotion of Los Angeles
- actual positive contributions to Los Angeles

These are the general criteria, of course, so some may apply more in certain instances and other may only be relative to a portion of the City. (And don't forget our definition of LA!)

Now, onto the City Nerd Award categories....

1. 2006 City Nerd Blog (any kind: group, individual, municipal, etc.)

2. 2006 City Nerd Blogger (not me, but all of the other ones)

3. 2006 City Nerd Elected Official

4. 2006 City Nerd Elected Official Staff Member (I have some nominees from the original post, but new ones are welcome.)

5. 2006 City Nerd Department Head (remember this?)

6. 2006 City Nerd Neighborhood/Community (This could also be a cultural or social community.)

7. 2006 City Nerd Project (You tell us what you think would qualify.)

8. 2006 City Nerd Neighborhood Council

9. 2006 City Nerd Citizen of the Year

And the highest honor, which may not be given out every year:

10. "The LA City Nerd Award"

(Is there a category missing?)

Submit your nominations NOW (with any additional information you'd like regarding your nominations). They must be emailed in by DECEMBER 15th. Email us at

Winners will get a detailed article in the new year and hopefully a fancy award (if we can get it to them) suitable for public display.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Is LA an "Art City?"

even with all that is being done to enhance the arts in LA, people still sometimes perceive Los Angeles as a city without great culture. And, unfortunately, perception is often a reality for the perceivers.

Well, we can change that.

Over the next few months, American Style Magazine will be conducting their 10th Annual poll to find the top 25 "arts destination" cities. The magazine touts itself as "the nationÂ’s premier arts lifestyle magazine for enthusiasts, collectors and travelers." They are asking the public to vote for their selections. All you need an email address to fill in, and an understanding that the reason this is being posted on LA City Nerd is because you should be voting for Los Angeles - and ONLY Los Angeles. If you go to their site, just click on the "American Style TOP 25 Art Destinations" button at the bottom right of the screen. Again, vote only for Los Angeles.

Last year in the 2006 poll, LA was #12 of the top 25, but look at who beat us out:

Category 1: Big Cities
(Populations of 500,000 and over)
1. New York, N.Y.
2. Chicago, Ill.
3. Washington, D.C.
4. San Francisco, Calif.
5. Boston, Mass.
6. Seattle, Wash.
7. Baltimore, Md.
8. Philadelphia, Pa.
9. Columbus, Ohio
10. Portland, Ore.
11. Austin, Texas
12. Los Angeles, Calif.

Columbus, Ohio? Portland,Oregon? We're the creative capital of the world. The goal for 2007 is that we at least make it into the Top 10. Right? And in 2008, we should move to within the Top 5. Realistically, we should be #1 or #2 - only because New York is a bigger city - it's a fact we cannot deny.

So, get out and vote!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

LA Zoo turns 40!

What a month for Griffith Park!

First, the Observatory re-opened, and now, the Zoo is celebrating itself!

It was 40 years ago this month that the current Los Angeles Zoo opened, ending the days of what is now known as "The Old Zoo" in Griffith Park. The 1.5 mile move of animals was led by Gita the Elephant, who was then seven years old. 80,000 people attended the opening, and when it opened, the zoo was the first major one in the US that didn't let guests feed the animals. From that opening day, Methuselah the alligator is still living at the zoo. (More information about the opening with Mayor Sam Yorty can be found here.)

The LA Zoo is offering a celebration this week at the Zoo, so take part with 40% off coupons to celebrate the events and entertainment.

November 2006 is Griffith Park Month! I wonder what's next...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Q: How do you Measure R? A: With 4 more years.

Question: How do you Measure R?
Answer: With 4 more years.

With the passage of Measure R, currently seated LA City Councilmembers will be able to serve three four-year terms and not just two - as long as the measure is upheld in court. So, that's potentially six more years (instead of two more) for Janice Hahn, Dennis Zine, Ed Reyes, Eric Garcetti, Jack Weiss, & Jan Perry - council members who currently are serving their last term under the pre-R rules. These folks would have been termed out of their council seat in 2009 because they are 17 months into their second term. Well, not anymore.

That means that they have to more politically conscious of how they vote and what they do, and no longer do they have the controls that really allow them to do what's right - they potentially have to worry about their next election for the same seat.

Also, if the measure is upheld in court, most of those on City Council right now will be involved in redistricting which starts in 2010 - that means that politics will really influence the districts because the seated members will potentially have 3 to 5 years AFTER the redistricting (not including the potential CD7 replacement and if Rosendahl wins his next two elections, which would put those three-termers in office until 2021 & 2017, respectively. Yes, folks, there is a potential for whomever wins Alex Padilla's vacated seat to serve a total of 14 years!

Another issue that comes back is what about folks like Richard Alarcon, Laura Chick or Cindy Misacowski - they served their two terms under the previous term limit reforms - could they come back for a third term? Could Cindy unseat Bill Rosendahl for a term? Would it be worth it? And what about Laura Chick? She'll be termed out of her Controller's seat in 2009 - the same time that her old 3rd District seat will be up for grabs. Would she take on Dennis Zine to get four more years in office. That would be an interesting race, for sure.

If Measure R is upheld will the City really be able to move forward with the progress it has made in service delivery and focusing on the people (the turning of the horseshoe in the City Council Chambers, for instance, and Valley Council meetings) in the last 6 years? I hope so but I fear not.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

No City Love for LAFD Nerd Blog

I mentioned earlier that the City of L.A. has embraced blogs via their website.

Today, I find that even more so the case with a specific, permanent link on the City's Homepage in their navigation bar at the right of the screen for blogs (see image).

But, what is very disappointing is that the best Municipal Nerd (blogger) in the City, the one who started it all, is not listed.

Yes, folks, as you can see from their "blogs" webpage & this screenshot, the LAFD Nerds are no where listed.

What's that all about? Who made that call or (hopefully) mistaken omission from the already meager list of Municipal Blogs?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Beverly Hills is named for whom?

Who is the Beverly of "Beverly Hills," "Beverly Glen," "Beverlywood," etc.? This is not an uncommon question for someone interested in the etymology of our region's places, streets, etc. Sadly, it's a very simple answer. I wish she was a roughneck pioneer of the late 19th century, but that woman's name was Maria Rita Valdez - owning this land about 75 years earlier. It wasn't a real estate tycoon's wife, daughter or girlfriend, either. No, the Beverly of this region was merely borrowed from the East Coast, as so much was in the development of Los Angeles, and then it took on a life of its own.

You see, in 1906 when the Rodeo Land and Water Company sold the land that would become Beverly Hills, the new developers envisioned a tranquil community. Beverly Hills was planned, developed, and named as such by Burton Green (of Burton Way fame). It is rumored that, after reading about Beverly Farms, Massachusetts (the location of President Taft's vacation retreat) in the newspaper, he & his wife thought "Beverly" sounded nice; so he pitched it to his associates, and they concurred. Then, with it being the only city between Los Angeles and Santa Monica, "Beverly" became the name of boulevards, streets, and adjacent communities. In fact, the naming of Beverly Boulevard, a direct route from Downtown to the ocean that was stalled for two decades, was able to be named "Beverly" because of the destinational proximity of that town to the rest of the developed region in the first decades of the 20th century.

So, there is no hard-nosed matron or would-be starlet named Beverly - it's not even someone's last name. If there was a person to associate it with, that person could be Mr. Green or President Taft... but no one named Beverly.

image from the Los Angeles Examiner via USC's digital archives.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

McArthur Park is Melting...

I heard today on KNX1070 that there is a potential movement to rename the Westlake District - the area surrounding McArthur Park - to the "Historic Central American District." Councilman Ed Reyes was interviewed and supports the idea. Should we further eliminate the past of our City with this renaming in order to celebrate the current conditions? There is a public hearing process - will there be contention? Is this just another example of politics and special interest swaying the Councilmember's decisions a la Historic Filipinotown or Little Armenia or Thaitown? Does every foreign region require a district in Los Angeles? I'm not advocating either way, but these are real questions that our community and City need to consider.

There is an official process for community name changes and adoption, and three communities are currently in the process to define their boundaries: Brookside, Arroyo View Estates, and Lake Balboa.

The current effort to rename a small portion of Highland Park/Garvanza as "Arroyo View Estates" is quite interesting. The application states that the area has been historically known as such and calls attention to the fact that the don't want to be associated with the community south of Highland Park - they feel they are more closely aligned with adjacent Pasadena. The Planning Department says there is no historical planning record of such a community, but the documents from the Planning Department, found here, don't seem to have a firm grasp on neighborhoods. They refer to Valley Village as part of Van Nuys, whereas it was originally part of North Hollywood. I think the Department of Transportation says it best in their letter:
The Department anticipates a conflict in naming the Arroyo View Estates community if modifications are not made to the Highland Park and Garvanza community boundaries.
So, what's next for all these name changes? Will these changes be significant to the community or only to the community's property owners?

Will McArthur Park literally be melting in the dark? Will anyone notice or care?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Los Angeles Lizard People

So, as Halloween 2006 draws to a close (well, at least for those not in L.A. City, where Halloween lasts until noon on November 1st), I wanted to share with you a frightening legend that is not oft discussed in Los Angeles these days. It dates back to the 1930s (1933 & 1934, to be exact) when Los Angeles was amidst an oil boom.

In 1933, while searching for minerals in the Los Angeles area, Mr. Warren Shufelt claimed to have discovered a network of underground tunnels that created a city hundreds of feet beneath the surface. He discovered this tunnel network by using his own invention: a radio x-ray device. He then traveled to Arizona and connected with a Hopi Indian named Chief Little Green Leaf who confirmed the Hopi belief that such people, Lizard People, lived underground in various places in the southwest 5000 years ago. Shufelt, along with Rex McCreary & Ray Martin, got permission from the County (not the City) to dig a hole out to excavate the tunnels that they were convinced existed, and the treasures that were exhumed would be split 50/50 between the County and the miners. Unfortunately, after burrowing for 250 feet into Fort Moore Hill (the current construction site of Downtown's new arts high school), nothing was discovered, and the operation, abandoned. (You can read articles written in 1934 here).

So, here are some other facts that are rarely mentioned which lead me to believe this was all a hoax:

1. At least 3 years prior, Shufelt oversaw mining operations in Arizona. He could have easily heard about the underground tunnels legend and the lizard legends while there and used them to build interest on his device or his name.

2. With Los Angeles going through an oil craze and people mining throughout Southern California, this could have easily been a ploy to grab attention so that he could make money on a scam.

3. Still convinced his radio x-ray device worked, a few years later, Shufelt volunteered to help recover the missing, drown body of a boy in the Los Angeles area. He claimed that a lock of the grief stricken mother's hair placed in the device would lead the authorities to the body. He searched for days, with no results. This further proves his device a sham, besides that fact that modern day science cannot prove his theories.

So, believe what you will, but I think the whole thing is a scam - back in the 1930s and today for anyone who leads you to believe that the tunnels were real. OK, maybe this isn't a scary Halloween story, but the fact that people believed that Shufelt really did what he claimed in "divining" the tunnels with a radio x-ray is quite scary.

LA Times map via

Monday, October 30, 2006

Downtown Tour: Disney Style!

As a fan of tours of Los Angeles, I was intrigued and glued to the screen in watching a condensed version of Charles Phoenix's Downtown LA "Disneyland" tour. Though 15 minutes in length, it's worth a watch.

Now, I would say that the Phoenix Bakery Cake is a great homonym for the Phoenix led tour... which is in LA, and not Phoenix.

Anyway, just watch it and enjoy the magic of Los Angeles, the true magic kingdom.

His next tours are coming up on November 5th and 12th. More info here.

via Quartz City Nerd

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Updated Links

So, there's some new blogs I've been tracking, and others that have gone on hiatus. I don't know about everyone else, but if it's listed on my links, I read it. I've updated the links section to your right as follows (where you can find the actual links):

Angelenic Nerd:
(This is Valley-based Los Angeles blogging.)

Dig L.A. Nerd:
Observations about the City & its culture)

L.A. Tour Guide Nerd:
(occasional postings about touring tourists)

L.A. Yarn/Art Nerd:
(Lots of yarn, but other cool tidbits about LA, too.)

L.A. via Paris Nerd:

L.A. Photo Nerd:

L.A. Daily Photo Nerd:

Westward Ho Nerd:
(An East Coast transplant's observations.)

Quartz City Nerd:
(blips and bites about L.A.)

USC Nerds:
(Let's hope this grows to be more about LA and less about the world.)

Neighborhood Nerds:
Sherman Oaks Community Nerd:
(not to be confused with LAist's Zach)

Photo-Tech Downtown Nerd:

Lincoln Heights II Nerd:

Municipal Nerds:
L.A. Parks Nerd:
(It is just a synthesis of press releases, but they at least let you know what's going on in the parks... for the most part.)

Angel's Gate Nerd:
(This is only a quasi-municipal nerd because it's a City facility.)

and those who've gone on hiatus...
City Elf Nerd
El Sereno Nerd
San Pedro Nerds
Stuck Valleyite Nerd

New to City Nerd Media:
BrooWaHa (I'm hoping it becomes interesting...)

What other blogs should I add to my daily reads? Any who has time to read all this information? It's not easy!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Cardinal Mahony & LA's Cathedral.. on South Park??

With all this talk of the Cathedral of the Angels at LAist, I thought it would be interesting to share that South Park, too, has their own "photos."

Seen below are screen shots via the "Catholic" blog, The Cafeteria is Closed.

A fairly decent likeness to Mahony; and the Cathedral is captured in particular detail with the lighting fixtures being quite recognizable.

(Also, the comments on the "Cafeteria" site are amusing... for Catholics and those who know of them.)

Catholic or not, one would have to agree that this episode does represent the LA Landmark to a national (albeit potentially sophomoric) audience.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Defining Halloween & "No Silly String"

Franklin Avenue posts about the quotable signs put up on Hollywood Boulevard that warn of a "$1000.00 Fine" for using Silly String on Halloween there. A commenter, Will Campell, indicates that it is "because of alleged "rampant" use of the product resulting in altercations as well as complaints from Hollywood Boulevard storeowners that led to expenditure of city resources to clean up the mess."

Just to clarify...
The initial motion by Councilman Garcetti reads:
Recently there has been a problem with vendors selling what is commonly known as 'Silly String' at various major holidays and events such as the Hollywood parade as well as the Chinese New Year parade. 'Silly String' is a product which when used emits a string-like or streamer-like substance that is shot or expelled from a pressurized container.
This product creates a great nuisance, significantly adds to the trash problem and can also raise security issues at these mass gatherings. Several cities throughout the nation, including New Orleans have enacted ordinances to ban the sale of 'Silly String' along designated parade routes.
THEREFORE MOVE that the City Attorney be requested to prepare and present an ordinance which would prohibit the sale of 'Silly String' during parades and other special events, inasmuch as this product can create potential health, safety and welfare concerns for members of the public who attend parades and other similar events.
It was originally for all parades and special events and related to the sale of the product. Then, it was amended to focus on the specific day of the year and possession. The law enacted reads as follows:
WHEREAS, every year, a large quantity of products known as "Silly String" are used and the empty Silly String cans then are discarded in the Hollywood Division of the Los Angeles Police Department during Halloween festivities; and

WHEREAS, Silly String and Silly String cans cause a safety hazard in that they may cause pedestrians and police officers on horseback or motorcycles to slip and fall; the cans may be used as weapons in the event of a melee; and in the past the cans
have been thrown at store windows along Hollywood Boulevard; and

WHEREAS, Silly String and Silly String cans cause an environmental hazard in that these products are discarded in large quantities onto the street, clog the storm drains, and ultimately travel to the ocean.

No Person... shall possess, use, sell or distribute Silly String at, within or upon any public or private property that is either within public view or accessible to the public, including, but not limited to, public or private streets, sidewalks, parking lots, commercial or residential buildings, places of business, or parks within the Hollywood Division during Halloween."

So, to recap: No Silly String anywhere in Hollywood Division for 36 hours because of "environmental hazards" and "safety hazards." (Oh, and the store owners complained about a few broken windows and a potential "melee.")

And also, the City of Los Angeles has defined "Halloween": the adopted ordinance defines Halloween as "the 36-hour period from 12:00 a.m. on October 31st of each year, through 12:00 p.m. on November 1st of each year." Who knew the holiday was 36 hours long!