Monday, July 31, 2006

Playing dress up

This weekend, you too can play dress-up with the best of them! It's the annual Costume College presented by the Costumers' Guild West. The "college" classes are sold out, but you can go to the marketplace.

I wish the classes weren't sold out; I mean, wouldn't you love to attend a class like "Building a Belly dance Bra and Belt" or "Bustle Pads" or "Pizza Anyone? Or the German Hat"?

The college is in Van Nuys at the Airtel Hotel on the 4, 5, & 6 of August. Check out there site for more information.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

225 Ways to Celebrate: 115 to 124

It's been a while since I posted the next installment of the 225 Ways to Celebrate LA's 225th birthday, so here's 10 more. (NOTE: There is a large batch of ways to celebrate coming very soon!)

115. Physically go to the Central Library (or any branch Library, for that matter) and touch & read the books in the Local History section. Those that touched the books before you are connected to you through your interest in your community.

116. Ride your bike along the LA River, first in Studio City and then along Griffith Park & Atwater Village.

117. Have pumpkin bread given to you by Councilman Tom LaBonge.

118. Eat a meal at Clifton's Brookdale Cafeteria in downtown, making sure you visit the "museum" on the 3rd floor and pay special attention to the Terrazzo out front, as seen in the image above from Public Art in LA.

119. Visit LA's Historic Trees. Walk up and touch history!

120. Go for a ride on the "Lakes of Los Angeles": Echo Park Lake, MacArthur Park Lake, Lincoln Park Lake, Lake Balboa, & Hansen Dam, for sure.

121. Hike the camp of the original Chautauqua (for which the street is named) in Pacific Palisades: Temescal Canyon.

122. Plant a tree in honor of the City.

123. Go out with Shepard Fairey and post Obey stickers & posters around town. (Note: Posting on public or private property is illegal without permission. Do this activity at your own risk.)

124. Enjoy an afternoon (or morning) show at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, which has operated continuously since 1961. Bob Baker has an inventory of over 3000 puppets, and his early creations sold at department stores like Bullock's Wilshire are now valuable collectibles. Catch an amazing show for only $12.

"225 Ways to Celebrate..." thus far:
56-78 (Griffith Park)
79-88 (Eric Garcetti)

More Tree Talk!

If it wasn't enough that this week launched the Million Trees for LA website and the City's Urban Forestry Division's new webpage, the online community is abuzz over the lack of recognition of the Aliso tree for which the street was named. The Arts District Loft Nerd posted all about it - and quite well.

Now, if all the rumblings about getting the location designated historic need follow-up, I'll be happy to help. Since there is nothing but the location left and therefore the City's cultural-historic designation cannot be granted, there are a few options:

1. Call it a "Memorial Square" at the nearest intersection to the location of great sycamore.

2. Have the Los Angeles City Historical Society put up a marker at its location.

3. With it's connection to the Philadelphia Brew House & The Maier Brewing Company, contact a group like E CLAMPUS VITUS and see if they'll put up a historic marker. (Rumor has it that they sometimes drink.)

4. Have the City erect a pole with a sign indicating the site and the significance of the tree on a DOT regulation sign. It can be done as a custom sign with text for people to read. The Pole could be the height of the tree at it's greatest height, as well, to show the significance.

5. To build on #4, an artist may be commissioned to create a representation or interpretation of the tree, and a plaque or sign could be placed to indicate the significance of the artwork in memorializing the tree.

Those are my first few thoughts... I'm sure there are others out there.

Image above via viewfromaloft via A Visit to Old Los Angeles/Brent C. Dickerson

Friday, July 28, 2006

More Trees!

With all the talk of trees in the City, the Bureau of Street Services Urban Forestry Division Launched their new Website.

Interesting to note, they list all the of the "Landmark" trees in the City. Out of the 9 listed, one is dead & since removed (#24), only one grouping is the official City Tree, the Coral Tree (#148), and over half of the locations are in the Valley.

(Interesting note: it is said that the Olive trees on Lassen (#49) are said to be trees from original clippings from the San Fernando Mission.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

LA Observed expands to most of the City

I'm slightly frustrated that there is so little digital media coming from certain parts of the City. I would argue that Silver Lake, Echo Park, Atwater Village, Los Feliz, Downtown and Hollywood are well-covered. Basically, the area is bound by the LA River on the north heading east over to Atwater Village, then back in towards the River to the 10 to the 110 north along the 101 west/north to Wilton south to Wilshire east to San Vicente northwest to Beverly Hills and West Hollywood over the Hill to Ventura Boulevard and then back to the River. If I could plot point, I would say most LA bloggers are in that zone based on the posts written about the City. Yes, there are some folks in West LA and more and more sprouting up in Northeast LA - I'm not saying they're not adding to the mix. But, I can say that with the Exception of the one or two blogs down in San Pedro and the few on the West Side Coastal Communities, few posts come from folks south of the Rosa Parks/Christopher Columbus/10 Freeway (or those just north like Pico-Union).

So, today, L.A. bloggers all over link to LA Observed's "franchisization" (myself included as of now). Some just note the news, while others congratulate Kevin, as do others, and still others. You see Kevin Roderick - whose site gets more daily hits than most of we LA bloggers combined - is adding new blogs to his "domain", as well as about a dozen contributors. He writes: "They come from a dozen distinct communities and should have a lot to add about life in the city." I don't disagree with their potential, but none of them live south of the 10 Freeway except in Mar Vista, Venice & The South Bay. To me, there is a large part of the City missing.

This absence of south-of-the-10 bloggers in the City reveals a missing component to the online interaction LA-centric sites provide. An active perspective with a specific neighborhood focus is missing. A lot - and I mean A LOT - happens south of the 10. I want to know about Baldwin Hills from a Baldwin Hillian; I want to know what's up in Watts from someone who played in the freak snow storm there 2 years ago. I want to know what's happening in Morningside Park, Pico-Union (just north), West Adams, & Harbor City from the people who call those places home.

With all our blogs that "represent the City," where are the voices of South Los Angeles? The strongest voice about South LA comes from those at, around, graduated from, or affiliated with USC. The most recent flurry of south-of-the-10 posts relate to one issue: the South Central Farmers. That's not representative of the community south of City Hall. Honestly, those posts are more about Ralph Horowitz than the community.

Now, I'm a City Nerd that claims no home, but I will admit: my limited time south of the 10, riding the Blue Line or driving down Central Avenue from the 101 to Century Boulevard (what would have been "100th Street" if the numeric system was followed), makes me want to know more. I am just as to blame as others trying to capture the City.

I guess this goes back to my question of who is/are the voice(s) of Los Angeles in 2006?

66 Years of Little Tokyo

Ed, the Art District Loft Nerd, has a great Nisei Week post. His capturing of the past is truly City Nerdy.

Thanks for sharing this important part of our City's Culture. Little Tokyo has so much to offer - enjoy the vibrant cultural district during the Nisei Week festivities and during times when it's just being dependable, reliable, Little Tokyo.

Photo above from Little Tokyo Service Center.

New Poll; New Links!

First, you'll notice the new poll to the right. It is quite timely as we hit all this heat. What would you do if you had no power and had to beat the heat? (I couldn't imagine living without A/C right now!)

Second, taking a cue from Brian Humphrey at the LAFD Blog, I have further refined the links at the right. I've broken out a new categories of Municipal Nerds and Metro Nerds, based on Brian's Muni-Blogs & Metro-Nerds. Based on his categorization, Municipal Nerds are City-affiliated blogs. Metro Nerds, not to be confused with the Metro Nerds, are the general blogs about regional Los Angeles. Of Course, Neighborhood Nerds remains as such, with some new additions. (This is merely coincidence that this is being posted at the same time as over at the Metro Nerd.)

So, say welcome to...
L.A. Biz Nerd (L.A. Observed Nerd's 1st spinoff)
"TJS in LA" Nerd (general observations on the City - site still in the works)
L.A. Bus Nerd (examining transportation in the City)
Recentered Pueblo Nerd (a South LA/ North East LA realtor who lives in Jefferson Park)
Downtown Nerd (don't know why this wasn't linked, I've been reading it for months!)
Edendale Nerd (why Edendale? think early Silver Lake/Echo Park)
NoHo/Sunland Tujunga Nerd (an interesting pairing of 2 - maybe 3 - East Valley communities)
Lincoln Heights Nerd (Lincoln Heights is more than just the San Antonio Winery)
Lincoln Park Nerd (not be confused with the above Nerd, this Nerd has a connection to the actual PARK)
El Sereno Nerd (El Sereno - do you sense a northeast LA trend? Where's the Highland Park Nerd?)

Check them out; add them to your list of sites to read daily. (I read too many sites; so if they start to be lame, I'll stop linking to them.)

As always, let me know if there is a City Nerd blog missing out there...

And don't forget to vote about keeping cool (at right).

And the winner is...

With just over 100 votes in on this first "LA City Nerd Poll," the results are easy to extrapolate:

Over 75% of the voters saw the GMs of the Library (Fontayne Holmes), our Streets (Bill Robertson), and Police (Chief Bill Bratton) the most effective departments of the choices available: those hired by a previous mayoral administration. Though this could be the result of Fontayne Holmes campaigning or people who love their newly paved streets, the end result is clear: people like Chief Bratton and the way he runs his department. Or maybe, they just know him and therefore voted for him. He received the most votes with 28%.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Zoo Director, John Lewis, only received one vote; and Mercedes Marquez, Andrew Adelman, & Rushmore Cervantes each only received two votes. This could be the result of public opinion of their respective departments; although, with Cervantes, the results may be evidence of a non-impactful department.

So, this poll is done and gone for now... look for a new poll soon...

Monday, July 24, 2006

"1 billion, million, fafillion, shabolubalu million illiion..." Trees!

This week, Mayor Villariagosa announced his "1 Million Trees" initiative with a fancy website. Basically, the Mayor has a goal of planting a million trees over the next several years. This is modeled after the first "Million Tree Campaign" of the early 1980s spearheaded by TreePeople. It cost the city nothing and was completed in just a few years after initial estimates said it would take 20 years and $200 million dollars. They started in 1981 and finished just a few days before the Olympics arrived to Los Angeles for the second time.

This new campaign is one that involves technology. Every tree an individual plants counts towards that million. You could be alone at home and plant a walnut sapling in your backyard and the tally will go up as we sore towards 1 million new trees.

There are non-profit groups charged with planting in certain areas, and every person is asked to help or tell a neighbor. My concern is the fact that trees continue to get planted in the lusher neighborhoods where the hotter, less forested areas continue to trail. By looking at the Canopy Cover map on the site, you can see that the South LA & East Side Council Districts have the least canopy. But, by grouping Council District communities as one area, this also creates an inequity of where the greatest need is. These arbitrary political boundaries are not very good ways to evaluate the city. A better view would be looking at a heat island map, especially on a day like today. (I know maps like this are out there, I just can't seem to locate one online. Anyone have a source for this?) Or, take a hike up to Mount Hollywood and see the disparity between Hancock Park and its adjacent communities - the canopy cover disparity is clear. (Don't even look to East Los Angeles!)

But back to the million...

If the Mayor wants to plant 1 million trees, let's say, in his first term (that makes sense, right?), and there have been 33,275 planted since as of June 30th - that leaves 966,725 trees to plant in the next 36 months. That means that over 26,853 trees would need to be planted each month, and just over 6,196 trees per week. That means for the next year (actually, starting July 1st, the City needs to be planting over 885 trees a day, which means about 37 trees per hour for the next 3 years straight. That's a lot of planting!!

Now, how many trees have you planted this year? AND are those trees in a heat island or a well-forested community like Hancock Park or Woodland Hills?

Photo of Griffith Park from PreserveLA.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

POLL CLOSING: July 24!**

7/23 UPDATE Only 24 hours left to vote! Who will it be??

You have four days to vote for the GM you think is doing best at right. At 11:59 on the 24th, the poll will be no more and the results posted. You know you have an opinion.

What are you thrilled about with your City? Well, chances are, one of these ten has something to do with it.

For more information on them, check this post out.

Only four days left, so, as they say in the campaign world: GOTV for your favorite candidate.

NOTE 1: As of 7/21 in the morning, the City Librarian, Fontayne Holmes, is in the lead. (If it's really close when the polls close, we may have to have a run-off!!)

NOTE 2: I wonder if those that get the least votes will be the next to "Retire?"

Is the City "open"? or "Why the City needs more follow through"

Eighteen months ago, the City Council (Garcetti & Greuel) called for the City's Information Technology Agency (which just lost its General Manager) to present "a reasonable schedule for transitioning city computers to open source software and platform." A report was issued about a month after the initial motion, and the findings have had no action since. IN the report, of the 37 City Departments that responded to the survey, 78% indicated they used no open source platforms.

With a new GM coming to the Department, perhaps it's time to take the recommendations of the report and try pilot project to see how much money could be saved by using open source platforms, which was the intent of the motion.

A lot of "creative" ideas are introduced by the City Council, but some seem to fall off the radar before being fully pursued. Who knows what would happen in all ideas were fully investigated. It's what happened to Garcetti's Recreational Greenway Linkage Plan. It was proposed in May 2004, and nothing happened with it for two years. Per Council Action adopted in 2005, "all Council files pending before the City Council, which have not been placed on a Council or Committee agenda for consideration for a period of two years or more, are deemed received and filed (CF 05-0553)" (which means closed forever).

So, Garcetti's idea for an all-inclusive, Citywide community and City committee to review a greenway plan has been lost to non-action as have other ideas that may have made some real impact if they were followed through, like Councilwoman Galantar's initiative to create a Spanish version of the City's website or Councilman Svornich's call to save the S.S. Catalina or Councilman Weiss's request for clarification and continuation of the Mulholland Security Patrol, or the hundreds of other motions never fully followed through.

Free Advertising for 2007

I received the following email about free advertising for cultural events in the City of Los Angeles. The Department of Cultural Affairs puts out a Festival Guide every year, and they're asking for submissions. Now, a lot of events listed in past guides are outside of the City limits - I guess that's because not enough of the festivals in the City apply to be part of the annual guide.
Are you affiliated with any community festival or cultural event? Do you know someone who is?

Submit your event(s) to Cultural affairs to be listed in the Annual Festival Guide.
The Festival Guide Application can be found here:

Make sure you sign up your 2007 event! (Deadline is August 31!)

Here's just another free service by the City that should be taken advantage of more often.

Friday, July 21, 2006

"Ansel Adams captures LA"*

The Montecito Heights Nerd found a site that has the LAPL's collection of Ansel Adams' photos of Los Angeles in 1940. (Yes, Adams did a series on LA.)

It's worth going to the site that the MH Nerd links to before going to the LAPL site because the poster of the pictures on his Flickr page gives an explanation of how they came to be, in true City Nerd fashion. I applaud this discovery by Gerard Van der Leun and the revelation of such by the Montecito Heights Nerd.

Update1: I have to also give credit to the Los Angeles Public Library and Carolyn Cole for the work in preserving the "Photos of LA." This resource is one of the best ways we can reach our past in this City, and without the work Carolyn and the library does on our behalf, we wouldn't have the understanding (as limited as it is) of where we came from and where we're going.

Thanks to a note from the tracker of all things news (LA Observed), I was pointed to another fairly recent post about these Ansel Adams pics from Ms. Kellogg at LAist.

My Favorite:

Notice how, in 1940, the City used reflectors along the crosswalk lines.

(photo from LAPL via Flickr)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"I love tacos!"

I love tacos! Well, not as much as some. But, I do fancy myself a "eater of Los Angeles."

Anyway, LA Taco shares my thoughts.

Tip of the Iceberg... Thera Bradshaw

Tip of the Iceberg... Thera Bradshaw

Thera Bradshaw, the General Manager of the City's Information Technology Agency will be retiring this week.

Here's yet another General Manager to leave under Mayor Villariagosa. Coincidence? Perhaps. She's one of the leading women in her field, so the City will find it hard to replace her.

Do some Googling about Thera to find out more... 311, WiFi, Satellite City Halls, etc.

And that's just the Tip of the Iceberg on Thera Bradshaw.

LA's Official Bicycle Resource

With all the recent buzz about Biking, I though I'd share LA City's Bicycle page: BikeLA.

It's got all the official resources the City has to offer, and even lists the laws regarding bicycling. It also links to planned bikeway & bikelane projects and advisory and working groups that the City has in making the city more "Bike-Friendly."

If you're an avid cyclist or just ride a banana seat two-wheeler occasionally, check out the site and get involved to make the City be a leader in alternative transportation modes with a focus on two-wheeled, human-powered vehicles.

In the short term, let's hope every driver will truly understand what it means to "Share the Road."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The "underbelly" of LA. (No, really.)

So, there have been remarks made that certain parts of Los Angeles are the "underbelly" of the City. Well, they're wrong. The true underbelly of the city is under Grand Avenue. Yes, under that Grand Avenue. Back in March, the Downtown Nerd posted about the "Lower Grand" being on ground level, where as upper Grand gives the illusion of such. I agree.

But, Lower Grand Avenue has its benefits... one of which is almost always available free, on-street, weekend parking for cultural events at the Music Center (if you don't mind a short walk).

The Lower Grand Avenue, as well as the other "double streets" (as the Downtown Nerd references) were constructed through the CRA's Bunker Hill Redevelopment Project. Even now, part of the plan calls for the creation/modification of "Upper Second Street" to continue to improve circulation on Bunker Hill. Additionally, there is a plan for improvements to Lower Grand Avenue as it connects to the Grand Avenue Project. So, How long will Lower Grand remain an "underbelly"?

Here's the way I see it today:

looking to the light of Bunker Hill from Lower Grand Avenue

the "true" underbelly

Monday, July 17, 2006

Who are these people?

ubrayj02 asks about the ten featured GMs in the poll at the right. Two, Gary Lee Moore and Fontayne Holmes, have gotten a brief write up, and now, LAPD Chief Bratton is in the lead (by one vote over City Librarian Holmes). If you don't know Police Chief Bratton, please do a Google Search - he is probably the most well-known non-elected LA City official, and probably more well-known than some of the elected officials! You should be ashamed if you don't know he heads the LAPD.

So, what about the other 7 not yet featured. Who are they, and what do they do? Here's a brief description of each:

Jon Kirk Mukri, former GM of the General Services Department, has been General Manager of Recreation and Parks (not "Parks and Rec") since February 2004. He oversee all parks & recreation in the City, from small pocket parks to Griffith Park (but NOT the Zoo or the Autry) - over 390 of them. This includes 9 lakes, 176 recreation centers and 372 children's play areas, 13 golf courses, 287 tennis courts, 9 dog parks, 59 swimming pools,
7 skate parks, 7 museums, 24 child care facilities, 30 senior centers, 2 beaches and an urban forest of one million trees. He is in charge of masterplanning and open space management and also oversees programs and festivals like the Lotus Festival and Salute to Recreation, Venice Beach, Cabrillo Aquarium, historic sites, Museums, a miniature golf center, and the Griffith Observatory, to name a few.

Fire Chief Bamattre has overseen the Fire Department since 1996. He has 103 neighborhood fire stations, which last year responded to 713,762 calls for service from fires to medical emergencies. He oversees the CERT training program as well as brush clearance and fire inspections of events. His department is working 24 hours a day every day and their response time is immediate because when you call 911 for fire or medical emergency, a trained Fire Fighter/paramedic is on the other end of that line talking you through it all. (He also provides fire protection to the separate City of San Fernando.)

Bill Robertson is the Director of Street Services, which includes Urban Forestry, Sidewalks, Street maintenance and repair, curb & gutter, street sweeping, building bulkheads, clearing roadways of debris, enforcing codes relating to the public right-of-way (illegal postings, obstructing the sidewalk, etc.), lot cleaning, overseeing & maintaining medians... among other things. Tree trimming, resurfacing (roadway condition), and sidewalk repair are the three most impacting services this department provides to the public; and considering the quite limited funds, years of neglect, and the worst rain in 75 years, Robertson has worked some wonders. His crews work until the roads are safe and passable during storms. They're the ones who cleaned up Watts after that freakish hail storm in 2003. Above all else, they're the ones who fill the potholes in the largest municipal street system in the nation. He also oversees two asphalt plants. What makes Robertson even more interesting is that he started out in the department as a pothole filler and has worked his way up to the top now.

Andrew Adelman has headed the Department of Building & Safety since Riordan was Mayor. He's been in the news a lot recently, but that has been rumored to be at the hand of Unions who don't like his style (again, just a rumor). The Department has been focused on Customer service and operates 16 offices and public counters outside of City Hall (Valley, West LA, South LA, & San Pedro). He oversees the issuance of building permits for building fences to installing water heaters to major developments. They inspect all projects and investigate potential violations through the code enforcement section. The have some amazing statistics, including the fact that the department issues trade licenses for 22 occupations. Besides being GM, he has also been appointed and is currently serving as "Vice-Chair of the State of California Building, Fire and other Codes Committees."

John Lewis is the Zoo Director & General Manager, overseeing its operation. Fairly self-explanatory, right? About John Lewis: "Prior to taking office July 1, 2003, Lewis served as director of the John Ball Zoological Garden in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he had been director since 1986. Lewis has also served as president of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association's (AZA) Board of Directors from 2001 to 2002." The Zoo has only been its own City Department for less than 10 years (previously part of Rec & Parks), so Lewis is only the 2nd to officially hold the post.

Rushmore Cervantes runs the El Pueblo Department, which oversees Olvera Street & its 27 historic Structures, 4 parking lots, and various festivals and celebrations. Cervantes was appointed by Hahn after the resignation of the previous GM due to Controller Laura Chick's audit found gross mismanagement. A former Stockbroker and long-time city employee, Cervantes has played hardball since 2004 doing what it takes to get the department back on track. Currently, there is a rehabilitation project underway and the buildings are getting the care and attention they deserve. In her follow up audit, Chick said, "The corrective action taken by the Department, especially General Manager Rushmore Cervantes, is a lesson for all City departments to follow.Â?

Mercedes Marquez oversees the Housing Department. With affordable housing being a huge issue in the City, she has had quite a task since assuming the post in Jaunary 2004 and implementing a reorganization. She oversees rent controlled properties, provides oversight of fair housing, operates a systematic code enforcement program to prevent slum units from developing, provides assistance and resources on homeownership, and dispenses grants for home improvement (owner-occupied multifamily dwellings0. One of the primary focuses of the department is to maintain quality, affordable housing stock. How's it going so far in the last 30 months?

So, those are your General Managers who've been at it for some time. There are about 34 other GMs in the City, so there is a lot to understand. Find out who these people are, contact them, and vote!

Tip of the Iceberg... Tony Pierce

Tip of the Iceberg... Tony Pierce

So, a few months ago, L.A. was given Tony Pierce - or maybe, Tony was given L.A. - as editor of the LAist.

Anyway, as a lifelong Angeleno, I want to know just a little bit about the people who are - like it or not - a voice of Los Angeles. So, here's what we learn from Tony:

He's not an LA native, and LA isn't his ideal city, either. He's been blogging for a while, and apparently, he's an expert at it. Tony also makes a living from blogging (lucky).

Better than I could have expected, here are Tony's answers to my questions.

If you want to know more, read his sites or email him at

The image above is via the LAist. And remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg - go find out more about Tony!

LA's "Poet Laureate" is just the beginning

LA Observed reveals a call for a Poet Laureate for Los Angeles. Not a bad idea.

But why stop there?

What about an official City Historian? (The State has one, why not the City?)

We have a City Flower (the Bird of Paradise) and a City Tree (Corral Tree) - what about a City bird? (again, the State has one, why not us?)

What else do we need in that volunteer or honorary capacity? Do we have an honorary Harbor Master for the Port of LA? How about an honorary Fire Chief to be a good will ambassador? Should we crown a "Miss Los Angeles" as well?

Wait, I've got it! Let's bring back the Zanjero!

Ok. Maybe I got a little excited - but a Poet Laureate and a City Historian would be a nice addition to the cultural complexity of Los Angeles.

Silver Lake: two words for a reason

Silver Lake's name has nothing to do with its color, and everything to do with the one of the first commissioners of the Board of Water, Herman Silver. The reservoir turned "lake" bears the name of this early Los Angeles leader, and that is why the two worded "Silver Lake" community, boulevard, reservoir, & even film festival exist today.

Before moving to Los Angeles, Herman Silver was the superintendent of the US Mint in Denver for nine years and was then appointed secretary & treasurer of the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe branches of the Railroad in Southern California in 1887 after working for the railroad in Denver. He came before the City Council for the first time in March of that year, shortly after taking the post (based in San Bernadino). Over the next 13 years, Mr. Silver made a name for himself in Los Angeles as a promoter of the cable car in Los Angeles, a founding investor in La Sierra Water Company, a candidate for the Better City Government League.

He won the 4th Ward as Councilman in 1896, and was then elected President of the City Council. During his 2 year tenure, he had the challenges of replacing the water contract for a city that had grown from 5,000 people to over 100,000 people in less than 30 years. He easily won re-election in 1898 (they were two year terms) and retained his leadership role on the Council. Then, he was nominated on the Republican ticket for Mayor in October 1900, at which time he was described by the Times as, "a man of character, of standing, of undoubted integrity." Silver was one of the most highly regarded officials of his day in the region, and his loss to incumbent Mayor Snyder was a shock to many.

Then on February 5, 1902, Silver was appointed to the first Board of Water Commissioners and later elected to head it. Only four years later in 1906, the new reservoir in the "Ivanhoe Basin" was proposed to be named for him. The reservoir was planned as the Owens Valley project was being developed, and William Mulholland himself designed and oversaw construction of the 56-foot tall dam. The completed "lake" would be 93 square acres.

Silver was one of the leading men at the turn of the 20th Century. Though not as widely known as Harrison Gray Otis, Fred Eaton, or William Mulholland, Herman Silver was regarded as one of the "good ones" who shaped our City. It is quite appropriate that one of the City's greatest features be named after one of the greatest leaders.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Tip of the Iceberg...

Have you ever wanted to know just a little more about something or someone to give you a glimpse into what/who they really are? You don't need to watch a 2-hour episode of Biography, you just want to know enough to know a little bit more. So, henceforth, I'll present people, places and things (yes, all nouns) with enough to make you (possibly) want to know more. I will give you enough, but allow you to find out more on your own.

So, here's to the "Tip of the Iceberg"!

thanks to Melissa of Flickr for the "logo"

Friday, July 14, 2006

Fontayne Holmes in the lead...

Who is Fontayne Holmes?

Ms. Holmes is the City Librarian who oversees The Los Angeles Public Library, whose mission is "to provide free and easy access to information, ideas, books and technology that enrich, educate and empower every individual in the city's diverse communities." From their press releases:
The Los Angeles Public Library serves the largest urban population of any library in the country. Its Central library, 71 branch libraries,six million books, and state-of-the-art technology provide everyone with free and easy access to information and the opportunity for life-long learning.

In 2004 when Holmes was selected to lead the Department, she was "a 30-year LAPL veteran, who served as assistant director of branches, central library director, and director of library facilities before becoming assistant city librarian []" where she oversaw $317-million bond-funded program that renovated or replaced 61 libraries in the City. This was considered the largest library construction program in the country. She was credited with running the program (with BOE) that was so efficient with the bond money that two additional, unplanned libraries were built.

She's in the lead today, Friday, in the poll at the right. The poll will be up for one more week; let's see if she holds her lead.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

UPDATE: Statues of LA

Last week, the New York Times wrote about there over 300 statues in the City and the maintainence of them. They wrote how some statues are for people that no one knows about any more.

In LA, we don't have that problem, really. Our list, as it stands, is mostly celebrities, religious leaders, or city founders (as mentioned here).

In my quest, though, to find those who will be immortalized forever, I've come across two more busts:

Lod Cook at the Junior Achievement offices on Forest Lawn Drive
Charles Lummis at his house in the Arroyo Seco (photo above by Harold Wood)

These are both inside buildings and not publicly promoted on websites or brochures. I'm sure there are more in buildings - next time you're out and about - look for them.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Poll Update: Who is Gary Lee Moore?

As you can see, the poll at the right lists 10 General Managers - some of whom you know and some you may not know.

As of right now, of the few votes cast, the GM with the most is City Engineer Gary Lee Moore. He even beats out the Police Chief and Fire Chief.

Some ask, "Well, what does he do?"

Well, as City Engineer, Mr. Moore is the General Manager of the Bureau of Engineering of the Department of Public Works. He is responsible for the oversight & project management of all public construction projects in the City. (NOTE: street resurfacing, sidewalk repair, and median island installation are under the purview of the Bureau of Street Services, but new roadway construction or street widening falls under Engineering). He also oversees the stormwater system, bond programs, and GIS mapping. His job is to implement the Vision & Mission of the Bureau of Engineering.

With 18 years as a City Employee (he had also worked in the Bureau of Sanitation), Moore was promoted to the job from Deputy City Engineer (which he held since 2001) on October 14, 2003. He is also currently serving as a Director of the American Public Works Association (Southern California Chapter) and of the Woman's Transportation Seminar (Los Angeles Chapter).

Now, I'm not endorsing any one candidate; I'm just letting you know about the current leader (by one vote!).

VOTE NOW, and see if there is a new description for whoever takes the lead next.

Nerd Power!

OK. I'm impressed. This is the type of post true of a true City Nerd...

Clueless and Slightly Slack, the TPPD Nerd, has a created post and photo essay of the Longwood Highlands. Until I have unlimited time to research and post, I defer to Peter on this neighborhood.

Explore his site - it's great!

Photo from Peter at Clueless and Slightly Slack.

Great shot!

Kevin at LA Observed has found a great photo of the City Council & their chambers in the 1930s.

What's interesting is that for over 70 years, the City Council had their backs facing the public. Not until the City Hall was restored in 2001 did the "horseshoe" get turned around as city government became more focused on the populace. This physical change was symbolic of the way the City would function in the future: with the citizen as the focus of the legislation and City service. Or, at least, that's the way it should be.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The good pizza is back!

There's been some buzz on the LA Blogs this morning about Barone's reopening in Valley Glen (though LA Observed wants it to still be Van Nuys).

What's the commotion about?


Awesome pizza! Try it for yourself.
(Click the picture to really understand the delicious goodness!)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Echo Park Lake: where the Dragon Boats live

A month ago, I reminded Jillian of her commitment last year to participate in the Dragon Boat Race at the Lotus Festival in Echo Park Lake. Then, last week, in advance of the race and with the bridge rebuilt, there was some online challenges between CD13 and the Team.

Then, this last weekend, the event came and went; and I was unable to attend. But, fortunately for all of LA, these are writers involved; and of course, they wrote about it so we all could experience it from varied perspectives:

Eric Garcetti's roundup
LAVoice reaction
Jillian's take
Sha's observations
Don's perspective (pics)

LATaco Nerds have an interesting take on the whole event, and the Echo Park Nerd points to the LA Times article on the lacking Lotus.

So, with all the hubbub swirling around Echo Park Lake & the Lotus Festival this week, I thought I'd share some facts that may not be known by all... "Nerdisms of the Echo Park Lake":

First, a great overview of the lake & its evolution can be found here and the story of the Lotus in the lake, here.

But there are some pieces missing the lake's history, especially regarding boating.

Boating & Boat Racing in the Lake...
In 1901, the City let the boating rights for Echo Park Lake for $84, and the permittee agreed to maintain order and drive out the undesirables who hung around the lake [LA Times].

Boating in the Lake always had its competitions: in 1933, an all-female canoe crew challenged any female team to a race; and in 1935, men raced in War Canoes for trophy's put up by the local Kiwanis [LA Times].

In 1902, The Yale English & Classical School secured the rights to use Echo Park Lake as a place of instruction for boating and promises of regatta races where anticipated [LA Times].

In 1922, the Evening Herald-Express hosted/sponsored the first Model Yaht Regatta and continued to do so until at least 1957. The Times also sponsored a speed-boat regatta as early as 1931 at the Lake (photo above) [LA Public Library].

Echo Park Lake was used as park for "Hometown Picnics"” celebrations, with "scores of brightly painted Indian Canoes"” according to the LA Times in 1924

In 1965, the City's Department of Recreation and Parks held "Learn to canoe" classes every Saturday at Echo Park lake to teach "the proper method of sitting in a canoe" [LA Times].

Echo Park Lake Improvements...

First, when the Lake was built, according the to the LA Times in the early 1890s, the City saw limited funds for park improvements Citywide. Echopark had needs of grading for roads and dealing with the "water problem."” In 1892, Echo Park was referred to in an official budget/tax report as the "“so-called Echo Park,"” lending to reason that it was an idea of a park and not quite the park we know today. In December of 1893, The Times described a more familiar Echo Park:
"Echo Park contains about 33 acres, most of which is a lake. It is north of Bellevue Avenue and one block north of the Temple street railway [modern day 101?]. About 5000 yards of dirt excavated from the lake have been used in building an island in the lake, and 275 loads of rock from Elysian Park have been used to riprap the island. The lake would, in the future, be a desirable place for boatraces [sic] on a small scale."

So, the Lake was once much larger. And water issue mentioned above was one of a stench and swamp-like condition that pervaded the lake for years. This also shows the desire for boat races.

In summer 1902 when the lake was let to go dry, Mulholland explained that the reason the Lake was dry was because water is being sold to irrigators in the City. So, the Parks Department asked that the Lake be connected to the City's water system and no longer dependent on the original Zanja (ditch) system.

As of 1908, it was on the books that a street was dedicated that travels through Echo Park Lake. The City Council removed Bellevue from the records because of the lake; but in July 1914, Bellevue had been filled in, and the City Engineer asked the City Council to re-instate the roadway, which they did [LA Times]. This further shows the lake was once bigger than it is now.

In 1922, the Egyptian lotus beds were planted in Echo Park, according to the Times.

In 1928, the Angeleno Heights Improvement Assn. petitioned for a new boat house, and then in 1932, the lake was drained for two months in spring for the construction of that new boat house [LA Times].

The lake was drained maintenanceintainance in 1948 [LA Times].

In 1931, there was a proposal to use relief funds to fill the lake from 16-18 feet at the center to 4 feet due the large numbers of drowning deaths from overturned boats. The Angeleno Heights Improvement Assn. protested such action [LA Times].

Other items of note...
Multiple people committed or attempted to commit suicide by jumping into the Lake, and since the turn of the centrury, many died in overturned boats, many of whom where teenagers who could not swim [LA Times].

From at least 1954 to 1974, the City hosted the "Becky Thatcher-Tom Sawyer Fishing Rodeo" & costume contest at Echo Park Lake (& also at Lincoln Park & Reseda) [LA Public Library].

Almost 20,000 fish were placed in Echo Park Lake in 1950 out of 40,000 in all city lakes combined [LA Times].

In December 1963, a floating Santa, reindeer, and tree were launched and stayed there, playing Christmas carols until eveningch evenign through January 3rd [LA Times].

Quicksand in L.A. not new...

LA Observed posts about the sinking of two women in Hansen Dam in soft mud that had to be rescued, but this is not new.

In 1919, two teenaged girls were caught in mud in a half-full Echo Park Lake and had to be saved, as well. The lake had been drained partially for maintenance and the two girls had ventured out to a small pond of water to catch small fish. They fell from the boards on which they stood, and a young passerby risked his own life to save them [LA Times].

Los Angeles doesn't change much... it just grows and develops the same experiences for new generations.

Flattery will get you everywhere in this City!

The Arts District Loft Nerd has impressed me with his words and, more importantly, his photo skills. What an impressive piece of work!

I'm here to share the City with the world... and what better place to do it than via the internet (really, the only way to reach the world!)

Here's an addition to the "whole" manhole cover thing: there is a collection of manhole covers at Heritage Square, including a custom cover from the Alhambra Foundry that reads "Heritage Square."

What do you think?

I'm trying something new this week: a poll.

So, at the right, above the links, you'll see a poll. Basically, this lists all the City's General Managers who were hired by former Mayor Hahn and are still working for the City. They are also those departments that have some very clear and direct impact with the general public. True, the General Services GM, the Information Technology Agency GM, and the Bureau of Sanitation Director were all hired by the previous administration, but the poll is limited to ten. So, sorry Alvin, Thera, and Rita - maybe the next poll!

So, what do you think? Who's doing the best job?

(If the names aren't familiar to you, you can always research them through the City's Webpage or by using the general city email combination of Really, you should know who these people are - they work for you, too!)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

New Nerds... in the links at the right --->

There are a few new nerds online that are worth a read.

First, there are the Neighborhood Nerds:

The Arts District Loft Nerd has everything that comes with a view from a loft in the Downtown Arts District (not to be confused with the NoHo Arts District)

There is an truly Eastside site of the Montecito Heights Nerd - lots of commentary on LA, music & culture... and Montecito Heights.

And in general, some non-Neighborhood Nerds that have interesting LA-centric sites:

There is an interesting site with an interesting name: the LATaco Nerds. With a taco theme, this group posts great info on food, culture, & sites of LA. Photos abound, and the nuances are quite interesting. Two of my favorite: "Draw" and "The Northwest Corner of LA" which relates to that famous post here.

There are the Married Couple Nerds over at - I hope this one lives up to its name!

There is Peter McFerrin, the Transportation Policy, Planning & Development Nerd" (TPPD Nerd), who has an interesting approach to planning & development in LA. (He's got some great perspectives with photos.) He's a Ph.D Student at USC, too!

Finally, the Planning Nerd in Mitch Glaser. (The interaction between Mitch and Peter is quite interesting here and hopefully on other topics to come.)

That's the latest that I've found to be interesting and entertaining. I wish there were more Neighborhood Nerds out there, though, with that extremely local perspective.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Last Emergency: July 7, 2005

Los Angeles hasn't had an emergency in a whole year - which is pretty impressive for this town.

Well, an emergency meeting, at least.

See, one year ago, there was an emergency meeting of the Emergency Operations Board. Why does this matter, you may ask. Well, permanently chaired by the Chief of Police (Bratton), the EOB has an extremely important role in the operation of the city relating to emergencies:
"In the event of a major emergency which may result in the declaration of a local emergency, the EOB shall be convened as rapidly as possible to coordinate the response and to establish consensus on the best operational strategies to be utilized in controlling the disaster. Additional meetings of the EOB shall be convened as necessary to provide policy level direction throughout the response and recovery phases of the disaster."
This was not an "activation" of the Emergency Operations Center, but nevertheless, most department heads, the new Mayor, and most City Council members were there, and an emergency could have been declared.

A year ago today, there was a bombing in London that had an impact here in Los Angeles, a truly global city.

Read the report of that meeting here

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Sam Yorty = Honorary Mayor?

Fun fact for the summer...

In March of 1978, the Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor's Bureau designated former Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty - long time Studio City resident - as Honorary Mayor of the San Fernando Valley. His first official function as Honorary Mayor was to introduce Howard Jarvis to talk to the group about a bill he had written called Prop 13.

Well, the Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber no longer exists, and their is no longer an Honorary Mayor of the whole Valley. So, why did the former mayor act as honorary mayor of an area that was represented by Mayor Tom Bradley, who was regarded as one of the greatest leaders the City has ever seen? What was really happening in 1978?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

225 ways to Celebrate: 103 to 114

In exactly 2 months, Los Angeles will celebrate its 225th birthday. Only five years & two months younger than our nation, LA takes more than a day to celebrate. So, here's the next installment of 225 Ways to Celebrate LA's 225th Birthday:

103. Take a tour of the world's busiest general aviation airport (or at least sit at the public observation area at the Van Nuys Airport and watch the world work from Los Angeles).

104. Take the morning or afternoon to explore & understand the Ballona Wetlands.

105. Sit among the dead and enjoy an outdoor movie at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

106. Understanding Los Angeles as a truly global City, take the time to attend the annual Los Angeles Sister City Festival.

107. Visit the Rockwalk in front of the Guitar Center on Sunset Boulevard.

108. Play indoor, glow-in-dark Mini Golf at the Howard Hughes Center.

109. Take the Metro Gold Line and experience people's backyards as you ride through Cypress Park, Lincoln Heights, and Highland Park as you approach South Pasadena. [Photo above from Google Maps.]

110. Take a Neon Tour of LA, or a tour of Neon in LA - either way works. (Did you know that The Westlake Theatre sign was the first commercial use of neon in the US?)

111. Ride the shortest railroad in California at The Grove.

112. Visit the great example of Streamline Modern: Los Angeles' 1937 Coca-Cola Bottling Company. It was constructed from 5 existing buildings and resembles an ocean liner both on the outside and the inside.

113. Walk through and pretend to shop in America's "first modern shopping mall": The Crossroads of the World located in Hollywood.

114. Attend a "Star Ceremony" on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

"225 Ways to Celebrate..." thus far:
56-78 (Griffith Park)
79-88 (Eric Garcetti)

More on the Franklin & Highland intersection construction...

A almost 2 months ago, I shared the announcement that the Highland/Franklin intersection was slated for improvement. Well, now there is more info to share (with maps and arial photos).

According to the site, the Project is set to commence this month and last for about six months. Construction is scheduled between 9am and 3:30pm

Enjoy the engineering marvel and streetscape improvements here.

I guess the best part of the site is where is says of the project: "Once completed, traffic delay and travel time will be reduced by 10 to 15 percent."

Contact information for the project managers and others is listed, too, which is helpful.

Tree Removals in Los Angeles.

As the Downtown Nerd posts about the planned removal of mature trees along 2nd Street , I'm forced to recall that sometimes, trees are removed in this City without reason or notice. The Urban Forestry Division (UFD) [whose name recently changed and whose website doesn't reflect that yet] of the Bureau of Street Services of the Department of Public Works is trying to remedy that by posting notices on the trees (as James Rojas saw, as referenced by the post) and online. Here's the City's online site to see what trees are scheduled for removal.

Also, note that all trees scheduled for removal have a public hearing before the Board of Public Works (BPW). Sometimes, they need to hear from concerned parties that shed new information that prevent the removal of the trees. This has happened in other parts of the City where only 3 neighbors voiced concerns that stopped a sidewalk replacement project necessitating root pruning of trees would force their removal. They went to the hearing, and the BPW saved the trees. If you go to the site and click on a particular removal, you can sign up to be notified when the hearing is scheduled (if one is not yet scheduled).

Now, I don't see the hearing or the posting online for the 2nd Street trees. If I were Mr. Rojas or the Downtown Nerd, I'd contact the Bureau of Street Services, Urban Forestry Division at 213 485-5675 for more information as soon as possible.

George Gonzalez (pictured above surrounded by his employees in orange shirts from the UFD's site) is the City's Chief Forester; if the person who answers the phone can't help you, ask for him.