Wednesday, September 27, 2006

LA Canstruction

Starting this week on Friday, Westfield Fashion Square will be hosting LA Canstruction for about a week.

Teams of architects and designers take cans that are constructed into structural art pieces. Then, the cans are donated to the LA Regional Food Bank.

This looks a like a pretty cool event for a pretty cool cause.

Check it out.

Museum "Free for All"

I love it when the City can celebrate itself. This Sunday, October 1st, members of the Museum Marketing Roundtable will be hosting their 2nd Annual Museum Day.

Of the 20 participating museums, only 12 are in the City of LA, and 3 of the other 8 are in Orange County. More interesting, though, is the promotion of already free museums. See, parking isn't waived; it still applies. So, the controversial Southwest Museum, which as of July has only been open on weekends, now has free admission to see its limited exhibits. This would be a good day NOT to go there, or the other free museums like the Getty.

But, go find a new one you've never been to. MOCA would be good if you don't get there that often, or try the Japanese American National Museum where they are currently showing a mind-expanding Hapa exhibit.

Maybe next year the group will include the local museums that don't already have a regional presence like the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Palms or the American Museum of Straw Art in Long Beach?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

How to install public art in the City

On Saturday, the Street Art Nerd linked to the Social and Public Art Resource Center's article on graffiti murals.
In the bottom of the linked article, the "Posh One" relates an experience in the "city of" North Hollywood with a mural that he claims was "censored" by it being removed when neighbors complained. [Read the full articles to get the back story.] Now, as a City Nerd, I'm not here to support censorship, but I did want to clarify what really happened...

First, his reference to the "City of North Hollywood" in the article may have been his first challenge in getting the art to remain- remember North Hollywood is a community of Los Angeles, not its own City. So, if seeking approval from the City of North Hollywood, none would be attainable.

So, since the mural was in LA, there were some simple processes to go through to have it be "approved." First, any art installation visible from the public right-of-way (sidewalk, street, etc.) must have the approval of the Cultural Affairs Commission. They meet regularly to approve public art and other visible arts creations. So far this year, they have spent most of the their time on non "public art" items, as is evident by their most recent agenda. So, the applicant/artist would submit the proposal for approval of the commission in advance to be considered at their next meeting. They would review it and hear any public concerns and confirm the commitment of the property owner that the installation would be supported & maintained. Then, the project would be approved. It's a fairly simple process. Often, there will be a withdrawal of the project (if the commission doesn't see it as fit for installation) in order rework the proposal to address any community or commission concerns.

So, if there's a mural proposal, don't just do it - get the proper permission. I know - this sounds counter intuitive to art, but that brings up the debate of whether the "non-processed art" is art or not. If an artist wants to create something without permission and take the chance that it might be cited for removal, they could create the work on panels to install and remove without damaging the work. This is not the way the "process" works, but it's a way to have non-regulated installations that won't require completely painting out the work if it creates a stir.

What's interesting about this is it raises a similar issue of what the Studio City Neighborhood Council took up a few months ago with the "non-permitted" installation of art by Karl Johnson on Rhodes Avenue (both on the parkway & on his private property). There was an insurance issue with the Board of Public Works, but no mention of the Cultural Affairs Commission, which would be required if the work was to remain. (It is still there without any notable victory. The battle seems to have avoided the Cultural Affairs component of the "art" issue.)

Photo from Flickr member !HabitForming (who disclaims he didn't take the pictures), who also posts a very relevant article.

Monday, September 25, 2006

3 days left for free advertising

Just a reminder...

There are only three more days left to submit your festival or "arts experience" to the Cultural Affairs Department for their 2007 Festival Guide. The new, extended deadline is September 28th (it was originally August 31).

I tried to give you advanced notice; I hope you remembered to submit your application.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Who really does the City's work: Council Staff

The full-time, 15-member Los Angeles City Council has the highest paid city councilmembers in the nation. Locally, other cities (like Long Beach) have fulltime councilmembers with staff, but none are as noteworthy or grand as Los Angeles' political staffers. With the recent post by CD13's Joseph Bernardo aboutRockwood Park along with the regular postings of staffers onCD11's blog, I was reminded of the extensive amount of work that the staff of the Los Angeles City Councilmembers undertake. That, coupled with the recent three week summer hiatus the Council took, further revealed that though the Councilmembers may have a vision (some more than others) it really comes down to their staff to get the work done. (During the time of the council recess, the City still functioned even though council was not in session and many of the members were out of town.)

Some Councilmembers have 13 staff members, some have 24; but no matter the number of staff or how well they are paid, one thing holds true: a councilmember is only as good as his or her staff.

Now, most Councilmembers have a basic staff structure of a City Hall Staff (a Chief of Staff, an executive assistant/scheduler, a receptionist, a Planning Deputy, at least one legislative deputy (often more, though), a communications director, and council aides (to answer phones, process requests, etc.) and a Field Staff (District Director, Field Deputies, council aides, and support staff). Now, there are some variants on this formula, but this is generally what is followed. Often times, the City Hall staff is seen as the higher level staffers (going from "the field" to City Hall is often considered a promotion); but the Field staff is sometimes more important than the City Hall staff. It's the Field staff that can get things done that most impact our neighborhoods; they are the ones who know what's going on in the nooks and crannies of the communities in which they work. No matter what happens in City Hall, if the people in the field cannot represent the Councilmember well, follow through with requests from the community, and proactively work for the betterment of the community - then the Councilmember is doomed to failure. (And remember that this "staffer" job could be a career. Just look at the current City Councilmembers who were staffers: Ed Reyes, Tom LaBonge, Jan Perry, Greig Smith, & Herb Wesson were all once council staffers, and Alex Padilla, Wendy Greuel & Herb Wesson were staffers at other levels of government.)

So, the question is: what makes a good staffer?

Is a returned phone call good enough, or is the resolution of the issue what makes a staffer effective? Though the Councilmembers are the highest paid in the nation, the staff sometimes is not. Remember, we pay their salaries - are we getting our money's worth? The Field staff often puts in long hours at meetings, and City Hall staffers stay late into the night reading reports and researching legislation and issues.

There is also the question of whether the Councilmembers should have these staff members at all - or at least such a large number. Recently, they voted to support the removal of the staffers for the LA School Boardmembers as part of the Mayor's school takeover plan - was that hypocritical?

There are a lot of questions about these council staff members, but all this leads to the disclaimer that these people are just that: people. Often times the field staff are given a hard time, berated with questions, and publicly criticized because of things their boss has said and done. They are representatives of the elected officials, but I've seen them attacked as if they're the ones who voted for an action that does not meet the approval of a portion of the community. Or, even worse, an municipal improvement was installed (or not), and the community holds the staffer personally responsible. This makes some leave the job, and others can take it and continue on. In fact, some staffers move from office to office, especially with term limits in place.

Those that stay on and continue to work with and for the community have a certain passion for the job that is evident. They work long nights and go to every event in the field. Sometimes, it's a field deputy; sometimes it's the Chief of Staff. Regardless, there are some staffers that work as though their job is a privilege. They appear to be truly serving the people.

So this I put out to the masses in the City: What makes these staffers worth it? Who are the good ones and what do they do that makes it work?

(I have my observations, but I want to know what the non-City Nerds think.)

Pictured above: Council Staff from CD3 (Zine), many of whom have since left the office.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Library's list..

Usually, everyone praises the Los Angeles Public Library for it's resources for the people, both on and off line. I am usually one of those fans.

Today, though, I wonder.

I wonder who updates their resource pages and where the library Department ever came up with this list of "local resources".

First, it's organized in no particular order. Second, for the government information page, it links to sources that I would think may be questionable in terms of credibility AND it misses major ones. For instance under "Independent Colleges and Universities," it lists a spattering of the major private schools listing some that are outside the City limits (but not all), then, it fails to mention colleges in the City like Mount Saint Mary's College, which actually has two campuses in the City (Doheny and Brentwood).

Probably one of the worst sections is the one on "Local Media." I don't mind that blogs and websites are not listed, but they've missed major local papers like The Daily Breeze, The Sentinel, the Sun community papers in the Valley, and the L.A. Independent, among (a lot of) others.

Don't even get me started on the incomplete list of "LA Places" (shouldn't there be an emphasis on the City which funds this site?) section. From Histories to Restaurants to Neighborhoods - this section is quite lacking.

Ok. Enough criticism. I do love my public library - our City's got one of the best. But, since they are the gathering point and likely authoritative source for information, this page needs to be revamped or eliminated. Non-City Nerds may miss major portions of Los Angeles life if they go to the library to be a source of information on "local resources" - something this institution should do very well.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Eliminating Francis Parkman

In a Daily News article that ran this week, there was a mention of the new Woodland Hills Academy, formerly known as Parkman Middle School. The LAUSD site is not a charter school, but the district allowed the name to be changed to make the school more competitive with the areas charter and private schools, also giving the middle school more freedom in curriculum and budget.

I guess the question really is: was Francis Parkman the wrong name to label the school back in 1959 when it opened?

Parkman was an American historian with an interest in Native Americans and forest ecology. His contribution to our nation's annals was his writings in the manifest destiny period. (Many will recognize his most notable book, The Oregon Trail.)

Does school success hinge on the name change? Does Parkman get eliminated now, to be lost to school reform? I hope the Parkman legacy will not completely be annihilated from the community for the sake of budget control. It's not like they renamed the school after another national figure. Perhaps they should transfer the Parkman name to one of the new schools being built.

There must have been a reason it was named Parkman to begin with - let's hope it wasn't so haphazard that no one cares that it is lost.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Dodger Dog Feast

Going to Dodger Stadium has always been about sitting with friends and family, along with other Angelenos, rooting for the Dodgers, and eating. From the mainstays of peanuts, malts, & Dodger Dogs to the newer, fancier items like garlic fries, Dodger Stadium has always offered food for the masses. And they also always seem to have a gimmick, too, be it blanket night, a bobble give-away, Echo Park Night, or any number of other specials.

Well, this Thursday, there is another gimmick to attract a hardcore fan; but watch out: it may not be worth it!

See, on Thursday, September 21, Dodger Stadium is offering Pavilion Party Packs or "All You Can Eat at Dodger Stadium" Night!

For $35 per person, you get a ticket in the Right Field Pavilion section and all the Dodger Dogs, water, nachos, popcorn, peanuts, and Coca-Cola products you want (starting an hour and a half before game time). Not included is beer, ice cream, and candy.

Sure, it's 35 bucks a person, but think if you bought the realistic total of what one person could eat:
$4.50 Dodger Dog
$5.50 water
$6 Nachos
$5.50 Peanuts
$5 popcorn
$4.50 Coke

So, the question is: Is it worth it? Wouldn't it be better just to buy the $6 or $8 ticket and the food you really want (and can really consume)? I mean, it doesn't even come with ice cream/malts. Sad.

Beware of this gimmick - it may not be worth it. I would say it's not.

Now, maybe if it included parking...

Photo from cindylu via flickr.

Things to do in the Dark

The LA Times ran "7 Things to do in the Dark" yesterday, and the list was a little lame if you ask me.

Things that could have replaced others or made the list longer to include...

...playing mini golf "in the dark"

..driving Mulholland Drive at night.

... catching an event at the Ford, Greek, or Hollywood Bowl.

...driving over the illuminated Vincent Thomas Bridge.

...driving on the 110 and looking to the east to watching all the planes queue up as they approach LAX.

Well, there's five more that could supplant (or add to) five of your choosing on the Times' lackluster list.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Searching for a "Sign"

With the potential success of finding the true history of the Kings-Daughters school in Palms because the International Organization has put a call out to its members via their homepage, it is time to try to find another piece of Palms's history.

I was informed by some community members and through some basic research that there was once a "Palms" sign that was illuminated with hundreds of light bulbs and spanned the length of the street (some say Palms Boulevard, others say Motor). It was apparently there in the early part of the 20th century and was rumored to be stored in a City Service Yard upon its removal. This is similar to a sign that existed in Venice, as well. A few months ago, an effort was undertaken by a few to find the whereabouts of this sign, but no one seems to know what's happened to it. The City currently has no record of it being at any service yard (Street Services, DWP - nothing), and it was said that the Museum of Neon didn't know about the sign either.

So, long-time Palmsians and others:

Do you have any further information (or photos) of the sign that once was?

Actually, a better question might be: did the sign really ever exist. (The only record of it I could find was a reference in an article from the LA Times in the 1980s.)

On a related signage note:
It is said that Encino has funded (through their BID) a street-spanning gateway sign (approved with a green light n February, scheduled completion this month). More info on that is here. Also, the CRA in NoHo has been working on a street-spanning gateway sign to be designed by artist Peter Shire for the past few years - it is supposed to be completed in winter 2007 (does that mean December '07 or January/February '07?) - we share see.

The photo above is of a modern sign like many found throughout San Diego that would be reminiscent of the signs that once were in Palms & Venice.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Couches Galore

Over at Peggy Archer's blog about the real film industry, she posts about the daily life of a behind-the-scenes Industry insider. It's not about the actors or the studio as it is about things like "zipline" and basically how life is on a set.

But, there's something more...

Sure, she has observations of life in Los Angeles, which are intriguing of course. But at the end of every post - that's what's interesting. She has a "Daily Couch" photo of an abandoned couch.

And now... she's branching out to a whole new site.

This is a good time to remind folks that, once they snap that amazing furniture photo to send in to Peggy, they should call 311 on their cell phone and report the illegal dumping.

Remember: "broken window theory" = "abandoned furniture on the sidewalk theory."

Couch courtesy of true2death via flickr.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

New Street Signs...

So, someone finally got a better picture than mine...

Back on May 2, 2006, I came across these signs at Western & Olympic and at Wilshire and Olympic. Why did we need new ones, I thought? What was wrong with those we had?

I talked to some folks in LADOT, and couldn't get an answer. I took a picture of them at the time I was able to (dusk), but they didn't help much. So, no answer. (By the way, the picture of Wilshire here is from the Franklin Avenue Nerds.)

Then, Mike came along today with this post. I sent the photos to an engineer, and got the following info:
"[LADOT] only uses fonts per the standards laid out in the MUTCD (Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices). It basically states that as long as it's within certain guidelines, then it's up to the discretion of the [installing] agency. In this case, [LADOT] management just decided that it's a good idea to 'dot' the 'i''s. There's not much to it - it's just a matter of preference."

And in terms of the MUTCD, it says of street name signs:
Word messages should be as brief as possible and the lettering should be large enough to provide the necessary legibility distance. A minimum specific ratio, such as 25 mm (1 in) of letter height per 12 m (40 ft) of legibility distance, should be used.

Some research indicates that a ratio of 25 mm (1 in) of letter height per 10 m (33 ft) of legibility distance could be beneficial."

All it does is offer guidance in terms of size and clarity. And don't even start on color - that too is only a suggestion from the State. (The code specifies a different color scheme than we use in LA City.)

So, the new font is... whatever the DOT signage czars want it to be!

And that czar: John Fisher, Assistant General Manager and one of the leading signage experts in the State. He may be the one to answer the question as to what font it is. I didn't ask him, but you could:

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Original Street Sweeping & Street Lighting...

At the of the City's incorporation in 1850, it had 1610 residents, according to the U.S. Census. The land area was 28 square miles. There were no paved streets, sidewalks, lights, nor a single public building of its own (the "City Hall" was a jail/courthouse/city hall/county seat). Every Saturday morning, residents swept and/or cleaned the portion of the (dirt) street in front of their house. As for Street Lighting... every house that faced the street was required to have a light placed at the front door of the house and that it be lit for the first two hours of darkness each night.

They were simpler times when people took responsibility for the community's well-being. Now, every resident expects the City to do everything, though it is still the property owner's responsibility to pay for street lighting and maintain a clear sidewalk, curb and gutter in front of there property.

Image of first street light (one of 30 installed from 1882 to 1885) in Los Angeles from the Bureau of Street Lighting website.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Monday Night Football at City Hall

While most folks were at a 9/11 Memorial, some in City Hall were offered Football as an option (as was contemplated by Lisa Brenner of the LAist). One City Hall insider let us know about a Monday Night Football party that Councilmember Parks was having in City Hall.

Perhaps it was because he's determined to bring the NFL to the City of Los Angeles that his office hosted a viewing party tonight in City Hall in the "Media Room" starting at 4pm. Then, a second game would be on at 7:15pm. I'm all for inter-office team building, but maybe it should be done at a private venue and not in City Hall? And even moreso, it was the 5th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001 - was this the best way to commemorate that fateful day?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Official DJ of Los Angeles

Is there really an "official" DJ of Los Angeles?

Apparently, it's DJ Merkury.

Photo from ::corina:: via flickr.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Zuma Dogg by any other name...

I am impressed by this post by the outspoken "community advocate" & "council candidate," Zuma Dogg. But my question is this: If he were to run for council, how would we know who to vote for? Many people inside City Hall and in the general public know the name Zuma Dogg, what he stands for, and the points he makes. Eloquent when he chooses to be, humorous when he has to be - Zuma Dogg has name recognition in a limited capacity. But if he truly intends to run for office, he'll have to start from scratch in terms of name recognition.

I don't believe Zuma Dogg can appear on a ballot unless that is his legal name. The ballot would show the name filed on this form, and you have to sign at the bottom that the name is correct.

Jack FM doesn't know LA

With the demise of KZLA that has upset so many, it reminds us all of the loss of Arrow93 about 18 months ago. In Arrow's place at 93.1 FM, we now have JackFM. It's ok - it's not such a drastic change as KZLA to Movin93.9, but I do have one issue with them...

When first on the air, Jack claimed to be broadcasting from a "dumpy little building in beautiful downtown Culver City." Fine, i said to myself, thinking it was nestled in with KLOS over at La Cienega & Jefferson (which I later realized was still in the City of Los Angeles). Then, a few months ago, they started saying something about coming down to their station at Venice and Fairfax. I thought for a second and knew something wasn't right. I do know that Venice Boulevard has a jagged border between LA & Culver City, but I couldn't imagine this intersection to be in Culver City.

Sure enough, it's not.

Even JackFM's own website reveals the station mailing address and studios to be in Los Angeles, not Culver City.

So, Jack, what gives? What are you trying to do by not being proud of broadcasting from the City of Los Angeles? You're not trying to skirt the City's Business registration process?

An interview in the LA Times last July quotes Jeff Federman, KCBS general manager, as saying the reason for the claim is that "Culver City sounded funnier." I don't know if that's good enough.

Be proud and claim Los Angeles as your home.

Relating to City Services

Today, David Markland at Metro Blogging LA posted about Council President Garcetti's Ways to Improve Your Neighborhood. He reviewed the 7 brochures Garcetti's office created, and I spent some time in the comment section clarifying and expanding where necessary.

Then, just now, I read Here in Van Nuys's post about tree trimming and was about to post in the comments some clarification. I figured, I might was well just post it here and reference the above comments. So...

Andrew at Here in Van Nuys posts about the trimming of oak trees in the parkways on Hamlin Street in Van Nuys. He posted some pictures (like the one above), and it didn't look like a City crew. As I looked closer at the picture above, I saw wires running through the trees and realized what was happening.

See, the Bureau of Street Services, Urban Forestry Division is in charge of maintaining those trees on public property: the parkways. BUT, in instances where power lines run through the branches of the tree, the DWP is responsible for trimming the trees. DWP does not have staff crews (but does have arborists on staff), and contracts out for their trimming. So, if you see trees being trimmed around wires and there is an issue, don't call BSS, contact DWP.

Photos via Here in Van Nuys.

Lincoln Park Carousel: It's baaaack (almost) UPDATED

Currently, the City of LA has only one merry-go-round operating (by contract). It may be the most important merry-go-round in the world, as it is said that this Merry-go-round (and watching his daughters enjoy it) gave Walt Disney the idea of a theme park - a magic kingdom of sorts. Located in Griffith Park and operating there since 1937, it's the only one the City has known since the 1970s. But it wasn't always that way, nor will it be that way for much longer...

Before the Griffith Park Carousel opened, the City had a merry-go-round in the "amusement park" that was Lincoln Park. Alligator farms, a zoo, boat rides, and a merry-go-round made this park a day-long destination. The Lincoln Park merry-go-round opened in 1914 and was the first of the Davis family's operations in the City. (The original 1914 carousel is said to have been moved in 1931 to San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.) As far as most people understand it, an arson fire destroyed the carousel in 1976. The 1924 organ was saved at the time, though, because it was in Ed Openshaw's shop (in Atwater) for maintenance. What people forget, is that the carousel had been closed & vacant for a year because times had changed and it wasn't economical for a concession or the City to operate the merry-go-round. Now, the Davis' operated both Carousels, but Ed Openshaw (with Don Rand) bought the operation in Griffith Park from them and kept it open. He still has the original Lincoln Park organ in New Hampshire where he now lives.

So, why all this history of the carousel and organ, you may wonder.

Well, for the last 5 years, the City & the Department of Recreation and Parks has been working to re-establish a merry-go-round where the historic carousel once stood (Cultural Historic Landmark Monument No. 153). In July 2001, an unsolicited proposal to re-install the Merry-Go-Round at Lincoln Park was submitted to the Department. At first it seemed cost prohibitive on the City's side to make the upgrades to allow the concessionaire to make his improvements and install his carousel and organ at the cost of $35,000. Eighteen months later in November of 2003 and with the support & urging of Councilman Ed Reyes, the Department received $50,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding for the project. Another $60,000 was allocated four months later in February of 2004 from the Concession Improvement Account (funds collected as a 10% surcharge on concession revenues to upgrade & improve revenue-enhancing improvements) to meet the "not-to-exceed" funding level of 110,000 for preparing the structure (shell) and other security and facility upgrades to open the merry-go-round. Things were moving along until this month, when on August 9, 2006, the Board of Commissioners had to approve another $45,000 from the Concession Improvement Account to pay the costs for security that was not calculated initially due to the unknown nature of what would be needed. Interestingly enough, though, security was the main suggestion and concern back in 2001 when the idea was first shopped around to stakeholders - everyone loved the idea of a merry-go-round in the park but recommended that security be considered if the project moved forward.

Today, with a City cost of about $155,000, the City will have a new merry-go-round. It was scheduled to be opened this week, but no official notice has been given yet. Now, in 1931, merry-go-rounds (including organ) could cost from $6,000 all the way up to $35,000 for fancy ones. By the details below, I would venture to say this new merry-go-round is on the middle to low end of the spectrum. So, 75 years later, are we getting a good deal? I would say the addition to this eastside park is a good one, and hopefully, the whole City will take pride in it's newest asset.

The Details of the new Lincoln Park merry-go-round:
-It is built in the former shelter of the destroyed, historic merry-go-round (some benches had to be moved out to allow this).
-The ticket prices for rides will be set by the Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners and should be "very moderate," according to the Department.
-The music will come from a modern system, not the original organ that does still exist.
-There will be 22 horses on the carousel.
-The project will be operated by a concessionaire as a pilot program.
-The City will own the improvements, but the concessionaire will retain ownership of the Carousel itself.

The latest news is that there have been further delays and the Carousel won't be open for at least another 6 weeks. Hopefully, Rec & Parks can get the kinks worked out and reveal their project to the world as either a trbute to the past glory of merry-go-rounds or a waste of time & money.

Image courtesy of Ernie Mendoza via

Worst Office in Los Angeles

When people talk about the worst or best in LA, there are so many options. By far, though, when you're talking about "the worst," it's easy to find the worst office. It's this one:

Why is it the worst, you ask. Well, first, every car in LA has the potential to see what you're doing as they transition from the 405 south to the 105 west. Just a few feet away from the freeway flyover, this office has the most potential to be hit by a car off the freeway than perhaps any other office in the city!

And if that weren't bad enough, a plane landing at LAX could crash into this office if they slightly mis-calculate the runway or have an emergency landing. Both of those "potentials" are quite unlikely, but the threat is there. Thus, this is the worst office in LA!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Los Angeles's "official" Birthday Party Review

The City's Official Birthday party is over with, and the event was a decent event, though it lacked the excitement and energy of which a world-class City like Los Angeles is capable. The reviews are coming in, they are somewhat favorable. Some just present the day's narrative in Photos & text (or just photos).

The day started out with a walk that in years past began at 6am. This year, it was scheduled to start at 7am but started an hour late. It's hard to get up early, and in this heat. So, some took a pass on it this year, which may have been a good thing. The crowd entered to "I Love LA" blaring and confetti shooting out onto the walkers that came in the with the crowd.

Then, the actual "celebration"...
Well, to start off, parking was awful if you didn't "do the walk." Unless you wanted to pay 3 to 6 dollars and walk a few blocks, parking was impossible. If you got there early enough, you could park a few blocks away at a meter in Chinatown; otherwise, you'd have to pay. At an event like this, parking should be free to encourage attendance.

Now, the event itself - with all its staging and festivities - appeared to be more about the Mayor than about the City. Will Campbell says it all with this. But seriously, he added an energy to the event while speaking on stage at El Pueblo that made this seem to be political rally as he introduced his friends and touted their accomplishments. At one point, he even apologized to long-time City Birthday emcee, Tony Valdez, for "usurping his role." But, his office did coordinate the event that was interesting. The speeches took too long, especially in the heat. What was also surprising was the fact that the entertainment and speeches were not held on the newly re-done stage area that you see here...

...but instead were held on the Rec. & Parks portable stage 200 feet away, here:

There were City services and a few historical groups surrounding the bandstand in the middle of the plaza, but the space was fairly empty. Every Neighborhood Council in the City could have had a 6-foot table set up to promote their part of Los Angeles; there was space for a whole lot more:

But, they did have great food for free (but only for walkers) on side alley from Tommy's, Pink's, Barragan's, & Subway. What a crowd of people there were for the food:

And there was cake. Well, two, really (of significance). One was a meager cake they cut on stage that looked hand-made; the other was one of the largest cakes imaginable. Can you tell which cake is which?

Disney was there in full force with activities and giveaways for families, including a special illustration for coloring for the occasion:

And there were even snakes from the LA Zoo on scene. (Insert Snakes on a Plane joke here. How about, Snakes on a Plaza?)

Besides the unbearable heat, there could have been a lot of things that could be improved to make this event a truly City of Los Angeles event. True, we have 25 years until the next big City birthday... sort of. Actually, in April 2025, the city will celebrate it's 175th year as a City (incorporated in 1850), so we have 19 years to try to do this party right... and to include ALL of Los Angeles.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Los Angeles City Hall Operating Hours

Sometimes, this LA City Nerd likes to share the basics. This is one of those times.

Do you ever wonder when you can go into City Hall? You know, what are its operating hours?

Technically, the hours of operation for the general public are 8am to 5pm. That's easy enough. But technically, the City Hall is "open" 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Employees have access to the building (if they have offices or business there) at any hour of the day (though it would be odd to see a member of the Children,Youth and their Families Commission trying to get into the building at 3am). There is 24 hour security at the Main Street entrance. So, if you wanted, you could meet your councilmember at 6am at their office, if they were willing.

City Hall entrance from jmw's flickr page.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The City's Birthday: the way it used to be...

So it's almost over - the City's 225th Birthday has been celebrated Officially (more on that soon).

But this meager celebration today that lacked the masses projected calls to mind the other ways the City has celebrated its birthday.

For many years at the beginning of the 20th Century, Los Angeles had an organization that put on a fantastic event that attracted attendees from all across the state: La Fiesta Association, Ltd. (Remember, it was this committee that in 1931 created the City's Flag.

Here are some telling photos from the Library's Photo Collection:

The Annual Birthday Celebration would include a three-mile parade.

The Parade would include elaborate floats, like this one from the Bureau of Power & Light (precursor to the DWP).

From the LAPL Photo Database: "Mrs. Elizabeth Hicks Gross, 'scion of a pioneer family,' presided as queen of La Fiesta de Los Angeles, a 10-day celebration of the city's 150th anniversary that 'engulfed the city in a whirlwind of parades, pageants, balls, concerts, operas, and carnivals far surpassing the famous celebrations of cities throughout the world.' "

The 1931 Festival Organizing committee. (In 2006, they had 63 members.)