Friday, March 30, 2007

LA Neighborhood Signs Update #1

So far, in the last few days, there has been a great response to the LACN Call to Action #1: to take pictures of the official LA City Neighborhood Signs (that's the blue signs with the City Seal on them).

You've captured an impressive list of signs so far for the Flickr Group (join it!) -we're almost a quarter of the way to getting at least one image of each of the estimated 180 signs.

Here's what's been uploaded so far:
Angeles Mesa
Arlington Park
Arts District
Artists District
Atwater Village
Chesterfield Square
Crenshaw District
Echo Park
Fashion District
Gallery Row
Happy Valley
Historic Core District
Historic Filipinotown
Jefferson Park
King Estates
Leimert Park
Lincoln Heights
Little Armenia
Melrose Hills
North University Park
Old Bank District
Sherman Oaks
Silver Lake
St. Andrews Square
Studio City
Toy District
University Expo Park West
Valley Glen
Virgil Village
West Adams
Wilshire Center
Windsor Square

And thanks to Will Campbell for snapping the first (hopefully of many) "City of Los Angeles" signs (as seen above).

If nothing else, through this process, we will all work on creating the definitive list of LA City official Community Name signs. There may be one or two out there not on this list, so hopefully, that will be revealed. (Hopefully everyone posting to the Flickr group is geo-tagging their photos so that when we look at the Flickr map, they all show up.)

So, this weekend, go out and snap a shot of your local neighborhood signs!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

One-man Park Renaissance, sort of

Imagine that there was an awful park in a down-trodden neighborhood, and it was one care-taker who worked for the City that committed himself to make things better. And did it. Nice story, right? Sounds like it would make an interesting and worthy documentary, no matter how short, right?

Well, here's the 9 minute documentary about Park Caretaker, Richard Davis.

Then, after watching it, something happened. I realized the park, that never gets mentioned by name, isn't in South LA or some "forgotten part" of Los Angeles. It's in the Valley! And not an area that is extremely challenged: it's in North Hollywood Park, which is just blocks from Toluca Lake and Studio City!

Don't be misled by this, though, the caretaker has done a good job; but there is an entire crew at that regional park. And, honestly, in the last 5 years or so, it has never been that bad of a park.

The filmmakers lead the viewer to believe this was a true lost cause - was it really ever that bad?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Quiz this!

Check out the LA City Nerd quiz over at LAist.

Wanna hint for actually visiting the LA City Nerd site?

The answers to #5 should be simple if you read this site often - in fact, it was basically referenced in one post from the last 5 days.

Good luck!

Call to Action #1 - LA Neighborhood Signs

With the flurry of excitement surrounding the recent addition of new community names in the City of Los Angeles, and with a request from a reader about photos of all those community name signs, the time has finally come. After more than a year of blogging away, LA City Nerd is asking for the readers and other bloggers around the City to mobilize. It's not a hard challenge, and we know that Angelenos across the City from San Pedro to Downtown to Lincoln Heights to Sherman Oaks to Atwater Village to the 4th floor basement of City Hall East will be able to assist. Anyone with a camera should be able to help out...

So, here's the LA City Nerd Call to Action #1:

Go out and take a picture of your official LA City community name sign. Then, post it to this new Flickr group - LA City Neighborhood Signs - to create the online record of the over 178 signs!

Want to do more? Here's the latest list of all the official neighborhoods - see which one you can snap!

Let's see how long it will take to complete this challenge. Any guesses which will be the last neighborhood to be added to the page? We'll do our part, but we're not photographers here at LA City Nerd. Here's a simple project in which anyone in the City (with a camera) can participate.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Old City Names and City Nerdisms

The LA Times has a great article about the names of the Downtown residential buildings coming back into style by drawing on their former commercial names. Particularly interesting is the story of the Chapman Building and its "LA" on the stairwell (nice homage to the City, even if it was about the development company!).

Also of note, and somewhat out of place (like there was a transition or explanation missing) was a comment about a potential City Nerd contender for 2007, Greg Fischer:
"Greg Fischer, an aide to Councilwoman Jan Perry, wields such knowledge of downtown's historic past that you'd think he'd lived there since the early 1900s. He can rattle off details about old buildings as if they were family."

It's good to know he knows things, but why was this included in the article? Did he provide the information? If so, it wasn't made clear that the historical facts were coming from him. He's a council aide to watch, for sure.

Sad State of Affairs

By now, you may have read the reports that the march yesterday was meager compared to last year's Gran Marcha.

This may be the reason why ( from an LA-based blog that LACN monitors but whose name we'll leave out because we can't believe they wrote this):

"Yesterday two different marches took place in downtown, but there were too many sports on TV to go and take pictures."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Where in Los Angeles is that?

The San Pedro Nerds have revealed something so true about Los Angeles: New people (developers??) moving into established communities want to make believe they're not in the City. They post about a new development claiming to be in Palos Verdes, when they're really in the City. I like the first (confusing) line of the developer's website that says:
"Situated in the affluent neighborhood of the Palos Verdes Peninsula of San
Pedro, the Seaport Homes Community..."
What the heck does that mean: "neighborhood of the Palos Verdes Peninsula of San Pedro?"

Be proud of where you build your project: in Los Angeles.

City Department Head Contact List

Leave it to the Toluca Lake Chamber to provide a concise and direct list of City Department heads, their assistants, their emails, and their phone numbers on the Chamber website.

Now, the list is a little outdated, but the numbers still should work. Some Department Heads have moved on, but most often their admin assistants stay the same. The numbers still should work, too. I'm not sure if this is really meant to be a public document, but hey, go with it. This would be especially useful if you wanted to email Chief Bratton or one of the City Councilmembers at their direct emails.

(As LA City Nerd, I'm sure we could come up with the updated list, but this appears to be an internal document from sources we've talked to. If it's not, then perhaps we can provide the updated list.)

Preferential Parking Dilemna in Studio City

Here's the latest parking question emailed to us about parking - this time in Studio City. But really, this could be any multifamily neighborhood adjacent to commercial that is being developed beyond the capacity of the streets:

Hi. Not sure if this question falls under your area of expertise, but I have a parking violation question:
Recently, I have moved to Studio City. The street I live on is comprised of apartments (which I live) and brand new very expensive condos under construction. 4 of them to be precise. The street is very small, about a tenth of a mile or less. But due to the construction AND the fact that just behind this street is a busy woman's gym where all the clients park on the street of my address, there are not enough parking spaces on the street to accommodate the tenants. The parking situation is made ever more undesirable by installing 2 hour parking restriction signs by the city. That means every 2 hours between 8-6 Monday thru Saturday, a tenant must go out, move from one hard-to-find spot and then go try and find another one. Curiously, the LA river wash dissects this street and on the other side of the river (where the street continues), there are NO restrictions regarding parking. An obvious fact, these are very expensive homes and the homeowners undoubtedly would never put up with this type of restriction placed on them.

Question # 1
what is the process for applying to have the street changed from its current status, to the system of restricted parking as the city of West Hollywood handles it, with tags for rightful tenants and homeowners. Is this an expensive proposition to Studio City council?

Question # 2
So after accumulating a small pile of tickets over the past several months, all paid except today and yesterdays. what recourse do I have, if any? Can I contest the tickets and if so, on what grounds?
I do not feel this is right. Enough already! My feeling is that the city is greed motivated and just a guess here, but it is probably less expensive for Studio City to put up 2 hour signs instead of implementing a parking restriction plan as West Hollywood did.

thanx for your time in reading this and hopefully you can point me in the right direction.

Well a complex email leads to two (somewhat) simple answers:

Answer # 1
Changing the street to a Preferential Parking District (that's what the referenced restricted parking districts are called in the City of LA) is not an easy feat, but not too expensive, either. The real cost is to the residents who have to pay for the permits (limit three annual permits per household). From the LADOT website:
Preferential Parking
Many traditional retail districts lie adjacent to residential areas.
As a result, retail-related vehicles often park in front of
residences. This situation can cause great inconvenience
to residents who frequently are not able to park in front of their
homes. In order to help restore these residential expectations,
preferential parking districts (PPD’s) can be established.
PPD’s can be established in areas impacted by commercial
districts, upon petition from nearby residents. In PPD’s time-limit
parking or no parking zones can be established which apply to all
motorists except area residents. Residents are given permits
that they display in their vehicles to exempt them from the
restriction. Residents in PPD’s must be willing to pay an annual
fee which finances the special PDD efforts associated with
posting the parking signs, distributing residential permits and
administering the program. For information on preferential
parking, contact LADOT at (213)485-0711.

Establishing a PPD takes a minimum of six contiguous blocks and the signature of the majority of the residents. There is a series of public hearings, and the LA City Council has to actually adopt an ordinance establishing the PPD. It takes anywhere from 12 to 24 months to get signs installed and then buy the permits (which must be done in person at one of 4 locations). NOTE: the reason that on the north side of the river (where the single family homes are)doesn't have permits may be because the parking doesn't impact them. Those two hour parking signs were not install by the City for fun - someone in your neighborhood asked for them to be installed at some time. Due to the growth of CBS Radford Studios and the potential for their employees to park on your streets, those signs appear to be necessary. Your residential exemption suggestion seems to be the best solution. Contact the number above or call Councilmember Wendy Greuel's office to start the process. The Studio City Neighborhood Council could support the effort to establish a zone, but it really doesn't fall into their purview to approve or disapprove of it.

Answer #2

Sadly, the emailer can't contest the tickets (to my knowledge). Now, he may be able to set up a payment plan; but technically, he's violated the parking laws and are subject to the penalty. Sorry about that. I might suggest parking on Agnes or one of the streets north of the LA river and walking if you have to park on the street. The walk is not too far, and one can walk along the LA River through the Great Toad Gate and see the giant snake. (You'll have to check it out to see what I mean.)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

"In this town, you feel free."

"Los Angeles... makes nonsense of history and breaks all the rules."

Sounds right.

Professor of the History of Architecture at University College, London, Reyner Banham, came to Los Angeles as a visiting professor at USC in the early 1970s. While here, he made a documentary for the BBC show, "One Pair of Eyes," about Los Angeles as a City.

LA has been called an "unspeakable sprawling mess" - but not by him. He loves it - hence the name of the documentary: "Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles." This 50-minute show reveals the Los Angeles of the 1970s and earlier. But if you don't have time to watch the whole thing, here are some highlights...

He starts his experience at LAX and turns on his car which has a computerized voice that says: "Welcome to Los Angeles: super-city of the future, metropolis of Southern California." This cheesy voice helps narrate the film and move the audience around the City with Banham.

"Freeways are unforgiving," he starts out honestly. He reveals the reality of the City and the conditions that define it.

His first stop is Olvera Street, which he calls the standard big-city tourist trap. But outside of Olvera Street, he says, Los Angeles is like nowhere else. And what was true in the early 1970s is still true now: LA is like no other place.

As a non-Angeleno, his knowledge of the City was learned as it has been by most non-natives: through the movies. (There are some great shots of early Los Angeles in the silent movies Banham watched as a youth for a penny.)

Then, from his home in England, you are transported back to LA and into "the Watts District" (which they make appear to be right next to LAX). The fictitious "audio guide" makes reference to the Redevelopment Project and takes us to the Watts Towers with a Mr. Roger's Neighborhood themed musical tour of the towers (with no mention of Simon Rodia!).

Then, they reference Mattel as the world's leading toymaker, and Banham makes a reference to a little old lady from Pasadena driving next to him in a mustang. A weak transition at best.

They mention the 405/10 freeway interchange, which "is reckoned by experts to be the most elegant [interchange] in the world." (How times have changed!)

They then arrive at the Griffith Observatory: a cameo by a James Dean look-a-like and a reference to sprawl leads to a better understanding of the City.

Banham spends time explaining the phenomenom of housing and how it developed in Los Angeles so very close to commercial, as exemplified in the Wilshire corridor. He compares it to London's development - but while London developed with the notion of "how far" based walking, in LA, distance is based on the wheel. (No, not the automobile's tires, but the trolley car wheel.)

As an architecture documentary, the film spends time talking about specific residential styles from the Spanish Colonial to the California Bungelow to Nuetra, Eames, and Wright designed homes. He visits the Gamble House and the Eames House, among others.

After being denied access to the "private city" of Rolling Hills Estates on Palos Verdes, Banham heads over to the "open community" of Venice. They talk of how it's a place for the down-and-out (which is hard to believe when today it's homes are selling for over a million dollars and the Canals are a desired location to live). They show the now-obscured mural, "Venice in the Snow" as an example of the creativity and arts of the community, but they spend more time on Muscle Beach and the workout of one bodybuilder! They also present a great aerial shot of the since-demolished Venice Pavilion (1960 to 2000), which the film calls a municipal auditorium.

After visiting the Yugoslav sculpture artist Vasa Mehilich in Venice who says he came to LA to create art because "In this town... you feel free," Banham takes the viewer to a surfboard "factory" in Hermosa Beach and then to the Van culture that was emerging in Los Angeles. Apparently, these vans were symbols of freedom in 1972. He interviews a musician who has installed a piano in his van so he can play whenever, whenever, and as loud as he wants.

Cutting back to a lecture at his class at USC, Banham says in comparing Los Angeles to Shakespeare's Elizabethian London: "It takes a City to support style and craft, but it takes a very great city, indeed, to impose that kind of style on the rest of world. Los Angeles has done just that."

The film then takes us to 7000 Sunset Boulevard to Tiny Naylor's drive-in with Ed Ruscha and Mike Salsbury, art director for West ("the local color supplement") to find out what to show a visitor in Los Angeles:

Banham: "We're talking about a town with no public monuments worth seeing. What public commercial [buildings] should we send people to see?"
Mike: "Well, this one's really a good one [Tiny Naylor's], I think, because it's not only the last of the drive-ins but it's probably one of the best."
Ed: "Maybe gas stations maybe. Well, any kind of edifice that has to do with the car."
After this exchange in the parking lot, Banham moves on to nigh time on the Sunset strip, with the a nude dancer. Yes, a nude dancer. The topless dancer transitions into the billboard overload - the outdoor art - on the Strip.

The last scene takes the viewer to the best sight in the City: the actual sunset. It openly admits that LA's sunsets are a great as they are because of the man-made pollutants that haze our sky as it burns bright at dusk.

Other notes of interest:
-He calls it Palos Verdes Mountain, not Peninsula.
-He refers to the large expanses of Los Angeles at only 70 miles square (which was far less than it actually was in the 1970s).
-They had smoking in the lecture hall at USC.
- I like the billboard for ABC7 news on the Sunset Strip that said: "The Eyewitness News Team: you can't beat 'em. Join 'em at 6pm."

via Quartz City, a great source of links on LA and other interesting things

Brookside's Brook (& other community naming issues)

Yes, there is a brook in Brookside, unlike LAist leads their readers to believe. The "believed to exist" part comes from where its source is. That stream is there: it runs between the homes and is slightly visible from the street/bridge in the middle of the neighborhood.

And yes, there is a lake in Toluca Lake and a spring that runs underground and behind the houses on Valley Spring Lane. There are canals in our Venice and a hill in Melrose Hill. There is a view of the "lake" at Hansen Dam from Lake View Terrace, and Eagle Rock actually has the Eagle Rock.

Also, it is notable that Brookside is one of the first communities to be officially adopted with actual boundaries as a neighborhood. On February 7, 2007 the same day the city Council approved the boundaries and name of Brookside, they also approved "Arroyo View Estates" in the northeastern most part of the City near Highland Park/Garvanza (the area northeast of the intersection of Avenue 66 and Easy Street). So, these two are the only communities in Los Angeles officially adopted with boundaries... sort of.

Now some will recall that in 2005 Tom LaBonge had made Hancock defined by the boundaries of Highland, Rossmore, Melrose, and Wilshire - but that was done without the new process by which the most recent two names/boundaries were adopted. And even before that, his predecessor, John Ferraro, designated St. Andrews Square as the area bounded by Beverly, Western, Wilton Pl, and Third Street. So, there are some communities that have defined & officially adopted boundaries. What we really need as a City is an officially designated map. (I've got the info if someone's got the skills to do it!)

For a complete list of Los Angeles's official community names (including the two new ones),visit the LA City Nerd community name post.

Friday, March 23, 2007

LA's Civic Center PlanS

At a certain point, it appears that history just keeps repeating itself. We've gotten to that point again in the City of Los Angeles. Last week, Mike over at Franklin Avenue shares the 1933 plan for the Los Angeles Civic Center. Just 5 years after the completion of the monumental City Hall, this master plan for the Civic Center presented an ideal of what the City could be as it grew in the 20th Century. This plan, though, actually was first kicked around starting in 1919, which led to the construction of the tallest building in LA (at that time) and the center piece of this Civic Center.

From 1919 all the way through the 1950s, this plan was revised, reworked and adapted with the different levels of government forcing changes and adding to the mix. At one time time, an airport was planned just north of the then-proposed Union Station (which itself was a controversy and needed the push of Mayor Shaw (who was recalled). This has recently repeated itself as the City & County push to create a park linking the Civic Center from City Hall west to the Music Center via the Grand Avenue Project.

Here are the iterations, layouts, and aspects of the grand civic center plans from the early 1920s through the 1960s:









1952 (an "LA of Tomorrow" proposal)



In the 1930s, a committee of councilmembers and civic leaders were formed to develop this Civic Center. Initially, Temple was aligned farther north then it ended up as seen by this rendering from 1930:

And speaking of history repeating itself: notice the plan for the first convention center back in teh 1930s called for it to be 1) in teh Civic Center and 2) self-funding. Claims never change, but the reality - what actually hapopens - is sometimes far from what's promised. Hence, the issue over the Convention Center Hotel.

And like today as there is controversy of the location of a new police headquarters, back in 1954/55 there was protest by the citizens in Little Tokyo arguing that the eastern expansion of the Civic Center was encroaching into their neighborhood. They argued that they were losing their cultural center (or a portion of it); and they were right. (On your next visit to the Japanese American Museum, check out the artifacts they have related to the growth of the Civic Center into the cultural enclave of Little Tokyo as the Civic Center expanded.):

In the 21st Century, the same ideas and motivations have resurfaced as they did 50, 75, and 100 years ago. Though the players have changed slightly, the issues remain the same whether the altruistic goals or the major complaints. The City continues to try to redefine and reinvent its Civic Center. And in a City like LA - why not? This is the town where reinvention takes center stage. (And remember, as it current exists, our Civic Center is the largest concentration of governement buildings outside of the Mall in Washington, D.C. So, if any Civic Center has the clout to keep dreaming, it's ours!)

Images from the Historical LA Times Archive and the USC Digital Archive.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Barris Way

This is a big week for Toluca Lake from opposition to growth to free coffee (ok, that's in the Burbank side of Toluca Lake). Here's probably the biggest thing in a while for the small hamlet of Los Angeles...

What do Toluca Lake Mayor Fritz Coleman, Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge, Peter Fonda, Nancy Sinatra, John Schneider, Eric Estrada, and Las Vegas's "official" Elvis all have in common? They'll all be at a special event in Toluca Lake on Friday!

With no mention of it on their website, the Toluca Lake Chamber is hosting event on Friday that mixes City process and celebrity. From an email forwarded on to us, we learned that the Chamber is "honoring and saluting" George Barris & Barris Kustom Auto with his own "Place". Well, the City is giving him the "place"; the chamber is throwing the party.

Councilman LaBonge back in December (approved in January) put in a request to have another "city square" designated in honor of Barris's contributions:
"In recognition of George Barnes' achievements and service to the entertainment industry and the custom car industry, it is appropriate that the City honor his achievement by naming the intersection of Riverton Avenue and Riverside Drive as 'George Barris Place.'"

The new "George Barris Place" intersection is a "T-intersection," and Riverton is only a stub of a dead-end street that ends at a Baja Fresh. It's an honor not to be mocked only because it is right next to his Kustom auto shop where the original Batmobile, Grease Lightening, the General Lee, the Munster's Koach, and other cars were created, as well as the non-famous car color & paint "Candy Apple Red."

Supposedly, there will be refreshments and celebrities (as mentioned above), and rumor has it (unconfirmed in writing) that there will be the release of a special Barris Collection of Hotwheels cars.


Join the
Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce
As we honor and salute
George Barris
Barris Kustom Auto

Master of Ceremonies and Toluca Lake Mayor Fritz Coleman
and Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge
As we dedicate George Barris Place!

Please attend this fun family event. See some of the most famous movie
cars in the world including the original "Batmobile" and visit with many
celebrity guests.

March 23, 2007
1:00 p.m.
Barris Kustom Auto
10811 Riverside Drive
Toluca Lake, California

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

So many meetings in the Valley!

Here's some great meetings in the Valley that are one-of-a-kinders and not your run-of-the-mill monthly Neighborhood Council meetings. (Why are there always so many things happening in the Valley?) There sure is a lot in which to get involved! There are a few tonight on gangs and safety at Grant High School, but it's too late to post those - check out: for info on them if you want.

So, like Zach said: Get involved!

Thursday, March 22,2007:
Status of the San Diego Freeway (I-405) Sepulveda Pass Project, an HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle, or carpool) lane on northbound I-405 between National Boulevard, south of the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) and Greenleaf Street, south of the Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101).
This second meeting will be held on at Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue in Encino (15739 Ventura Boulevard, Encino, CA 91436), starting at 5 p.m. Participants are encouraged to come at any time between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Caltrans personnel will be available to answer questions and discuss issues regarding the Sepulveda Pass and other ongoing efforts to promote congestion relief in the area. There will be no formal presentation.

Thursday, March 22, 2007:
CommunityConnect meeting: " Five Things You Should Know About the Port of Los Angeles" at the Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Senior Center, 5056 Van Nuys Blvd., Sherman Oaks. 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
For more information, contact Veronica Hendrix, Port of Los Angeles (310)
732-3960 or

April 5, 2007:
Grandparents as Parents and New Academy Canoga Park will be hosting ABC 7’s News, Programming and Public Affairs Department. The program will be held at New Academy 21425 Cohasset Street, Canoga Park from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The goal is to hear from the community about local issues and stories that affect the community. Information will be available on how to access the television stations for news stories, promoting non-profit events and job opportunities. Space is limited, contact or call 818-863-7238 to reserve a space.

Thursday, April 26, 2007:
A docent meeting at 6:30with the State Rangers and other staff members at the de la Ossa Adobe at the Los Encinos State Park. The adobe will open to the public in early June, and tocommemorate this long awaited event, the Los Encinos Docent Association is planning a fiesta. And they need your help. They will take everyone in attendance (on April 26) for a tour through the soon-to-open adobe. (They hope that all the furnishings and exhibits will be in place.) They will also discuss docent training at this meeting. Please mark the date and join them at the adobe as this historic event unfolds. Please RSVP if you plan to attend so they can make the proper accommodations:

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Automobile Driving Museum

Though it's not in the City of LA, here's something that relates to us all in Southern California...

It claims to be "the only Automobile Museum that takes you for a ride in one of the actual vehicles on display. " That's right: on weekends, selected cars will be able to taken out for a spin (driven by trained docents with visitors as the passengers). Founded in 2001, the museum has a collection of over 70 vehicles with a focus on "the preservation of orphaned vintage automobiles primarily from the 1930's through the 1950's in addition to classic vehicles from other time periods." On the last Saturday of the month, all of the cars are started, so if you make a reservation at least a week in advance, you might get to ride in your favorite vintage car. They have a a vintage automobile library as part of the museum for visitors to peruse as well as a giftshop in their 28,000 sqaure foot space. And the best part: admission is free.

Now, it happens to be located in neighboring El Segundo, but due to our car culture and its regional significance, it's worth the mention.

They'll be celebrating their Grand Opening this weekend, so check them out!

Automobile Driving Museum
610 Lairport Street
El Segundo, CA 90245
(310) 909-0950

Drop trash; pay a grand

If you drive through the City, you'll notice various locations where "No Littering" signs exist: at freeway off ramps, on major thoroughfares, and in other random places. At one time, these signs were quite prolific, but as time went on, they were removed for one reason or another and not replaced. There are still a few out there.

But, the law they warn of, no littering, comes with a $1000 fine. Yep, if you drop a gum wrapper and a cop sees you, that's a ticket for a grand. Fear not, though, the signs are old and outdated. In fact, in 2o03 Councilman Tom LaBonge requested that the fine be lowered "to a more reasonable sum, like $50," His motion was submitted and talked about for over a year, but it never was adopted or implemented. He referenced the fact, at that time, that no citation for littering had been issued in 2002 - I'd argue to say that none has been issued since then. Some might criticize LaBonge for making such an issue out of littering. His efforts are noble though: his goal was to help deter the trash dropping that ended up in the LA River. (He also called on other enforcement officers - Parking Enforcement Officers, Building Inspectors, Street Use Inspectors - to also have the authority to issue the lowered-fine citations which would increase the effectiveness of this law.)

Perhaps it's time to go back to the LaBonge compromise: lower the fine and start enforcing it.

(We don't have the correct photo of the sign, but if we can snap one, we'll post it.)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Meter Funds & Broken Meters

Steve Hymon writes about parking meters in his column today. He talks about Dr. Donald Shoup's study on parking problems, which cites Westwood as an example. Solutions: Raise the meter rates and hours of operation which will force more turn-over and therefore, more spaces. (That's correct - good solution.) But, Hymon reports an error. Regarding the way to sell this increase in rates and hours to the public, he writes:
In other words, don't dump parking meter revenue into the city's general fund
but use it to improve the neighborhood.

The fact is: The monies put into a meter in Los Angeles don't go into the General Fund. All of those nickels, dimes, and quarters go into the Special Parking Revenue Fund. This fund is used to maintain the meter operations and what's left is used to address parking needs by creating off-street options. So, in Westwood, that parking structure that was built across from California Pizza Kitchen on Broxton was funded through the coins from the adjacent meters.

Also, in regards to "Metergate" as he calls it...
The way to fight a tiocket for parking at a failed meter that then resets after you've left your car is to report the broken meter BEFORE you get the ticket. So, if you pull up to a meter that's "failed," call it in before walking away - every meter should have the number to call on it. They'll ask for the meter number and if there are other spaces available. If there's not (which there probably isn't), they'll note that you called at a specific time about a specific meter in case it does reset and you do get a ticket. Simple, right? The process is in place - no need for the "Hymon Hoopla."

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Saving LA: Neighborhood efforts

One of the interesting features of today's conference is the way neighborhoods are involved is preserving their communities. There is something to be said for pride in ownership. There was a discussion about the Neighborhood Character Ordinance, but then, there was a short documentary on the Del Mar Theatre on Pico and how the community along Pico between La Brea and Beverwil. The documentary talked about the history of the area and how the impact of regional commercial centers had a negative impact on Pico and the surrounding community. They revealed that it really takes a community to come together to effect change and preservation. It talked a lot about the auto repair shops impact a community in such concentration. (which has led to the propsed Atou Use Ordinance still pending before City Council).

This community was promised $3 million in City funds for reidevelopment, but they've only seen about $1 thus far. An emphasis was made on lighting - from the Del Mar Theatre to the smaller buildings.

This community used Community Beautification Grants to install community marque signs to help define the neighborhood.(Each sign cost about $7,000.)

The Pico Revitalization effort used their relationships with the City Council offices to really get things done. Getting things done really is all about relationships, The speaker also stressed patience - it's taken years to get what they've done completed.

Saving LA: Neighborhood efforts

One of the interesting features of today's conference is the way neighborhoods are involved is preserving their communities. There is something to be said for pride in ownership. There was a discussion about the Neighborhood Character Ordinance, but then, there was a short documentary on the Del Mar Theatre on Pico and how the community along Pico between La Brea and Beverwil. The documentary talked about the history of the area and how the impact of regional commercial centers had a negative impact on Pico and the surrounding community. They revealed that it really takes a community to come together to effect change and preservation. It talked a lot about the auto repair shops impact a community in such concentration. (which has led to the propsed Atou Use Ordinance still pending before City Council).

This community was promised $3 million in City funds for reidevelopment, but they've only seen about $1 thus far. An emphasis was made on lighting - from the Del Mar Theatre to the smaller buildings.

This community used Community Beautification Grants to install community marque signs to help define the neighborhood.(Each sign cost about $7,000.)

The Pico Revitalization effort used their relationships with the City Council offices to really get things done. Getting things done really is all about relationships, The speaker also stressed patience - it's taken years to get what they've done completed.

Saving LA: in the Los Angeles Theatre

So, it's breaktime at the SavingLA conference. I took my own tour of the multi-level basement of the Los Angeles Theater - an amazing trip into the past! The bathrooms are HUGE and the bathroom lobby rivals the grand entrances to some of our modern venues. Then, I walked through an open door into the theatre's back basement maze of rooms where flickering lights, mousetraps, 2-inch thick layers of dust, old equipment, narrow-passageways & corridors, and dripping water created one of the eeriest experiences I've had in years. It's definitely an opportunity for urban spelunking.

The Q & A after Ken Bernstien's speech (see the last post - linking is not so easy from this portablable machine) presented people asking about getting hired to do the survey, what was being done about non-structural historic resources (which was out of his purvue), how to stop new developments that were faux historic in design, and how parks/trails were being preserved. It was evident that those asking questions had alterior intentions than just planning-related preservation. This conference might have been more aptly titled "Saving LA's strucutural history" - which isn't a bad emphasis.

There was talk, just breifly, at the start about the Museum for LA (something we're interested in), but no action items or specific discussions were presented. We'd like a conference on that (and might even offer to co-present it... anonymously, of course!)

Saving LA

As part of the LA City Nerd's mission to convey Los Angeles to the world. Today, we're trying something new: we're typing live from the SavingLA conference.

I'm sitting in the Los Angeles Theater right now listening to Ken Bernstein, Director of the Office of Historic Preservation, talk about a Citywide Historic Survey. One frightening statement he made was that the City is one of the only non-certified historic preservation local governments. After being in the position for less than a year, he's announced the certification application has been finally sent to the State for approval.

There are about 100 people here: Wil Cambell to Brady Westwater to historical groups to Neighborhood Councils.

Sadly, there was no sign-in sheet when I walked in, so there's no record of who's here.

Ken is now talking about why we've not had a Citywide Historic survey since it was first called for in 1962. Only about 15 percent of the 472 square miles of the City has been surveyed (most notably absent; the Valley, the Westside, and South LA). It's the Getty Institute that has pushed and is funding a portion of the survey: 2.5 million dollars that will be matched by the City (over 5 years that began in June 2006).

The project has two phases: initiation phase and implamentation phase. The initiation phase has many technical components that lay the foundation for the actual survey to take place in the implamentation phase.

This conference has a great vision and motivation, but the execution was somewhat lacking. If this is/was the kickoff of this historic preservation for LA in the 21st century, it has thus far left something to be desired. At the break, a few folks left because it appeared to be less action oriented abd more "show and tell." (Ken's presentation is quite informative and worth staying past the break!)

I'm looking forward to hear/read what others have to say about this event.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Saving LA: March 18th

Brady Westwater (and his NC) is putting on a conference to Save LA. The event is this Sunday, March 18th, at the Los Angeles Theater on Broadway in Downtown. There's a website devoted to it here.

Is this kind of conference what it will take to Save LA?

Here's what he's sent out:


On Sunday March 18th, 2007 the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council will hold a free conference on how to save Los Angeles’ physical, cultural and social history. It will be co-sponsored by citywide Los Angeles Neighborhood Councils Congress (LANCC), the City of Los Angeles Planning Department and the Los Angeles Conservancy with the aid of the Getty Institute.

The conference will be on Sunday March 18th from 10 AM – 4 PM in the historic 1931 Los Angeles Theatre at 615 S. Broadway in downtown LA. City Planning Director, Gail Goldberg, will speak in the main auditorium of the theater at 11:15 AM on how the city can assist neighborhoods in preserving their historic elements among other pertinent issues. Ken Bernstein – head of historic preservation in the city’s planning department - will next discuss the citywide historic resources study funded by the Getty Institute. Other seminars will cover neighborhood preservation issues such as HPOZ’s, Mansionization and financial incentives for historic preservation.

Equally importantly, there will be dozens of booths where every aspect of historic preservation will be discussed such as how to preserve the histories of all the ethnic, racial and cultural groups of Los Angeles along with how to record and preserve individual, family and neighborhood histories.

Books on LA’s history and historic preservation will be for sale, books signings will held, and several displays of Los Angeles historic memorabilia will be on view – including a the first sneak mini-preview of the new Los Angeles Museum – the first museum in the city’s history devoted to the history of all of Los Angeles.

For more information and updates, go to or contact Brady Westwater at

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Witness LA

There's a new blog/site to add to the City Nerd listings to the right: WitnessLA. It's a site recently launched and dedicated to the social justices (and injustices) happening in our society - in LA - today.

Of the seven or so articles thus far, the one that is must intriguing and relative to LA City Nerd is the post regarding the million dollars to create a gang plan. We're also looking forward to the profile on one of the City's best SLOs, Deon Joseph.

What truly endears us to this site, though, is the About page where the editor rants about nepotism and family and guilt - which is evident by the staff.

It's now in our Google Reader - should it be in yours? Check it out.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Right to Information

Who knew?

We're in the midst of Sunshine Week in the good ol' US of A, which means so is Los Angeles, as the ever-nerdy Brian Humphrey pointed out. (I'm not sure how it was missed!)

Sunshine Week is all about access to information. Anyone can participate, as their website states:
"The only requirement is that you do something to engage in a discussion
about the importance of open government. It could be a large public forum or a
classroom discussion, an article or series of articles about access to important
information, or an editorial. The extent to which you participate is up to

Participation is not about how much you do; it's about doing it."

Here at LA City Nerd, we like to think of what we do as always letting the sunshine into the City of Los Angeles. It's a big City, but we do what we can to make it more manageable, understandable, and sustainable. So, go ask your questions of your elected officials and City, and more importantly: get involved!

That's the City Nerd's take on Sunshine Week: don't just get the information; do something with it to make the City better!

LA City Recall Ability

In Los Angeles and California, recalls are a reality. And today, LA Obeserved reports on the LA Weekly's story (by the David Zahniser)on the Westside's fledgling recall effort of 5th District LA City Councilman Jack Weiss. They're going to need the signatures of 15% of those who voted in the last Mayoral election to qualify for such an effort based on the current City Charter.

Most of us remember the most recent recall of Governor Davis that led to the election of our current governor (which again is a plug for name recognition meaning so much in an election). But most forget or are unaware that the City of Los Angeles has recalled its highest elected official, too. In 1938, the Citizens of Los Angeles recalled their mayor, Frank Shaw, for his corrupt ways. The people elected Judge Fletcher Bowron, who was the antithesis of the "grafty" Shaw. For 15 years, Bowron ran the city without flash and warmth - he diligently worked to get the job done, ushering the City into the modern era. He brought in the lauded Chief Parker (of Parker Center fame) to reform the LAPD and brought national attention as a leader that was a deliberate reformer for the first modern metropolis. (see this1949 TIME Magazine article for more.)

So, recalls happen in LA and can be good for the City. Also notable is that the citizenry has the ability to recall not only elected officials, but all of the "officers of the city." This includes:

"A Mayor, The Members of the Council, A City Attorney, A City Clerk, A Controller, A Treasurer, The members of the boards or commissions of the departments and the chief administrative officer of each department and office, An Executive Director of the Board of Police Commissioners, [and] Other officers as prescribed by ordinance"

So, those commissioners & department heads better look out if they make the voters upset! First Jack Weiss, then the Planning Commissioners? (The process for recalling appointed positions is a little more cumbersome as the threshold for signatures is at 20% instead of the standard 15% of those who voted in the last Mayoral election.)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Parking Violations

In 1961, the State of California set out to define "parking." The State defined parking as follows:

"'Park or parking' shall mean the standing of a vehicle, whether occupied or not, otherwise than temporarily for the purpose of and while actually engaged in loading or unloading merchandise or passengers."

With all the talk of parking regulations by the LA Times, this blog and others, it is time to list all the violations one can receive, based on Municipal Code, related to parking in the City of LA. But first, here are the common parking violations from the State Vehicle Code study guide:

Never park or leave your vehicle:
  • Where a “No Parking” sign is posted.
  • On a marked or unmarked crosswalk, on a sidewalk, or in front of a driveway.
  • Within three feet of a sidewalk ramp for disabled persons or in front of or on a curb which provides wheelchair access to a sidewalk.
  • In a disabled person parking space unless you are disabled and display a placard or special plates.
  • In the space next to a disabled person parking space if it is painted in a crosshatched pattern.
  • In a space designated for parking or fueling zero-emission vehicles which display an identifying decal.
  • In a tunnel or on a bridge, except where permitted by signs.
  • Within 15 feet of a fire hydrant or a fire station driveway.
  • On or within 71/2 feet of a railroad track.
  • Between a safety zone and the curb.
  • “Double parked.” (Parking in the street when all legal parking places at the curb are taken.)
  • On the wrong side of the street.
  • At a red curb.
Now, according to the L.A. Municipal Code, here are the local sections and the short description of the violation. The first set are "infractions", and the second set are "civil penalties":



Civil Penalties:

80.55(a)3 25 FEET CROSSWALK
80.73(b)2,A(2)(3)(4)(5) DISTANCE LIMITATIONS
80.73(e) “FOR SALE”

Again, these are the violations relating to parking. This does not include license plate, registration, or other vehicular tickets one can receive while parked on a City street.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Defining the Red Zone

Parking in the City of LA can be challenging. There's never enough parking, and when there is, confusion ensues as to how or where one can park. Street cleaning, peak hours, permit parking, fire hydrants, and colored curbs can be confusing. Even the most basic restriction, a red curb, can be confusing and worrisome. A reader emails:

I was picking up a friend from LAX last month. We talked on the phone and coordinated. He was standing in the island in front of the United terminal. As I approached, I flashed my lights to get his attention, pulled to the side and he hopped in. I wouldn't be exaggerating to say that I may have not even come to a complete stop. It was a perfectly coordinated grab-and-go pickup.

As I pulled away from the airport and drove up the hill, I looked in my rear view mirror and saw an officer standing in the middle of the street, apparently writing down my license plate. I was perplexed as I didn't imagine I had done anything wrong. A few weeks later, I received the attached ticket in the mail: a parking violation for a red curb. After driving back to LAX to survey, there is indeed a red curb, but no sign prohibiting stopping or picking up passengers there.

So my question is this: is the definition of "parking" the same as"stopping"? Because while one could conceivably make the case that I had stopped (for about 2 seconds...) there's no way anyone could describe that as "parking." I've written in and
requested a hearing to dispute this. Is it worth my time?

To this reader, the answer is simple: don't waste any more of your time. Red curbs, by definition in Municipal Code 80.56 (e)4 (effective as such since 1954), prohibit parking and more explicitly "stopping." It read:
"No person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle at any time in any red 'No Stopping' zone."
Now, at the Airport (LAX or Van Nuys), the same rule applies, but it is in section 89.36, which reads: "No person shall stop any vehicle at any time adjacent to a curb marked in red." So, that should answer the question. Even if stopped for just a moment in a red zone - at the airport or on the City street -that is a municipal code violation and subject to a ticket... a $70 ticket. (That $70 ticket increases to $140 with a late penalty and then to $150 with a second penalty.)
Photo by M Vasquez.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Hot Topics in the City of LA (Mar. 10, 2007)

Ever wonder what the hottest issues in Los Angeles today are? These are the hot-button issues that insiders are talking about and you can here people debate over lunch in the Civic Center. Now, some will always be the hot issues based on the makeup of our City, but other issues are fleeting based on public reaction.

Here's the hot topics that the City is dealing with right now (based on this Nerd's opinions & observations):
Traffic & Public Transportation
Gangs/Gang Crime
Emergency (Earthquake) Preparedness

Here's what's losing heat but is still on the radar:
Neighborhood Councils
Affordable Housing/Condo Conversions
Mandating the living wage on Century Boulevard hotels

Here's what's cold:
Elephants at the Zoo
Efficiency in City Service Delivery
LAFD interpersonal issues
Eminent Domain

These are topics that are hot today - it could all change tomorrow. Six months from now or even a year from now, all of these topics could still be on the list, but all could also be bumped. Let's see where we are in a month!

Friday, March 09, 2007

$18 million not worth it...

A few months ago we revealed the 10 existing municipal centers in the City and the call for more. At the time, their was talk of about spending 13.6 million to create a mini municipal center just 2 miles from City Hall in Boyle Heights.

Well, here's 18.4 million reasons that creating a "mini" municipal center within 2 miles of the existing municipal center is not a good idea:
"The Chicago Plaza building will be purchased with funds from the Municipal
Improvement Corporation of Los Angeles (MICLA), the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), and AB 1290 funds, which are disbursed at Council District 14s
discretion. Total project cost is an estimated $18.4 million. The Boyle Heights
Constituent Services Center is expected to open within the next three years."

This is just one of many municipal service buildings coming online that are a waste of money when government should becoming more efficient. The City should be less about brick and mortar and more about digital efficiencies and actual services. Constituents wouldn't feel "left out" if monies like this were used to clean and repair more streets, upgrade police resources, create additional, safe public space, etc. So, look for more political expenditures for unnecessary, feel-good buildings in CD9 and CD7 in the coming years.

Read the newly-reelected Councilman's full press release on Nate's blog here.

LA's Famous Food: How to Order II

In a City like Los Angeles, you can't avoid famous food. We started a "series" a few months back on ordering famous food at famous LA establishments, but failed to add additional posts... until now.

Inspired by Ellen Bloom's post on El Coyote, here are a few more tips on how to order... El Coyote:

When going to El Coyote, there's a simple way to enjoy the experience: Order a Mexican Pizza and an Avocado Salad. Share the Mexican Pizza with your table and eat the salad as a balance to the not-so-healthy appetizer. Also, order the dressing on the side, as it becomes quite overpowering if they pour it on.

... at El Cholo:

First, the food at the original location on Western is better than the other locations around town, though all are ok. Go between May and October and order the Green Corn Tamales a la carte. It's cost effective and delicious. It's really the best thing on their menu.

And that's how you should order...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

ZIP Code History in LA

Worldwide, Los Angeles ZIP codes are known due to the magic of television. The world's most famous ZIP code is undoubtedly an LA ZIP code: 90210 (and yes, it is partly in the City of LA - not just Beverly Hills.)

So, how did those 5 numbers become so famous, and how did they get to be ordered in that way for that part of the City?

The reason for ZIP codes is efficiency in mail delivery. This was an issue in Los Angeles as far back as 1882 when the Times called for a renumbering of the street numbers because of the volume of mail being delivered in the booming cowtown. They proposed a system that we use today: starting at Main & First and counting 100 numbers per block. That was the first change to help the mail go through.

Flash forward to 1963, the former 2-digit "Zone Code" implemented in the first part of the 20th century was converted to a 5-digit code: the first 3 digits being the larger city code, and the last 2 digits were the original zone codes that had been utilized for decades. The implementation was voluntary in 1963 and became mandatory in 1967. This was the introduction of the modern day ZIP code (ZIP is an acronym for "Zone Improvement Plan" and therefore always capitalized.) It was done to process the large volumes of mail - specifically direct mail - being sent through the US Postal Service. Today, there are also an addition four digits that give even more specificity to the location of the addressee. Here's the current breakdown:
The nine digits of a ZIP+4 code (e.g., 12345-6789) may be grouped as follows:

[123] [45] – [67] [89]

[123] : Sectional Center or Large City
[45] : Post Office™ facility or Delivery Area
– : The required "dash" or "hyphen" separates the first 5 digits from the last 4 digits
[67] : Sector or Several Blocks
[89] : Segment or One Side of a Street

So, that's where our famous ZIP codes came from locally. All Los Angeles ZIP codes start with a 9, and then it goes all over the place from there. Remember when searching for "Los Angeles ZIP codes," the City includes more than just the 90XXX ZIP codes. There's a great City of Los Angeles ZIP code map fro the entire City on this page.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

No Pumpkin Bread Love Here, or Low Voter Turn Out

In yesterday's election, Councilman Tom LaBonge of Council District 4 (CD4) received the least number of votes (of confidence) than any other unopposed candidate. Even Wesson and Parks who have lower percentages of registered voters had a greater turnout for them.

Out of 112,250 registered voters in CD4, only 6,968 voted in yesterday's election (6.21%). But, only 5,823 actually voted for the unopposed incumbent. Over 1100 voters (about 16%) did not vote for the Councilman. Less than 1000 voters in his Valley District alone cast their ballot for him out of the 17,500 registered voters in that area (Board of Education District 3). Does this mean Tom is vulnerable? The man is all over the City and is one of the City's greatest boosters. He's even The City Nerd Award winner. What's not to like?

The election results aren't pretty - only about 7.7% of registered voters cast a ballot yesterday. That means just over 109,500 votes were cast out of a city of 4 million people. So, actually, just over 2.5% of the City's residents participated in our democratic process.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Exhibit of the City

Everyone's favorite Viennese architects will be presenting their findings after exploring Los Angeles without a car for the last 6 months. Their final project will be on display starting tomorrow at the Schindler House in West Hollywood and only be on exhibit for a few days.

They've contact LA City Nerd during their stay in our great City, and we are eager to see their end result. Though they talked to us about community names and designations, the MAK website lists more detail about their project:

Los Angeles Without a Car,” the project of Anke Freimund and Alex
Dworschak, is inspired by Thom Andersen’s documentary, “Los Angeles Plays
Itself” (2003). Scrutinizing the urban myth that a car is unavoidable in
L.A., the Viennese architects used only public transportation as they
conducted walking tours throughout the city. In the exhibition, they present
visual diary of their experiences. In seeking a guidance system for their
research, they selected the official city signs that designate neighborhood
names as waypoints. However, in their photographs documenting their
experience, they eliminate common landmarks, letting the places speak for

The show has an opening exhibit tomorrow night (March 7th) and then runs through March 11th. Check it out: Schindler House, 835 N. Kings Road, West Hollywood 90069-5409.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The LA Times forgot to check with LA City Nerd

Apparently, not enough Web-savvy, LA-based writers read LA City Nerd. See, in today's LA Times, Ken Layne ranted about how he couldn't find information on parking regulations. Umm... didn't anyone read this post from last week on parking restrictions around a Fire Hydrant??

So, spread the word and tell your friends - LA City Nerd has the answers to your City questions. Got a question about LA City - just ask us! It might take a day or so to get back to you (sometimes longer), but we will.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Oldest Hospital in Los Angeles

As part of my civic duty, I continue to write occasional posts about the 13th Council District (CD13) for Council President Eric Garcetti. The latest one - about St. Vincent's Medical Center - follows the milestones and the preserved history of the once-named "Los Angeles Infirmary," the oldest medical institution in Los Angeles. Check it out at CD13's blog.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Los Angeles "Real-Time" Traffic Maps

Everyone loves maps, and everyone loves to know how to avoid traffic. So, here's the best of what people love: online, "real-time" Traffic Maps. Here are some of the choices you have in planning your commute just before heading out the door. The question isn't really which is best, rather, which is most useful.

What do you think? This is the site that was first employed to share traffic times and incidents in the LA City Nerd world. And of course, as SigAlert was a term coined in Los Angeles by the LAPD for the inventor, Lloyd "Sig" Sigmond.

The City's Department of Transportation has an almost complete real-time street traffic system page that rivals the real-time freeway maps listed on this page. What makes it work is ATSAC. Special features like road construction & filming make this City map even more useful & informative, as does the ability for you to zoom into specific neighborhoods or areas of interest. (There are current plans to "ATSAC-ize" the whole City - let's hope sooner than later!)

Google Maps (reaction from LAist & Atwater Village Nerd) now has a feature to look at traffic. According to their site, the traffic feature is not available everywhere, and the colors are simple:

"Green: more than 50 miles per hour
Yellow: 25 - 50 miles per hour
Red: less than 25 miles per hour
Gray: no data currently available"
Yahoo Maps has a traffic feature that is not very clear, but it does show incidents like construction and hazards with limited description. (It's definitely not as clear and easy as some of the others listed.)

My California Traffic uses Google Maps to list their own data in terms of traffic speeds. It's good because you can select specific freeways and save that selection for when you come back to check the status again. It's customizable so you don't get the 710 when all you want is the 405 & the 10.

CommunityView is another effective, lesser known site that has cameras and incidents listed in real time. It's a joint effort of a number of agencies from Metro to LA County to Caltrans.

Traffic Predict uses other sites' information (like those above) and collects over a week's period of time so you can see what things were happening in the past to predict what they might be like now. Curbed LA reviews it here.

Fire Hydrants - steer clear

Next time you see a parking space near a fire hydrant: be aware. Just because you're not blocking it directly, doesn't mean you can't get a ticket. You see, as of 1988, the State has had a law as part of the California Vehicle Code that prohibits vehicles from parking within 15 feet of a fire hydrant (that means 30 feet total: 15 feet on either side). That's the law unless the local jurisdiction (City) changes the law.

In Los Angeles, this law has not been amended locally, so it still stands as such. Some wonder, "Well, the curb was painted red in front of it, and I wasn't parked in the red zone - how come I still got a ticket?" Even if there is a red curb in front of the hydrant, you still cannot park on either side of it for 15 feet - no matter how short the red zone is painted. And, if it's not painted red at all, don't get near the hydrant.