Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More Los Angeles/Culver City Confusion

The border between the City of LA and Culver City is confusing - there's no question about that. We get questions all the time, though, asking in which City establishments are located. Most often, they're in the Los Angeles community of Palms, like the Museum of Jurassic Technology, even thought they claim Culver City. (We know that JackFM has the same problem of not realizing where they exist.)

But you'd think the Center for Land Use Interpretation would know that they are in the City of Los Angeles and not Culver City. But, they claim the "C.C." designation over the true, LA City address.

Where's the community pride?

No wonder Palms has such a hard time getting on the map. They are often pushed aside as a community for the flashier "Heart of Sceenland." And what pushes this specific CLUI issue even further is that their latest exhibit on Parking is partially funded by the City of LA, not Culver City. Perhaps there needs to be a promotional stipulation that if you receive City funding, you have to list the project as taking place in the City.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Parkinson's Mystery Building

One of the most prolific and highly regarded architectural firms in Los Angeles history is the various iterations of John Parkinson, who was involved with the designing of some of the most significant structures in the history of the City, of which almost 60 still exist downtown. Notable structures include the Alexandria Hotel, Bullocks-Wilshire Department Store, Los Angeles City Hall, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, University of Southern California, and Union Station.

Parkinson also designed the first "Class A" fireproof steel-frame structure in the City in 1896, the Homer Laughlin Building, which is known today as the home of Grand Central Market. He also designed the tallest building standing in Los angeles for 6o years - both of them. First, in 1904, he designed the Braly Block at 4th and Spring, and that was then replaced by his 28-story City Hall until it was surpassed in 1964 after height limits had been lifted in the City.

So, today, the firm is called Parkinson Field Associates, and they have been separated for the last 11 years from the archive that provides such information as referenced above.

The real question and purpose of sharing all this information is this: Do you know what this Mystery Parkinson Building is?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Welcome Perspective...

With only four posts so far, the LA Militant Nerd has already shown some insight and perspective that is fresh to the scene of LA blogs.

We take just the slightest offence at what he/she mentions about other blogs about LA - but, everyone's entitled to an opinion, and we think this one is going to be good.

Check it out; it covers a few LA stories not yet found in the blog mix of LA.

(see "LA Militant Nerd" at right for future reference.)

Friday, June 22, 2007

How to be a legal fruit vendor

In response to this post about cut fruit vendors, "wanabe fruit guy" asks:

"I am trying to open a fruit cart myself. If anyone knows where to get the
licensing for this please let me know. From what I understand you need to have
the cart inspected and then you get a little green sticker to put in front. Any
The input is this: there is no legal way for you to vend fruit or other victuals from the general public right of way in the City of LA.

The City doesn't give permits for such activities, unless you are in the special "vending district." Currently, there are no active "Vending Districts" in the City (the one that was in MacArthur Park is now defunct due to safety issues relating to the vendors being hassled and one being shot). So, push carts, pick-up trucks with fruit in them, and guys on the corner are not permitted for now.

There are some exceptions in regards to catering trucks*; but they are all regulated with time limits and other restrictions (LAMC 80.73). Beyond the traditional roach coach/taco truck catering truck, hotdog carts (not the push-cart kind on the sidewalk, but the trailers attached to vehicles in the street), ice cream trucks, and produce trucks fall into this category. They still need to have city permits and follow the guidelines stated in 80.73 to remain legal.

But, in terms of selling goods from the sidewalk: it's not allowed. No selling peppered mangos, bacon-wrapped hotdogs, or bags of cherries from the sidewalk, freeway offramps, or street corners. "Fruit Carts" are not allowed.

*By City Code, catering trucks are defined as "any motorized vehicle designed primarily for dispensing victuals. For purposes herein, the term 'catering truck' shall include any trailer designed primarily for dispensing victuals but only if attached to a motor vehicle at all times during which victuals are being dispensed. 'Catering truck' shall not include any other trailer or any wagon or pushcart, either propelled or drawn by motorized or other force, or any other vehicle incidentally used for dispensing victuals."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

First House in Van Nuys threatened

This historic house on Sylvan Street in Van Nuys was one of ten built by W.P. Whitsett in 1911 to show those he lured from "over the hill" that the Valley was a place to settle (and buy his plots of land).

But that house is now threatened with demolition, according to a Daily News article today:
"Time is short. The developer, Merabi & Sons LLC of Encino, has pulled a permit to demolish the home to build condominiums.

The article goes on to say the City is working on it:
City officials said they are exploring all legal options to save the house before a formal landmark application can stop demolition.

"I am committed to preserving the unique character of our neighborhoods and am looking into every lawful possibility to save this home," Councilman Tony Cardenas said in a statement."

Hopefully, at today's 10am City Council meeting, Councilman Cardenas will utilize Rule 23 as Councilwoman Greuel did for the Weatherwolde Castle in Tujunga when that structure was in a similar situation back in 2005. (A Rule 23 action means that there is eminent need for the City Council to take action on an item that was raised after the official agenda has been posted.)

I'm stumped

As we often note, an LA City Nerd doesn't know the answer to every question. We try our best to find the answer and often know where to look to to whom to talk, but we're not always successful. Though we've been working on this map, it's not nearly complete yet because not every community is easily defined (which is probably why a map such as this has not yet been attempted).

So, here's a question that needs community support... I got the following email today:

Ever since I hopped off the boat from Chicago in November, I've always had a hard time answering the question "where do you live?"

It's not that I am geographically retarded. In fact, I love maps. Already I am pretty familiar with most of Los Angeles, just through my nerdy love of maps.

But I have absolutely NO idea what my neighborhood is called.


Our building is in Los Angeles. However, we are that little part of LA that juts out West of Cedars Sinai and is completely surrounded by WeHo and Beverly Hills. In fact, just across our building's alley is BH, and WeHo is sort of across the street and to the North.

To make matters easy on people, I usually say I live in West Hollywood (Beverly Hills would be WAY too pretentious). But I want to know where I REALLY live. I mean, what good is moving to Los Angeles if you can't claim a neighborhood?

I know it's in the Mid-City West Neighborhood Council, but the community is not called "Mid-City West." It's clearly not Beverly Hills, and it's not West Hollywood. It's in the 5th Council District.

If we lived there, we would be to refer to it "Mid-City" or "Los Angeles"; this area doesn't have a community name that is known to us.

Are we wrong? Is it a community that remains unknown to the vast City?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Rediscovering Hollywood

Ever wondered about some of the things that make Hollywood, well, Hollywood?

Forget all the celebrity you think you know. Here's what makes Hollywood Hollywood:

Mr. Hollywood

Whitley Heights

Politics of the Walk of Fame

Living in the Capital Records Building

KTTV's ZigZag Art

The Hollywood Christmas Parade's last stand

Hollywood Slasher

Defining Halloween in Hollywood

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Unlimited Cats and Cars

In LA, cars are like cats: unlimited.

We got an email from a reader that asked about the number of cars that a person can own:
I want to know what to do about my neighbors who have five or six cars parked on the street, most of them don't work or they are selling them. Meanwhile, my friends and family has to park in the next block and walk down the street at night to the house.
The inconvenience of having a lot of cars owned by one homeowner is similar to the experience of living next to a cat lady: the number allowed is unlimited. In Los Angeles, there is no restriction on the number of cats one can own on one premises (unless it turns into hoarding). But, with dogs, one property can only have 3 dogs on the property/premise without being required to apply for a kennel permit of $130 (and a bureaucratic process of review). With cars, you can own as many as you want as long as you follow the parking and storage rules set forth like not storing a car on the street, or storing on private property within public view or parking in the front yard, etc.

So, how to deal with the car collector/dealer on your street? Contact Building & Safety or the neighborhood prosecutor in your area. They will know how to deal with it in your area.

And how to deal with too many dogs or the hoarding of cats? Call 311 and ask for Animal Services.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Mayor is truly dedicated

With the news today that the Mayor was served with divorce papers from his wife of 20 years, it goes to show you that this man was made to be Mayor of Los Angeles. Some might call this a bump in his political career, but it really is a boost to his career. This shows that he is so committed to Los Angeles - so dedicated to being the best Mayor he can be - that he puts his job before all else. His 15-hour days have forced him to choose; and fellow citizens, he has chosen us, the people, over his own personal life. Mayor Villariagosa has worked so hard for the City that he has clearly chosen our great City over his own family. That, my friends, is dedication.

So, no matter what office Antonio Villariagosa runs for next, you know it's a good bet to vote for him - he is going to give it his all and let nothing stand in his way of doing a great job!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Is this legal?

Based on what you know about the City, is this legal?

How could something like it be done in the City of L.A.?

Or Can it?

Or was it actually done as indicated?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Redistricting Game

With all this talk about redistricting in Los Angeles, it was timely that USC is releasing The Redistricting Game next week. Here's an interactive, multi-user online tool to allow anyone and everyone the opportunity to try to form districts they would like to see in various levels of the game. The lead researcher on this project is Chris Swain, who is part of a movement to use games to educate society and bring about social change.

As the Chronicle of Higher Education notes:

The Redistricting Game is an online multiplayer game, open to everyone, that debuts Monday, It allows people to compete in various redistricting scenarios, also known as "gerrymandering." Players can try to manipulate district lines to see how this produces a skewed victory for either party. The game allows politicians to choose voters, rather than letting voters choose their politicians, its designers say.

The game also provides details on a variety of real-life reform measures, including a "fair play" law introduced in Congress by Rep. John S. Tanner, Democrat of Tennessee. It also provides an online forum for players to discuss these issues.

It goes live on Monday (but there is a beta version out there). When it launches, all of us can have first-hand experience in trying to create fair, legal districts (at least in fictitious states like the "State of Jefferson" or the "State of Madison"). This is a great new way to educate the (online) masses and allow them to understand what happens when trying to draw districts in this nation.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The history of your street

Ever wonder when your street opened or at what point it was extended down the block? How about how many streets in LA have "hill" in them?

There is a nice little tool that will let you search streets via the Bureau of Engineering. It's not named, so we'll call it "The Street Searcher."

(Ok, it does have a name: "ENGINEERING AUTOMATED STREET INVENTORY SYSTEM," or EASIS. But the Street Searcher just sounds so much cooler.)

So basically, click the link and figure out the history of what your street was - or any City street, for that matter. Sadly, recent changes don't have the historic cards available to view, so James M. Wood Boulevard from Figueroa to Western doesn't show the street names that it once was. But, you can see that Olympic Boulevard had an interesting formation just a few blocks to the south and a few decades earlier.

Oh, and about all those "Hill" streets: there are 136 streets that have "hill" in them (not including types streets like Hillary or Achilles). Talk about Hill Street Blues.

Related to Street Names:
Los Angeles Street was Negro Alley

LA doesn't meet or know their neighbors

I'll be honest, there are a few things about this City - or its populace, rather - that bug me. One of the main issues I have is that people think that LA is such a big City and no one knows their neighbors. Sadly, this is more true than not... but it doesn't have to be.

People in LA chose isolation. it's a sad state of affairs when there is a call to meet your neighbors and nobody shows up. When do neighbors in LA meet? In tragedy or impending tragedy. How many people in apartments south of Griffith Park finally met their neighbors the night of the fire... at their common balconies, on their roofs, and in the street? It's that potential threat of disaster that brings people together, be it crime, natural disaster, or man-made chaos.

Re-branding that picnic at Pershing Square something along the lines of a "Preparedness Picnic" may have brought out a bunch more people (if it was marketed as such). For some reason, Angelenos are a testament to Maslow's Hierarchy and don't find neighborly interactions as highly ranked as safety. And then, they don't need friends or acquaintances in their real neighborhood because they have a MySpace page at home with plenty.

Next time you see someone walking near you, say hello. It's the least we can do to build this community called Los Angeles. It doesn't have to be such a big, foreboding town if everyone would take time to appreciate and understand the humanity of the City in its people.

How the City defines its Council Districts

Spencer Cross at asks how the LA City Council districts end up the way they do - so funky and amoeba-like. In the comments thus far, there are interesting points made about population, which is, in fact the factor that determines the districts: equal apportionment of the population to each district. The districts are adopted by the City Council, but proposed by an appointed independent redistricting commission. There is also requirements that force the city to redraw and adopt new council district boundaries AT LEAST once every ten years, on every tenth anniversary of July 1, 2002. This is when termed-out Ruth Galantar's CD6 district was moved from the coastal westside and transplanted into what is now Tony Cardenas's "heart of the Valley" district. So, look for another change in 2012.

Per City Charter (pay attention to section d):

Sec. 204. Election of City Council Members; Redistricting.
(a) Redistricting by Ordinance. Commencing in 2002, the Council shall by ordinance redraw district lines to be used for all elections of Council members, including their recall, and for filling any vacancy in the office of member of the Council, after the effective date of the redistricting ordinance. Districts so formed shall each contain, as nearly as practicable, equal portions of the total population of the City as shown by the Federal Census immediately preceding the formation of districts.

(b) Redistricting Commission. There shall be a Redistricting Commission to advise the Council on drawing of Council district lines. The Commission members shall be appointed in the following manner: one by each Council member except that the Council President shall appoint two members, three by the Mayor, one by the City Attorney, and one by the Controller. No City officer or employee shall be eligible to serve on the Commission. The Redistricting Commission shall appoint a director and other personnel, consistent with budgetary approval, which positions shall be exempt from the civil service provisions of the Charter.

(c) Redistricting Process. The Redistricting Commission shall be appointed no later than the date by which the Census Bureau is to release decennial census data. A new Commission shall be appointed to advise the Council prior to each subsequent redistricting. The Commission shall begin the redistricting process at any time after the necessary data are obtained from the most recent Federal Census, but no later than January 1, 2002, and each subsequent tenth anniversary of that date. The Commission shall seek public input throughout the redistricting process. The Commission shall present its proposal for redistricting to the Council no later than a date prescribed by ordinance.

The Council shall adopt a redistricting ordinance no later than July 1, 2002, and each subsequent tenth anniversary of that date. Nothing in this section shall prohibit the Council from redistricting with greater frequency provided that districts so formed each contain, as nearly as practicable, equal portions of the total population of the City as shown by the Federal Census immediately preceding the formation of districts or based upon other population reports or estimates determined by the Council to be substantially reliable.

(d) Criteria for Redistricting. All districts shall be drawn in conformance with requirements of state and federal law and, to the extent feasible, shall keep neighborhoods and communities intact, utilize natural boundaries or street lines, and be geographically compact.

(e) Effect of Redistricting on Incumbents. No change in the boundary or location of any district by redistricting shall operate to abolish or terminate the term of office of any member of the Council prior to expiration of the term of office for which the member was elected.

LA Times errors, and the City can't help!

We've mentioned before how the LA Times could always do a little better job checking facts and such. And, we're not here to beat up on a paper that is going through some major growing shrinking pains.

But, two articles in the last week bear mentioning:

First, on June 1st, the Times wrote about the Mayor and his ups and downs. Pointing to his ups, there are some errors based on the failure to really fact-check. First, they write:

They [Villaraigosa and his senior aides] say, for example, that he deserves credit for balancing the city's books and dramatically reducing a $295-million structural deficit — by more than $200 million — amid declining revenues.
This statement isn't entirely true. Yes, he presented a budget that "balanced the books," but was isn't heavily reported is that the City Council and the Chief Legislative Analyst's office (CLA) went through and found more money to restore the cuts he proposed. The budget the Mayor signed looks quite different from what he initially proposed - millions of dollars different.

Then, the article goes on to say:

They [Villaraigosa and his senior aides] also speak of his successful effort to win an increase in trash collection fees to hire 1,000 additional police officers, saying the city is well on its way to meeting the goal as the rate of violent crime — including gang homicides — drops.

Here too, there is some misinformation. Actually, the City legally cannot charge a fee for one service to fund another. So, that trash collection fee increase - which is really just more of the actual cost of the service being paid for by resident - merely releases funding from the general fund that was being used to defray the cost of trash collection. So, those fees could go into any number of programs, and in fact ,this last year, not all of that trash fee money actually went into hiring more officers; there was more money available than actual officers graduating from the academy. Additionally, the actual number of cops on the street has not increased that dramatically. those 1000 additional officers so often highlighted won't be on the street for a few more years due to attrition and the slower-than-expected rate of hiring new officers.

Now, it also cracks us up that the Times took a story we wrote about last year and expanded it a bit but failed to give the full story. Just this weekend, they wrote about the origin of LA County's city names (it appears only the first part of the alphabet, A through C), which is labeled "First in a series of occasional stories." It's rather interesting, but since we did so much research on Beverly Hills, it's too bad they didn't include more of the story besides the reference to Beverly Farms.

It's too bad there's nothing the City can do to help correct this problem of lacking information in the Times, but by City Charter, the City is not allowed to operate a newspaper:

The City shall not appropriate any public money for the printing, publication, sale or distribution of a commercial municipal newspaper.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Look who's back...

Well, one blogger returns, which is good...

Angelenic Nerd

And this time, from Downtown!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

State controlled Los Angeles city streets

Do you know which streets are controlled by Caltrans but appear to be City Streets in the City of Los Angeles? There is a question of responsibility for street repair on Gaffey Street in San Pedro. Since it is the terminus of the 110, there was some question as to who is responsible. In this case, Gaffey was once part of the 110 state highway, but it is now a City Street and therefore the the responsibility of the City. (To get the street repaired, here's the process.)

So, which streets are under the state's control and not the City's? Here's the list:
Topanga Canyon from the 118 south to the LA City limits: Route 27

Santa Monica, Glendale Boulevard and various other connecting streets: Route 2

Manchester Boulevard: Route 42 (NOTE: there is still some debate as to whether or not Route 42 has been fully relinquished - officially - to the City.)

Lincoln Boulevard: Route 1

Venice Boulevard from Lincoln to the 10: State Route 187

Western Ave in San Pedro: Route 213