Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Make that 173!

As part of our ongoing effort to document the officially designated neighborhood signs of the City of Los Angeles, we submit to you verification of a neighborhood presumed lost:

Thanks to the expert Photo Nerd in one Malingering, the once-thought-lost community name sign of West Los Angeles has been documented at the southwest corner of Bundy and Ocean Park.

True, we always knew that "West LA" existed - this sign merely proves that the City actually officially designated a community by said name. There are other community name signs that LADOT has claimed to have created, but no one has been able to provide documentation that such signs exist. They are:
Carthay Village
Griffith Park
La Cienega Ctr
La Fayette Park Square
South Park
Western Heights
West Lake
Wilshire District
Wilshire Park Mile

If you can find the location and a picture of one (or any) of the aforementioned signs, please add them to the LA City Neighborhood Signs Flickr Group.

The rest of the known "officially designated communities" are listed here.

Sorry, LAist, for throwing a wrench into your gears. Hopefully this one more won't hinder your progress of the LA Neighborhoods Project (not that you're actually sticking to the original list).

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Garcetti-Wakeland Relationship Defended

Council President Eric Garcetti has been in a long term relationship for over a decade with his partner, Amy Wakeland.

Recently, on one of the comment sections of one of our posts, someone alluded to the fact that Eric hasn't married Amy yet because marriage doesn't work in politics (as evident in the recent turmoil in the Mayor's office here in LA, as well as San Fransisco).

To their defense came strong words by someone close to them:
"The comment about why Eric Garcetti still hasn't tied the knot with Amy Wakeland? I know Eric and Amy very well. Eric and Amy always spend their lives in finding and supporting services that will help the better community of LA California. They are each others' support in doing what they truly believe in. Amy and Eric will get married when the right time comes along, but they are more feel in their hearts to help those around them. How do I know these things. I will tell you, I am David Wakeland, Amy's little brother and I am very supportive and proud of Eric and Amy in what they are doing for the people of LA, California."

Here we have a defense of a non-political sibling who happens to be personally connected to a public official. Is such a defense necessary? Furthermore, should people take offense to comments on a blog? We've made it a policy here not to have completely anonymous commenters, whereas Mayor Sam let's anyone comment without an identity. Kevin Roderick removed comments from the LAObserved site long ago, and LAist just started to require registration to comment.

Should commenters be more effectively screened? Should people take offense to another person's opinions or personal, yet public, reactions? Public discourse is good; even online. Better, though, is to take the debates - the comments - to the street. Perhaps an LA City Nerd meet-up is needed to have a public conversation about the hottest LA City topics (like gangs, traffic, and personal lives!)?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Experiencing Little Armenia

On the heels of LAist's neighborhood guide for Little Armenia, LA Commons is hosting an event in Tony Pierce's 'hood this weekend.

From the LA Commons website:

a Summer 2007 Project of LA Commons
July 21st - A Taste of Pomegranate: Sampling Art in Little Armenia

Join us on the afternoon of July 21st in East Hollywood for a celebration of Armenian culture, art and food. The Armenian Center for the Arts, LA Commons and UCLA present "A Taste of Pomegranate: Sampling Art in Little Armenia." The afternoon includes: handwoven tapestries and lace work, traditional and contemporary Armenian music and dance performances, tours of Noah's Ark library, and opportunities to view local art works on display throughout the neighborhood and interact directly with the artists. In addition, a public art project of LA Commons created with artist Gregory Beylerian and youth from the Rose & Alex Pilibos School will be unveiled.
Here's a unique opportunity to not only experience the community of Little Armenia but also the true Armenian culture that inspires such a community. Check out the Free event and take in the sights, sounds and tastes of Little Armenia.

More details from LA Commons:

A Taste of Pomegranate Events:

2:00 to 4:00 PM
Browse booths with traditional tapestries and lace work
Guided tours of Noah's Ark Library
Art Walk around Little Armenia
(Walks depart from Pilibos School to local businesses where you'll have the chance to meet and greet local artists, view their works and sample Armenian snacks along the way.)

4:00 to 7:00 PM
Dance performance by a group from the Nayiri Dance Ensemble
LA Commons public art project unveiling...
Celebrate the incredible work of students from Pilibos School and artist Gregory Beylerian. Unveiling ceremony will take place on the grounds of the Pilibos School starting around 4:15 PM.
Dance to the sounds of world-renowned John Bilezikjian Ensemble
Seating available and plenty of room to dance! Also outside of Pilibos School.

This is a free event open to all ages!

Bring a little cash for food booths and neighborhood eateries.

For more information contact LA Commons at (213) 705-4457, email us at
rsvp@lacommons.org or visit our website at http://www.lacommons.org/.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Did you know that you can get a ticket if you cross the street against a traffic control device prohibiting such crossing OR mid-block (not at an intersection or marked crosswalk)? Even if the street is empty and you're not stopping traffic, there is a California vehicle code section that prohibits "pedestrians in the roadway." Be aware.

On the flipside, though, any corner to corner crossing is a legal place to cross and the pedestrian has the right of way (unless otherwise posted).

Go figure.

It's the summertime - go play at a City park or the beach.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

LA Archdiocese Jeopardizes Jesus' Star

With this week's news of the multi-million dollar settlement between LA's Catholic Church and victims of clergy abuse, one has to wonder if the LA Archdiocese is putting Jesus' star in jeopardy on the Wilshire Walk of Fame?

Well, for a little more light-heartedness, remember this rendering of Mahony and the LA Cathedral on South Park?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Elephant Walk Causes Concern

Remember that little post about the Circus coming to town? Well, it appears some things have changed.

From a reader regarding the "elephant walk":
"They changed the time to 4:45 a.m. on July 17th and 9:30 p.m.on July 22th. Seems they now have to get the animals into the arena by 6:00 a.m. or at least that is what she said. I actually heard that LAPD had a fear that there would be a ton of animal rights activists there so they intentionally made the time inconvenient."
So, as of the time of this posting, the elephants have done their walk (allegedly). Activists have been asking the City not to allow the walk or allow the circus because of the treatment of the animals. They will protest the walk, as they do often; but to complicate matters, some of the activists are known to be confrontational and militant. This poses a problem for controlling any protests of the walk, which are supposed to be occurring. (Did they? No news of them has been found yet.)

Adding fuel to the fire, this follows up to the Bansky exhibit of last year when the painting and display of Tai the elephant brought outcries from the community, and the Department of Animal Services said such exhibit of animals would not be allowed again. The LA Times quoted General Manager Ed Boks at the time saying:

"'This situation is causing the department to rethink its permitting procedures so there will be more scrutiny, so permits will not be issued for such frivolous abuse of animals in the future."
They also quoted him saying he allowed the permits, but not proudly:

Boks found himself decrying the presence of the elephant in the exhibit even though his agency had issued the two permits necessary to have the elephant there - 'to my chagrin,' he said.
It's almost as if he issued them against his will. From a recent version of the Animal Services website, Boks & the Department are also referenced as being against these-types of activity:

"LA Animal Services is against cruelty or exploitation in any legal entertainment venue, event, or sporting activity. This includes but is not limited to circuses involving animals, rodeo, donkey basketball, dog racing and horse racing. We encourage people to attend non-exploitive forms of entertainment."
So, why was this walk allowed?

To make things even more interesting for the City and LAPD, the Animal Rights 2007 National Conference, "the world's largest and oldest animal rights conference," is being held in LA (at Westin LAX) at the same time as the elephant walk, so all the nation's top activists will be in town. Part of their program lists demonstrations being planned (but no mention of the elephant walk specifically).

So, look out at the end of the week when the Elephant Walk and the 2007 Animal Rights convention converge in Los Angeles.
Picture via about.com.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Naming Toluca Lake*

The Museum of the San Fernando Valley Blog presents an interesting history on the naming of today's Toluca Lake. Basically, it was General Charles Foreman of Texas (by way of Nevada) who bought a ranch and named it such (but there's a bit more too it, including some rivalry with JB Lankerhsim and his development to the north of what would become Toluca Lake Park and then, Toluca Lake. Check out the full story here.

Many of the stories of how communities in LA got their names are lost, but it's nice to know some history is carried on.

(Who knew that blogs could be so useful as online archives/museums!?)

I hope they tell us about Moses Sherman and Sherman Oaks, how Reseda was once called Marian (named for the daughter of Valley subdivider Harrison Gray Otis who later married Harry Chandler), how Northridge was once Zelzah and changed to be called North Los Angeles and then Northridge, or how Charles Weeks named Winnetka in an effort to create an utopian community in the West Valley!

Picture of General Charles Foreman from the Natural History Museum slide show on Minerals.

Friday, July 13, 2007

City Historic Landmark Inventory

With the recent approval of yet another Historic-Cultural Monument in the City of LA with the Feliz sign and showroom, it's a good time to remember that there are 873 designated monuments by the City as of May of this year. The first ten being designated in 1962 via a preservation ordinance that predates New York City's. And those first ten designations (in order):

10. The Eagle Rock
9. Shadow Ranch House in Canoga Park
8. Foy House on Carroll Avenue
7. Romulo Pico Adobe (Rancho Romulo) in Mission Hills
6. Bradbury Building on Broadway
5. The Salt Box (Victorian Structure relocated from Bunker Hill and later destroyed by Fire in 1969)
4. Angel's Flight
3. Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles (Plaza Church)
2. Bolton Hall in Tujunga
1. Leonis Adobe at the LA City/Calabasas border

The complete City listing can be found here; and a great way to learn about them is to visit this quite nerdy site (which is fairly awesome!): http://bigorangelandmarks.blogspot.com/, where they are going in order through each monument with brief history, photos, and present-day assessments. With about 40 done so far, they are 5% complete, but new structures are being approved every month, so who knows if the site will ever reach it's goal... at least in the near future. We sure hope so!

Now, there may need to be some change to the way Historical Monuments are protected while in the process of application for designation. Remember: just a few weeks ago, while the initial review was being scheduled for the last original house of the town of Van Nuys, the developer demolished it because a structure is not protected (even temporarily) until after the first hearing. So, once an application is submitted, an owner can demolish it before the review hearing without consequence. Something here needs to change, even it requires the City to gaurantee a hearing within 30 days of an application being filed.

Photo ofthe first Cultural Historic Monument from BigOrangeLandmarks

Thursday, July 12, 2007

City's Annual Free-Money Giveaway

It's that time of year again... to start applying for the over $800,000 available in Community Beautification Grants from the City's Department of Public Works. Matching grants of up to $10K are awarded in February/April of next year, but the deadline to apply is October of 2007 The applications and details are available at the official OCB website here.

So what are these grants for, you ask? Beautifying the community (hence the name). Here's a sample of what was funded last year:

$10K to beautify an elementary school lunchroom in Brentwood
$9999.54 for a canopy and sculpture in El Sereno
$4209.47 to upgrade a community garden in East Hollywood
$10K for a church in Sun Valley to add "landscape and concrete for the children to play on"
$9979.97 to replace the Senior Lawn at Grant High School
$10K to create a outdoor children's playground at the Alcoholism Center for Women
$9869 to landscape a median in South LA
$10K for planters on the sidewalks in Leimart Park

An interesting example of how diverse the projects can be: look how much tree plantings are in various parts of the City based on last year's grantees:

$10K to plant 20 trees in the Cahuenga Pass
$9994.41 to plant 57 trees in North Hollywood
$1657.85 to plant 27 trees in the Harvard Heights Neighborhood
$9883 to plant 130 trees in Imperial Highway just south of LAX

Details of last year's grantees are available here.

Apply for a project that has some public benefit to it. The program tries to fund equally throughout the 15 council districts, so if there are less projects from a certain area, you might have a better chance of receiving funds. That's why sometimes the projects are not as available to the public (like those inside schools or non-profits) as others (like medians, planters, street trees, etc.).

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Metromix's late night dining ommissions

Here's a new late night dining guide from Metromix Los Angeles. We were hoping for something new or innovative based on Metromix's claims:
Metromix is...
your one-stop local entertainment guide on where to go and what to do, from the hottest restaurants and bars, to the latest in events, music, movies, and more.

With Metromix you can...
search thousands of local hotspots by neighborhood, type of food or music, a specific date -- you name it, Metromix lets you find it fast

uncover a insider’s perspective by finding fresh, new and unexpected ideas for going out

share your experiences and opinions through ratings, reviews, photos, and videos

visit daily as there’s always something new to read, watch, or view -- either from our editors or people like you
But this late night list is the same old list, and incomplete, at that. They actually have 87 places listed on their general 24-hour dining list (not a feature like he link above) including many Tommy's, Norms, and Spires locations, but they're still missing some places. So, here's a few missing 24-hour places that are oft-overlooked and should be a part of any basic late-night LA eating list (and yes, late night means you can cross into other municipalities beyond LA City!):

Piper's (Western/Beverly)

Coral Cafe (Burbank; people say better than it's Bob's Big Boy)

King Taco (4504 E. 3rd St. location only)

What's missing?

Neighborhood Profiles on LAist

Our friends at LAist are working on Neighborhood Profiles for the 172 officially designated neighborhoods of the City of LA. They launched the Neighborhood Project with Little Armenia, editor Tony Pierce's home community. The photo essay is poignant and light-hearted and reflects most of the neighborhood.

This was an easy one; I'm eager to see what they have to say about Morningside Circle or Vermont Vista.

Who owns the street?

A commenter asks:
"I live on a street with limited parking (one side). I try to park in front of my location, but sometimes, due to other activities on the street, I am forced to park next door or a few houses down. Is there any ordinance/law that gives neighbors the right to assert ownership of the street in front of their house or is it public and I shouldn't worry about the nasty notes I get every time I have to park there?"
The answer is simple: Ignore the notes - there is no ordinance or law that gives ownership to the street fro private use, unless the street has been vacated and withdrawn from public use (which the commenter should know as their property would most likely be behind a gate as is the case with the Laughlin Park community of Los Feliz). Technically, every street is "owned" by the adjacent property owners to the center line (half the street is "owned" by each side), but there is also a City-owned public easement that makes it open and free to the general public. Even so, the property owner must keep is clean and free of obstruction so that the public can utilize it. This also goes for the sidewalk (LAMC 56.08). So, park anywhere on the street you like; everyone has the same right to park on the street unless otherwise officially posted.

This also raises an issue being examined by the Echo Park community: can LAUSD close Marathon Street for the construction of their new school (9a)? Technically, once they own both sides of the street for their new school site, they can petition the City to close it because they "own" both sides. There is a formal "street vacation" process that the City goes through led by the Bureau of Engineering, but the community indicates (with confirmation from the Council Office) that the process has not yet been followed. LAUSD has been temporarily and permanently closing streets relative to school safety and construction for some time, but always with permits. They have the right to do so on Marathon, if they follow the process.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

New Structure in the 110 Tunnels

We got this email, and thought others may want to know the answer, too:

driving through the 110 fwy tunnels north of downtown a few days ago, I was about to engage in the standard battle of "those who stay in the left lane "vs" those who race to the 5 offramp and cut off 'those who stay in the left lane'"... and I noticed that there's something new in the first two tunnels. mounted to the roof of the tunnels, running the length of the tunnels, is some kind of device directly above the line dividing the left lane from the 2nd lane.

what is it?

Even though this set of tunnels is not maintained by the City any longer (as are the Seven Tunnels of LA), this new structure was Intriguing to us, too. So, after some research and too much driving on the 110 north, the answer revealed itself: new lighting.

The new structures the run the length of the tunnels are new lighting so that the drastic changes from light to dark that can cause accidents are removed. (Roadway experts will tell you that the shift from light to dark like happens in the tunnels can cause visibility and perception issues.) Thanks to Caltrans, the series of tunnels will be safer for that "standard battle" of when to merge to the 5 North.

The lights aren't fully installed yet, but they will be; and those tunnels will be safer for it.

Potholes don't fill themselves

Today, the LAist brings up the point of whether or not the Mayor can recover from the news of the last month. They mention that he's going to announce this week the filling 350,000 potholes in the next fiscal year.

We try our best to stay away from personal commentary, so here are some facts...

Fact: 350,000 potholes would be about 1,000 a day for the next year. (Possible, yes; but...)
Fact: Those crews filling potholes are also the ones who are responsible for sweeping & cleaning streets as well as working on other Bureau services.

Fact: Currently, there are over 200,000 requests for pothole repair are received annually (but not all are technically "potholes").
Fact: Most road erosion or abrasions are not potholes. See this chart for an explanation of a pothole (and what's not a pothole).

Fact: the Mayor has only authorized the Bureau of Street Services (who is responsible for street conditions) $125 million for this fiscal year. (sounds like a lot, but...)
Fact: Street Services needs $300 million per year just to maintain the streets in their current conditions (based on oral reports from the Bureau at various meetings).

Question: Where is the funding and/or personnel coming from to fund the increased number of potholes? This seems like 1) either an announcement of something already happening and being repackaged or 2) a way to avoid actually fixing the problem and literally just patching together a semblance of the nation's largest municipal street system.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Circus is Coming to Town

In some ways, LA is still like a small town.

Plan to attend the Circus Parade from Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey and see how we're just like every other city in America when the circus comes to town.

From the LAPD public assemblage report:
7/22/2007-Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey-OCB/Newton/Central
TIME: 9:30 PM - 11:45 PM
ASSEMBLY: 1111 S. Figueroa (Staples Center)
ROUTE: S. on Figueroa. E. on 11th St. S. on Flower to Pico Bl. E.on Pico Bl then S.on Central to Washington Bl. E/B to S/B Alemeda. E. on 25th St.
CONTACT: Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Briene Finkelstein 818-596-0930

OK, at 9:30pm at night, maybe this isn't the parade that Anytown, USA has. It'll be nice to see elephants walking the street at night on Figueroa - it will be an interesting combination with the other folks that walk Figueroa at night. (though, they're usually south of Exposition Park).

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Our Gang (Little Rascals) Reunion & Outdoor Movie

Everyone loves outdoor movies - here's one for the whole family in true L.A. style. From the Heritage Square Website:

Heritage Square’s Silent Movie Nights:
Saturday, July 7 and 21, 2007. Beginning each night at 7 p.m.
Experience a summer night at Heritage Square Museum while watching your favorite old movies and cartoons. On Saturday. July 7, we present a showing of the celebrated “Our Gang” troop in Pigskin Palooka, a classic film released 70 years ago this year. The screening will take place on the lawn near the Palms Depot and on hand for this special screening are members from the original and supporting cast.

The "Our Gang" Reunion and Silent Movie Night screening admission prices are free for museum members and $10.00 for the general public. Heritage Square Museum will open at 7 p.m. for picnics with the show starting at dusk. Guests are encouraged to bring a chair or blanket to sit on, picnic, and warm clothing.

So, an LA-style theatrical reunion, a movie, historic homes and buildings - all of this along the historic 110 Freeway. What an LA night this will be!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Has City Hall gone green?

Has City Hall gone green?

That's what Rico wants to know, as he indicates here.

Are we sure it isn't just a weird lighting or is it a visual representation as seen in the past at City Hall... like this?

LA Green Girl has the answer.