GPW: Self-Tempered Anarchy since 2009

Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
Send us your stories, ideas, and information. Insiders welcome - confidentiality guaranteed.

stories along The Way

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Griffith Park's Acorn Woodpeckers

Beautiful photographs of Griffith Park's very healthy Acorn Woodpecker population were taken by David Da Costa on November 29th. These deserve far more than a simple Park Pic of the Day nod.

See David's fantastic photos here.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Green Tech No Joke To Chinese

“China is moving,” says Hal Harvey, the chief executive of ClimateWorks, which shares clean energy ideas around the world. “They want to be leaders in green technology. China has already adopted the most aggressive energy efficiency program in the world. It is committed to reducing the energy intensity of its economy — energy used per dollar of goods produced — by 20 percent in five years. They are doing this by implementing fuel efficiency standards for cars that far exceed our own and by going after their top thousand industries with very aggressive efficiency targets. And they have the most aggressive renewable energy deployment in the world, for wind, solar and nuclear, and are already beating their targets.” (from op-ed by Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, 7/4/09)

A year and a half later.......

In other news...

In a downtown workshop this Tuesday evening, DWP will present plans that retreat from its 2007 targets for renewable energy for Angelenos....

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sticker Shock...

Yep, this is the EPA label for the new Nissan Leaf.

Comparing fuel cost? For us old-school-internal-combustion-engine-types, $1,617 is the estimated annual fuel cost based on a given number of miles and fuel price, which are listed lower on the label (15,000 miles per year and $2.80 per gallon for this example).

As for the first production run being "sold out" at 20,000 units, a better phrase might be "reserved out" as customers would have to accept delivery at a 100% level. Between 50% to 80% acceptance might be more in line with industry expectations.

The Hope of Thanksgiving

As time hurtles onward and our lives become more compressed with each passing year, certain undeniable truths begin to arise within ourselves about ourselves as individuals and as a society -- particularly around the holidays. In this Age of Information, we have greater access to data, facts, figures and historical timelines. However, if we do our searches with proper key words in full bandwidth at lightning speed, we run the risk of stripping away our most comfortable lifelong assumptions perhaps too quickly for the community psyche to assimilate.

Case in point: the origin of Thanksgiving Day. Real history dictates there was far less romance, much more bloodshed, and plenty of alcohol.

Some might say this is still well represented at our family gatherings.

But that’s not the issue.

Last year, I watched my five year old son’s kindergarten class put on a play about the first Thanksgiving. There were no massacres of the natives, no hangings, no murderous double-dealings, no chains of slavery. Just children in construction paper pilgrim hats welcoming other children in construction paper feather headdress. They shared saltines and jelly beans and at the end of the play, they all coupled up and danced The Turkey Tango.

To the children, this interpretation of the story had meaning. It was a lesson in everybody getting along.

Thank goodness they chose not to represent Thanksgiving as it really was in the 17th century.

So perhaps we need to view Thanksgiving as a promise renewed every year. Not to candy coat atrocities against native peoples with an annual buffet, but as a promise to continue to try to work together and to get along as best we can.

And then we can all dance The Turkey Tango together.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's Silver and It Runs On Batteries

Good comeback story.

Remember the folks who killed the electric vehicle in the mid-90's? (In fairness, it wasn't "just" GM...)

Calling it "one of the most ground-breaking vehicles Motor Trend has tested in 60 years," the magazine recently announced its 2011 Car of the Year: GM's Chevy Volt.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

5 Quick Questions With Cal "Poppy" Activist Kate Allen

The Wicked Witch of the West may have tried to take Dorothy and Co. out with a field of poppies on their way to The Emerald City, but in the Antelope Valley, a field of poppies just took out plans for an entire motorsports racetrack to be located near the California State Poppy Reserve. According to environmental activist Kate Allen, "We didn't have much hope when we started this, but thought we had to try to stop it. All the letters, emails and testimony at several LA Co. Planning Commission hearings paid off."

The developer, in his own words, "was met with overwhelming opposition that eventually snuffed it out" according to the Antelope Valley Press and has decided to sell the land to a solar company, which will use it for mitigation lands when its project in the Antelope Valley is approved. According to Allen, "As this parcel is part of the area the State originally identified as the best place to preserve poppies, this is very good news. The State was only able to purchase some of the recommended area at the time the Preserve was founded."

I followed up via email with five quick questions for Kate:

How would a motorsports racetrack have affected a nearby poppy reserve?

The main concern was the noise, and the belief that it would keep away visitors. In a random survey of visitors 85% stated that their visits to the reserve would significantly decrease and 50% stated that they would never come again if a racetrack were built nearby. Another concern was air pollution - both dust and emissions during construction and from racing. An additional concern was that the required change in zoning of the parcel from residential to commercial would be the start of more development around the Poppy Reserve. 

Why should people care about poppies?

The California Poppy is the state flower. Many areas where it once blanketed the hillsides have been built over. It is a beautiful wildflower and worth the effort of saving it. Many other wildflowers are also found on the Poppy Reserve, so it is not just about preserving poppies.

Other than the developer, who proved the biggest opposition on this issue?

Racing enthusiasts who wanted to have this facility built. They claim there is a shortage of places to race because several racetracks have closed.

Now that we know the opposition, who stepped up and did the hero's work; individuals or supporting organizations?

Most of the work was spearheaded by a small group, a coalition of members of PR/MDIA (Poppy Reserve/Mojave Desert Interpretive Association), Sierra Club, the Antelope Valley Environmental Group (AVEG) and individuals. The group never really adopted a name. Dean Webb, program chair of the AV Sierra Club Group, played a key roll in first alerting us to this threat and beginning the process of organizing a group to oppose it. Margaret Rhyne, who is president of PR/MDIA was the main force; and her husband Phil was instrumental in contacting residents around the proposed racetrack site and getting several of them to write letters and come to hearings to testify. (This is a rural area, houses are far apart and set far back from their property lines, it is not easy to contact residents).

Best guess; how solid does the land mitigation deal appear to be?

The mitigation is dependent on AV Solar Ranch One being approved. They are the ones buying the land. There is not much opposition to this solar project - it is PV and being built on previously disturbed land.

"Close Contest" not so much

As of November 22, 2010, 6:16 p.m.

Kamala D. Harris (Dem)   4,352,280   (46.0%)

Steve Cooley (Rep)          4,298,699   (45.5%)

Monday, November 22, 2010

DWP Raterpayer watered down by City Council

Presser from the Rudy Martinez for CD 14 campaign follows. Thinking there is more than a note of truth to it, and Martinez actually has enough money to mount an actual campaign rather than just a run for office, which makes the race interesting.


LOS ANGELES, CA (November 20, 2010) – In what proved to be one of the most critical votes the Los Angeles City Council has faced in years, Councilmember Jose Huizar denied Department of Water and Power (DWP) rate payers real accountability over the DWP by casting the decisive vote in favor of a watered-down Charter Amendment instead of the stronger reform measures backed by seven other council members and DWP reform advocates. If approved by voters in the upcoming March 8th municipal elections, the amendment would create a weak and disempowered Office of Public Accountability (OPA) for the DWP.

“This vote provided a bright light between the real reformers and those who support the proposed ballot measure. The final language is disappointing.” said Jack Humphreville via the CityWatch site.

The City Council held a series of public hearings to obtain community feedback on the proposed OPA. Community members were lead to believe that the final language for the ballot measure would include elements of oversight over the finances, management and operations of the DWP.

The current diluted and ambiguous language of the ballot measure reads as follows:

"The role of the OPA shall be to (1) promote efficiency and effectiveness of the department; (2) provide a centralized focus on ratepayer protection and consumer complaints; and (3) provide independent analysis of department actions, particularly as they relate to water and electricity rate actions. The OPA shall advocate against excessive rates and shall provide expert advice on rate actions and strategies which most economically accomplish the City's policy goals and protect the department's long-term interests."

“Jose Huizar chose to place the demands of the Downtown special interests above the interests of the residents of CD 14 and DWP rate payers all over Los Angeles,” said Eric Hacopian lead consultant to Rudy Martinez campaign. “His betrayal will be fully noted on March 8th by Council District voters when the voters are given the opportunity to vote for true reformer like Rudy Martinez who will bring real change to Los Angeles City Hall.”

Al Bundy does Wilshire

Tom LaBonge and his tightly-clutched compensation factor are photographed with a few friends by LA Observed photographer Judy Graeme before the Great Los Angeles Walk on Wilshire this past Saturday.

What an embarrassing dumb-ass.

Council passes road closure near Hollywood Sign

Hollywood Unbound reports that the City Council voted Friday to close a section of Mulholland Drive near the Hollywood Sign under questionable circumstances.  The City cites mischief and tomfoolery while Hollywood Unbound questions the legality.

Residents have been complaining about tourists and teens trespassing, hanging out, cruising, drinking, and building illegal bonfires in the area for decades. So why now?  Since this is a Tom LaBonge motion, one has got to figure the election has something to do with the timing.

There is precedent as the street at Deronda and MulHolland Hwy has been closed for some time. All of these streets are very narrow in the area. And just to remind readers in this post 9-11 world, the area around the Hollywood Sign is a Homeland Security site.

View Ledgewood and Mulholland in a larger map

Saturday, November 20, 2010

For Your Thanksgiving Checklist...

Hey, we all know you're going to spend a lot of time and money on Thanksgiving preparations for the family.
They're worth it.

While you're at it, how about spending a few minutes this year on Emergency preparations for the people (and pets) you love so much?

From FEMA:

Have Disaster Supplies on Hand
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Portable battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
  • First aid kit and manual.
  • Emergency food and water.
  • Nonelectric can opener.
  • Essential medicines.
  • Cash and credit cards.
  • Sturdy shoes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

While We're At It.....

Being deliriously happy over L.A. County's single use grocery bag ban, I couldn't help but wonder, since we're on a "roll," what else can we ban? Here's my list for your consideration...

1) Let's ban smog.

*cough* We must get over our addiction to it. It's killing us. Perhaps a big warning sticker should go on the side of all pre-2000 vehicles.

2) Let's ban mean people.

40 years of watching the Grinch every Christmas and we still haven't gotten voluntary compliance. Time for a law.

3) Let's ban the phrase "thrown under the bus."

If actually throwing someone under a bus is a capital offense, using this phrase in daily conversation should at least be a misdemeanor.

4) Namecalling.

What, are we all still in third grade now? Namecalling is a trick used by simpler minds to distract us from intelligent discussion. Let's not fall for it, let's get over it. State your point, not your prejudice.

5) People making phone calls.

Behind me. In line at the grocery store. Oh, oops, I thought you were talking to me, but instead I see you're yelling into your new iPhone. I'm surprised you need a satellite connection at all.

Snake pic of the day

Griffith Park last week, near a public water fountain.  Click image to enlarge.

Be careful out there! The snake, I mean. Be careful little snakey. People will try to kill you before you can begin to explain why you deserve to be there.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Harris still in the lead

As of November 17, 2010, 11:42 a.m:

Kamala D. Harris  (Dem)    4,199,742    46.0%
Steve Cooley  (Rep)           4,169,096    45.6%

Conan blimp buzzes Tonight Show studio

Video shot by yours truly in beautiful downtown Burbank over NBC Studios on Monday evening. Heh.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Board of Sups bans plastic bags

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors took matters into their own hands today, passing a measure to ban plastic bags from stores that recently failed at the state level.

The LA Times says:  
The vote was 3-1, supported by Supervisors Gloria Molina, Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Zev Yaroslavsky, and opposed by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. Supervisor Don Knabe was absent.

The ban, which will cover nearly 1.1 million residents countywide, is to the point: “No store shall provide to any customer a plastic carryout bag.” An exception would be made for plastic bags that are used to hold fruit, vegetables or raw meat in order to prevent contamination with other grocery items.

If grocers choose to offer paper bags, they must sell them for 10 cents each, according to the ordinance. The revenue will be retained by the stores to purchase the paper bags and educate customers about the law.
Personally, I save these darned bags and use them all the time at home. So I'm inconvenienced.... but I'll live. Obviously the greater environmental issue takes precedence.

Now, where can I find some very small trash bin liners for free?

With Strategists Like These, Who Needs Opposition?

I will happily grant you that, had Prop. 23 passed, I would have joined a boycott of oil companies Valero and Tesoro along with all the other elderly, white environmentalists like myself.

Thankfully, Prop. 23 got squished like a bug in the baby’s room. However, if it had won, given the scope of these multi-billion dollar Texas oil companies and the depth of my personal bitterness, I really don’t think I’d direct a boycott letter to the local Valero gas station cashier who sells me chips and diet soda and asks me if I want my car washed on an overcast day.

Not so for the strategists of the failed Prop 23 campaign. Got this email today. Here they go, a-organizin’.....

"Dear Mr. Cameron:

I am one of the millions of taxpayers who supported Proposition 23.

I will NOT be purchasing your extended version of 'Avatar' because of your $1 million donation to the campaign opposing the Prop. 23 effort to relieve our economy of the costly AB 32 global warming tax.

You have stated that, 'we're going to have to live with less,' while you yourself own three houses in Malibu totaling 24,000 square feet, a 100 acre Santa Barbara ranch, a stable of exotic cars, a fleet of submarines, a yacht and a Humvee firetruck.

I am NOT willing to live with less. But I will be living WITHOUT your extended version of 'Avatar' thanks to your support of imposing job losses and higher prices on the rest of us."

Whew, I’m sure glad I’m not James Cameron!

Have to imagine that a protest of this size against purchasing a third Blu-Ray edition of the director’s cut with additional minutes served up with a computer chip to attach to your frontal lobe for a true 3-D experience is really gonna impact somebody’s bottom line.

Probably not Jim Cameron’s.

Maybe his dry cleaners.

A couple questions for the grassroots organizers here:

“Have you seen Avatar?”

"If so, who did you root for?"

“You do realize that, in the Avatar movie, the tall blue fangy people are fighting for their lives against a Military Industrial Complex only interested in money, right? I mean, it’s not like they’re interested in inter-galactic job creation or anything.”

“Have you heard of Jim Cameron before? Perhaps you've heard of his ego? What about any of the other small, personal movies he’s made like, say, ‘Titanic’ or ‘The Terminator’?”

And finally...

“Aren’t you a little embarrassed?”

Ah, well....

With LaBonge's help, DWP stripping Solar Rebate for itself

Anything DWP brings out the absolute worst in CD 4 candidate Tom LaBonge, likely because it was the DWP that employed him prior to joining City Hall. In any fight between the public and the DWP, it's clear where his loyalties lie.

Killing Solar Energy Hopes for LA -- The Battle to Reform the DWP

By Ron Kaye on November 12, 2010  

The problem seriously ignorant people like Tom LaBonge often have is they think everyone is as uninformed and ill-informed as they are and that no one is smart enough to understand what they're really saying in their torrent of mostly meaningless words.

Two-faced guys like Dennis Zine have a different problem. They think they can double-talk and flip-flop and sell out and nobody pays enough attention to notice.

Then, there's the passionate environmentalist and ultra-liberal Paul Koretz who cares so much about green energy he called for a compromise that would give the DWP most of what it wanted when it drastically cut rebates for rooftop solar installations even as he led the fight to take jurisdiction and overturn the policy.

The Council debate Friday on taking jurisdiction under rule 245 was almost as crazy as the DWP Commission's Nov.  2 decision to cut rebates by a third and then half and then 80 percent over the next three years.  .

There was the devious Zine demanding to know why anyone would challenge the DWP when the rogue utility is doing such a great job and LaBonge proposing the DWP abandon rooftop solar on homes and businesses and put all its efforts into greening public buildings.

Both men are hoping to get their hands on the vast amount of cash IBEW  union bully Brian D'Arcy can throw their way, an immediate concern of LaBonge's who faces a tough re-election campaign in March.

The is just one battleground in a larger war that pits then entrenched interests of the DWP which are being protected by Interim GM and First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner against aroused and increasingly well-informed citizenry with the toadies and stooges on the City Council caught in middle looking for whatever cover they can find.

The decision Friday sent the solar rebate policy to the Energy and Environment Committee led by Jan Perry, who is one of the few who has shown the courage to actually stand up to the power of the DWP so it will be interesting to see what comes back to the Council.

The specific reason for the DWP action is simple if incomprehensible: It's too successful.

In 2007, California's Million Solar Roofs Law took effect, requiring the DWP to commit more than $30 million a year to funding a significant part of the cost of solar installation.

DWP provided only an average of $25 million a year since then for rebates of up to 35 percent of the cost and created a modest 23 megawatts of rooftop solar energy, tiny fraction of less than 1 percent of the city's power usage.

But solar is hot now and people with money to burn want it, in no small part because of the 30 federal tax credit, so the DWP has 1,500 applications for rebates worth more than $100 million and create 35 megawatts of solar power.

Since the DWP only budgeted $17 million for rebates this year, the solution the geniuses came up with was to virtually eliminate the whole program.

That doesn't sit well with the booming local solar energy installation industry which is creating more jobs than any other part of the economy in these hard times and sees what the DWP is up to as a deliberate attempt to kill the private solar industry.

The other side of that coin is that the DWP and D'Arcy have fought every effort to spur a private solar industry, preferring to keep the jobs inside the DWP where salaries and benefits are so spectacular and the IBEW gets a nifty percentage from every worker to help elect officials who do their bidding or destroy those who get in their way.

A decade ago, the DWP launched the largest solar initiative in U.S. history but thanks to the IBEW and gross mismanagement failed to built enough solar to power a suburban block.

A year ago, the IBEW launched its own $3 billion rooftop solar initiative, the Measure B boondoggle rejected by voters after a vigorous grassroots campaign against the $1.5 million spent by the union. Measure B was supposed to build 400 megawatts of solar with all the work being done by the DWP and IBEW.

That's what this is all about, why Zine opposed taking jurisdiction, why LaBonge wanted to keep solar installations in the hands of the DWP/IBEW by using the money from the Million Solar Roofs Law only on pubic buildings, why Koretz was looking for a weak compromise.

The real war that has been building since the mayor was foiled in his effort to get a 28 percent rate increase last spring will come to a head on Tuesday when the Council decides on a series of DWP reform measures to go on the March ballot.

The IBEW launched its attack this week on all reforms with full-page ads in the Times and Daily News claiming the Council is "rushing to place major changes to the Department of Water and Power on the March ballot without a thorough public discussion. While reform is needed, this proposal has had too little deliberation and too little public input."

Actually, there has been a great deal of public input about creating a fully independent Rate Payer Advocate and putting independent citizens with expertise on the Board of Commissioners instead of the lackeys who do the bidding of the nation's self-styled "greenest mayor in America.".

But it's far from clear that the Council has listened to the public input, preferring to look for ways to water down these proposals out of fear of a fight with the IBEW.

We'll see on Tuesday whether any of the 15 Council members deserve to hold public office.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Box declares support for Election Matching Funds cap removal

Good ethical presser to start off the real campaign season from the Stephen Box for CD 4 camp.

Matching Funds for elections is one of the few ways a regular person can begin to engage in a real campaign for City Office.

Now if Box would assume more a widely accepted professional facial hair style and get behind the wheel of an automobile during the campaign, he might get taken more seriously. We'd really like him to get taken more seriously, too.  

November 15, 2010


LA’s City Council moves unanimously to create ballot measure proposing removal of the cap on the Matching Funds Program Trust Fund  
Hollywood, CA - Stephen Box, candidate for City Council District 4, commends the Los Angeles City Council for its collaboration with the California Clean Money Campaign and for its efforts to reform LA’s campaign finance system, one that currently rewards well-financed incumbents while excluding grassroots candidates.

“LA’s City Council has long recognized that an election system should reward candidates with vision for the city rather than those with the largest war chests,” said Box as he walked precincts in Council District 4, “but proposing a corrective ballot measure is just talk if they aren’t willing to voluntarily campaign according to the Clean Money principles.”

It’s been five years since the City Council recognized that “A system that helps equalize the funding for well-qualified and community-supported candidates would allow candidates to spend more time talking to voters about their concerns and less time talking to campaign contributors, many of whom live outside the areas the candidates seek to represent.”

Since then there have been efforts to create a system that provides well-qualified candidates with adequate funding to mount competitive campaigns that will engage the voters and offer real choices about the leadership and direction of the city.

Fifty candidates have filed Declarations of Intent for the upcoming March 8, 2011 elections for the seven City Council seats that represent the even numbered districts, and the immediate challenge is collecting the signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot. Then comes the challenge of raising the funds necessary to mount a viable campaign.

In 2009, none of the incumbents or front runners participated in LA’s Matching Funds Program, yet the current roster of incumbents voted unanimously to pursue election reform on the upcoming ballot measure, a move that would apply restrictions to future candidates but not to them.

While the City Council engages in what some refer to as Election Reform Kabuki Theatre, the real opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to Participatory Democracy consists of voluntary participation in the City of LA’s Matching Funds Program (LAMC 24.5) which limits expenditures and requires participants to engage in sponsored debates.

# # #

For more information, Contact: Stephen Box
City Council Candidate, District 4
(323) 864-7586 - -

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Great Day for Los Angeles; Elsmere Canyon designated Open Space

On Friday, 842 acres of Elsmere Canyon, an area of land just east of where the 14 and 5 freeways connect, officially became designated Open Space. Had certain interests had their way, Elsmere Canyon could have become the nation's largest landfill. Today, that threat is gone. Congratulations and big thanks to the city of Santa Clarita, the Santa Clarita Valleys Preservation Committee, the County of Los Angeles,  Supervisor Michael Antonovich, and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy for making this happen! Richard Alarcon, please take note!

From the Daily News:

The land was transferred into public holding after Santa Clarita provided $3.85 million toward the purchase, while Los Angeles County committed $1.75 million and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy provided $500,000.

The purchase also preserves Native American artifacts from the Chumash and Tatavium tribes that date back to 450 A.D., as well as sea fossils dating back to when the range was still under the ocean. There are 20 sensitive species of wildlife and about 8,000 trees.

"It is so close to our urban neighborhood that when you walk in, it gives you the ability to walk into a different world," said Santa Clarita Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean. "You can look into a world that used to be."

"This is a resource that needed to be saved," added McLean, who founded the Santa Clarita Valley Canyons Preservation Committee, which co-sponsored legislation to fund the preservation of Whitney and Elsmere Canyons. "It did not need to be buried under 190 million tons of garbage."

The acquisition of the land is part of a larger effort to designate wildlands surrounding five valleys in L.A. and Ventura counties as open space.

The Rim of the Valley Corridor plan proposes that the mountains surrounding the San Fernando, La Crescenta, Santa Clarita, Simi and Conejo valleys are preserved not only to provide recreational opportunities but to allow wildlife room to migrate and maintain healthy gene pools.

The dedication brought that plan one step closer to fruition, said L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.

"Our hope ... is that it will lay a network of trails that will reach from the Pacific Ocean in Ventura County to Angeles Crest National Forest," Antonovich said. 

Harris take the lead - again

Kamala D. Harris      (Dem) 4,044,927
 Steve Cooley       (Rep)          4,039,351

Weekend events at the Debs Park Audubon

This weekend at the Audubon Center:

Saturday, 11/13 (10:00-11:00 am)

Family Nature Hike/ Caminata Familiar sobre la Naturaleza

Come on an exploration hike in beautiful Debs Park! Meet in our entry
courtyard. English and Spanish speakers welcome.

Free Tai Chi Class/ Clase Gratis de Tai Chi

Enjoy a peaceful early morning in our courtyard. Volunteer instructor,
Wayne Qian, will teach you techniques to ease your tension and stress,
and improve your balance and breathing

Billy has company

Billy the long suffering elephant at the Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park now has company - or is that co-inmates?  Two female African elephants arrived Thursday and are on indefinite loan from the San Diego Zoo.

Neither Tina or Jewel are spring chickens, both being between 43 and 45 years old. Billy is just 25. Makes you wonder if the San Diego Zoo wasn't hedging its bet just a bit, thinking to let an already suspect institution take the fall if either of them passes.

Regardless, Billy finally has companionship - a joyous occasion for animals as social as elephants.

The new Elephant exhibit at the LA Zoo opens in mid-December.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hiking to the Hollywoood Sign is legal

US Outsdoor Maps and Books blog has just published excellent directions including a video for hiking up to the Hollywood Sign, which is on Mt. Lee and not on Mt Hollywood for whatever reason.

Just remember that it is illegal to go beyond the fence. Historically, park security officers have little sense of humor about this particular bit of trespassing if you choose to ignore the warnings. Why? Because the communications towers on Mt. Lee are a major Homeland Security site.

No one has a sense of humor when it comes to Homeland Security dealings.

Gas leaf blowers are illegal

In one hour, one single gas leaf blower emits the same pollutants as 17 older model cars or 80 newer model cars, plus create particulates that contribute to asthma and other health issues in children and others.

PSA courtesy of the Studio City NC and Ed Begley Jr.

Box makes it official

Stephen Box filing for CD 4 election in March 2011.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Harris-Cooley looks like a photo finish

Eric Garcetti tweet reminds us to check the Secy of State's web site for the latest update. Damn, this is a close one!

Kamala D. Harris (Dem)3,886,014
Steve Cooley (Rep)3,895,569

Whacked whacking

UPDATE:  "I'm glad if the ribbon is rejected, as long as it's rejected in a transparent way," O'Grady said at the press event.  


Presser from John Thomas on behalf of CD 4 candidate Tomas O'Grady below speaks for itself.

Thinking that if O'Grady was truly serious about veterans, he would be attempting to do something to help their situation rather than this. Things like proper health care and other needed social services, just for starters.

O’Grady for City Council 2011
Tel: (818) XXX-XXXX
Email: john@XXX.XXX



Who: Tomas O’Grady, Candidate for LA City Council District 4, David Weiss, Veteran and Annapolis Graduate, Numerous Distinguished Military Veterans in uniform, Other concerned citizens of Los Angeles

When: Wednesday November 10, 2010 10:30am
Where: City Hall – South Lawn (Steps)
200 West 1st Street
Los Angeles, California 90012

Oops, guess we missed it!
Any nonpartisan observer who got a photo of this rally, please send it in.

Half-Dome from dawn to dusk

Dawn to dusk: 11/08/2010. Half Dome from Sentinel Dome from Jake on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

City Council voting tomorrow to bypass community plans

UPDATE: This was passed today by City Council. For the commenter who brought it up, we have been led to understand that the yes votes include LaBonge.

If you've not found a good reason to vote in some fresh faces without City Hall baggage come March in CDs 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14, try the following on for size.

Filing to run for office in the March election began yesterday.

Get Informed and Involved:
The Failure to implement LA's Community Plans

By Ron Kaye on November 9, 2010 10:40 AM

Editor's Note: The assault on planning rules that protect neighborhoods and require processes that give the public a voice is in high gear. The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday will vote on a proposed ordinance that will fundamentally change how Community Plans are updated. It would enable the city to effectively up-zone and change zoning within Community Plan areas without a formal Community Plan update, to spot-zone individual sites with only adjustments and exceptions without requiring variances, potentially override existing Community Design Overlay Districts, Pedestrian Oriented Districts and Q conditions and undermine the new Baseline Hillside Ordinance, according to LA Neighbors United. 

This article by former city planner, Dick Platkin, now a planning consultant, helps explain the issue.

By Dick Platkin

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council will consider and may adopt a new Community Plan Implementation Ordinance (CPIO). This ordinance is enabling legislation which will then allow the city to implement a community plan through a zoning overlay ordinance for an entire community plan area.

But would such local ordinances actually implement a Community Plan? The answer is hardly at all, and the title of this new legislation vastly and misleadingly exaggerates its importance.

This is because the City's elected officials, with long-term and consistent support from the Department of City Planning, long ago abdicated their role in planning Los Angeles. For them planning has become an appendage to the city's Department of Building and Safety, not a rigorously prepared and maintained vision for governing Los Angeles.

As anyone who has taken the time to actually look at the city's General Plan elements, such as the General Plan Framework or at one of the city's 35 Community Plans quickly learns, these documents always address 100 percent of the land area in Los Angeles. This is why all plans contain page after page of thoughtful policies and programs addressing such public infrastructure as parks, and such public services as libraries and sanitation.

These portions of the General Plan and its implementing land use element, the Community Plans, such as the Hollywood Community Plan now being updated, address 80 percent of the land area of Los Angeles. They should therefore guide the bulk of City Hall's activities, the city's annual budget, including its Capital Improvement Program.

Furthermore, only 20 percent of the city's surface area is private lots, and only a small amount of the activity on these private lots is new construction regulated by Building and Safety and City Planning. Most of what goes on in private lots has nothing to do with new construction and is addressed by code enforcement or other cutting-edge programs to "green" existing buildings. Examples of the latter include environmental upgrades, such as cisterns, strategic tree planting, green roofs, double-paned windows, and home appliances.

Not only does the proposed CPIO fail to address any policies or programs for existing structures, but -- more importantly -- it totally fails to implement any of the policies and programs for the 80 percent of Los Angeles carefully addressed in Community Plans, but under the jurisdiction of the big city departments, in particular LADWP, Harbor, Airports, Public Works (Engineering, Street Services, Sanitation), Police, Fire, Transportation, Libraries, and Recreation and Parks.

In other words, the CPIO is almost totally irrelevant. This is because these city departments control most of the land area of the city, spend most of the General Fund and collected fees, build and maintain the city's entire infrastructure, and operate all of the city's municipal services (e.g., garbage collection, traffic control). Yet, they are totally absent from the misnamed Community Plan Implementation Ordinance.

The real heavy lifting in implementing a community plan comes through the city's budget, department work programs, and the Capital Improvement Program. Building permits, in particular discretionary actions to obtain building permits not otherwise allowed by city codes, are, in reality, a tiny part of Community Plan implementation.

Since City Planning long ago abdicated any role other than processing these discretionary actions, they have proposed an ordinance which has the hubris of claiming it is implementing the Community Plans, when, in fact, it is only a back door for circumventing discretionary actions for the small number of building permits which cannot be directly by the city Department of Building and Safety.

What Los Angeles needs is real implementation of its existing and future city plans, not misleading ordinances which claim to implement the General Plan, but which do nothing of the sort.

CA AG's race: Cooley on top

As of this morning, Steve Cooley has widened his lead of Kamala Harris to close to 50,000 votes.

You can bet this recount will go on and on and on and on and on and on.

Kamala D. Harris (Dem)  3,731,518  [45.5%]
Steve Cooley (Rep)  3,782,957   [46.1%]

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Park pic of the day

YFrog image  of Los Angeles from Griffith Park by @VMMaryKB

CouncilPhone is foobar

Anyone trying to be engaged in Los Angeles City government by phone this week probably already knows that you are out of luck. CouncilPhone is dead-meat.

Doesn't the City want our participation?

Trying to find out what the problem is before the Planning Commission hearing on the Bicycle Plan this morning ends. (ugh)

UPDATE: Francisco Montano, CouncilPhone admin says "we had a major system failure with our CouncilPhone system last Tuesday Oct. 26, we're working on a solution to restore full capacity of the CP system, and the only solution was to purchase a whole new system. We have limited CP service for the City Council meetings only. My estimated time for full CP capacity could be 2 to 3 weeks for installation and training. I'll put the City Planning Commission on CP as soon it is up and running. Sorry for the inconvenience."

Please feed the animals!

If you happen to be passing through Sunland on Friday or Saturday, drop by Corsica's Deli for a snack.

$2.00 of every sandwich sold will go to support Wildlife Waystation.

Corsica’s Deli will donate $2.00 to Wildlife WayStation for every Sandwich sold at the regular price.

Friday & Saturday Nov. 5th and 6th 2010
10 am to 6 pm.

Please help us feed the Animals!
Corsica’s Deli
8111 Foothill Blvd. Sunland CA