To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Sunday, June 23, 2013

CicLAvia draws Angelenos to downtown streets


By Leanne Suter, June 23, 2013


Southlanders grabbed their bikes and took to the streets of Los Angeles Sunday for the seventh edition of CicLAvia. 

It's the second time this year L.A. streets have been transformed into a sea of bicyclists.

Six miles of streets in and around downtown were closed to vehicles and open to bicyclists, skateboarders, roller skaters and pedestrians.

The event began on Wilshire Boulevard from Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles to Fairfax Avenue in Hollywood.

The event's mission is to promote exercising and healthy living for all.

CicLAvia co-founder Aaron Paley said around 200,000 took part in the car-free event.

"This is a once in a lifetime thing, you can't just come down to these streets. There's so many cars and so much traffic, this is a great time to come down here, ride your bike and enjoy," said Phillip Batiste of Placentia.

A cyclist was hit by a car near the 4200 block of Wilshire Boulevard during Sunday's ride.
Firefighters say a driver plowed through cones blocking off the street.

The rider complained of some aches but declined medical care.

If you missed your chance to bike through the streets without any traffic, CycLAvia will run again on Oct. 6.

CicLAvia: A more relaxed vibe as more people walked


By Joe Mozingo, June 23, 2013

 CicLAvia: A more relaxed vibe as more people walked


Sunday's CicLAvia was a bit more slow-paced and relaxed than past events as people took to their feet to explore Wilshire Boulevard's unique architecture, organizers said.

A pedestrian zone at each end of the route -- downtown L.A. and the Miracle Mile -- enabled people to saunter without fear of being run over by hordes of cyclists.

"Both of those spots and our hub in Koreatown were like mini festivals unto themselves," CicLAvia spokesman Robert Gard said.

He said April's CicLAvia event, a 30-mile round trip from downtown L.A. to Venice Beach, was more frenetic, drawing more than 200,000 people. He estimated that this CicLAvia drew about 150,000.

"A lot of people were excited just to explore the neighborhoods and look at the architecture at a leisurely pace, as opposed to to April, when they felt like they had to get to the beach and back," he said.

CicLAvia dubbed a success with no major emergencies or arrests


By Jack Leonard and Joe Mozingo, June 23, 2013


CicLAvia dubbed a success with no major emergencies or arrests

Los Angeles fire paramedics and police had relatively little to do during Sunday’s CicLAvia, as authorities reported no major medical emergencies or arrests at the city’s seventh car-free event.

One cyclist was reportedly struck by a vehicle about 2:15 p.m. along Wilshire Boulevard near Lorraine Boulevard in the city's Mid-Wilshire neighborhood but was adamant that he did not require medical attention, despite an initial complaint of back discomfort, city fire spokesman Brian Humphrey said.

Specially trained paramedics mostly dealt with minor injuries and cyclists wanting to high-five officials, he said.

“I would describe it, from our perspective, as a very successful and enjoyable event,” Humphrey said. “We were blessed by mild weather, people in good spirits and the experience of having six previous CicLAvias.”

Thousands joined in the event, in which a 6.3-mile section of Wilshire Boulevard from downtown L.A. to Fairfax Avenue was closed to vehicles until 4 p.m. to allow for bicyclists, roller skaters, in-line skaters, skateboarders and pedestrians to take over the big boulevard.

The event's organizers have called the route the most pedestrian-friendly of any CicLAvia. For the first time, there were pedestrian-only zones at the beginning and end of the route. Those areas featured activities including Pilates, belly-dance classes and bicycle helmet decoration.

Previous events drew as many as 100,000 cyclists and pedestrians. The $350,000 cost to stage each event is picked up by a nonprofit, CicLAvia, and the city, which uses state and federal money. The goal of the nonprofit is to encourage public health, mass transit and vibrant use of public space through car-free street events.

Ciclovías started in Bogotá, Colombia, more than 30 years ago as a response to the congestion and pollution of city streets. Now they are staged throughout Latin America and the United States.


Behold, Tom Bradley Terminal's Glorious Dining Deck


June 20, 2013


 (See site for more photos.)


Today LAX unveiled its stunning new Tom Bradley International Terminal retail and dining area, available to in transit and departing passengers. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa introduced the world-class building, designed to draw tourists and visitors from all over the world, especially Asia. Representing the city are 17 local concepts and brands, from sandwich purveyor ink.sack by Michael Voltaggio to the fast-fired 800 Degrees pizza. At the moment, construction is still in progress for most of the eateries, though the retail shops are generally organized.

There's a huge Larder at Tavern that sports sandwiches, salads, charcuterie, picnic baskets, and other grocery items from chef Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne, as well as a mini version of Border Grill from chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken. LAMILL will brew espresso and coffee while Petrossian plans to dole out pricey caviar and Champagne. Tucked into the farther corner is a mini 800 Degrees pizza, and behind that is an Umami Burger. The mezzanine level hosts an expansive Lucky Fish by Sushi Roku while a generic sounding wine bar called Vino Volo serves small places and wines by the glass. Chaya will be doing their blend of Euro-Asian dishes with local ingredients, too.

For something sweet, Santa Monica's Vanilla Bake Shop will vend cupcakes, and a scaled down version of Short Cake by Eater Young Gun Hourie Sahakian and Nancy Silverton will sell additional baked goods. The largest full-service restaurant is an outlet of III Forks, a Midwestern steakhouse chain that'll span over 6,000 square feet, featuring sizzling steaks and more.

Over at ink.sack, it turns out that the new egg sandwiches at the original Melrose location were a test for the all-day service expected at Tom Bradley. Owner Michael Voltaggio along with 800 Degrees' chef/owner Anthony Carron did say that most of the ingredients would be identical to the ones offered at the standard brick-and-mortar locations, while spots like Short Cake and Vanilla Bake Shop would actually be baking their items and then delivering them daily versus making them on site. It gives the representative food options here a lot more authenticity than, say, a licensing agreement.

Milliken said that it was great to finally have an airport dining destination much like the ones in San Francisco and London. Depending on the day, food and beverage options will initiate an hour before the first departure and conclude one hour after the last plane of the evening departs, which could be well beyond midnight since most flights to Asia take off around that time. The terminal should be opening within the next 6 to 8 weeks, about late August if construction continues on schedule.

LA County cities fight over Metro plans for new trains, subways

 San Gabriel Valley COG votes to support local projects, ensure true cost of Gold Line Foothill Extension is covered


By Steve Scauzillo, June 21, 2013



The fight to see which parts of Los Angeles County are more train-worthy than others pits the city of Los Angeles against the suburbs, with the proposed westside subway to the sea, Green Line addition to LAX and a Regional Connector in downtown leading the list of accelerated projects.

Many small-city lobbying groups and councils of government say the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro, is creating winners and losers in its race to build 12 transit projects in 10 years instead of 30 years and convince the federal government to fork over between $6 billion and $9 billion for the ramp-up.

The 27-member Gateway Cities Council of Governments voted to oppose Metro's accelerated spending plan and list of projects on June 5. And on Thursday, after heated debate, the 31-city San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments board voted to support local transit projects but to make sure a "flawed" element was corrected to include the full cost of the Gold Line Foothill Extension from Azusa to Claremont.

Helping the San Gabriel Valley COG offer strings-attached support to Metro's plan was Metro Chairman and L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who on Thursday steered through a change requiring Metro to list the Foothill portion of the Gold Line Extension's true cost at $1.714 billion and not $758 million as listed, and to ensure completion to Claremont by 2022.

But in between the arguments against Metro for being "LA-centric" and the slap for leaving out the second leg of the Gold Line Foothill, was one made by South El Monte Council member and SGVCOG Vice President Joe Gonzales who said it was the SGVCOG that was favoring one area of the San Gabriel Valley over the other.

Metro's list includes not just LA-based projects, but others, such as construction of a street car from Paramount into Orange County, and a 10-year acceleration of the Gold Line's proposed Eastside line from the terminus near Montebello to either Peck Road in South El Monte or Lambert Road in Whittier, depending on the route Metro chooses.

"Our COG is Foothill-centric," Gonzales said. "There are other projects and other areas that are important," he told the SGVCOG board Thursday night at its meeting in Irwindale.

Metro plans to expedite the Gold Line Eastside extension by starting funding later this year, instead of 2022. The project could be built by 2022, instead of 2035.

Five cities supported the Metro acceleration plan: Rosemead, Montebello, El Monte, South El Monte and Industry. Assemblyman Ian Calderon also sent a letter of support. On the north side of the San Gabriel Valley, the cities of Pasadena, La Verne and Claremont wrote letters in opposition.

Gonzales says the 60-corridor cities have some of the highest unemployment in the area and the residents are transit-dependent. The implication is the poorer communities should get priority for new train service over the more well-to-do foothill communities of Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne and Claremont.

"Absolutely. Our area is mass transit dependent," Gonzales said Friday in an interview. "There are more people who don't own cars in our area. Plus, unemployment is our six 60-corridor cities is at 11.5 percent. It's economics."

Joining Gonzales was San Dimas City Councilman Denis Bertone, South Pasadena City Councilman Michael Cacciotti, and SGVCOG president Councilwoman Barbara Messina of Alhambra, who said the body should unite and support both projects.

"We need to show we are a united front for both projects. We don't want to come across that we are divided. Then we all lose," Messina said.

Metro's board will vote on the accelerated project plan on Thursday. The plan is based on a list of projects being funded primarily by Measure R, a half-cent sales tax passed by voters in 2008. Metro wants to accelerate new train and highway projects from 2013 to 2019 by acquiring loans, bonds and revenues from the federal government. For some, that would require approval of the U.S. Congress, something that is not a sure thing.

When Measure R tax dollars run out in 2039, Metro will use other transit sales tax measures, namely Prop. A and Prop. C, to pay off the debt service from 2040 to 2069.

"This is very much of a fluid situation," said SGVCOG Transportation Committee Chairman and Duarte City Councilman John Fasana, who is the SGV's representative to Metro. Fasana abstained from voting Thursday night at the SGVCOG.

The Tattler Sunday News: The Super Moon Edition


June 23, 2013


 (Mod: Usually we begin these Sunday News reports with a dry monologue belittling the effort and questioning the value of the report itself. We are not going to do that this week. However, there is something of a problem with this approach, and that is it leaves us with very little else to talk about. Normally we can bang out a couple of paragraphs knocking the entire effort. But that won't happen today. So instead we are just going to jump right into the week's news without any further delays.)

Dan Walters: Corruption flourishes in Los Angeles County (link)
Los Angeles County contains a quarter of the state's population and is home to the nation's second most populous city, more than 80 smaller cities, a like number of school districts and literally hundreds of single-purpose districts providing fire protection, water, parks, recreation and other services.

The county itself and each of those entities has its own board, administrative superstructure and the power to extract fees and taxes and to borrow money. Collectively, they probably disburse about $100 billion a year for one purpose or another.

That's big money in anyone's book, but the impact of Los Angeles' local governments goes beyond collecting and spending money. Their actions have other, immense economic consequences, such as deciding whether land developments can proceed and under what conditions, or who pays what for water.

Los Angeles County's bewildering mélange of overlapping, and sometimes competitive, local government entities has existed for many years, but in the last couple of decades another element has been introduced – its evolution into the nation's most ethnically diverse metropolitan area, thanks to an immense wave of migration from other countries.

When coupled with the decline of the county's once-powerful aerospace industry, one effect has been its sharp bifurcation into enclaves of self-indulgent wealth, surrounded by vast tracts of poverty – especially in the immigrant-heavy smaller cities in the county's southeastern quadrant.

A corollary impact has been, unfortunately, the corruption of many local governments that function semi-secretly, little noticed by media and ignored by their residents, many of whom are noncitizens who cannot vote.

When the Los Angeles Times revealed outrageous self-dealing by politicians who had seized control of the small, poverty-stricken city of Bell a few years ago – resulting in criminal prosecutions – those knowledgeable about the region knew that it was just one of many such situations.

The county is rife with corrupted local governments – and that's just the half-dozen that have been publicly exposed.

(Mod: A good report, and there is more of it if you hit the link. But it is one thing to talk about LA County's general corruption. It is quite another to dig out the specifics. We need more specifics.)

Obama confuses British chancellor with soul singer (link)
Politics can be hard on the ego, as British Treasury chief George Osborne learned when President Barack Obama apparently forgot his name at this week's G-8 summit.

Britain's Sun and Financial Times newspapers reported Thursday that Obama repeatedly referred to the Chancellor of the Exchequer as "Jeffrey" -- and later apologized, saying he had been thinking of soul singer Jeffrey Osborne.

Jeffrey Osborne, whose hits include "On the Wings of Love," said he was delighted the president was a big fan. He added, "Tell the chancellor when I come over I will have to hook up with him and we will do a duet."

George Osborne, who changed his name from Gideon as a teenager, tweeted: "One unexpected breakthrough from G8 -- offer to sing with legend."

(Mod: What this story does not mention is that the British PM had first mistakenly referred to the President as O'bieber.)

Lingering Odor Perplexes Neighboring Cities (link)
Neighboring Pasadena and Arcadia residents are confused by the lingering odor emanating from Sierra Madre, according to reports.

"It's so weird," says Lilac Flores, 47, an Arcadia resident. "I always knew Sierra Madre for the trees and taxes."

The smell has been described as that of a high school locker room full of old cheese, dirty workout clothes belonging to an Olympic weightlifter, or week-old sushi dipped in mechanical grease. Residents are unaware of the smell, which local psychologist Ian Madd attributes to high familiarity with this odor.

"I've forgotten about it, honestly," he said, loosening his tie and eying his armpits. "Even though I have a PhD, I'm not immune." However, he claims "They're just pheromones," and that local citizens have no reason to worry for their health.

A team of volunteers from Monrovia, Pasadena, Arcadia, and San Marino was sent in to investigate. Half of the volunteers requested gas masks while entering the city limits, and by an hour in, two experienced significant discomfort. However, data was gathered despite complications: the smell was present in all areas but City Hall, where an overwhelming scent of air freshener and window cleaner was found to overcome the all-encompassing stench.

City officials could not be reached for comment, though an anonymous councilmember was seen outside wearing a hazmat suit, doing the cha-cha, watering her driveway, and turning on her sprinklers. When asked about the situation, she shouted "you aren't invited" and squirted this reporter with her hose.

Recently, restrictions on water have been put into place requiring residents of Sierra Madre to reduce their water use by twenty percent or face penalties. A press release from City Hall states the following:

"The City of Sierra Madre maintains that the 'odor' reported by citizens of nearby municipalities is not related to water restrictions, nor are the five dehydration-related illnesses. The City sends its regrets to all affected."

Until more research is done, the origin of the odor could remain unknown for weeks to come.

"Somebody should spray the city with Lysol until then," jokes Flores.

(Mod: I know that I myself have smelled nothing, though it is disturbing to think that we as Sierra Madreans could soon be be odor profiled.)

Unelected swarms of bureaucrats hope to harass Bay Area citizens (link)
A brilliant American leader once wrote: “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.” That brilliant American was Thomas Jefferson, as he refered to King George III of England, in the Declaration of independence, which he authored.

Something similar to the autocracy of King George III is coming to the Bay Area. What is arriving is Plan Bay Area, a long document that will, if enacted, irreversibly transform the Bay Area’s land-use patterns.

Plan Bay Area’s goal is to curtail the use of cars and push Bay Area residents into high-rise, high-density housing. The housing, often called “stack and pack” housing, is to be located near such transit hubs as BART stations. In theory, stack-and-pack housing will lead to less carbon dioxide pollution, and — again in theory — keep the planet from becoming too warm.

Two main forces behind Plan Bay Area are the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).

ABAG and MTC respectively have boards of directors who have never been elected directly by voters. Thus, ABAG and MTC are similar to King George III, an unelected ruler who told the American colonies how to behave.

To help these ABAG and MTC rulers achieve their goals of having Bay Area residents ditch their cars and live in stack-and-pack housing, urgent legislation needs to be passed immediately by the California Legislature.

The legislation must require all ABAG and MTC directors and all ABAG and MTC employees to surrender their driver’s licenses and move into stack-and-pack housing.

If less driving and more stack-and-pack housing are such good ideas, let those bureaucrats who want to implement Plan Bay Area be examples for the rest of us.

(Mod: I like the idea of government SB375 enforcement committees being forced to give up their driver's licenses and forced to live in 400 square foot apartments. Just as long as they don't do it here.)

Suicide prevention signs to be placed on Colorado Street Bridge (link)
City officials earlier this week approved a plan to post suicide-prevention signs on Colorado Street Bridge. The Pasadena Public Safety Committee approved the project at their meeting Monday, Pasadena spokeswoman William Boyer said.

More than 150 people have jumped to their deaths from the bridge since the bridges first recorded suicide in 1919, city officials said. The bulk of the suicides took place during the Great Depression, however 13 suicides have occurred at the bridge since 2006. Some have come to call the structure "Suicide Bridge" because of the deaths that have taken place there.

In an effort to combat the issue and save lives, the committee approved plans to place bearing messages of hope and suicide prevention hotline phone numbers at the pedestrian entrances to the bridge, Boyer said. The final design of the signs was not complete, however officials were considering messages such as "There is hope," and "You are not alone."

The signs were tentatively expected to be put in place in August. "The key point is that we value human life and we want to keep our residents safe," Boyer said. "There have been studies that have been done. The survivors of attempted suicide, for the most part, regret their actions."

"We're coming up with language and a message to give people and extra moment to contemplate what they're doing," Boyer said.

He added that similar programs have been successful in other jurisdictions in helping to prevent suicides by giving those who are considering taking their own lives "an extra moment to pause."
(Mod: The strange infamy of Pasadena's Colorado Street Bridge grows.)

The Transit-Density Disconnect (link)
Around the world planners are seeking to increase urban densities, at least in part because of the belief that this will materially reduce automobile use and encourage people to give up their cars and switch to transit, or walk or cycle (Note 1). Yet research indicates only a marginal connection between higher densities and reduced car use. Never mind that the imperative for trying to force people out of their cars has rendered largely unnecessary by fuel economy improvements projected to radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars (see Obama Fuel Economy Rules Trump Smart Growth).

In a widely cited study, Reid Ewing of the University of Utah, and UC Berkeley’s Robert Cervero reported only a minimal relationship between higher density and less driving per capita. In a meta-analysis of nine studies that examined the relationship between higher density and per household or per capita car travel, they found that for each 1 percent higher density, there is only 0.04 percent less vehicle travel per household (or per capita). This would mean that a 10 percent higher density should be associated with a reduction of 0.4 percent in per capita or household driving.

More people in the same area driving a little less means overall driving is greater, as Peter Gordon reminds us. This is illustrated by the Ewing-Cervero finding --- a 10 percent increase in population density is associated with  9.6 percent increase in overall driving, as is indicated in Figure 1 (the calculation is shown in the table). Ewing and Cervero placed this appropriate caution in their research: "we find population and job densities to be only weakly associated with travel behavior once these other variables are controlled."

There is another limitation to the density-transit research. The comparison of travel behaviors between areas of differing density   provides no evidence that conversion of an area from lower to higher density would replicate the travel behavior of already existing (historic) areas of higher density.

(Mod: It would seem to me that the biggest flaw in the whole "transit village" concept is the notion that once placed in low income housing the inmates will then automatically take public transportation. In my opinion most are more likely use the money they will save on rent to purchase a car.)

Get ready to howl: Supermoon to rise this weekend (link)
Moon maniacs, this is your weekend. A so-called supermoon will rise in the east at sunset on Saturday.

A supermoon occurs when the moon is slightly closer to Earth than it typically is, and the effect is most noticeable when it occurs at the same time as a full moon, according to James Garvin, chief scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

This full moon is not only the closest and largest full moon of the year, according to astronomy website EarthSky. It's also the moon's closest encounter with Earth in all of 2013. So it's not just a super moon — it's the closest super moon of the half-dozen or so that will occur this year, EarthSky reports.

The word supermoon was coined in 1979 by astrologer Richard Nolle, says AccuWeather's Mark Paquette. Nolle used the term to describe a new or full moon that occurs when the moon is at or near its closest approach to Earth.

The moon will pass within about 221,000 miles from the Earth on Saturday night, compared with its "typical" distance of about 238,000 miles.

Garvin says the moon may seem bigger, although the difference in its distance from Earth is only a few percent. For instance, the moon on Saturday night will appear 12% to 14% larger than it will next month.

The moon's effect on ocean tides is higher during a super moon than any other time, so expect higher and lower tides than usual, reports Sean Breslin of the Weather Channel. (The high tide this weekend is also known as a "king" tide.) There is no connection between the supermoon and earthquakes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

"If you're looking for a more thrilling lunar event, a larger supermoon is expected on Sept. 28, 2015, and the largest supermoon until 2034 will occur on Nov. 14, 2016," Breslin says.

(Mod: I don't know if you saw it last night, but the super moon lit up my backyard pretty well. We need to arrange one of those for Halloween. That would be something.)

This concludes the Tattler Sunday News for this week.