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the skunks of los feliz
Good news for proponents of a Red Line subway extension along Wilshire Boulevard:

The panel investigating the feasibility of the project has concluded that advances in technology can mitigate the dangers inherent in drilling a subway tunnel through the methane fields along the Wilshire corridor.

Those dangers, which became all too apparent after the Ross Dress for Less explosion in the 80's, led Rep. Henry Waxman to push through a Congressional ban on subway tunneling in the area.

Getting the congressman on board now becomes the next step in the long (very long) process of reviving the MTA's subway construction program. According to the Daily News piece linked above, he has expressed an interest in the new findings, and indicated that he is open to repealing the ban if his safety concerns are satisfactorily addressed.

That's huge. Repealing the ban would allow the MTA to move forward on the Red Line extension, taking the next step through the minefield that all massively expensive public works projects must face: how to pay for the damn thing.
L.A. Haiku, Volume 5:

Stiff-limbed Sea Org chicks,
stomping down the Boulevard
in synthetic skirts.
The Save the Derby blog has updated with pics of last night's meeting with Adler Realty representatives, and it looks like they had a good turnout (to my bitter regret, I had rehearsal in the Valley and was unable to attend this meeting).

No text to the post yet, but the body language of the opposing sides speaks volumes.

If you were unable to attend last night, there will be a November 10 GGPNC town hall meeting on the Derby issue (I will be there for that one).
It seems that there may be some confusion about neighborhood meetings planned in response to the planned demolition of the Derby to make way for a mixed-use condo/retail development.

From what I can gather (from Franklin Avenue, via the good folks at blogging.la) Adler Realty is pimping a sitdown with concerned neighbors on October 26. I haven't seen the postcard referred to in the post, so I don't have any further info as to time or location. Obviously, this would be a great opportunity for stakeholders to express their opposition to the plan to tear down the Derby. It would be nice if Adler would share the details on this meeting in time for people to make plans to attend. I mean, they wouldn't purposely try to muddy the waters to suppress turnout... would they?

The meeting on November 10 is being organized by the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council and, according to their website, will also have Adler officials in attendance.

If you can only make one of these meetings, bear in mind that the GGPNC meetings are often attended by staffers from Councilmember Tom LaBonge's office, and a large turnout will help to impress upon city officials that we are serious about our opposition to the senseless destruction of this Hollywood landmark.

If you're not sold yet on the importance of this issue, browse over to the Save the Derby blog, which has updated with an excellent historical perspective on the Derby, including pics and incredible video clips from 1928.

Also, don't forget to sign the online petition to Save the Derby, available here.

UPDATED: Check the comment below for details on the October 26 meeting (the November 10 meeting is still scheduled as above). Thanks to Josh at the Derby blog for providing some clarity.
"Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds, will continue in others."

- Rosa Parks
L.A. Haiku, Volume 4:

spiderweb outside
glistens with evening mist,
fired by halogen.
Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't the only one fuming over the President's visit to L.A.

Seems that W's motorcade put the kibosh on commutes from the Westside to Simi Valley on Friday, enraging latte-sipping Prius owners and SUV-driving Brentwoodians alike.

The worst offense committed by the Presidential convoy of armored Suburbans? The traffic mess left in it's wake dashed the hopes of a costumed group of kindergarteners, whose plans to attend a performance of The Wizard of Oz were stymied by the nearly citywide SigAlert.

The Oz connection is oddly appropriate: Bush has no heart, no brains, no courage, and the man behind the curtain may be indicted at any time.
Just wanted to gloat.

Yeah, I'm petty, but c'mon: let me enjoy the moment.
As the battle to save the Derby begins to shift into high gear, it's worth noting that another Hollywood landmark is being threatened by development, though not from private developers.

The City of Los Angeles has set it's sights on the Florentine Gardens, targeting the historic nightclub (former stomping ground of such Hollywood figures as Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, and the Black Dahlia) for conversion into a fire station, of all things. The city council approved the plan last week, inserting the adaptive reuse scheme in the hopes of heading off opposition from preservationists.

The club's ownership, however, hopes to save the Gardens for future generations of Angelenos to enjoy, and are asking for support in their fight against City Hall.

To learn more about the issue, and how to help, click here to visit PreserveLA's Florentine Gardens archive.
Pity the poor Governator.

He's in the midst of a bare-knuckles political fight, and desperately needs an influx of cash from his well-heeled, union-bustin' pals (the same kind of money he once promised he would never lower himself to accept). Unfortunately for Ahnuld, W also wants to get his grubbys on that same pile of dough, and what W wants, he goes and takes.

And so, brushing aside the petulant objections of Mr. Schwarzenegger, W will swagger into town today to liberate a heap of loot from a roomful of Beverly Hills potentates, in the process siphoning away some of the California GOP's corporate cash lifeblood.

While the President gleefully lightens the pockets of beneficiaries of his tax cuts, our Governor will slink into a lonely corner of his Brentwood estate, fire up a Cohiba, and count his T3 residuals, wiling away the hours until Bush jets back to the White House, and he is, once again, the Golden State's undisputed Alpha male.

Save the Derby, the blog.

Also, Vince-Vaughn.com (not his official site, mind you, just a place for Vince Vaughnians to gather on the web) has now entered the fray. Money!
LAX officials are scrambling to craft a plan to deal with a potential bird flu outbreak, a smart move in light of the many direct flights from Asia which land at the airport.

They're overlooking an obvious quarantine mechanism, though:

Send infected individuals to wait in one of the airport's taxi queues. That should keep them out of circulation until they drop dead (or a vaccine is developed).
ABC7's Ric Romero has done some serious investigative reporting and has stumbled upon a brand new computer fad called, get this, "blogging" (snicker!).

Personally, I don't think it will ever catch on (I mean, what the hell is a "blogging", anyway?), but you can read all about this wondrous, brand new phenomenom here.
Is it just me, or do some in the national media indulge in a certain amount of schadenfreude when they breathlessly report on the latest act of God to afflict Southern California?

Pea sized hail! Thunder and lightning!

A cancelled INXS concert!

The end is near!

Or not. It was a thunderstorm, people. They happen everyday, all over the world. Rain falls. Lightning strikes. People may lose power. Sadly, there may be traffic fatalities (but aren't there traffic fatalities everyday?). End of story.

The local media is not without blame. At the first drop of rain, they swing into full disaster mode, fanning out across the city to report on the storm as if L.A. were under siege, not enduring a perfectly natural meteorological occurrence: to wit, rain.

Granted, being a desert community we do have certain hazards associated with heavy rainfall, hazards that are exacerbated by building homes on hillsides and in flood plains. But the Southland is in no danger of being swept into the sea by rain.

We'll have to wait for the Big One for that to happen.
Jonah at LABlogs has struck again, whipping up a nifty Ning app that combines user restaurant reviews with Google maps. It reminds me a little of Yahoo! Local, but with a more intuitive interface, and a blissful lack of ads. It's open to all (Ning registration required), the contribution process is quick and very easy, and there's a high gee-whiz factor to appeal to Web 2.0 geeks.

Check it out here.
The GGPNC website has pulled together a ton of info on the proposed Derby development, including renderings of the proposed condo project, minutes of GGPNC meetings, and links to planning documents.

Check it out, and be sure to attend the GGPNC meeting on November 10 to voice your opposition to tearing down the Derby.
Excited about the impending launch of Metro's new Orange Line?

Thought so. The Daily News is, too, and they've got comprehensive coverage of everything Orange right here.
Metro's proposed Exposition Light Rail Line is ready for its close-up, as the agency has released for public review the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report on the project.

For the next 45 days, Metro will take its Expo dog and pony show out on the road, making the case for the LRT line to those living in communities that would impacted by its construction and operation.

It looks like the Expo Line is almost a done deal (emphasis on almost - pending lawsuits or other acts of NIMBYism). If all goes according to their plan, City and transit officials will be able to trumpet this line as a blow against gridlock, and for a more transit-oriented city.

But I don't see it. I mean, who is this line for? Culver City residents who work Downtown? Downtown residents who work in Culver City? It doesn't go to Beverly Hills, it doesn't go to the Miracle Mile, it doesn't go to any major commerce/employment node aside from Downtown (and that's not a crack on Culver City - I'm just sayin'). It won't reduce traffic on the 10. If it runs at grade, it won't even be an appreciably faster way to get from Culver City to Downtown than if you drove (see: Metro Gold Line).

Now, I'm not one of those anti-rail flat-earthers who think we can bus our way out of our incessant gridlock. I also agree with planners that a East-West rail line is an absolutely essential piece of a workable mass transit system - an East-West subway line along the Wilshire Corridor, that is. Nothing else makes sense.

Metro, L.A. County, and officials of the various municipalities along that corridor should focus their time and money on their efforts to resuscitate a Red Line extension out to the ocean. Failing that (and they may well fail), they can always dust off the Expo Line, and revert to what should be Plan B.

Stop the presses!

John "I was for waffling, before I was against it" Kerry has come out against Prop. 75, a bold, decisive move that's sure to guarantee defeat for the anti-union law, and leave Kerry well-positioned in California for a repeat Presidential run in 2008...

...or not.
I haven't really noticed a positive effect on travel times at Beverly and Rossmore, which is the only intersection on my commute patrolled by traffic officers under Mayor Villaraigosa's newly enacted traffic plan.

Having traffic officers controlling congested intersections can't hurt, though, and the program seems to be a hit in the Valley.
News on the "Save the Derby" battle-front:

- An online petition drive has been launched. You can sign here to express your opposition to destroying yet another Los Angeles landmark in the name of "progress" (read: the enrichment of real estate magnates).

- The GGPNC will be holding a Derby Town Hall meeting to hear both sides of the Derby controversy. It goes without saying that packing the place with pro-Derby residents would be a strong statement against the proposed condo development. Be there on November 10th at 7 p.m., in Our Mother of Good Counsel Parish Hall, 2071 Dracena Drive, to say "NO" to losing this important piece of Hollywood history.

- Stakeholder's associations are coming out in defense of the Derby: the Franklin Hills Residents Association Board of Directors and the Los Feliz Estates Owners Association Board of Directors have recently voted to oppose the development plans for the Derby site.

- To receive email updates from the Save the Derby Coalition, click here to opt in to their mailing list.

Update- the GGPNC meeting for tomorrow night (October 12th), which was to touch on the Derby issue, has been cancelled.
Joseph at the Martini Republic ( who deserves a civic citation for rousing himself very early on Wednesday morning to attend the very early GGPNC Neigborhood Improvement Committee meeting) blogs on the CRA/LA's plan for the East Hollywood Boulevard Corridor.

Sounds like it's heavy on promotional signage, and light on substantive improvements.
We've known for some time that the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are primary sources of air pollution in the L.A. Basin, where diesel-powered ships, truck, and trains unceasingly belch ever-growing amounts of particulates into the air.

These particulates contribute to smog, which can kill you by bringing on a myriad of fatal respiratory and circulatory ailments. That part of the story is a well-known, possibly yawn-inducing fact to Angelenos who have developed a fatalistic attitude about smog: to live and die in L.A. is to breath the smog. It's an immutable part of what L.A. is, no less so than humidity in Atlanta, or snow in Chicago. We've lived with it for so long (see image, from 1956) that a time without smog has passed from living memory. Imagining L.A. without it is to imagine - what?

A new report on cancer risks associated with diesel fumes from the ports, however, may help to reivigorate serious efforts to clean up the polluting aspects of their operation (there is no shortage of white papers, proposals, or non-binding resolutions that have attempted to grapple with this problem). The report spells out the health dangers that even those who live miles from the ports face.

It makes clear that diesel fumes from the ports are killing people by giving them cancer. Is that something we are prepared to live with?
Does anyone else get the feeling that conservatives are protesting the Harriet Miers nomination a bit too much?

Also, for all the high-minded sentiment against a "litmus test", it's clear that there is one: to be acceptable to the far right, a Supreme Court nominee must be ready to roll back Roe v. Wade. The conservative "resistance" to Miers is revealing in it's contrast to the red carpet reception for John Roberts from the evangelical right.

Maybe they knew something about his views that he did not deign to share with his Senatorial interlocutors. Perhaps Harriet Miers would do well to make some sub rosa promises of her own to the anti-abortion crowd.

Update: Looks like the White House has been whispering top secret sweet nothings on her behalf in James Dobson's ear....
The Daily News has posted a video report on the soon to be opened Metro Orange Line (two flavors for your viewing pleasure: QuickTime or Real Media) that they've imaginatively billed as "A Ride on the New Metro Orange Line", a title that brings to mind old Edison Kinetoscope titles like "What Happened on Twenty-Third Street, New York City", or better yet, "Egyptian Fakir with Dancing Monkey".

Judging from that bland descriptive phrase, you might assume that what you will see when you click on the above link consists mostly of a video record of, not to put too fine a point on it, a ride on the new Metro Orange Line. And you do get a few seconds of the huge MetroLiner bus in action.

The heart of the piece, though, is a long discursive speech by County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, in which it is revealed that it was he who invented the Orange Line, having scrawled the plan for it on the back of an airline napkin. He also finds time to name check Dick Riordan, Bob Hertzberg, and the country of Brazil. Riveting stuff.

That's not to say that the piece is worthless, just amateurish. Bad production values, crappy sound, and uncertain editing aside, the idea of video adjuncts to their online reportage is a promising one. And, whereas the Times is content to recycle KTLA's coverage on their website (corporate synergy!), the Daily News has at least taken it upon themselves to produce an independent video news product.

It's just not very good. Yet.
I like Mayor Villaraigosa. I really do.

I think it's great that he's a media-savvy, telegenic ambassador for the city of L.A. (the exact opposite, in fact, of former Mayor McBland). It's great for the city. It's great for his own political future.

This time, however, I think he's gone too far.

Way too far.
The GGPNC apparently believes that there are people in Los Feliz who get up before 9:00 a.m., because they've scheduled this week's Neighborhood Improvement Committee meeting for 8:30 in the morning, at Figaro. If you're feeling civic-minded on Wednesday, drag your tired ass out of bed, shuffle down Vermont zombie-style, and attempt to coherently discuss the Vermont Triangle Streetscape issue, all the while smoking Gauloises and pouring espresso down your throat.

Or, just hit snooze and roll over. There are plenty of other GGPNC meeting this month that are not held at sadistically early hours:

- The tussle over the future of Griffth Park continues apace with a pair of meetings related to the Griffith Park Master Plan: The Parks, River, and Openspace Committee meeting at 7 p.m. on the 10th, and the Griffith Park Master Plan Working Group meeting at 6:30 on the 11th (both at the Griffith Park Rangers Station, 4370 Crystal Spring Dr.).

- The controversial development planned for the Derby/Louise's location will be Topic A at the Planning/Zoning and Historic Preservation Committee meeting on October 12th (7 p.m. at the Los Feliz Community Center, 1965 Hillhurst). To help save this historic and culturally significant landmark, please visit Save the Derby, and attend this meeting to voice your opposition to razing the last of the Brown Derby locations.

- At some point during the four year odyssey that has been the Griffith Observatory renovation process, you may have begun to doubt that the Observatory was ever going to reopen. Almost unbelievably, though, the time is rapidly approaching when the spruced-up structure will throw open it's doors to the world (and city officials are predicting the world will be take us up on that invitation). In anticipation of throngs of visitors clogging the roads as they flock to the Observatory, the Griffith Observatory Reopening Community Working Meeting (GORC-WOM?) will attempt to hammer out a plan to deal with the crowds (October 17th at the Friendship Auditorium, 3201 Riverside Drive).


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