Friday, April 29, 2005

Views at 270

This morning, I attended the grand opening of Views at 270, a mixed-use development at the corner of Sunset and Western. The project has 56 units of affordable housing perched on top of a Walgreens. Not only is the affordable housing component of the highest rank in design and appearance, the project is a great example of a creative solution to problems of both urban design and the housing crisis. When Village Properties came to me with their plans to put a stand-alone, suburban-style Walgreens at that corner, with a sea of parking between the store and the street, I was less than thrilled. My office has been encouraging development that's urban and friendly to street life, and this was the opposite. But working together, we found a great solution: Village would sell the air rights to the project to Hollywood Community Housing Corporation, transforming the project into a victory of New Urbanism and a first on many levels:

  • the first partnership between a retail developer and a nonprofit housing firm to create affordable housing on top of retail;
  • the first time the city processed a vertical lot line adjustment—an obscure-sounding detail, but an important one for future mixed use development; and
  • the first project completed and opened with Housing Trust Fund money.
    We've shown that we can do affordable housing development mixed with retail. Now the only question I have is this: who's next?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

April E-News Out, Press Roundup

This month's E-News is now available online and in your inbox! If you don't already get it, why not sign up today?

Also, here are some recent CD13-related news stories of interest:

  • Cecilia Rasmussen's L.A. Then and Now features a Silver Lake historian. Did you know that Silver Lake isn't necessarily silver in color? It's named after a former DWP Commissioner and City Council President named Hans Silver.
  • A food writer for tastes salt—yes, salt—at Silver Lake's Edendale Grill.
  • Rosanna Mah from the Hollywood Independent came to the groundbreaking at Triangle Park. (Pictures in the e-news.)
  • The L.A. Weekly wants you to know your rights as a tenant.

Historic Home Demo Halted by HCC, Neighbors

The Franklin Briles House

The Franklin Briles House

Did you know that the members of the Cultural Heritage Commission were street-stalking crime-stoppers? On a tour of properties recently nominated to the list of Historic and Cultural Monuments, the Commission, its staff and neighborhood activists like Rita Stafford from the Catalina-Kenmore group found themselves in front of an illegal demolition at the Franklin Briles Residence at 151 N. Berendo, an elegant example of Mediterranean Revival with Prairie Style influence. The house had been nominated to the list due to efforts by Terry Lownds of Catalina-Kenmore, who, some weeks prior, had noticed a For Sale sign in the front yard.

When the tour arrived, a demolition crew was on top of the house, knocking down the chimney and tearing up the roof! The owner had heard that the tour was in progress, and, instead of laying out the welcome mat, he was trying to demolish the building before it could be added to the registry. The Commissioners recognized that even this was illegal. Even properties nominated to the list cannot commence demolition until approved. Furthermore, the house also falls in the Station Neighborhood Area Plan, which prohibits demolition until construction plans are found to comply with the areas rules for transit-friendly development that takes advantage of the nearby Red Line stop. Luckily, an inspector from the Department of Building and Safety was found nearby and issued a stop-work order on the spot. Now the owner has hired a consultant to work with the Cultural Heritage staff to restore the building, and I have asked the City Attorney to explore sanctions against the scofflaw owner.

Seacrest, Installed

Street scene: Hollywood's Honorary Mayor Johnny Grant, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest and Hollywood Chamber of Commerce President Leron Gubler at Seacrest's Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremony. See the Hollywood section of this month's e-news for another picture from the ceremony

Welcome to the Boulevard

Welcome to the Boulevard

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Sunset Boulevard, Echo Park

Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park just keeps getting nicer:

  • Trees have been planted outside Jensen’s Recreational Building.
  • The public trash cans on Sunset Boulevard have regular schedules for emptying and the lots are getting cleaned more often.
  • With some help from CD13, the the Sunset Boulevard Central City Beautification Team has taken off! Central City Action Committee youth are now emptying the decorative trash cans along Sunset every Monday and Thursday. Look out for bright red T-shirts with the Beautification team's logo. We're going to seek additional funds to support the creation of new jobs in addition to the steady improvement of Echo Park.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Washington Post on Iqaluit

The Washington Post sent a reporter to Iqaluit to cover our Earth Day trip.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Earth Day in the Arctic

1,000 on the ice

1,000 on the ice

I wrote this entry from Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, Canada, where I traveled in order to raise awareness about global warming and its effects on Los Angeles and on the arctic north. We are just under the arctic circle, with about 18 hours of sunlight, in this town of some 6,000 residents, most of whom are native Inuit.

We are working on a project called Arctic Wisdom, a collaboration between Global Green USA, the Natural Resouces Defense Council, and the Inuit people. Our delegation is about a dozen strong and includes business executives, climate scientists, two actor/environmentalists—Salma Hayek and Jake Gyllenhaal—and some elected officials working on local issues that tie into global warming. I have worked closely with Global Green on everything from expanding the use of solar panels on affordable housing in Los Angeles to use less fossil fuel to passing the nation's largest green building ordinance to reduce the pollution used in municipal buildings.

Today, we took to the polar ice cap with about 1,000 locals to create a piece of art called "Arctic Warning" designed by a local Inuit artist and implemented with the help of John Quigley, the Eagle Rock-based artist who came to mass attention when he sat in Old Glory, a more than 400 year-old oak tree slated for destruction in 2002 in Santa Clarita.

The north and south poles of our planet act as filters for much of the earth's pollution but also as early-warning systems for the whole planet. Pollution washes out to our oceans and eventually make their way up to the north via ocean currents, where they have become increasingly concentrated in the fatty tissues of marine mammals that form the core of the Inuit diet in many places. It has become so bad that many Inuit can no longer breast feed their children, so concentrated are these toxins in their bodies. At the same time, the polar ice caps are melting away due to global warming, at a rate that will see it disappear entirely by the year 2080.

In Nunavut, we met with Sheila Watt-Cloutier, the elected chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, who recently was honored with the Sophie Environmental Prize for her work on behalf of the 150,000 members of the Inuit people, spread across four countries. She told us this morning that many Inuit have seen themselves move from the Ice Age into the Space Age in a single lifetime, and that they have struggled to adapt to this change while still hanging on to the ancient wisdom that their elders have passed down from generation to generation. Now, faced with the effects of environmental degradation and global warming, they wanted to meet with us in order to coordinate the work that we are doing in the United States, in California, indeed in Los Angeles, with the work that they are doing as well. In her words, "we are not looking for saviors. We are looking for allies."

I told an Inuit reporter that our environmental goals in Los Angeles, like trying to move away from consuming coal and other fossil fuel and building up our Renewable Portfolio Standard of green energy at the Department of Water and Power, can help turn this crisis around. Unsatisfied with my own answer, I added that it is not just a matter of what we can do for you, it is what you can do for us, too: the ill effects of our actions are more subtle in Los Angeles (we see it in smog, in asthma) but are thrown into sharp relief in the north. Salma Hayek, who speaks powerfully about climate change, added that we are not trying to save the planet, as the planet will long outlast any of us. We are trying to save ourselves.

Farewell, Alanna

We said farewell to Alanna Bowman, a longtime activist who made us more aware of and more responsive to the crisis of domestic violence. She headed up the City Attorney’s domestic violence unit, the first in the United States. She became a national spokesperson on violence against women, and now she has become an international spokesperson! She left Los Angeles to consult for the United Nations in New Zealand for a coalition of domestic violence shelters. She asks Los Angeles to take note: in New Zealand, a performance measure against which every governmental agency is scored is What are you doing for women and girls in your agency?

Eric Garcetti, Alanna Bowman, Rocky Delgadillo

Eric Garcetti, Alanna Bowman, Rocky Delgadillo

City and County to Create River Parks

Who says the city can't work with the county? The L.A. County Public Works department has allocated money to put parks at each of the streets that dead end at the Los Angeles River in Elysian Valley. The County owns the flood control land, and led by Supervisor Gloria Molina, they've consented to develop it in keeping with Elysian Valley's appreciation for the L.A. River. Newell Street, Harwood Street, Shoredale Street, Duvall Street will all see little entryway pocket parks. And many of you have already visited Meadowvale Park, an independent project opened with help from Tree People last year.

Art on the fringe gets a new home in Atwater Village

The Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce sends word of a new gallery opening in Atwater. Black Maria, dedicated to non-mainstream and underground art, will open on May 7 at 3137 Glendale Boulevard. The gallery will focus on "works that reverberate with the shock of the content—not in a gratuitous sense, but in a way that initiates wonderment, self-reflection, and, ultimately, a measure of enlightenment,” according to proprietor Zara Zeitountsian. A group show featuring recent works by Los Angeles artists Thomas Lee Bakofsky, Frieda Gosset, Sophia Gasparian, Sam Saghatelian, Mark Todd, Jaime Zollars, Jeff Morgan & Loraine Villarreal and Esther Pearl Watson will inaugurate the space. The gallery will be open Tuesday through Friday from 12 to 6 PM and Saturday from 7 to 11 PM. For more information, call (818)613-9090.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Silver Lake Beautification Day

Silver Lake Beautification Day is this Saturday, April 30th. Meet at Laurel and Hardy Park (Vendome, south of Sunset) at 8:30 am. Work gloves will be provided. Thanks to the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council and the Silver Lake Improvement Association for putting it together! More coverage in the Silverlake News.

Banquet in the Streets

Maria Elena Durazo, Donald Wilson, other boycott supporters and me

I attended the Banquet in the Streets put on by Local 11 of UNITE HERE to call attention to the fight for justice in Los Angeles' hospitality industry. The workers of L.A.'s hotels have called a boycott until the companies sign a fair contract that protects wages and health insurance and allows the union to bargain with a national voice—which seems right, considering that the companies they are bargaining with are no longer local businesses but are multinational names. At the banquet, supporters dined in the middle of the street outside the Century Plaza Hotel as a group of workers, organizers and supporters served salad and sparkling cider. It was a unique and festive alternative to the picket line. Support the boycott!

$50,000 for Echo Park!

Echo Park thanks you for your support

I reported last month on the announcement that Nike would donate $50,000 for improvements to Echo Park. They presented the (outsize novelty) check in a ceremony by the lake and then the whole crowd stuck around to clean up the play area around the lake, too. Thanks to Nike for the contribution (which does not portend the installation of a giant swoosh) and thanks to Mark Mariscal and General Manager Jon Kirk Mukri from the Department of Recreation and Parks as well.

Public Documents: The Good Stuff is Available

Many readers will know how to access city council agendas online, and a few of you probably know how to track the progress of an individual item using the Council File Index. But there are—or were—pages of information related to every item in the form of staff reports that could not be accessed by any means other than coming downtown to the Clerk's office. Since taking office, I have sought to make those staff reports available electronically, not just inside City Hall but to the public at large.

Now, if you pull up any City Council or Committee agenda online at the city's website, each agenda item appears with a hyperlink that brings up the actual documents online. It's still on a go forward basis, but now you can review the agenda at home, and, if an item piques your curiousity, you can click and read the staff reports as .pdfs. Here's an example: for agenda item 15 from Tuesday April 12th's council agenda, here is the original motion followed by the legislative analysis. (.pdf links)

Children's Hospital Playground

The kids can play

With a $66,338 grant from the third phase of voter-approved Proposition K, Children's Hospital,/a> has completed their LA Child Development Center playground. This is the fourteenth new park that has opened in CD13 since the beginning of my term in office.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Filipino War Veterans

I introduced legislation to put the city on record in favor of L.A.-area U.S. Representative Juanita Millender-McDonald's bill to provide veteran's benefits for the Filipino soldiers who fought for the United States in World War II. There are more than 12,000 Filipino veterans living in California, and 46,000 in the Philippines. Justice has been delayed for these veterans, who fought side-by-side with U.S. soliders. The Filipino-American Veterans Research Center has more information.

Union Pacific cleans up Casitas

Union Pacific Railways has completed the installation of approximately 300' of chain-link fencing along Casitas Avenue south of the 2 Freeway support column. CD13 and the Atwater Village community are very appreciative; since the installation, no homeless encampments have been set up under the freeway.

Melrose Hill Tree Planting

The Melrose Hill Neighborhood Association has completed its impressive Neighborhood Matching Fund project. Not only did the landscape of the CalTrans sound wall by Melrose Hill with 3 California Live Oak trees, 25 Bougainvillea and other wall vines, planting, staking and tying 39 city street trees in two planting Saturdays, they had trees (and energy) left over to plant 19 street trees on Sierra Vista which previously had not a single street tree, 7 street trees near Lemon Grove Park and 9 new street trees in the Melrose Hill Historic District. Special thanks go to Ed and Martha Hunt and Tina Farash.

Coming Up: National Composting Week

May 1st through 7th will be National Composting Week. The City of Los Angeles officially supports composting and can help you get started. Composting is enlightened self-interest at its best: not only do you prevent our landfills from filling up, you get free nutrient-rich soil for your home garden or potted plants.

Mature Visitors to Hollywood

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has released their Mature Market Directory, a guide to "hotels, attractions and fun things to do for Senior Groups" in Hollywood. Recommended tours include Architecture Tours L.A., a guided tour of the Kodak Theater, and—you guessed it—Hollywood Forever Cemetery. For more information, call the Chamber at (323) 469-8311.

Hybrid Parking: still free

The six-month pilot program offering hybrid vehicles free parking at city meters is still in effect and will be until May 31, 2005—at which time I hope to extend it, pending a report from city staff on its effectiveness. Remember, hybrid drivers: the time limits still apply.

Recreation and Parks: Play Ball!

It's not Dodgers' Stadium, but Baseball Opening Day in our CD13 recreation centers promises to be exciting. On Saturday, April 30th, you can attend festivities at either Bellevue or Glassell Recreation Centers. Glassell starts at 9 am and is open to all ages; Bellevue starts at 10 am and is for children from 5 to 12 years old. For more information, contact Nicole at Bellevue at (323) 664-2468 or Ramon at Glassell at (323) 257-1863.

Pilibos School

Making the grade at Pilibos

With Mayor Hahn, I visited the Pilibos School, an Armenian private school. The students were very well prepared for our visited, armed with sharp questions before which many politicians might have withered. I think the Mayor and I held up, though.

New Preschool in Hollywood

Great news for families seeking preschool and day care services in the Hollywood area. The Delaney Wright Fine Arts Preschool has recently opened at St. Stephen�s Episcopal Church in Hollywood, at 6125 Gower Street near the 101 freeway. The preschool currently has openings for children from 2 to 6 years old. It is open Monday through Friday from 6:30am to 6:00pm, and offers full and part time schedules. The school placed strong emphasis on the arts. A summer program is available, which culminates with a production in which all children participate. This summer, the children attending the preschool will present �Peter and the Wolf.� If you would like more information, please call Shelley Acton, the director, at (323) 871-2470 or e-mail her at

Friends of Atwater Village get to work

FAV Board members and volunteers on Clean Up Day

Friends of Atwater Village has cleaned up this town! With assistance from about 35 members of the MTA Metro Clean crews, a team of about 10 from Clean and Green, the Bureau of Sanitization Bulky Item Truck, those famous graffiti-eradicators the Hollywood Beautification Team, 12 members of the Sunrise Rotary, 8 students from Marshall High School, several members of the Teen Club from the Chevy Chase Rec Center and their own dedicated hard core of residents, the Friends picked up trash and cleaned Glendale Bouelvard.

In other FAV news, they won support this month from the Atwater Village Neighborhood Council to name the pocket park area at Glendale and Ferncroft the "Red Car River Park".

Ed Peterson, Theodore Payne Society

Happy birthday!

We celebrated in Council Chambers the centenary of Ed Peterson, founding board member of the Theodore Payne Society. Mr. Peterson, a UCLA grad and Hollywood native helped create the Wild Seed Collection program at the foundation, which is dedicated to the protection and appreciation of California's wildflowers. Chief Legislative Analyist John Wickham, also pictured, is the president of the Society.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Songkran Festival

Water Blessing

Kurt Holtzclaw sent in this photo from the Thai New Year's celebration earlier this month. In it, festival planning committee member Prakas Yenbamroong pours water over my palms and those of Councilmember Wendy Greuel as part of the traditional water blessing ceremony. Also pictured is VIP James Croon from National Promotions and Advertising.

Friends of Atwater Village update

Luis Lopez writes: Friends of Atwater Village would like to take the opportunity to thank Cold Stone Creamery for choosing our neighborhood volunteer group to be a part of their Grand Opening fundraiser. The fundraiser was a great success and over $400.00 was raised during the March 17th event.

Rebirth of The Palomar

Under Construction

I have written previously about the most harrowing day in my life as a Councilmember: the Palomar fire that left Luis Galindo and his two children without a wife and mother. We acted quickly after the fire to seize some hope from the ruins of the building, and Hollywood Community Housing Corporation has undertaken the project of turning the Palomar's burnt shell into an affordable housing project. The finished project will feature 27 units of affordable housing, a sorely needed addition. Bill Harris, HCHC's executive director, send this picture along. Progress!

The Other Hollywood Farmer's Market

Most e-news readers in Hollywood and across the district know about the Hollywood Farmer's Market on Ivar between Hollywood and Sunset every Sunday. But did you know that there is also a farmer's market, sponsored by SEE-LA, the same organization that sponsors the Ivar market, that sets up shop on Wednesdays during the day?

Every Wednesday, rain or shine, from noon to 5:30 pm, the Hollywood Sears Farmer's Market sets up at 5601 Santa Monica Boulevard in the parking lot of the Sears between Wilton and Western.

This Wednesday, April 27th, there will be a special presentation on using EBT (which the market accepts) to maximize your food purchases. If you have time during the day, the Hollywood Sears market might be right for you!