Friday, May 29, 2009

Mark your calendars for the Western Corridor Clean-Up

Mark your calendars now for the Western Corridor Clean-Up on Sunday, August 23! Come help clean our community from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

We will be picking up trash and cleaning areas in Hollywood starting from 5520 Sunset Blvd. We will meet in the CVS parking lot to get supplies, tools, and directions and then break off into smaller groups.

If you're interested in volunteering for the event and/or donating bottled water or snacks, please contact LAPD Senior Lead Officer Brenda Ramirez at 213-793-0711 or the Hollywood Community Relations Office at 213-485-4316.

Come celebrate the grand opening of the Fountain Community Gardens!

On Saturday, June 6, come join us at the grand opening of the Fountain Community Garden, Hollywood's newest community garden!

The garden was created by local residents who transformed the empty lot at 5260 Fountain Avenue into a communal space where neighbors can till their own garden plots.

The celebration will take place from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., and refreshments will be provided.

If you are interested in coming to meet your neighbors or signing up for a garden plot, please RSVP to Helen Leung.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Shakespeare at Barnsdall Park

Looking for a great summer entertainment experience? Look no further than the Independent Shakespeare Company’s summer productions of The Tempest and Henry V in Barnsdall Park beginning Friday, June 26th. Ever since 2003, the Independent Shakespeare Company has been entertaining audiences at Barnsdall Park (4814 Hollywood Blvd) for free. Enjoy the beautiful outdoor venue and experience the world of Shakespeare! Reservations are free to make and highly recommended, visit the ISC’s box-office page to view their season calendar for dates and times.

College Day at Washington Irving

A college education is becoming an essential requirement for many good jobs. Students who want to go to college can begin preparing now so that they and their families understand what it takes to get accepted to college and to pay for it.

Tonight, students and parents in the Glassell Park area can learn more about these and other issues for college-bound students at College Day, which begins at 6 p.m. at Washington Irving Middle School.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Support our police department -- drink juice!

On May 29 and 30 (Friday and Saturday), participating Jamba Juice locations are donating 20 percent of their proceeds to the Los Angeles Police Foundation to support our officers. You just need to bring in this downloadable coupon (which also has a list of the participating Jamba Juices) and present it at the time of your purchase.

Drink up!

CA Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8

I am very disappointed by the California Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold Proposition 8.

Our nation was founded on the principle of equality and justice for all. This proposition was a step backward in the movement toward achieving that vision.

We have so much work to do to achieve marriage equality in California, and I stand in solidarity with all of those who believe in the right of same sex couples to marry.

Volunteers needed in Glassell Park this Saturday

The Glassell Park Improvement Association needs volunteers to help with weeding and pruning the Avenue 40 and Tranquility Gardens this Saturday, May 30.

Your work to improve the community will be appreciated by the entire neighborhood.

Volunteers should meet at 8:00 AM at Avenue 40 and Verdugo and bring work gloves and sunscreen. Shovels, rakes, and brooms are also welcome.

Questions and RSVPs can be sent to

Friday, May 22, 2009

LA Marathon this weekend!

The Los Angeles Marathon is Monday, May 25. To avoid traffic, plan your travel around the city accordingly. You can view a map of the route here.

If you want to check out the runners and see some interesting entertainment, head to mile 22 at Western and Olympic. Between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., the Community Redevelopment Agency, Wilshire Center-Koreatown Neighborhood Council, and the Unification of Disabled Latin Americans are hosting a Latino-Korean Artistic Festival with performances ranging from Korean drummers to Folklorico dancing.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Glassell Park Improvement Association general membership meeting is tonight!

The Glassell Park Improvement Association is meeting tonight at 7 p.m. at the Glassell Park Senior and Community Center (3750 Verdugo).

L.A. City College President, Dr. Jamillah Moore, will be the guest speaker and will provide information about the college's plans for the Van de Kamp site.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Glassell Park Improvement Association Land Use Committee Meeting tonight

The Glassell Park Improvement Association Land Use Committee is meeting tonight at 7 p.m. at the Glassell Park Senior and Community Center (3750 Verdugo Road).

All GP stakeholders are welcome.

Recovery and Community Development Block Grant

The City of Los Angeles received $19.2 million in Community Development Block Grant funds as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This money can be used for economic development, the construction of affordable housing, public services that will train residents in new fields and help keep them out of poverty, and infrastructure investment.

The City of LA must submit its application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by June 5th. As part of the application process, the city is taking public comment on its proposal. The public comment period begins May 21 and ends May 28.

There will also be several public hearings, including one at the Echo Park Library at 6PM on May 27th, as well as at the Council's Housing, Community, and Economic Development Committee at 8:30 a.m. in City Hall and the Council's Ad Hoc Committee on Recovery and Reinvestment at 9:00 a.m. on May 29th.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Budget passed

Tonight the Los Angeles City Council voted to approve a $7.1 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Even in this economy, we are demonstrating our commitment to safe neighborhoods with a budget that allows for the hiring of 480 police officers, enough to fill the number of vacancies expected this year due to attrition.
This was a very tough budget year and we had to make some very tough decisions about how to prioritize our spending. We still have a lot of work to do to ensure that our budget stays on track throughout the year, but we are committed to working together to make fiscally responsible decisions for the city.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Elysian Valley neighbors consider bringing back neighborhood council

Tonight the city's Department of Neighborhood Empowerment is hosting a meeting for Elysian Valley residents to discuss options for bringing back the Elysian Valley Neighborhood Council, which disbanded in 2003.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at Dickerson Employee Benefits (1918 Riverside Dr.). Come find out how you can be involved with improving Elysian Valley!

Bike to Work Week: Mitch O'Farrell

My District Director for Constituent Services, Mitch O'Farrell, rode his bike to the Hollywood District Office today as part of Bike to Work Week. He shares his experience here.

How many miles (round trip) is your ride to work?
14 miles round trip.

How long does it take you to drive?
In regular traffic it takes 25-30 minutes; in light traffic, 20 minutes.

How long does it take you to ride your bike?
40 minutes, regardless of traffic.

In what ways did you have to change your morning routine in order to ride your bike to work?
Changes were very minimal. I didn't have to iron a shirt like I normally do. Rather than dressing for work, I packed clothing for work in my backpack and put on my biking clothes. That takes much less time than actually getting ready for work on a typical day.

I pumped air in my tires. My dogs watched very curiously because it represented a slight break in the routine. They were perplexed.

How did it go?
It was a breeze and it was very pleasant. I met Helen (Leung, Hollywood Field Deputy) at the intersection of Riverside and Fletcher coming from Glassell Park. We then rode together from there to the office in Hollywood.

Any tips for those contemplating riding a bike to work for the first time?
Anticipate how long it will take and then throw in another 15-20 minutes. By throwing in that extra time, you can enjoy the ride more without having to think about racing against the clock.

Wear a helmet at all times. There are plenty of people who don't wear helmets. There are hazards out there. I hate wearing a helmet, but I always wear one.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bike to Work Week: Marcel Porras

My Transportation Deputy, Marcel Porras, rode his bike to City Hall today as part of Bike to Work Week. Until two weeks ago, Marcel didn't own a car, so he's an experienced cyclist on Los Angeles streets. He agreed to talk about his experience this morning.

How many miles (round trip) is your ride to work?
It’s 4.2 miles total.

How long does it take you to drive?
Well, I usually take the bus, which takes between 15 and 20 minutes from door to door. If I drive, it actually takes about the same.

How long does it take you to ride your bike?
It takes me just under 15 minutes.

In what ways did you have to change your morning routine in order to ride your bike to work?
I have to plan ahead so that I feel comfortable riding to work. I keep a pair of dress shoes, extra ties and a suit jacket at work, which gives me more flexibility when getting dressed in the morning. I don’t really like wearing my backpack, which is why I’m looking into installing racks on my back wheel to hang a pannier (travel bag). Once I do this, I think my morning routine will be a breeze. Oh yeah – I also have to make sure to pump my tires.

How did it go?
It was great! I left my house by myself, but along the way ended up riding with another cyclist. This is always great because it makes me feel safer. Safety in numbers definitely applies in this case.

Being that it’s Bike to Work Week, I met up in Downtown with a group ride that was awesome. We rode through downtown for about 30 minutes, and ended up back at City Hall. There were people and bikes of all shapes, styles, and sizes. Everyone had a blast – I know I did.
Any tips for those contemplating riding a bike to work for the first time?
Wear a helmet!
Also, consider taking a basic street skills class to acquaint yourself with the rules of the road, and to build some confidence. It will make your ride to work a lot smoother to have ridden with some experts before hand. I know that the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition offers a class. Another good option is to check out this free online guide, Bicycling Street Smarts, written by John S. Allen, a Certified League of American Bicyclists Effective Cycling Instructor.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bark for Life in Silver Lake this Sunday

The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life has become a fun tradition in many communities and now Silver Lake will put its own twist on the event with Bark for Life.

This event will take place this Sunday afternoon at the Silver Lake Reservoir where dogs and their human companions can walk to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Click here to register or for more information.

Bike to Work Week: Julie Wong

My Communications Director, Julie Wong, rode her bike to City Hall today in support of Bike to Work Week. She agreed to talk about the experience.

How many miles (round trip) is your ride to work?
It's about 12 miles round trip.

How long does it take you to drive?
20-25 minutes depending on what time I leave.

How long does it take you to ride your bike?
It took me about 30 minutes to get to the office, but it will take me about 10 minutes longer to get home because it's mostly uphill. I'm trying not to think about it right now.

In what ways did you have to change your morning routine in order to ride your bike to work?
Last night, I checked my tire pressure. I had to bring a change of clothes and carry a backpack instead of my usual bag. I brought extra food for lunch yesterday so that I wouldn't have to worry about packing one today. I usually get up early to run, swim, or bike, but I'm counting my commute as my exercise today, so I actually gained time on my morning routine!

How did it go?
It's been a while since I last rode my bike to work and I had forgotten how easy it is to get to the office because it's mostly downhill. It was perfect weather - not too hot. I get nervous about riding with a lot of traffic, particularly when I'm riding through Chinatown where the streets are narrow and there are a lot of buses. Drivers aren't really looking for bikes and I make it a point to make sure they notice that I'm in their vicinity. Today wasn't so bad, though... just one annoying pick-up truck driver that kept honking at the guy in front of him and a reporter who called me while I was on a road with no good place to pull over. He said it was urgent, but I'm still not convinced it was worth risking an accident. Next time, I'm just going to let it go to voicemail.
Any tips for those contemplating riding a bike to work for the first time?
Just commit to trying it once. That's how I got started and realized that it was actually easier to do than I would have thought.

Also, be safe - don't give drivers the benefit of the doubt when it comes to your safety.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bike to Work Week: Helen Leung

My Hollywood Field Deputy, Helen Leung, regularly bikes to work and agreed to share her experience today. Helen lives in Elysian Valley and works in our Hollywood Office, but today she started her morning at City Hall and will head to Hollywood for meetings.

Here's what she said about her morning ride:

How many miles (round trip) is your ride to work?
It's about 4 miles to City Hall and about 7.5 to 8 from the District Office to home. I'm taking the Metro Red Line from Downtown to my meetings in Hollywood and the District Office.

How long does it take you to drive?
15 minutes each way

How long does it take you to ride your bike?
30 minutes each way

In what ways did you have to change your morning routine in order to ride your bike to work?
I had to leave my house a little earlier - about 20 minutes. I knew I wouldn't be able to change in between meetings, so I had to wear clothes that are both bike-friendly and work-appropriate. I thought about my day in advance and picked a day where I didn't have too many meetings in the field. Oh, and I couldn't bring my lunch, but I have a lunch meeting today so I don't have to think about what to eat.

How did it go?
Today was a nice, cool day, so I biked slowly and leisurely and didn't break a sweat. My normal road bike is at the Hollywood Office, so I had to ride a different bike. I had to take extra time to make sure there was air in the tires and the brake pads were working. I chose a bike-friendly route to get to City Hall, but I saw two potholes that I am planning to report to 3-1-1. I also saw a bulky item and graffiti in my neighborhood that I'm going to report, too.

Any tips for those contemplating riding a bike to work for the first time?
Give yourself a lot of time in case anything happens.

You'd be surprised -- there are a lot of people out there that are willing to go with you.

There's also a group called Bike Sage founded by Ron Milam that shares tips to encourage people to bike.

I'd also recommend trying your route to work on a Saturday or Sunday to find the streets that are more bicycle-friendly.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Lebanese delegates visit Los Angeles

Three years ago, I had the opportunity to visit our Lebanese sister city, Beirut, where I was welcomed by members of the Beirut City Council. This month, a delegation from Beirut is in Los Angeles, and I was pleased to welcome them to City Hall.

Our relationship with Beirut has allowed us to share ideas and resources about city government and build a bridge between our community in California and theirs in the Middle East.

New freeway overpass fences create safer route to school

New fences on the freeway overpasses at Wilton Place and Fountain Avenue are making it safer for Bernstein High School students to walk to and from school.

After hearing concerns from school staff and parents, my office worked with LAUSD, CalTrans, and Assemblymember DeLeon's office to install a temporary fence to raise the railing height at these overpasses. In addition, CalTrans is planning a more permanent upgrade to the railing that will increase its height.

Bike to Work Week!

Next week is Bike to Work Week with events planned each day for experienced commuters and first-timers.

Here's a quick rundown of events:

Monday: Kick-off event on Olvera Street at 8:30 a.m. Stop by for information and freebies.
Tuesday: Blessing of the Bicycles at Good Samaritan Hospital at 8 a.m.
Wednesday: Downtown LA Bike Ride from Civic Center Metro Red Line Station starting at 8 a.m.
Thursday: Bike to Work Day! Free rides all day on Metro.
Friday: Bike to School Day

For more information and to register to win prizes, check out the Metro Bike to Work Day web page and the California Bike Community web site.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Clean-up at the LA River this Saturday

Volunteers are needed to help with the 20th Annual L.A. River Clean Up hosted by Friends of the Los Angeles River, Blake Lofts, and Frogtown Artwalk.

The clean-up will be held on Saturday, May 9, from 9 a.m. to noon. The gathering point is the Blake Lofts at 1839 Blake Avenue along a stretch with a natural river bed and lots of beautiful trees and birds.

Volunteers are asked to help make this a green event by bringing their own reusable water bottles as well as work gloves, sturdy shoes and clothes that can get dirty. Sun-block and a hat are also recommended. Water, light snacks and hand sanitizer will be provided.

Click here for more info.

LACE Benefit Art Auction coming up this month

Located on Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) is a hidden gem in our community -- a non-profit art institution specializing in contemporary works that has been supporting emerging artists from around the world since 1978. Exhibitions here feature every imaginable medium from paintings to films to performance art.

Patrons at the upcoming LACE Annual Benefit Art Auction will have the opportunity to purchase more than 100 original artworks by some of the most cutting-edge artists of our day.

All artwork will be on display at LACE from May 7 through May 17, and the auction will be held on May 20 and 21. Detailed information regarding ticket prices and contributing artists can be found on the LACE website.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Federal student financial aid, thanks to President Obama's economic recovery package

For so many families, financial aid can mean the difference between a student becoming a college graduate or not. My dad - who was the first in his family to go to college - received financial aid to attend USC. I won a modest scholarship that helped me pay for some of my expenses while I was at Columbia.

Thanks to President Obama's economic recovery package, federal student aid programs are being expanded to serve potentially more than 1 million additional students nationwide, helping to make college more affordable in this down economy.

Today, I visited Bravo Medical Magnet High School along with my friend Los Angeles Unified School Board President Mónica García. More than 90 percent of last year's graduating class at Bravo went to college. This year's Student Body President, Priscilla (center in this photo along with her principal, Ms. Torres Flores), is headed off to college and will be the first in her family to attend college in the U.S. We want to get the word out to all L.A. students and families that help is available to make college more affordable.

We all know how important a college education is to the success of our young people and to our city’s future. We don’t want students to give up on a college education because of cost.

Increasing financial aid to make college more affordable was included as part of President Obama’s economic recovery package and is one of a number of initiatives implemented within his first 100 days in office to help families during this economic recession.

The federal stimulus package:

  • Increased the number and amounts of Pell Grants
  • Created American Opportunity Tax Credit
  • Increased Work Study funding
  • Allows 529 funds to be used to buy computers

Los Angeles students who want to learn more about financial aid opportunities can visit the L.A. Cash for College website.

LADOT creates a Bicycle Safety Webpage

Bicycling in L.A. just got a little easier thanks to a new webpage on bicycle safety recently created by the Department of Transportation.

On the new page, you will find tips for safer commutes, biking maps, loading your bike on public transit and parking it at stations, as well as links to bicycle clubs in the Los Angeles region.

Check it out here.