Wednesday, December 28, 2005


I'm sad to still be in Chicago and miss this meeting. But people who want to be clear on this and have their voice heard on this issue should attend tonight. Here is the latest from the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council:

To All Concerned,

The meeting tonight promises to be extremely informative. We will have representatives from the Mayor's office, our Councilperson Jack Weiss's office and the Fire Department to present the facts and answer questions. Here are a few salient facts:

1. Red Flag Days are defined as days when the humidity drops below 15% and the wind exceeds 25 mph. There are approximately 10 Red Flag Days a year, usually from October 31-December 31.

2. Despite the 5,200 signs that the city is posting throughout the hills of the city by the end of January, they will not be towing the first year. They will issue only warnings or tickets until the public has had a chance to become educated.

3. Parking is prohibited on Red Flag Days on any hillside street less than 28 feet wide, while parking will be restricted to one side on streets between 29 and 36 feet wide.

The law was passed after the devastation of the Oakland Hills fire when there was an enormous loss of life due to the fact that parked cars made roads impassable to emergency vehicles. There is no doubt that such regulations are necessary, the question is whether this one has incorporated all available creative solutions to mitigate the burdens to residents, protect the needs of the elderly and infirm and allow for orderly evacuation if needed. I encourage you to make the effort to come
tonight for the first in what will undoubtedly be several community meetings to iron out the kinks in this law.

Sherman Oaks Library (Beverly Glen and Moorpark), 6:30-8:00 P.M.(12/28).

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Red Flag Parking & 405 Construction

Been and still out of town (Chicago), so sorry for no new posts lately. But here is some news:

Red Flag Day Parking

Last week, LA Times reports on the Red Flag Warnings in Los Angeles hillside communities. The article states that councilman Jack Weiss spoke with Homeowner groups, but it appears he did not consult the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council (SONC).

Members of SONC's Parking, Traffic and Transportation Ad Hoc Committee were extremely disappointed that Weiss did not see fit to consult with the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council. More to come on this as details get punched out, but if you have words to say on either side of it, go to the Committee's meeting on Wednesday.

Latest 405 News courtesy of SONC

Caltrans has announced the following closures nightly beginning Tuesday, December 27 through Thursday, December 29:
  • 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., the northbound Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101) connector to the northbound San Diego Freeway (I-405)

  • 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., the northbound I-405 Burbank Boulevard off-ramp

  • 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., the southbound I-405 Ventura Boulevard on-ramp

  • 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., up to two lanes of southbound I-405 from U.S. 101 to Burbank Boulevard

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Valley, Music, & Google

Last thursday at 12:00 a.m., Google launched, with no big announcement, their new Google Music Search. reports that "the new feature works directly from any Google web search form, and results are returned as 'one box' results at the top of the search result page next to a musical notes icon." You can also search directly.

Giving "San Fernando Valley" a try led me all to close too home at America's within a few clicks. Gordon Jenkins, who wrote the song, San Fernando Valley, resided in Sherman Oaks:

It was Bing Crosby's rendition, however, that enticed war-weary GI's with the promise of a mythical place. "San Fernando Valley" hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart on April 29, 1944... Once the war ended, about a year after the song reached No. 1, plenty of Americans took Bing's advice and took a trip to California to make the Valley their home.

Full Article & Lyrics

Sunday, December 18, 2005

City Council Celebrity Countdown

This technology is going to soon have a Gladwell style tipping point, at least in social conversation that is: is one of the world's first applications to apply the scientifically advanced technologies of face detection and recognition to family history and to consumer photos... As part of its pioneering development on face recognition in genealogy and consumer photos, has created extensive face recognition technology for celebrities. It's free and fun to use.

So what would the Los Angeles City Council look like if they morphed into their celebrity counterpart? MyHeritage gives each picture you submit about 5-10 different celebrities you resemble. The following countdown reflects either the closest matches or just the funniest (numbers not related to Council District):

15. Janice Hahn & Sarah Michelle Gellar (Runners Up: Rita Hayworth, Isabella Rossellini, Monica Lewinsky)

14. Tom LaBonge & John Cleese (Runners Up: Gregory Peck, John Ashcroft, Kofi Annan, Sigourney Weaver)

13. Greig Smith & former Queen Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (Runners Up: Gerard Depardieu, Michael Caine, David Howell Evans of U2. SPECIAL AWARD FOR: Being "Across the Pond.")

12. Herb J. Wesson, Jr. & Paul Newman (Runners Up: Martin Luther King, Jr., Martin Gardner, Inventor of Linux - Linus Torvalds, José Saramago. SPECIAL AWARD FOR: Looking most like notable world changing leaders)

11. Wendy Greuel & Andie MacDowell (Runners Up: Helen Clark, Jerry Seinfeld, Clint Eastwood, Annette Bening)

10. Jan Perry & Hilary Swank (Runners Up: Jane Fonda, Tom Clancy, David Lynch, Zhang Ziyi )

9. Tony Cardenas & Dean Martin (Runners Up: Edward Norton, Gary Cooper, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Slyvester Stallone)

8. Eric Garcetti & Mel Gibson (Runners Up: Alec Baldwin, Hugh Grant, Jeff Buckley, Artie Shaw. SPECIAL AWARD FOR: Getting women naked by looking like a number of beefy hunks and singing Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah.")

7. Ed Reyes & Mubarak (Runners Up: Roger Moore, Matthew Perry, Jomo Kenyatta, David Lloyd George, Andre Malraux. SPECIAL AWARD FOR: Looking like the most International and political group.)

6. Alex Padilla & Audrey Tautou (Runners Up: Beyonce Knowles, Jacques Chirac, Madonna, Frida Kahlo, Leonardo DiCaprio. SPECIAL AWARD FOR: Looking like a random-ass bunch of folks.)

5. Jack Weiss & John Travolta (Runners Up: Nikita Khrushchev, Tom Cruise, Edward Said, Steve Martin, José Carreras.)

4. Dennis Zine & Gary Oldman (Runners Up: Ferdinand Porsche, Amitabh Bachchan, Kim Dae-jung, Yuri Andropov, Gabriel García Márquez. SPECIAL AWARD FOR: Not looking like many on-screen Celebrities.)

3. Bernard Parks & Lou Reed (Runners Up: John Carpenter, Uylsses S. Grant, Vladimir Lenin, Grace Jones, Jawaharlal Nehru, Abdelaziz Bouteflika. SPECIAL AWARD FOR: Looking like many dead and famous leaders.)

2. José Huizar & Yao Ming (Runners Up: Henry Fonda, Hilary Duff, Carl Sagan, John Belushi, Julia Roberts)

1. Bill Rosendahl & Jimi Hendrix (Runners Up: Pierre Boulez, Princess Diana, Steve Reich, Benicio del Toro, Cate Blanchett, Wesley Clark, Jacques Chirac. SPECIAL AWARD FOR: Oddly looking like two famous classical minimalist composers - Steve Reich and Pierre Boulez.)

And Just for fun....

Antonio Villaraigosa & Howard Dean

Laura Chick & Sharon Stone

Yvonne Burke & Shirley McClaine

Don Knabe & Richard Wagner

Gloria Molina & Annette Bening

Zev Yaroslavsky & Meatloaf

Michael Antonovich & Ozzy Osborne

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wearing Your Seat Belt - Not For Your Safety

Getting that seat belt ticket is not about the City collecting revenue either. It's about maintaining a budget.

Before I was all gung-ho for the seat belt law, I always told myself that only two things will convince me of it: a) the statistics of human projectiles from cars injuring others are incredibly high or b) economic reasons.

One day I caught up with Los Angeles County Sheriff, Tony Arnold, who heads the Santa Clarita Traffic Division. I presented my two options to him and he explained the latter was correct. And it only makes sense:

An injury from a seat belt-less driver without health insurance still has bills to pay. More often than not, our taxes pay that bill. So in closing, it's not about your safety, it's about our wallet. I rather see my money go towards a park or pothole than your negligent medical bills.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My true love sent to me, 7 buses a-crashin'

The 7th in a string of crashes occur on the Orange Line tonight at Kester Ave. Luckily, this red light runner was hit by a 10 mph cruising bus. When I was walking to a restaurant and later taking pictures for the 311 Project post, I was astonished to see a car run a red light each time at the same intersection. These were not even close calls to yellow lights. They were just saying "fuck it."

Watch It
Read It

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Dec. SONC Meeting

Interesting notes from Monday night's Sherman Oaks Neighbourhood Council (SONC) Meeting:

  • The LAPD reported while Sherman Oaks is statistically lower than other neighbourhoods in the Van Nuys Station district, the nice houses in the hills are being hit because people feel safe to leave their garage doors open. Also, 24 Hour Fitness' locker room has been a repeat target.

  • Looks like a Renters Rights committee will be formed to help bridge the gap between tenants and their landlords. Sherman Oaks has a population of 58,000. Just about half of those are renters.

  • Other new committees for SONC are the Beautification Committee and an Education/School based one.

  • SONC will look more official on paper now with the by-laws changed to be consistent with the nomenclature of the L.A. City Council

  • The Department of Neighborhood Empowerment will be getting a few more Project Coordinators in order to lessen the amount of Neighbourhood Councils they represent.

  • Sherman Oaks Castle Park, a city run recreational facility, will be renewing the contracts and going out to bid for the various functions of the park. Supposedly, the current vendors (arcade, mini golf, etc) are getting a little "snotty."

Monday, December 12, 2005

405 Construction News

From the Parking, Traffic, and Transportation Committee of the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council:

Caltrans has announced the following closures nightly beginning Sunday, December 11 through Thursday, December 15:
  • 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., the northbound Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101)connector to the northbound San Diego Freeway (I-405)

  • 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., the northbound I-405 Burbank Boulevard off-ramp

  • 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., the southbound I-405 Ventura Boulevard on-ramp

  • 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., up to two lanes of southbound I-405 from U.S. 101
    to Sepulveda Boulevard
The $46 million project, started in April 2005, extends the auxiliary lane on northbound I-405, closes the loop on-ramp from eastbound Ventura Boulevard and reconfigures the Sepulveda Boulevard on-ramp to provide improved connections to U.S. 101 and I-405.

The next project milestone will be the re-opening of the
Sepulveda/Greenleaf on-ramp to the U.S. 101 connector, expected in summer 2006. The Sepulveda/Greenleaf on-ramp to northbound I-405 is estimated to open in spring 2007, with project completion anticipated for summer 2007. It may still be closed at night, from 9p to 6a, for at least a few more weeks.

This project is one of a series of improvements at the U.S. 101/I-405 Interchange. When completed in 2007, aside from the onramp/offramp improvements, it will provide a continuous HOV lane on southbound I-405 from the San Fernando Valley to Los Angeles International Airport.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

In Brief: DASH Gets New Benches

The City of L.A. has begun replacing the conventional hard plastic benches used for DASH stops with plush sofas. "We decided that we needed to 'up' the image of public transportation. And why not do it with some Hollywood flair?" said a DOT spokesman. The pilot program kicked off at the corner of Moorpark & Allott Ave. on the Van Nuys/Studio City Clockwise Route. Unfortunately, the program was cancelled a day later when vandals stole the couch and dumped it into the L.A. River.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The 311 Project: Pedestrian Patrol

Ever since I discovered the powerful use of dialing 311, I feel the City of Los Angeles has another thing to be championed about. There is one thing you cannot complain about in the City and that is 311 - One Call to City Hall. 24 hours a day, you can talk to operators with great names like Amelie, Korea, and my favourite, a cross-dresser named Ms. Sha-nay-nay (well, that's what it sounded like. It was a late night call.)

Tonight I was walking (yes, as in walk commuting) to Siam Cabin in Sherman Oaks for a dinner meeting. At Ventura Blvd. and Sunnyslope, the pedestrian crosswalk button device was hanging by its wires two feet off the ground. Since God knows when this might be noticed by the infamous City Pedestrian Device Patrol, I decided to call 311 and report this broken and possibly this newly invented technocratic cowboy toy (got lasso skills?).

Walking back a hour later, I was pleased to see the situation had been temporarily fixed with some quick wit from DOT (a huge zip tie). So if you see a broken traffic light, drive through an annoying pothole, or have a non-emergency police request, call 311. They are there to help you.

MTA Gets Smarter

Let's talk about target marketing! Way to go MTA! Today I received a localized Sherman Oaks Reference Guide to MTA. It has a map of Sherman Oaks with 10 routes, a destination guide (with what route number to take to get there), and important phone numbers (911 is for emergencies, good to know! But why isn't 311 listed?). It also has a form you can fill out and send in to get a free one-week pass. I can only hope and assume that many other neighbourhoods are receiving similar brochures to encourage the use of public transportation.

(Okay, I know. I have a crappy camera or I just don't know how to use it.)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Valley Loses More Times Coverage?

Not that I felt there was much local coverage anyway. LA Observed reports that the Times is pulling out of the Valley. I am an online newspaper reader, so that means I even get less local coverage, Daily News included. How is it in this Information Age that we get less information?

Eugene Carr, the president of Patron Technology, an e-marketing firm, reported once that local information will be the next Internet tipping point (In addition to wireless. Wireless technology integrated with local info? Dig it?). Google Local and Yahoo! Local demonstrate this local information flow. L.A. Times seems to be the antithesis of these future trends.

There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.
- John F. Kennedy -

20 Minute Eviction Notice

Evictions are not fun. Lincoln Place tenants know that. Last Wednesday, Assemblyman Paul Koretz (yes, he has a blog too) hosted an evening of Emergency Preparedness at the Stephen S. Wise Temple for District 42. Chock-full of informative speakers, here are some interesting facts with a theme:

  • There are 9000 LAPD/LAFD employees and 44,000 citizens have been trained in CERT since 1987. There are 3.9 million residents in Los Angeles. Do the math. You are on your own for a little while.

  • Within 6 minutes of the Northridge Quake, every working vehicle from all 104 LAFD stations were en route (2 stations suffered due to the quake). A neighbourhood in Chatsworth did not see any sign of government response for three days. It could happen to you.

  • 75% of male bodies can be identified easily while very few female bodies cannot be. Men and their back pockets; women with their purses.

  • L.A. is the 2nd largest Red Cross chapter in the U.S. The chapter responds to 500 Red Cross Disasters in the Los Angeles area a year. These range from apartment fires to a wildfire.

  • In an emergency, especially a quickly spreading fire, you may be given 20 minutes to go into your house, get what you can, and pray for the best.
Make a bad day a little easier on yourself. Get prepared.

New Train? - Pasadena to The Valley

  • Daily News reports the cities of Pasadena, Glendale, and Burbank have each contributed $30,000 to a feasibility study for the "Missing Link," completing the northern side of the triangle of the Red and Gold Lines. This route would follow the 134 Freeway.

  • Meanwhile, the Orange Line had its 5th crash this weekend (not the pickup truck one). Red light runner, no injuries.

  • Ever hear of the Silver Line? All aboard from Silver Lake to El Monte.

  • Via Curbed LA, City Council approves a pilot program providing shuttles from Hollywood clubs and restaurants to the Red Line Subway, 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., Thursdays through Saturdays. Too bad the subway doesn't even run much past 1:00 a.m. But this could make the Hollywood & Highland parking garage the one-stop shop.

Friday, December 02, 2005

L.A.'s New Best Friend - Density

Last Tuesday, Eric Garcetti joined Warren Olney on Which Way L.A.? to talk about his newly elected position as City Council President, term limits, housing, and our city's future. Here are some memorable quotes:

"We are going to admit we are a city finally, not a sprawling suburb."

"...the Orange Line or the Expo Line rail becomes the expectation, not the exception."

"Our best friend is really going to be density in this city."

The Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association (SOHA) might have perked their ears up to that last one. The savvy and articulate SOHA knows how to fight density projects and they do it with a passion. And as they should - it's their right and it's is their neighbourhood. The latest issues have been around high density, non mix-use residential projects which do not bring local amenities. I agree, these projects do need to have local amenities. But in regards to density, I say bring it on baby. Then the Ventura Blvd. Subway will be "the expectation."