Archives for category: Dinner Table Talk
Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor, image courtesy of Metropolitan Transit Authority and metro.net

Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor, image courtesy of Metropolitan Transportation Authority and metro.net

Here’s the thing: international airports, especially those on the scale of LAX, need better access to public transportation.  Our city does house the nation’s 3rd busiest airport, after all.  While buses serve that purpose to an extent, a connection to our ever-growing light rail system would be an extremely convenient and traffic-reducing solution.  Think of all those people who won’t be on the 405 anymore if they can get to LAX via train!

Naturally, the powers-that-be had thought of this, and were already addressing the issue:  Metro (LA’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority) has been holding open meetings since 2010, and LAWA was making plans of their own.  This is all well and good, but today the two entities announced they would be collaborating as the plans moved forward.  This might seem like an obvious step to most, but in a city where bureaucracy sometimes rules over practicality, this is a huge leap in the project actually being executed, and executed well.

Funded by partially Measure-R, this extension between the Green Line and the Expo Line will become the Crenshaw Corridor, which will connect to a new LAX People Mover, presumably dropping off individuals at each terminal.  As is the case with projects of this scale, us Angelenos won’t be able to ride the line to LAX until 2020, but in the scheme of things that is actually a pretty quick turnaround.

Beyond the direct transportation benefits this new addition will give, its sure to improve real estate and business opportunities along its path as well.  So start investing along the Crenshaw Corridor!  That is, as soon as they decide which of the four plans to go with.

This has the potential to create some new and interesting opportunities along a new path in LA.  Plus, if LAX travelers and locals alike could take a ride that plugs them directly into the Metro transit network, this extension could have rippling benefits to other transit-oriented and transit-adjacent developments along other lines as well.  Lets hope they have the sense to put in some developer incentives, bike paths, and park and ride lots, and we should be good to go.

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Kimchee Cookoff

Good Food Day LA- what a fantastic event!!  While all sorts of amazing things went on throughout the city involving over 3,000 participants at 40 locations, I had the opportunity to attend the central event at Metabolic Studio near Chinatown and the cornfield-turned-park in downtown.  Along with a couple of food trucks with tasty items, there was a small vendor fair with information on urban gardens, youth programs, and volunteer opportunities throughout the city.  There was an awesome kimchee cook-off, which included chefs, farmers, food critics and even a councilmember as judges.  The winners were stoked, it was very cool to watch.  The main event ended with a great speech by LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy on the importance of good food in schools and beyond, as well as food workers rights.

SO why is this important?  Why is the LA Food Policy Council (along with the mayor) even putting on an event like this?  Of course, everybody likes “good” food- in the sense that it tastes good- but when you can feel good about eating that food as well, it brings another dimension of “good” to the table that you may not have previously considered a part of the package.  Once you start to look into our food-related policies and practices, like the folks at the Council have been doing, you start to understand the wide reach that food has as well as its impact on many aspects of our lives.  Consider:  Where is your food coming from?  Are different parts of it coming from different parts of the country, or even the world?  What is it packaged in, and how were those materials processed?  Are they recyclable?  Were pesticides involved?  Should you be worried about them?  How about the people who helped, plant, grow, collect, process, pack, distribute or cook the food?  Not to mention issues related to Farmers Markets, food trucks, and problems of access to food…in short, food connects to every aspect of our lives and the lives of the people around us.  It impacts public health, urban design, poverty, government policies, sustainability, agricultural practices and so much more.

It is because of the breadth and the depth of the issue of food that its become such a hot topic across the board, and is something that everyone can relate to and should be aware of.  So the next time you have the opportunity to get involved in something food related, take a chance and see what its all about.

The LA River, contained in concrete

Its sad, but true: the LA River is not the main attraction of Los Angeles.  It is not what tourists consider among their star maps and beach trips, nor is it a destination for residents on a day off.  For the most part lacking any resemblance of a “typical river”, its become a bit of a joke to the people of the city.  However, the Los Angeles River was (and arguably still is) a huge part of the natural ecosystem of the valleys so many millions now call home, the core of what drew people to the area hundreds of years ago.  Throughout history, cities have been built and thrived by rivers, and yet many could not find ours on a map.  Though much of it is currently encased in concrete, and it does not serve the same function exactly as it once did, the City of Los Angeles, along with the Army Corps of Engineers and countless non-profits and NGOs, have decided we can no longer turn our backs to this wonderful resource that contains so much potential.

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I recently accidentally came across an excellent public space in downtown LA while chaperoning a trip to the Fed.  Between Hope and Grand, and Olympic and 9th, there is an amazing little pocket of green that accomplishes so much in the single block it shares with FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising).  Just across from the Fed, and within a mile of LA Live and the Staples Center, Grand Hope Park manages to combine a myriad of uses and types of spaces into a place where anyone could feel welcome.  This may not seem like an amazing feat, but think about it for a minute:  how many parks and public spaces have you been to that you didn’t want to linger at?  Maybe it wasn’t designed or programmed for your uses, or it didn’t feel safe- both major issues with public spaces, especially in a city where the “eyes on the street” aren’t always easy to come by.  This park was obviously occupied by students, but it had children, elderly, office workers, and more- the question is, what separates this park from so many others?

Grand Hope Park Water Feature

According to the Cultural Landscape Foundation, it is 2.5 acres, was completed in 1993, and was designed by the famed Lawrence Halprin.  According to yours truly, there are a few reasons why this space functions so well. Read the rest of this entry »

Trash: the big topic for many Angelenos over the past couple of weeks.  For most of us, waste is something we don’t think about much, and can’t wait to get rid of; while we try to recycle as much as possible, and use reusable containers and the like, we still generate a tremendous amount of trash.  When we’re done with a wrapper or a soda cup, we generally can’t wait for it to be out of our sight.  However, if you’re working in the waste industry, you don’t have that luxury.  In Los Angeles, trash is currently handled in two major ways: residential waste it picked up by the city, and private waste haulers take care of commercial and large apartment buildings.  For the latter group, trash pick up is a regular cost to incur, but because they can chose the private handlers themselves, there is an argument that the environmental and safety standards these handlers are held to are lacking.  In fact, two young waste workers were recently killed due to the hazardous materials and lack of proper equipment at their place of work.  While many people, especially owners of apartment buildings, are happy with the current system and the level of flexibility it allows them, there are others who believe the environmental and safety impacts are too great to ignore.

A plan was put before the LA Board of Public Works, changing the current free-market system of private waste hauling to a franchise system, either exclusive or non-exclusive.  This means that the system would be highly regulated and companies would have to be approved by the city.  The Bureau of Sanitation put forth a set of recommendations based on their data, which was approved unanimously by the Board- the next step was a hearing on what to accept for the city.

The hearing took place on Monday, February 13th, and I was lucky enough to be informed about it ahead of time, and was in attendance.   Read the rest of this entry »