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Curbed LA - All Love where you live

  • LA’s best splash pads
    by Alissa Walker on August 23, 2019 at 10:59 pm

    These public fountains are great for cooling off on steamy summer days. | Grand Park Refreshing for all ages When the heat wave hits, most Angelenos make plans to visit the nearest pool or beach. But splash pads require less of a time commitment, are far more accessible, and don’t require carting a boatload of equipment along with you (although you may want to bring a towel or change of clothes). Los Angeles is immersed in somewhat of a splash pad renaissance. From Tongva Park in Santa Monica to the recently renovated Music Center plaza in Downtown, water features are a hot trend in new park design. As the city warms, expect to see more of these wet plazas—or, perhaps, ”spraygrounds”—incorporated into our urban fabric. While some splash pads are designed for kids, most are just as welcoming for people of all ages and abilities to stop in and cool off. Be sure to also check with your local recreation department, many of which have splash pads that are part of public pool complexes. Some water features operate seasonally, so confirm opening hours before you head out—in true Southern California fashion, they might be turned off during times of drought. […]

  • Developer pitches plans for 22-story along Expo Line
    by Bianca Barragan on August 23, 2019 at 10:56 pm

    The property at 5850 Jefferson Boulevard. | Google Maps The site is near La Cienega and Jefferson and right by another major mixed-use development A property just south of the Jefferson/La Cienega Expo Line station and the under-construction Cumulus project is now slated for a 22-story commercial tower. A developer, listed as 5850 West Jefferson LLC, filed plans with the city Thursday for the project, which would include four levels of underground parking. The Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw site—the addresses listed in plans are 5860 Jefferson and 3475 La Cienega—is occupied now with a parking lot and a commercial building. The site is adjacent to the parcel where a futuristic 17-story tower called Wrapper is planned. The project, designed by Eric Owen Moss, has been in the works for over a decade and, according to Urbanize, pre-construction work is finally underway. The Real Deal reported that the project developer of the 5860 Jefferson tower is connected to Samitaur Constructs, which is building Wrapper and also owns a property on the same block that is leased to Nike. The area around the station is busy with construction, most notably with the massive Cumulus project from Carmel Partners. That development will hold a Whole Foods, 50,000 square feet of retail, 1,200 apartments, and include a 30-story high rise. […]

  • Downtown Expo Line stations will reopen Saturday
    by Elijah Chiland on August 23, 2019 at 9:57 pm

    The entire Expo Line route, from Downtown to Santa Monica, will be up and running this weekend. | Shutterstock A two-month closure is coming to an end The Expo Line is set to fully reopen tomorrow, ending a two-month closure of the Downtown-to-Santa Monica train line’s two Downtown LA stations. Metro announced earlier this week that work is wrapping up at the Pico and 7th Street/Metro Center stations, where crews have been replacing tracks and electric cable since late June. During that time, shuttle buses have run in place of the train between Downtown’s Financial District and the LATTC/Ortho Institute stop at the intersection of Flower Street and 23rd Street. “I want to thank the Expo Line riders for their patience during this construction process,” Metro Board Chair James Butts said in a statement Monday. The two-month closure added extra transfers and travel time to the commutes of the Expo Line’s roughly 60,000 daily riders. Delays will continue at least another month for riders of Metro’s Blue Line, which has been at least partially closed since January. The agency shut down the entire southern half of the line for four months at the beginning of the year in order to make a host of necessary repairs to the 29-year-old light rail line. The train’s southern segment—between Long Beach and Compton—reopened in June; on the same day, the northern leg—between Watts and Downtown LA—closed for the summer. The entire line is expected to reopen this fall. Work completed at the two Downtown LA stations, which are served by both the Expo and Blue lines, should allow the two train lines to more seamlessly share tracks when they converge at the intersection of Flower Street and Washington Boulevard. According to Metro, that will translate into time savings for riders. The duration of an end-to-end trip on the Blue Line is expected to be reduced by as much as 10 minutes. The two closed Expo Line stations are scheduled to reopen when train service starts up early Saturday morning. […]

  • Eagle Rock Traditional with big backyard seeks $899K
    by Bianca Barragan on August 23, 2019 at 7:32 pm

    The house has a lovely bay window and a good-sized front yard. | Photos by Alex Zarour, courtesy of Courtney Poulos/Acme Real Estate A bay window, a bright and modern kitchen, and plenty of outdoor space This Traditional-style house in Eagle Rock delivers a suburban look in an urban area. The two-bedroom, one-bath house’s more notable features include a bay window in the living room, a window seat in the dining area, a farmhouse sink, and a remodeled bathroom with a black-and-white palette. Situated on a 7,800-square-foot lot, the house has outdoor space to spare and uses it well, with not one but two covered gathering areas. One, just off the house, is set up for outdoor dining under a covered patio. The other, toward the rear of the lot, has a metal roof and a firepit set up. 2138 Addison Way last changed hands in 2017 for $800,000. It’s now listed with Courtney Poulos of Acme Real Estate for $899,000. The inviting living room. The dining area has a little window seat. The updated kitchen is a great place to cook and gather. One of the house’s outdoor areas, set up for dining. The fire pit area. […]

  • An illustrated guide to SoCal breeze blocks
    by Jenna Chandler on August 23, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    Get to know one of the grooviest features of midcentury modern architecture Before the proliferation of air conditioning, designers devised lots of clever ways to keep buildings cool: cupolas, external blinds and awnings, transom windows. But none were as useful and affordable—or had as much panache—as breeze blocks. The name refers to a perforated concrete wall made up of individual blocks, each pierced with the same shape, most commonly a cross or circle. Mounted together, they form a striking pattern. Breeze blocks caused a sensation in the 1950s and ’60s. In those two decades, Americans shunned classical designs in favor of simple lines and experimented with concrete and prefabricated building techniques. Breeze blocks were the perfect companion to modernist buildings. One of the hallmarks of the style—floor-to-ceiling glass windows and walls that blurred indoor and outdoor living—were terrible insulators. But a barrier of breeze blocks could be placed in front of the glass, filtering sun without hindering ventilation. The blocks were cheap, and local manufacturers, who organized a big publicity blitz, created hundreds of patterns. “Everybody could order a bunch of concrete blocks and use them,” says Alan Hess, a Southern California architectural historian. “It became a real way to popularize modern design.” Images of breeze blocks in West Coast magazine articles and advertisements ultimately linked breeze blocks to California style, according to Chicago-based architectural historian Anthony Rubano. They encircled swimming pools, wrapped around churches, and screened parking garages. They served as ornamentation on hotels and storefronts and bedecked the entryways of ordinary homes. On some buildings, the fences and grills were small and discreet; other times, they were mammoth in scale. They were perfectly suited to Southern California, the land of sunshine and the cradle of modern design. The fad ultimately fizzled out in the 1970s. But breeze blocks had staying power; many are still around today. What do they do Filter sunlight Let breeze in Create privacy Also known as Decorative blocks Screen blocks Vented blocks Who created the breeze block? The breeze block craze is deeply rooted in Southern California, but it was ignited half-way around the globe in 1954, when American architect Edward Durell Stone designed the new American Embassy in New Dehli. The embassy was a simple white box, but it was enclosed behind an ornate screen formed from hundreds of one-foot square cinderblocks. Each of the blocks was punctured with the same intricate pattern, and together they formed a concrete wall that looked like a delicate lace curtain. According to the New York Times, the embassy “became one of the best‐known pieces of American architecture of the decade.” But the curtain wall wasn’t a totally original idea; think of the brise-soleil. For centuries, “screens of stone, wood, and clay shaded and ventilated buildings in arid regions.” As Ron and Barbara Marshall observe in Concrete Screen Block, the curtain wall outside the American Embassy closely resembled the cast concrete walls of Notre Dame du Raincy, built in the early 1920s. In that decade, Frank Lloyd Wright was also using textile concrete blocks to pioneer a new Southern California aesthetic. The difference? Wright’s blocks, while also decorative, were designed to bear weight. Stone’s blocks were functional, but not structural. In 1956, he brought his decorative breeze blocks to Los Angeles—and the rest of the U.S.—with the Stuart Company headquarters in Pasadena. The company’s owner charged Stone with devising a “completely new building concept” that would be efficient but timeless, and make use of the Southern California climate. With smashing success, Stone and the landscape architect incorporated a large atrium, reflecting pools, courtyards—and a long, gauzy screen constructed from blocks hollowed out to create a circle motif, each embellished with one gold knob. With the Stuart building, Rubano says Stone “cemented the image of the screen block into the minds of architects, builders, and homeowners.” I think it serves not only to satisfy a wistful yearning on the part of everyone for pattern, warmth and interest, but also serves the desperately utilitarian purpose of keeping sun off glass and giving privacy. —Edward Durell Stone Alhambra City Hall Alhambra A dramatic screen of breeze blocks two stories tall wraps around Alhambra’s civic building. A 1958 write-up of architect William Allen’s plans in the Los Angeles Times says the screen would be “similar in appearance” to the American pavilion at the Brussels World’s Fair, which was designed by none other than Edward Durell Stone, who pioneered breeze blocks. Parker Hotel Palm Springs Palm Springs is the bastion of breeze blocks, and the Parker Hotel is its mecca. The giant, curving wall was built, unusually, two blocks deep, likely to stabilize it, say the Marshalls. Its sheer size makes it a popular photo backdrop. It’s not just its monumental size. The pattern, Vista Vue, “exudes that hip coolness that you want,” says Ron Marshall. Seventh Day Adventist Church Hollywood One of the more peculiar buildings in Los Angeles, the violet church is separated from busy Hollywood Boulevard by a wall of breeze blocks in the Maltese pattern. The boat-like church was designed by Robert Burman, who, according to the Los Angeles Conservancy, was a “prolific producer of Modern ecclesiastical design in Southern California.” Theme Building LAX The flamboyant architectural style known Googie symbolized the spirit and optimism of the Space Age, and is most famously executed in this spider-like structure that’s often mistaken for LAX’s control tower. Its steel and concrete legs protrude out over a low, circular wall of concrete bars punched with egg-shaped holes. Rubano says the screen closely resembles sculptor Erwin Hauer’s Design No. 5. Saga Motor Hotel Pasadena Breeze blocks adorn dozens of motels across Los Angeles, from the Pink Motel in Sun Valley to the Hollywood Premiere Hotel to the Sea Sprite Motel in Hermosa Beach. But the Saga Motor Hotel is among the most elegant and understated. Architect Harold Zook cleverly used traditional cinderblocks to create vertical ribbons on the property’s exterior. […]

Curbed LA - All Love where you live

  • LA’s best splash pads
    by Alissa Walker on August 23, 2019 at 10:59 pm

    These public fountains are great for cooling off on steamy summer days. | Grand Park Refreshing for all ages When the heat wave hits, most Angelenos make plans to visit the nearest pool or beach. But splash pads require less of a time commitment, are far more accessible, and don’t require carting a boatload of equipment along with you (although you may want to bring a towel or change of clothes). Los Angeles is immersed in somewhat of a splash pad renaissance. From Tongva Park in Santa Monica to the recently renovated Music Center plaza in Downtown, water features are a hot trend in new park design. As the city warms, expect to see more of these wet plazas—or, perhaps, ”spraygrounds”—incorporated into our urban fabric. While some splash pads are designed for kids, most are just as welcoming for people of all ages and abilities to stop in and cool off. Be sure to also check with your local recreation department, many of which have splash pads that are part of public pool complexes. Some water features operate seasonally, so confirm opening hours before you head out—in true Southern California fashion, they might be turned off during times of drought. […]

  • Developer pitches plans for 22-story along Expo Line
    by Bianca Barragan on August 23, 2019 at 10:56 pm

    The property at 5850 Jefferson Boulevard. | Google Maps The site is near La Cienega and Jefferson and right by another major mixed-use development A property just south of the Jefferson/La Cienega Expo Line station and the under-construction Cumulus project is now slated for a 22-story commercial tower. A developer, listed as 5850 West Jefferson LLC, filed plans with the city Thursday for the project, which would include four levels of underground parking. The Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw site—the addresses listed in plans are 5860 Jefferson and 3475 La Cienega—is occupied now with a parking lot and a commercial building. The site is adjacent to the parcel where a futuristic 17-story tower called Wrapper is planned. The project, designed by Eric Owen Moss, has been in the works for over a decade and, according to Urbanize, pre-construction work is finally underway. The Real Deal reported that the project developer of the 5860 Jefferson tower is connected to Samitaur Constructs, which is building Wrapper and also owns a property on the same block that is leased to Nike. The area around the station is busy with construction, most notably with the massive Cumulus project from Carmel Partners. That development will hold a Whole Foods, 50,000 square feet of retail, 1,200 apartments, and include a 30-story high rise. […]

  • Downtown Expo Line stations will reopen Saturday
    by Elijah Chiland on August 23, 2019 at 9:57 pm

    The entire Expo Line route, from Downtown to Santa Monica, will be up and running this weekend. | Shutterstock A two-month closure is coming to an end The Expo Line is set to fully reopen tomorrow, ending a two-month closure of the Downtown-to-Santa Monica train line’s two Downtown LA stations. Metro announced earlier this week that work is wrapping up at the Pico and 7th Street/Metro Center stations, where crews have been replacing tracks and electric cable since late June. During that time, shuttle buses have run in place of the train between Downtown’s Financial District and the LATTC/Ortho Institute stop at the intersection of Flower Street and 23rd Street. “I want to thank the Expo Line riders for their patience during this construction process,” Metro Board Chair James Butts said in a statement Monday. The two-month closure added extra transfers and travel time to the commutes of the Expo Line’s roughly 60,000 daily riders. Delays will continue at least another month for riders of Metro’s Blue Line, which has been at least partially closed since January. The agency shut down the entire southern half of the line for four months at the beginning of the year in order to make a host of necessary repairs to the 29-year-old light rail line. The train’s southern segment—between Long Beach and Compton—reopened in June; on the same day, the northern leg—between Watts and Downtown LA—closed for the summer. The entire line is expected to reopen this fall. Work completed at the two Downtown LA stations, which are served by both the Expo and Blue lines, should allow the two train lines to more seamlessly share tracks when they converge at the intersection of Flower Street and Washington Boulevard. According to Metro, that will translate into time savings for riders. The duration of an end-to-end trip on the Blue Line is expected to be reduced by as much as 10 minutes. The two closed Expo Line stations are scheduled to reopen when train service starts up early Saturday morning. […]

  • Eagle Rock Traditional with big backyard seeks $899K
    by Bianca Barragan on August 23, 2019 at 7:32 pm

    The house has a lovely bay window and a good-sized front yard. | Photos by Alex Zarour, courtesy of Courtney Poulos/Acme Real Estate A bay window, a bright and modern kitchen, and plenty of outdoor space This Traditional-style house in Eagle Rock delivers a suburban look in an urban area. The two-bedroom, one-bath house’s more notable features include a bay window in the living room, a window seat in the dining area, a farmhouse sink, and a remodeled bathroom with a black-and-white palette. Situated on a 7,800-square-foot lot, the house has outdoor space to spare and uses it well, with not one but two covered gathering areas. One, just off the house, is set up for outdoor dining under a covered patio. The other, toward the rear of the lot, has a metal roof and a firepit set up. 2138 Addison Way last changed hands in 2017 for $800,000. It’s now listed with Courtney Poulos of Acme Real Estate for $899,000. The inviting living room. The dining area has a little window seat. The updated kitchen is a great place to cook and gather. One of the house’s outdoor areas, set up for dining. The fire pit area. […]

  • An illustrated guide to SoCal breeze blocks
    by Jenna Chandler on August 23, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    Get to know one of the grooviest features of midcentury modern architecture Before the proliferation of air conditioning, designers devised lots of clever ways to keep buildings cool: cupolas, external blinds and awnings, transom windows. But none were as useful and affordable—or had as much panache—as breeze blocks. The name refers to a perforated concrete wall made up of individual blocks, each pierced with the same shape, most commonly a cross or circle. Mounted together, they form a striking pattern. Breeze blocks caused a sensation in the 1950s and ’60s. In those two decades, Americans shunned classical designs in favor of simple lines and experimented with concrete and prefabricated building techniques. Breeze blocks were the perfect companion to modernist buildings. One of the hallmarks of the style—floor-to-ceiling glass windows and walls that blurred indoor and outdoor living—were terrible insulators. But a barrier of breeze blocks could be placed in front of the glass, filtering sun without hindering ventilation. The blocks were cheap, and local manufacturers, who organized a big publicity blitz, created hundreds of patterns. “Everybody could order a bunch of concrete blocks and use them,” says Alan Hess, a Southern California architectural historian. “It became a real way to popularize modern design.” Images of breeze blocks in West Coast magazine articles and advertisements ultimately linked breeze blocks to California style, according to Chicago-based architectural historian Anthony Rubano. They encircled swimming pools, wrapped around churches, and screened parking garages. They served as ornamentation on hotels and storefronts and bedecked the entryways of ordinary homes. On some buildings, the fences and grills were small and discreet; other times, they were mammoth in scale. They were perfectly suited to Southern California, the land of sunshine and the cradle of modern design. The fad ultimately fizzled out in the 1970s. But breeze blocks had staying power; many are still around today. What do they do Filter sunlight Let breeze in Create privacy Also known as Decorative blocks Screen blocks Vented blocks Who created the breeze block? The breeze block craze is deeply rooted in Southern California, but it was ignited half-way around the globe in 1954, when American architect Edward Durell Stone designed the new American Embassy in New Dehli. The embassy was a simple white box, but it was enclosed behind an ornate screen formed from hundreds of one-foot square cinderblocks. Each of the blocks was punctured with the same intricate pattern, and together they formed a concrete wall that looked like a delicate lace curtain. According to the New York Times, the embassy “became one of the best‐known pieces of American architecture of the decade.” But the curtain wall wasn’t a totally original idea; think of the brise-soleil. For centuries, “screens of stone, wood, and clay shaded and ventilated buildings in arid regions.” As Ron and Barbara Marshall observe in Concrete Screen Block, the curtain wall outside the American Embassy closely resembled the cast concrete walls of Notre Dame du Raincy, built in the early 1920s. In that decade, Frank Lloyd Wright was also using textile concrete blocks to pioneer a new Southern California aesthetic. The difference? Wright’s blocks, while also decorative, were designed to bear weight. Stone’s blocks were functional, but not structural. In 1956, he brought his decorative breeze blocks to Los Angeles—and the rest of the U.S.—with the Stuart Company headquarters in Pasadena. The company’s owner charged Stone with devising a “completely new building concept” that would be efficient but timeless, and make use of the Southern California climate. With smashing success, Stone and the landscape architect incorporated a large atrium, reflecting pools, courtyards—and a long, gauzy screen constructed from blocks hollowed out to create a circle motif, each embellished with one gold knob. With the Stuart building, Rubano says Stone “cemented the image of the screen block into the minds of architects, builders, and homeowners.” I think it serves not only to satisfy a wistful yearning on the part of everyone for pattern, warmth and interest, but also serves the desperately utilitarian purpose of keeping sun off glass and giving privacy. —Edward Durell Stone Alhambra City Hall Alhambra A dramatic screen of breeze blocks two stories tall wraps around Alhambra’s civic building. A 1958 write-up of architect William Allen’s plans in the Los Angeles Times says the screen would be “similar in appearance” to the American pavilion at the Brussels World’s Fair, which was designed by none other than Edward Durell Stone, who pioneered breeze blocks. Parker Hotel Palm Springs Palm Springs is the bastion of breeze blocks, and the Parker Hotel is its mecca. The giant, curving wall was built, unusually, two blocks deep, likely to stabilize it, say the Marshalls. Its sheer size makes it a popular photo backdrop. It’s not just its monumental size. The pattern, Vista Vue, “exudes that hip coolness that you want,” says Ron Marshall. Seventh Day Adventist Church Hollywood One of the more peculiar buildings in Los Angeles, the violet church is separated from busy Hollywood Boulevard by a wall of breeze blocks in the Maltese pattern. The boat-like church was designed by Robert Burman, who, according to the Los Angeles Conservancy, was a “prolific producer of Modern ecclesiastical design in Southern California.” Theme Building LAX The flamboyant architectural style known Googie symbolized the spirit and optimism of the Space Age, and is most famously executed in this spider-like structure that’s often mistaken for LAX’s control tower. Its steel and concrete legs protrude out over a low, circular wall of concrete bars punched with egg-shaped holes. Rubano says the screen closely resembles sculptor Erwin Hauer’s Design No. 5. Saga Motor Hotel Pasadena Breeze blocks adorn dozens of motels across Los Angeles, from the Pink Motel in Sun Valley to the Hollywood Premiere Hotel to the Sea Sprite Motel in Hermosa Beach. But the Saga Motor Hotel is among the most elegant and understated. Architect Harold Zook cleverly used traditional cinderblocks to create vertical ribbons on the property’s exterior. […]

  • One-bedroom condo in Pasadena’s historic Castle Green asking $525K
    by Pauline O'Connor on August 23, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    The fourth-floor unit comes with two decorative fireplaces and views of the San Gabriel mountains Old Town Pasadena’s grandest landmark, Castle Green was designed in the 1890s by the man known back then as “the millionaire’s architect,” Frederick L. Roehrig. Originally a hotel annex, the building, located at 99 South Raymond Avenue next to Central Park, was converted to private residences in the 1920s. Newly up for grabs in the historic Spanish-Moorish Colonial structure is a one-bedroom, two bathroom unit on the fourth floor. Measuring 745 square feet, it features polished concrete floors, lofty ceilings, two decorative fireplaces, French doors, two wrought iron balconies, and an updated kitchen with quartz countertops. The condo also comes with access to the building’s lavish Turkish and Moorish salons, the Palm Court, and the rooftop lounge. It’s listed with an asking price of $525,000. HOA dues (which cover building and grounds maintenance, 24-hour concierge and elevator service, water, and utilities) are $557 per month. A set of French doors in the living room open to the balcony.There are two decorative fireplaces.The kitchen has been updated with quartz countertops and custom cabinetry.The bathrooms are lined with white subway tile.A glimpse of Castle Green’s Grand SalonAlso on the ground floor is the wood-paneled Moorish Room. […]

  • Catch a sea breeze on Long Beach’s water taxi
    by Elijah Chiland on August 23, 2019 at 4:35 pm

    The water taxi arrives at a dock in downtown Long Beach’s Rainbow Harbor. The ferry is one of LA’s hidden gems. Can it be more than a tourist attraction? Standing on the deck of Long Beach's AquaLink water taxi, I was reminded of a story my grandmother once told me about riding the Staten Island Ferry back and forth to stay cool during the muggy New York summers of her childhood. Minutes earlier I had been sweating at the city’s downtown marina, wondering why I hadn't worn shorts. But once the boat got moving, the cool sea breeze became a natural air conditioner—more refreshing even than the climate-controlled confines of the cabin (where riders can purchase cocktails). I looked around at the crisp blue water and watched clusters of office buildings and beachfront high-rises fade into the distance. “Not a bad way to travel,” I thought, as a pair of dolphins emerged from the surf. Bright orange catamarans and cabin cruisers have ferried riders around the Long Beach’s waterfront since 2001, and hopping aboard the vessels is one of the most accessible seafaring experiences available in Los Angeles County. But I wanted to find out if the water taxi system could be a true form of public transportation. As Los Angeles County grows its transit network—and deals with the effects of crippling traffic congestion—should local leaders consider how sea routes might be used to move people throughout the region? A ferry rider sits on the boat’s stern as it navigates through the harbor. In the last decade, several coastal U.S. cities, including New York and San Francisco, have adopted ferry systems or expanded existing ones in an effort to bypass gridlocked streets and provide commuters with new ways to get around. In the Los Angeles area, proposals for ferry systems connecting the region’s beach cities have been explored by local officials for at least a century. In 1991, Santa Monica planners explicitly pitched ferry service as an alternative for drivers afflicted by traffic on the 405 freeway. Former USC student David Bailey mapped out a similar concept in 2017 that would provide an aquatic link between Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica, and Malibu. “LA has the car alternative figured out, we’re working on rail, but the ocean is a huge opportunity, and we’re not using it,” Bailey told Curbed last year. The ferry passes sailboats and Long Beach’s famous oil islands on its way to Alamitos Bay. The seats in the boat’s interior cabin are upholstered with the same pattern used on the city’s buses. Long Beach is the only Los Angeles County city that’s incorporated ferry service into its transportation system. Though technically operated by ferry company Catalina Express, the water taxi is funded by the city’s public transit agency and operates in the same network as its buses (fares can be paid through the same mobile app used to purchase bus trips). Up until now, the ferries have only been brought out during summer months and for special events. But Long Beach Transit announced earlier this year that it would begin offering year-round weekend service on the boats. The city operates two lines: the longer-distance AquaLink ferry and the AquaBus, which serves mainly as a link between the Queen Mary ocean liner (permanently moored at the mouth of the Los Angeles River) and the other tourist attractions positioned around the city’s downtown marina. The water taxi departs from a dock close to downtown’s Pine Avenue Pier.A ride on the AquaBus costs just $1 and lines for the boat wind around the dock during special events and seasonal attractions onboard the Queen Mary. But its limited route clearly has more appeal for tourists than residents trying to get around the city. The $5 AquaLink travels between the downtown harbor and Alamitos Bay, close to the Orange County border. Complete with a small park-and-ride lot near the Alamitos marina, the ferry is a more viable option for commuters—or, it would be if it offered rides during the morning rush hour. Even during the summer, when the AquaLink runs on weekdays, the first boats don’t launch until 11 a.m. (final departures are between 9:45 and 10:30, depending on the day of the week). Long Beach Transit also has just two AquaLink vessels, meaning that boats can only depart every 45 minutes Long Beach Transit spokesperson Michael Gold says the agency has mulled the possibility of expanding service hours attract riders who work in downtown Long Beach, but right now there’s no budget for those additional trips. The ferry probably also wouldn’t save any time for passengers who could otherwise drive. On my recent trip, the journey to Alamitos Bay took about 35 minutes. A car ride back to downtown lasted 19 minutes, complete with a missed turn. The AquaLink ferry makes long trips from one side of Long Beach to the other. The AquaBus sticks to the downtown harbor.Time savings by boat would probably only be realized over longer distances and in places where the region’s geography makes a trip by sea more direct—like the journey from Santa Monica to Malibu. A 1979 landslide that buried part of Pacific Coast Highway offered residents a brief preview of what that service might look like. During a weeks-long road closure, Caltrans ran a ferry between Malibu and Santa Monica, at a cost of $2 for a one-way trip. As the Los Angeles Times reported at the time, the service was far from seamless. On the first day, boats departed behind schedule and encountered rocky surf, leaving at least one rider seasick. The ride from Malibu Pier also took 50 minutes—longer than a bus trip today. In his proposal, Bailey points out that, at a speed of 27 knots (31 miles per hour), a ferry trip from Santa Monica to Malibu could be made in just 23 minutes—including two minutes docking time. At that speed, a boat ride might be more appealing to travelers seeking to avoid rush hour traffic. The ferry offers some nice views of Long Beach’s skyline. But Move LA director Denny Zane, who sat on the Santa Monica City Council when the city considered reviving the ferry idea in the 1990s, says he’s skeptical that a ferry service would ever draw in a high number of commuters. “As difficult as our traffic is, I seriously doubt a ferry service would be a competitive alternative [to driving]—except as a see-the-sea recreational option,” he writes in an email. One major reason why ferries might not be well-suited as public transit workhorses relied upon by daily commuters is that they are relatively inefficient as a form of transportation. A single AquaLink vessel in Long Beach’s fleet can carry 75 passengers; Metro’s Blue Line train, which departs from downtown Long Beach every 12 minutes, can hold almost 400 riders at maximum capacity. Of course, Long Beach could buy bigger boats—or run mid-size vessels more frequently—but these options come with new costs and challenges. Gold says that the city’s transit agency has considered adding new ferries to its fleet, but that the service “hasn’t grown yet to that point.” Right now, Gold says that the water taxi service has a farebox recovery rate of 34 percent, meaning that passenger payment covers only about one-third of the cost of operating the ferries. That’s actually far better than the farebox recovery rate for the city’s bus network (17.1 percent in 2018), but it does suggest that the purchase of new boats would be unlikely to pay for itself. As it is, Long Beach already spends almost three times as much per rider subsidizing the ferry service as it does the local bus system. For now, then, the water taxi system is likely to mainly draw in out-of-towners and locals looking to beat the summer heat. “We get people coming from all over LA—even the Valley,” AquaLink deckhand Steve Bebich told me as he tended the ferry’s onboard bar. “I think a lot of people see it as a little vacation, and I guess it kind of is.&rdquo […]

  • Why does the Valley get so hot?
    by Alissa Walker on August 22, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    The San Fernando Valley is consistently one of the warmest places in the Los Angeles region. | Shutterstock The city is experimenting with “cool” pavement, but what the region really needs is more shade On a July afternoon, a garden cart loaded with dozens of sensors cruised around some of the Valley’s hottest streets. The cart, known as Marty, scooted through neighborhoods in Pacoima and Sun Valley, taking measurements on some of the residential cul-de-sacs that have recently been painted as part of LA’s cool pavement pilot. The city’s urban cooling efforts have gone viral, thanks to imagery of street crews spreading oozing glops of white paint onto LA’s wide roads. One video that netted 20 million views worldwide was cited in a recent Urban Land Institute report on urban heating. It gained the program international recognition—and lots of curious visitors. Researchers from Arizona State University brought Marty—which stands for mean radiant temperature—to the Valley to help the city measure what’s called thermal comfort: how hot the treated roadways, combined with air temperature, wind speeds, and humidity, feel to the humans who are using them. Prioritizing human comfort is changing the way the city thinks about streets, says Greg Spotts, assistant director of the city’s Bureau of Street Services. “Urban cooling can help give a framework for us to think with more sophistication about the right-of-way, which has been mostly about moving traffic.” On a 99-degree day in Canoga Park, the sidewalk is 106 degrees Fahrenheit. Because roads get so hot and take up so much space—they cover 15 percent of the city’s land area—they provide the best opportunity to cool the city down. And there’s no better place to test new ideas for LA’s scorching streets than the San Fernando Valley. LA as a whole is facing a future of warmer temperatures, but within 20 to 30 years, parts of the Valley will experience more than 120 days that are 95 degrees or hotter. That’s one-third of the year when it will be potentially dangerous for humans to be outdoors. “Being the Valley is like being in a hot bowl,” says Karina Jiménez, a student at Cal State Northridge who grew up in Canoga Park. As an intern at Climate Resolve, Jiménez is part of an outreach team that’s been talking to Orange Line passengers at her local Sherman Way station. As part of a state grant procured by LA’s streets services team, she’s trying to figure out which interventions—from cool pavement to patio misters to shade structures—would most cool down their car-free commutes. What people complain about most is “definitely the pavement,” she says. “You can feel it radiating beneath your feet, like it could melt your shoes.” The Valley is consistently one of the warmest places in the Los Angeles region, mostly thanks to that pavement. Not only do the 3,000-foot peaks of the Santa Monica Mountains block cooling coastal breezes, the presence of so many other hills and mountains creates an additional heating phenomenon called downslope warming. The hottest temperature ever recorded in LA County was observed here—a record-shattering 119 degrees in Woodland Hills on July 22, 2006. Now add in urban heat island effect—where heat is absorbed by hardscape surfaces that make it hotter than surrounding rural areas—which is particularly bad in the Valley. “It’s not as much the buildings, it really is the pavement itself,” says climate scientist Daniel Swain. “The whole San Fernando Valley has completely urbanized; only the hills really have open spaces. There’s not a lot of breaks in the pavement, so there’s a significant urban heat island effect.” The Valley’s black asphalt streets can register as 142 degrees—or hotter. With the cool pavement program, LA’s Bureau of Street Services is trying to boost LA’s albedo, a measure of solar reflectiveness. For effective urban cooling, hardscape materials like roofs and walls and roads can be painted light colors to create higher-albedo surfaces. There’s no question that the light gray coating applied by the Bureau of Street Services cools the surfaces of streets—they’re up to 10 degrees cooler than the black asphalt streets, as confirmed by a temperature gun used by Curbed. But questions remain about how effective these efforts can be, especially if they’re only applied a few blocks at a time. “If you’re going around doing cool pavement, that’s not primarily what will improve your thermal comfort,” says Kelly Turner, assistant professor of urban planning at UCLA’s Luskin Center, who studies urban heat mitigation. “Shade will determine whether you’re comfortable or not.” According to the Los Angeles Urban Cooling Collaborative, a coalition of groups working on cooling solutions, a combination of increased tree canopy, cool pavements, and reflective roofs can work together to address thermal comfort—enough to reduce heat-related deaths by more than 25 percent. Planting more trees is by far the most effective and efficient way to cool a city—in addition to providing many more public health and ecological benefits. Cool roofs—which LA mandates on all new structures—have proven benefits without adding too much to construction costs. But cool pavements, which are more expensive and energy-intensive to install and maintain, don’t do much for people using sidewalks. And the city can’t yet put cool pavements on big streets served by transit like Sepulveda, which is, at times, up to 10 lanes wide in the Valley. “The cool pavements aren’t going to save everybody,” says Molly Peterson, an environmental reporter for KQED who has spent the past several years studying the effect of heat on residents of low-income Valley neighborhoods. “It’s great for side streets, but it’s not enough.” Peterson has spent some of LA’s hottest days at unsheltered bus stops in the Valley, handing out water and talking to Metro riders. “When I talked to some people, they said, ‘I physically cannot wait 40 minutes in the sun.’” What Peterson would like to see from the city is as much energy and attention as the cool streets have gotten being devoted to creating a comprehensive shading program. “Other cities are focusing on getting shade into public places, putting the shade in places where people are outside,” she says. “We may have a mandate that serves the past, we don’t have a mandate that serves the future.” An unsheltered bus bench in West Hills is 130 degrees at noon. A sun-baked community in the northeast corner of the Valley might offer a glimpse of that future: San Fernando, a city of 24,000 people. Heading north from the city’s pretty, historic downtown, there are not only well-maintained street trees, but every third parking spot has been torn out and replaced with another tree, doubling the shading effect on the sidewalk. Nineteen years ago, San Fernando Mayor Cindy Montañez used streetscape improvement dollars from Metro to plant the trees in the street. “We weren’t doing it under this idea of climate change,” she says. “We were just saying, ‘Damn it’s hot, we need more trees.’ Eventually that became this idea of urban cooling.” “More trees” has become almost the unofficial city motto for San Fernando. Montañez, who is now CEO of TreePeople, championed an effort to green the community in the name of cooling: clustering groves of trees near schools and senior centers, carving out planters in sidewalks, giving away hundreds of fruit trees at events, and knocking on doors where people didn’t have street trees and offering to plant them. Swapping pavement for tree-planting is a strategy that might appeal to LA’s newly appointed city forest officer, Rachel Malarich, who is an alumna of TreePeople. She’s charged with increasing the city’s tree canopy by 50 percent in low-income neighborhoods, including many neighborhoods in the Valley. This strategy might be the only real chance the city has to cool itself down, says Swain, the climate scientist. “At some point, someone is going to have to look at what to do with the fact that LA has so much pavement,” he says. “It’s hard to envision LA not being a car city, but on the other hand, it’s hard to imagine a future where things remain the same. How can LA rethink its pavement in terms of, will there be a need for 10-lane roads in 30 years?&rdquo […]

  • Echo Park mainstay Taix reportedly slated for redevelopment
    by Bianca Barragan on August 22, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    The French restaurant sits right on Sunset Boulevard. | Kent Kanouse (CC BY-NC 2.0) The Sunset Boulevard property sold in July for $12 million French restaurant and local hangout Taix has been in operation for over five decades in Echo Park, but its redevelopment is on the horizon. Eastsider LA reports that developer Holland Partner Group has plans to eventually redo the site with “a six-story complex with 170 units of housing (some of it reserved for low-income residents) and 13,000-square-feet of ground floor retail.” Property records show that the parcel Taix sits on and the address corresponding to its large adjoining parking lot were sold in July by a trust of the Taix family for $12 million. The buyer is an LLC tied to Holland Partner Group. There would be room for a smaller version of the sprawling eatery in the new project. It would incorporate the bar, neon signs, and a handful of other hallmark features of the restaurant. Mike Taix, who has overseen the restaurant for more than 30 years, announced the news to his employees Wednesday, the Eastisder reported. According to Eastsider LA, Holland Partner Group plans to redevelop the adjoining parking lot with a separate project with 49 residential units. No plans for either site have been filed with the city yet. Holland Partner Group was the developer for two, 24-story towers in Downtown that opened this year, and is also behind plans to redevelop the Whole Foods shopping center across from The Grove. Taix opened in 1927 in Downtown. It opened its Echo Park location in 1962. The Downtown location was demolished for an office building, according to LAist. See Eastsider LA for the whole story. […]

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