Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bees Swarm Broadway Business

I came across this swarm of bees at 3pm today on Broadway near Maryland.  Downtown Glendale seems to have a ton of bee related activity that I've previously documented here, here and here.  What causes this type of bee swarm?

 Swarming is the natural means of reproduction of honey bee colonies. A new honey bee colony is formed when the queen bee leaves the colony with a large group of worker bees, a process called swarming. In the prime swarm, about 60% of the worker bees leave the original hive location with the old queen. This swarm can contain thousands to tens of thousands of bees. Swarming is mainly a spring phenomenon, usually within a two- or three-week period depending on the locale, but occasional swarms can happen throughout the producing season.
I saw this particular swarm as I was coming back from lunch.  The fire department put some tape around the scene and then left.  When I walked around the block a few hours later the bees were gone.  I'm not sure if they were removed or left on their own.

 A few hours later, there were just a few stragglers left, probably wondering where the party went.

What do you do if there is a swarm in your backyard -- or office?  According to my friend - and amateur apiarist - Erik Knutzen, you can call the local volunteers from the non-profit Backwards Beekeepers' bee rescue hotline.  If you're lucky, their A-Team of Bee-keepers will help you out.
The volunteers of the Backwards Beekeepers save wild bees in the Los Angeles area and make new beekeepers through education and helpful guidance. If you have a swarm that's easily reachable, or bees living in some easily accessible area (NOT a chimney), we may be able to help you. 
The Backwards Beekeepers also have a list of for-profit bee removal firms that specialize in live bee removal and don't use harmful chemicals.

Erik blogs at Root Simple and, with his wife Kelly, writes books about urban homesteading that are available from Amazon here and here.


Previously on Tropico Station:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Brand & Wilson Project: 238 Residential Units + Retail

The empty lot at Brand and Wilson (which I posted about previously here) has sold and a new, smaller project is being proposed for the site.  There was a special meeting of the city council yesterday for Stage 1 Design Review on the project.  Rafi Manoukian, Laura Friedman and Frank Quintero were in favor of the project but had some quibbles with details, but they all voted yes.  Dave Weaver didn't support the proposal. "My viewpoint is that residential doesn't belong on Brand" -- he wants a "first class hotel" there instead (which had been proposed previously as the long proposed City Center II project) as there aren't other suitable lots in downtown Glendale for a large hotel.  Ara was on the fence regarding the proposal but appeared swayed by Weaver's comments and ultimately voted no.

"This development, known as 'Brand & Wilson' envisions ground-level shops and restaurants with outdoor cafe seating, street-level town-homes with stoop entries, and apartments, with plentiful amenities for our residents, including generous outdoor space, recreation facilities, pool, and a green roof and terrace. The project will also incorporate green and sustainable practices.
The site is an approximately 60,000 square foot rectangle bordered by Brand Boulevard, Wilson Avenue, Orange Street, and the existing City Center office and retail complex to the South. The community will include 238 residential units, including six town-homes along Wilson Boulevard and Orange Street, and approximately 10,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space located at the corner of Brand and Wilson. The proposed mix of land uses requires 381 parking spaces. The design will accommodate 388 parking spaces on site, plus an additional 84 bicycle parking spaces."

Some renderings from their proposal are below.  There are many details in the packet presented to the City Council here.

You can watch the presentations from the developers, public comment, and council comments in the archived video on the city website here.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mary Louise Largey Dies, Longtime Glendale Resident Owned 1952 Buick Since It Was New

Longtime Glendale resident Mary Louise Largey died on May 18th at age 93. She worked for Lockheed in Burbank during WWII and after that for Glendale Water and Power for 34 years. She also had a 1952 Buick she had owned since it was new!  Hemmings Auto News profiled her and her car, Betsy, in 2009.

More info at Hemmings:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

JoS. A. Bank Clothiers Coming to Historic Bank Building at Brand & Broadway

JoS. A. Bank Clothiers is moving into the former Community Bank space in the historic Security Trust and Savings Bank building, 100 North Brand, which dates to 1923.  The space in the basement of the building is also being renovated as a co-working space called Cowork 100.

100 North Brand when Community Bank was on the ground floor.

From 1906 to 1923 there was a Pacific Electric Railway Depot on the site.  This is a 1909 photo of the Pacific Electric Depot, with the First National Bank Building behind it.  That building dates to 1905.  Levy's Kitchen is currently located on the ground floor.
1912 photo of the Pacific Electric Depot from Glendale, California: The Jewel City

The distinctive Borders across the street is still empty.  But with Bloomingdale's coming into the Mervyn's space across the street, the most prominent intersection in the center of downtown Glendale will finally be three-quarters occupied again.  It's the center of downtown Glendale, it's been a bummer to see the intersection empty. Well, empty aside from BJ's Brewhouse, which has displaced Hot Wings Cafe as the de facto cultural center of downtown Glendale (sigh).

Here's my favorite shot of the Borders building

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pictures From The Montrose Historical Bike Ride

On Saturday, I -- in collaboration with The Glendale Historical SocietyWalk Bike GlendaleMontrose Patchthe City of Glendale Community Services and Parks Department, and The City of Glendale Public Works Department -- led a group of 56 riders on the Montrose Historical Bike Ride.  We had an excellent group of riders of all levels of ability who enjoyed a beautiful day exploring Montrose on their bikes.  After meeting at the Montrose Bike Shop (since 1952!) we covered quite a bit of Montrose history with an extra special stop inside the gates of the former Rockhaven Sanitarium.  Thanks to the City of Glendale for letting us in!

In addition to Rockhaven, we stopped at and discussed the history of the La Crescenta Women's Club, the American Legion Hall (where 12 people died during the New Years Flood of 1934), the Verdugo Wash, Crescenta Valley park and the former Hindenburg Park, the defunct Montrose Railway and
the Montrose Shopping Park.  You can find out more about these sites and many others at The Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley's website.

Here are a few of my pictures from the ride.  I also have an expanded version of this set at Flickr.

riders on Honolulu

riding through the Montrose Shopping Park

Montrose Patch editor Nicole Charky discusses the La Crescenta Women's Club

Michael Morgan, City of Glendale Historic Preservation Commissioner, tells us about the history of Rockhaven

exploring Rockhaven


riders on La Crescenta Ave

a beautiful watercolor by rider Ricardo Cerezo

Colin Bogart in front of old stone country club gates near Crescenta Valley Park.  He is pointing towards the Verdugo Wash and explaining how an access road alongside the wash could be adapted into a grade-separated bicycle path.

Erik Yesayan of Walk Bike Glendale

riders on Honolulu

Colin Bogart of the LA County Bicycle Coalition, who was invaluable in helping optimize our route

Councilperson Laura Friedman rode with us.  She has been absolutely fantastic on bike and pedestrian issues in Glendale.  She and Erik explained the proposed road diet on Honolulu, which has very low traffic volumes and is plagued by speeders and difficult to cross on foot.

gorgeous fixie

An extra special thanks to The City of Glendale's Fred Zohrevand, who has been instrumental in improving Glendale's bike parking situation, particularly in downtown Montrose.  I meant to thank him at our last stop in the shopping park but forgot.  Thanks, Fred!

Glendale Galleria Remodel Has Begun

The Glendale Galleria is being renovated - here is a rendering of the updated future face of the mall juxtaposed with the same angle today.

More details are available at The Glendale Galleria and Curbed LA.

It Came From Goodwill*

I love combing through the Goodwill thrift store on Brand for odd items.  Here are a few recent finds:

a painting of owls 
 a bird made mostly of seashells
 a s'more prison
 a 4th grade California mission project
a bloomin' onion chopper
 a 2 foot tall shiny black pirate ship/lamp/clock that says "Best Wishes" (beats a card!)
kitty cat artwork
a Glendale Bear pillow

and the ultimate in Glendale footwear

* 05/22/12 adding a few more recent finds:

creepy clown

bizarro doll with hipster glasses

sinister Santa lamp

BONUS creepy mannequin at Nordstrom

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thoughts On The John Drayman Indictment

Something is rotten in Montrose.  Former Glendale city councilman John Drayman, who formerly led the Montrose Shopping Park Association and managed the Harvest Market, has been indicted on one count of embezzlement, 10 counts of filing false tax returns, five counts of money laundering, three counts of forgery, one count filing a false financial statement and eight counts of perjury by declaration. You can read the full indictment at Montrose Patch.  The investigation was started last May, when members of the MSPA realized that the sums submitted to the board were far less than the funds Drayman had collected from merchants at the Harvest Market.  After Drayman was removed from handling the money from the Harvest Market and an oversight committee was established, the Harvest Market started earning approximately $100,000 more per year than it had in the years under Drayman.  In fact, the market had become a money losing proposition that was subsidized by the small merchants in the Montrose in the hopes of attracting marketgoers to their businesses.  Revenues jumped 300% after his exit.

The only explanations I can see for the massive financial discrepancies are:
  • a) Drayman was collecting and stealing the money
  • b) Drayman was exceptionally incompetent at collecting money from the merchants
  • c) someone else involved with the market stole the money (apparently without Drayman realizing this?)

Drayman's attorney, Michael Kraut, has indicated that Drayman's defense will rely upon option C: nuking others involved with the market.

From the Daily News:
"The evidence is going to be very clear. The loss of money is going to come from a different person," said Michael Kraut, Drayman's attorney. "My client is cooperating with the investigation; he is talking to the police."
From the News-Press:
“[Kraut] claimed that others, who he declined to identify, were responsible for the embezzlement. ‘[Drayman] has been waiting for his time to finally say what happened in this case,’ Kraut said.”
After reading the charges, Kraut and Drayman have their work cut out for them, especially if the DA has the kinds of financial records they allude to in the indictment.

Glendale is, in some ways, a pretty small town.  I knew and liked John Drayman, and found him to be a responsive when I contacted him with concerns about issues in downtown Glendale - this was before I had a blog or was especially plugged in to Glendale stuff.  We also share a true interest in Glendale history.  So I want to be clear that I don’t enjoy seeing someone I've known experience a downfall worthy of a Coen Brothers film.  I also know Bill Weisman and his wife Sharon, who helped secure John’s bail, and know them to be good people and exceptionally loyal friends.

If the charges aren’t true, then someone who isn’t guilty has had their life ruined - and the rot in the Montrose Shopping Association goes beyond one man.  If the charges are true, they represent an absolutely jaw-dropping betrayal of the trust that the community placed in John Drayman.  Both options are ugly.  I hope the truth comes out and justice is served, whatever that may bring.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Glendale Triangle, Bank of Tropico, and My Car Wash

My usual car wash on the triangular piece of land bounded by San Fernando, Los Feliz, and Central in Glendale is no longer there - it's been demolished to make way for the Glendale Triangle Project, which I first wrote about in 2008.  I assume the developer's financing stalled during the recession, but now that the economy has improved somewhat the project is moving forward.  Over the last few weeks the car wash, smog check, and Burger King buildings have all been demolished.  What is the Glendale Triangle? From the executive summary of the final environmental impact report
The Project is a proposed mixed-use development consisting of 218 multi-family residential units, 54,000 square feet of commercial floor area, supporting parking facilities, and recreation and open space amenities. The Project as proposed consists of two five-story structures, with each structure featuring commercial uses on the ground 
level with residential uses occupying the four levels above. The Project would provide 17,300 square feet of common open space and 15,000 square feet of private open space, for a total of 32,300 square feet of open space. A majority of recreational facilities and common open space would be located on the second floor, podium level. The residential portions of each building would include a lobby, outdoor courtyards, storage rooms, service, trash and recycling rooms, and shared clubhouse with outdoor pool area and fitness facility. 707 parking spaces would be provided on the ground floor and within a three-and-a-half-level subterranean parking garage. Development of the proposed Project would require the demolition and removal of three on-site buildings located along the northern and southern portions of the site

The triangular shaped piece of land has an interesting history - it was the center of the main business area of Tropico, which was a separate city that ultimately voted to be annexed by Los Angeles and Glendale.  Much of South Glendale was originally Tropico, and the portions that were annexed by Los Angeles became Atwater Village.

"A two story brick block has been erected at the junction of San Fernando Road and Central Avenue, in which are located the Tropico Bank, the City Hall and office of the Tropico newspaper, "The Sentinel," below, the second story being devoted to rooming apartments."
The Bank of Tropico is the triangular shaped building on the right.  Below is an image from Google Maps, showing the Burger King that has now been demolished for the Glendale Triangle.

Below is an advertisement for the Bank of Tropico from the same 1912 brochure, "Glendale, California: The Jewel City".

Bank Vice President Burt W. Richardson was the son of W.C.B. Richardson, who owned the Santa Eulalia rancho that became Tropico (before it became South Glendale and Atwater Village).  Burt Richardson was murdered in Tropico in 1915, but I'll save that story for a future post.