Monday, November 14, 2011

The Future of The Grand Central Air Terminal (and Vintage Warplanes Over Glendale)

I was awakened on Veterans Day by the glorious sound of vintage airplanes overhead - T-6 Texans, flown by the Condor Squadron.  It  made me imagine what Glendale must have sounded like during World War II, when twin-engined P-38 Lightning fighter planes built in Burbank and based at the Grand Central Air Terminal flew over Glendale every day.

The Grand Central Air Terminal has long been a fascination of mine, and I recently came across a new Facebook page and website dedicated to preserving the beautiful control tower building and turning it into an aviation museum.

The 1928 art deco building, which is owned by Disney, was damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake and has been closed ever since.  As part of their agreement with the Redevelopment Agency for development of the Grand Central Creative Campus, the Walt Disney Co. has committed to rehabilitate the Grand Central Air Terminal building by 2015, with the intention of turning it into a visitor center for the Grand Central Creative Campus with limited public access available by reservation.  (PDF with more information here.)  It does not appear much work (other than a coat of paint) has been done.  I would suggest that Disney do even better than the visitor center idea and open a public museum housing treasures from the Disney Archives, which are located nearby. This would not only involve people more closely with the Disney brand, but also attract tourists to Glendale and educate them about both our rich animation AND aviation history.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Last Piece of Open Land in Downtown Glendale For Sale*

Downtown Glendale's last piece of open land is for sale - the proposed City Center II site at Brand and Wilson.  I posted about the site previously here.  City Center I is the skycraper on the same block at Brand Broadway.  As I understand it, City Center II was supposed to be built just after City Center I, but the early 90's recession hit.  A few years ago The Amidi Real Estate Group was, again, going to build City Center II - and our current recession hit!  So the one of the best located spots in downtown Glendale remains a weedy, empty lot surrounded by a chain link fence and the only use it ever sees is as a staging area for film shoots in the area.

From the press release I found announcing the sale:
Institutional Property Advisors (IPA), a recently formed multifamily brokerage division of Marcus & Millichap serving the needs of institutional and major private investors, has retained the exclusive listing for City Center II, a 1.38-acre development site located at the corner of Wilson Avenue and Brand Boulevard in downtown Glendale. The property is being offered as an open bid.
Ron Harris, an executive vice president investments, and associate directors Paul Darrow and Joseph Smolen are representing the seller.
“City Center II is located in a true infill location two blocks from the The Americana at Brand lifestyle center, the Glendale Galleria and dozens of local stores and restaurants along Brand Boulevard,” says Darrow. “The site is currently entitled for the construction an 18-story tower and a 20-story tower that combine for a total of 184 condominium units and 172 hotel rooms.”
Although the current entitlements are being evaluated by a number of developers, many prospective buyers are considering re-entitling the site for a lower density mid-rise concept consisting of apartments over retail.
“The multifamily rental market has gained significant momentum, both in operations and values,” adds Harris. “Many developers are indicating that they find a mid-rise concept to be a more cost-efficient approach that will be better suited to current market conditions.” 

 My previous post on City Center II.

*Updated: new post showing what used to be at the southwest corner of Brand and Wilson-

Friday, October 21, 2011

South Brand Permit Parking Prices May Jump, Dealerships May Be Allowed To Park on Permit Only Streets*

*Updated at 3pm.  I changed the focus of my piece slightly after hearing additional concerns from residents in the neighborhood about dealerships obtaining non-resident permits on permit-only streets.

If you live in South Glendale, you probably recently received a vaguely worded notice about proposed changes to zoning and parking regulations in the South Brand neighborhood. Most of these changes are fairly minor.  The city is attempting to make it easier to get permit-based parking on residential streets. This is a good thing.

During the day, my street is an absolute mess, with dealership employees and customers taking up all of the available parking. To make matters worse, a handful of nearby streets have parking by resident permits only, which distorts the market for parking in the neighborhood by putting additional parking pressure on the streets which are not permit based. Currently it is very difficult to get your street set up as permit only. Part of the proposed regulations are designed to simplify the process of becoming a permit only street -- but the city also want to allow dealership employees to park on permit-only streets and jack up the price of permits for residents.

Here is a summary of city staff's parking recommendations for South Brand:
Residential permit parking regulations
  • Current Condition: Regulations change street-to-street, or by block
  • Proposal: One standard regulation for the South Brand neighborhood – 2 hour parking, Monday-Saturday 7am-7pm except by permit 
Process for permit district approval
  • Current Condition: Petition submitted with 75% approval of residents on-street, than goes to a public hearing for final approval
  • Proposal: Petition threshold lowered to 66% of residents on-street, approved automatically – no public hearing required for approval 
Cost and number of permits per household
  • Current Condition: Unlimited number of permits per household, $6 each annually, with two free guest passes included.
  • Proposal: Increase permit price to cover costs at $25 per permit annually, limit to 3 permits per household. First 30 guest passes free (one-time use), then 5 guest permits for $10.
Option for non-residents to park in resident permit districts
  • Current Condition: Not currently allowed in the City of Glendale
  • Proposal: Number of permits may be given to South Brand employees based on 25% of available street spaces on the residential street.
  • Non-resident permits will be available for $120 per employee annually
My strong opinion is that permit program should be at no cost to the residents and that the dealerships should not be allowed to get non-resident permits at all on residential streets.

Instead of allowing the dealerships access to the permit program, the city should remove the 3 hour parking restriction on Brand Boulevard to allow dealership employees to park there. If the dealerships want the Brand Boulevard spaces open for their customers, they should have to pay the full cost of parking for their employees by providing off-street parking that does not negatively affect the neighborhood.

Additionally, some dealerships, including Pacific BMW, have requirements to provide off street parking in their conditional use permits, but ignored those requirements and did not allow low-level employees access to off-street parking, which was what spurred Windsor Road in particular to successfully apply for residential permit parking. To allow dealerships access to the residential permit zones for a fee is the exact opposite of the reason residents would lobby for a permit zone in the first place!

All Glendale residents benefit from the revenue from the car dealerships, but only South Glendale suffers the impact of living next to the megadealerships - noise, traffic, speeding, and large trucks coming and going at all hours.  To ask residents to pay to park on the streets where they live while continuing to allow dealership employees to park there is an additional burden that many in South Glendale - the lowest income area in the city - can not afford to pay. Residents shouldn't have to pay to mitigate a parking problem that they themselves are not causing.

More detailed information on the South Brand Boulevard Study is available here:

This matter will be discussed at a joint meeting of the Planning Commission and the Transportation and Parking Commission on October 24th, 6pm, in City Council Chambers (613 E. Broadway). The dealerships are paying close attention to this and will likely have representatives at the meeting, but residents tend to not pay much attention to parking and zoning. If you have opinions regarding the proposed changes and would like to counteract the influence of the dealerships, please come to the meeting on October 24th or at the very least e-mail a letter expressing your opinion to Michael Nilsson in the Community Development Department:  You can also e-mail the members of the Transportation and Parking Commission here. Your feedback makes a difference!

Monday, October 10, 2011

CicLAvia and Glendale Bike News

 Yesterday I participated in the third CicLAvia event with a group of cyclists from Glendale.  We biked from Glendale to LA City Hall and had a great day enjoying the streets of Los Angeles.  Here are my photos from the event on flickr.
There is lots of exciting bike action happening in Glendale right now, and I encourage you to get involved.  Erik Yesayan and Justin Klein have been leading regular Tuesday night rides starting at the Glendale Public Library.  They also started a Facebook group, Glendale Bike Rides, to publicize the Tuesday night ride and start more Glendale area rides.  We are also in the very early stages of forming a Glendale-specific bike and pedestrian safety advocacy group.  Currently we are keeping in touch via occasional meetings and have a mailing list via Google Groups, if you'd like to join us in advocating for safer streets in the community please contact me and I can add you to the mailing list.

Glendale's Bike Master Plan is also in the process of being updated.  You can keep track of its progress here:

Please come to some of the Bike Master Plan outreach meetings to get up to date and make your voice heard.  The importance of getting involved at this stage cannot be overstated.

From the City of Glendale:
The Glendale Bicycle Master Plan will be most successful with input from the public. Please take time to contribute to the process by submitting your comments on the form below or by participating in one of our Community Outreach meetings. You may also submit comments on a comment card available at local libraries and participating bike shops. The entire community is invited to participate and we are looking forward to comments and recommendations.

Community Outreach Meetings have been scheduled as follows:
October 13, 2011
6:00 pm
Civic Center
633 E. Broadway Room 106
Glendale 91206

October 20, 2011
6:00 pm
Sparr Heights Community Center
1613 Glencoe Way
Glendale 91208

I hope to see you at the outreach meetings.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

City Wants New Name For Troubled Rose Parade Float

From the City of Glendale:

 "The Community Services and Parks Department is requesting suggestions from the public for a new name for the 2012 Rose Float from the current name of 'Stepping Out in Style'. To be considered, names must be submitted to by Friday, September 16, 2011 at 5:00 PM. One name will be selected and submitted to the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association for approval."

We've come up with quite a few naming suggestions for the troubled float at the Tropico Station Facebook page...feel free to add some more.  My current favorites are ‎"Dumbo's Revenge," "Monument to Poor Oversight," and "Follow Me To Zankou Chicken."

Friday, September 2, 2011

Glendale Drivers: Still Horrible

Allstate Insurance has just released their annual report ranking the relative traffic safety of the 200* largest cities in the country, and Glendale has maintained its ranking as the third most dangerous city in the country to in which to drive.  As a Glendale resident, you are 80.8 percent MORE likely to be involved in a collision than the average resident of the 200 largest cities in America.  In the 2011 report, the statistical average interval for a Glendale resident to be involved in a car accident was a mere 5.5 years - almost a year sooner than the Glendale's 2005 average of 6.3 years.

If you live in the safest city, Fort Collins, Colorado, you are 28.6% LESS likely to be in an accident than the average resident of the 200 largest cities, and the interval between accidents for the average resident is 14 years.  The only cities with worse statistics than Glendale are Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Here are Glendale's rankings for the last five years:
  • 2005 rank: 191/years between accidents: 6.3
  • 2006 rank: 192/years between accidents: 6.1
  • 2007 rank: 194/years between accidents: 6.0
  • 2008 rank: 192/years between accidents: 5.9
  • 2009 rank: 191/years between accidents: 5.7
  • 2010 rank: 191/years between accidents: 5.5
  • 2011 rank: 191/years between accidents: 5.5

*I wondered why Allstate claimed to survey 200 cities but only list rankings for 193. I called Allstate and they said that they did indeed survey 200 cities, but in some of them they had recently entered the local market and did not have enough Allstate customers to make up a statistically meaningful sample. So Glendale is ranked 191 out of 193, not 191 out of 200.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Forest Lawn: "Half In Love With Easeful Death"

Evelyn Waugh's brilliant 1947 piece "Half In Love With Easeful Death" imagines what scholars would make of the tombs and religious implications of Forest Lawn Glendale upon encountering it amongst the ruins of Southern California one thousand years in the future.  It is a highly entertaining and insightful read.  Read it read it read it.
"Nature will re-assert herself and the seasons gently obliterate the vast, deserted suburb. Its history will pass from memory to legend until, centuries later, as we have supposed, the archaeologists prick their ears at the cryptic references in the texts of the twentieth century to a cult which once flourished on this forgotten strand; of the idol Oscar - sexless image of infertility - of the great Star Goddesses who were once noisily worshipped there in a Holy Wood. 
...their steps will inevitably tend northward to what was once Glendale, and there they will encounter, on a gentle slope among embosoming hills, mellowed but still firm-rooted as the rocks, something to confound all the accepted generalizations, a necropolis of the age of the Pharaohs, created in the middle of the impious twentieth century, the vast structure of Forest Lawn Memorial Park."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Glendale History Bike Ride Photos

The Glendale History Ride two weeks ago was fantastic. 77 riders came along on a tour of historical and scenic spots in Glendale and Atwater Village. Big thanks to Colin Bogart, Marc Stirdivant, and Marty Braccioti, who helped organize, and ace ABC7 photographer Martin Orozco for taking most of the great photos below. Also thank you to ride volunteers Jennie Rickert, Nathalie Winiarski and Jen from The Cave Wine Storage. The ride was sponsored by The Glendale Historical Society, LA County Bicycle Coalition and the City of Glendale Community Services and Parks Department.

Here are ride reports by George Larios (who was nice enough to help me out at the beginning of the ride) at Montrose Patch and by new blogger Somebody Walks.

Selected photos are below, and I posted the full set on Flickr here. Most of these are by Martin Orozco, a few are by Marty Braccioti, and I think one or two are Marc Stirdivant's. I was too busy to take many photos of my own.

Group photo before the ride

Departin the Glendale Train Station. Photo by Martin Orozco

Riding along the scenic LA River Path. Photo by Martin Orozco

Speaking about the history of the Grand Central Air Terminal.

I took this photo looking back at the group on Glenoaks. Don't make a wrong turn!

Riding through the Kenilworth Tunnel under the 134. Photo by Martin Orozco

At the Goode House. Photo by Martin Orozco

Exploring the nooks and crannies of The Cave Wine Storage, in the historic Hotel Glendale. Photo by Martin Orozco

Speaking at the Richardson House, former home of Tropico founder W.C.B Richardson. The oldest wood-frame home in Glendale.

Exploring the tiny Cottage Grove Historic District near Adams Hill. Photo by Martin Orozco

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pacific BMW Busted Driving Recklessly in South Glendale

Some jackass posted this video on Youtube of dangerous driving in a brand-spanking new, just off the truck, in the plastic BMW 1M. The BMW lovers at were offended by the reckless driving -- and flagrant abuse of the new car during its "break in" period -- and did some sleuthing. They found this frame in another video by the same user, clearly showing Windsor and Glendale Avenue, thus identifying the dealership as Glendale's own Pacific BMW. Several other commenters on the board chimed in with experiences at Pacific BMW where the techs abused their cars. I will be contacting the management of the dealership to express my anger at their employees putting the lives of myself and my neighbors at risk, and I encourage you to do the same. If you see any employees of Pacific BMW (or other dealerships) driving recklessly, please report them to the Glendale Police Department and contact the management. If you have pictures or video, send them to me.

I walked by Pacific BMW on the way home from work and I believe this is the 1M in the video:

(via Jalopnik)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pulp Fiction Fans: "Jack Rabbit Slim's" Exterior Filmed in Glendale

The exterior shot of Pulp Fiction's fictional Jack Rabbit Slim's restaurant was filmed near the Grand Central Air Terminal at Flower and Sonora. We passed right by it on the Glendale History Ride!

Check out all of the info and pictures of Jack Rabbit Slim's at I Am Not A Stalker. The building was part of a 60-lane bowling alley, and is now owned by Disney as part of the Grand Central Creative Complex.

I Am Not A Stalker has tons more info on local filming locations, including Lance's House from Pulp Fiction, which is just across the tracks in Atwater Village.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Zankou Chicken Murders Story Finally Online

Mark Arax's excellent 2008 Los Angeles Magazine piece on the Zankou Chicken murders -- company founder Mardiros Iskenderian killed his mother, sister, and himself -- is finally online.

"When the patriarch of the hugely popular fast-food chain killed his mother and sister, then himself, he left behind a family wrestling with fate—and each other"

Read it here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Glendale History Bike Ride This Saturday

This Saturday, August 13th, I'll be leading a 13.5 mile bike ride to a number of historical sites in Glendale and Atwater Village with Colin Bogart and Marty Bracciotti. The route will take us along the Los Angeles River trail to the Grand Central Air Terminal, The Goode House, Richardson house (the oldest wood home in Glendale, home of the founder of Tropico), the Cottage Grove Historic District, Adams Square, and many other interesting places.

We are meeting at the historic Glendale Train Station at 400 W. Cerritos Ave at 8:30am and departing at 9. Bring water, sunscreen and a helmet (required). I created a Facebook event page for the ride here, please RSVP.

The ride is sponsored by the Glendale Historical Society, Glendale Community Services and Parks Department and the LA County Bicycle Coalition.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Google Street View Car in Downtown Glendale

Reader Christina pointed me in the direction of this kitted-out Google Street View Subaru Impreza in downtown Glendale. Very cool. I hope they remembered to pay at the multi-space meter.

Check out the multi-camera rig.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Apple Store Wars: Americana vs Glendale Galleria!

The Apple Store at the Americana is now open! The Galleria store, Apple Store #001, is also open! At 2pm on Monday, I walked to both to see how crowded each store was.

The Galleria Apple Store at 2pm (below)

The new Americana Apple Store at 2pm (below)

So even though a brand new, much larger Apple store is just a 5 minute walk away, the Galleria store was still massively crowded! The Americana store was also crowded, though not to the incredible density of the Galleria. Both pictures were taken within ten minutes.

The exterior of the new Americana store

Don Cuco's and Rolling Fish Close, Apple Store Opens

Brand Boulevard Bummer: Don Cuco's Mexican Restaurant and Rolling Fish have both gone out of business. Rolling Fish was in the downstairs space in Glendale's oldest brick building, which was formerly occupied by Sansai. (Well, Rolling Fish basically was Sansai, after the owner got tired of paying the Sansai franchising fees.)

On the bright side, a new Apple Store just opened at The Americana. Full report from MacStories.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Vintage Mustang Hits Pedestrian in Front of Alex Theater

Today at 2pm a man driving a vintage Ford Mustang hit a woman walking in the marked crosswalk directly in front of The Alex Theatre. The woman had a leg injury but was conscious and her injuries did not appear to be overly severe.

Slow the fuck down and pay attention when you're driving, and be prepared to dive out of the way if you're on foot.

The Mustang

The pedestrian being taken away by ambulance.

The scene in front of The Alex.

Also in view - Don Cuco's Mexican restaurant, which has just closed for good.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

House With Odd Front Porch Mannequins

A friend of mine noticed something odd while biking past this South Glendale house last week. No, it's not the pink flamingos -

It's the creepy mannequins on the front porch! There's one on each side!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Neglected '68 GTO

I spotted this forlorn Pontiac GTO peeking out from an apartment carport in South Glendale. I'm pretty sure it's a '68, and its suffering from four flat tires and a lot of neglect. Damn.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bees At Brand and Wilson!

On Monday a swarm of bees briefly wreaked havoc at southwest corner of Brand and Wilson. I grabbed a quick photo as I ran away. I bumped the contrast on the photo so you can see the bees better when you view the picture large. When I checked back an hour later, they had moved on. Have you seen swarms of bees lately in downtown Glendale?

As a palate cleanser, here is the "Bumblebee" car from Transformers, which was at the Arclight last week.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Two Car Accidents and Some Light Insurance Fraud!

Today kicked off in glorious, only-in-Glendale fashion: with two car accidents and some light insurance fraud!

My colleagues and I heard a car horn on Broadway. We looked outside and witnessed the aftermath of a minor car accident. An Acura TSX wagon had bumped the rear of a Toyota Camry. Both cars stopped in the middle of Broadway, with the TSX's horn stuck and blaring away. As we observed this sad spectacle, a silver Mercedes eyeballing the first accident rear-ended an Audi SUV!

The damaged luxury cars sensibly pulled forward to the other side of Maryland, while the Camry and TSX continued to tie up Broadway. It took ten minutes, two cops and a passerby with a wrench to turn the TSX's horn off. The woman driving the TSX was fine, but the man in the Camry, after initially walking around normally, put on a big show and was taken away in an ambulance; tying up a fire truck, a ton of firefighters, and the ambulance for the better part of a half hour.

A guy involved in the second accident removes the damaged grill of his Mercedes.

As we watched this scene unfold, the perception among my co-workers was that the guy in the Camry was dramatically overplaying the severity of the accident and was hoping for a settlement.

Mr. Wimpypants taken away by a brigade of firefighters and paramedics.

Zero visible damage on Mr. Wimpypants' car!