Tuesday, May 31, 2011

More Historical Info on Chevy Chase and Atwater Village

Some interesting recent comments on the post "What the Heck Is Chevy Chase?" -

Verdugo Hugo mentioned that Chevy Chase used to be called Parkdale in Atwater Village, and commenter 2 Cents directed me to a very interesting history of Atwater Village by Neil Malmberg. Perfect timing for me to come across these facts as I am in the midst of planning another history bike ride with the Glendale Historical Society that will also encompass a lot of Atwater Village.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Groupon Now: Not Actually Available in Glendale Yet

Despite filming the commercial entirely along Maryland and in the Exchange, actually clicking on the Groupon Now link and entering 91205 only yields this message: "Oh no! We don't have Groupon Now! Deals there yet, but we're launching new cities every week so check back soon."

Maryland Avenue Featured in Groupon Commercial

This ad for Groupon's "Now" service is like a fantasy tour of what Maryland Avenue and the Exchange could look like with more street life. It is entirely filmed on Maryland Avenue and the Exchange, with Lunchbox Cafe, Urartu Coffee, Fortune Inn, and Tony Roma's all prominently featured.

(via A. Erik Yesayan)

Where in Glendale is This Monkey?*

Where In Glendale is this slightly obscene painting of a monkey?

*Update: Commenter qazwsx got it on the first try with Damon's, Glendale's fabulous tiki bar and steakhouse. Damon's was founded in 1937. The original location was on Central, but the restaurant moved to its current location next to Porto's in 1980 due to the building of the Glendale Galleria. I highly recommend it for steaks or drinks.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Glendale Clothing at Rite-Aid

The Rite-Aid at The Americana has a nice selection of Glendale-branded clothing for all your Glendale-representing needs. Just try not to get into any fights with people wearing Pasadena, Burbank, or God forbid - Glendale, Arizona clothes.

While you're at Rite-Aid, get some locally made Thrifty ice cream. The chocolate chip cookie dough is especially delicious.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Galleria Elevator Last Inspected 7+ Years Ago

Nearly all of the permits in elevators in downtown Glendale seem to be expired by a year a or two, and I never think much of it. However, this expired permit in the Glendale Galleria caught my eye.

According to the permit this elevator hasn't been inspected in over 7 years!!!

The actual expiration date was over 6 years ago. Not reassuring.

*An addendum from xkcd via my friend Sam in the UK:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Glendale's Apple Store #001

May 19th, 2011 marked the tenth anniversary of the opening of the first Apple Stores. The first two locations were Tysons Corner, Virginia and our own Glendale Galleria. The Virginia location opened 3 hours before the Glendale store due to the time zone difference, but the Glendale location is numbered "Store 001" by Apple. Store 001 will soon be joined by a new location across the street at the Americana at Brand.

Steve Jobs gives a walkthrough of the one of the original Apple Stores (I believe it's the VA location).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bike to Work Day Tomorrow

Tomorrow, May 19th is Bike to Work Day! Ride your bike to work and stop by one of Glendale's seven Bike to Work Day pit stops between 6-9am. I'll be volunteering at the Bicycle Mart pit stop on Brand, stop by and say hello.

Location: All over Glendale and L.A. County

Time: From 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

Description: Try riding your bike to work today and stop at one or more of the following Glendale locations for free refreshments and goodies.

Glendale Pit-stop locations:
  1. Montrose Bike Shop - 2501 Honolulu Ave.
  2. The Bicycle Mart - 1601 S. Brand Blvd.
  3. Glendale City Hall - 613 East Broadway
  4. Glendale Cyclery - 1250 W. Glenoaks Blvd.
  5. Glendale Transportation Management Associates - 400 N. Brand Blvd.
  6. Flower St. and Sonora Ave. - City of Glendale/LACBC.
  7. Glendale Community College - Parking Lot F at Verdugo Rd. and Towne St.

More details at Glendale Safe and Healthy Streets.

Also! In the evening - Bike From Work Happy Hour:
Location: Tavern on Brand 208 N. Brand Blvd

Time: 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Description: The L.A. County Bicycle Coalition invites you to meet up for a happy hour beverage after you've biked to work today. Ride your bike to Tavern on Brand, meet fellow cyclists, and enjoy the Tavern's usual drink specials. Special deal: cyclists get 10% off all food orders! Remember, you CAN get a citation for riding drunk (plus you can get hurt). Drink responsibly but revel in the company of your fellow cyclists!

Bike Paratrooper With a Tommy Gun

I'm on a subcommittee to select a logo for some of the city's new bicycle efforts -- I'm pushing for this!

(via Coco's Variety Store)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ex-Councilman Drayman Target of Embezzlement Investigation

A shocker from the Glendale News-Press:

Former City Councilman John Drayman is under investigation for allegedly embezzling money from an unnamed organization in which he had an active role, a Glendale police official confirmed Tuesday.

Police served a search warrant for his Montrose condo on Tuesday, but would not say when the alleged embezzlement took place, how much money was involved, or at which organization.

Drayman did not return calls seeking comment.

Officials cautioned that the investigation was not related to Advanced Development Investments Inc., an affordable housing developer under federal investigation for fraud whose subcontractors performed renovations on Drayman’s condo.

Glendale police opened the investigation weeks ago after following up on information that Drayman allegedly embezzled funds from an organization he was involved with, Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

“The investigation is at the very early stages,” he said.

Despite Mike Mohill's frequent false claims during the City Council election, Drayman was never under formal investigation for the ADI mess. Now he is being formally investigated for something unrelated. It's notable that the police had probable cause to obtain a search warrant. Drayman is either innocent and the people who ran a viciously personal campaign against him during the recent City Council election have sunk to a new low; or he did it, which would surprise me.

Either way: yuck.

*Update: Slightly lengthier News-Press article is now up here:

Lorenz would not elaborate on who made the allegations or whether the alleged embezzlement occurred during Drayman’s four years in office.

He said the investigation would likely take several months.

“He has not been arrested. It is an allegation,” Lorenz said. “And at this particular time we will wait for the investigation to determine if in fact the embezzlement occurred and when it occurred.”

Responses to My Open Letter In The News-Press

A response to my earlier letter to the Dave Weaver was published in the Glendale News-Press a few days ago:

I would like to respond to the anti-Councilman Dave Weaver letter by Scott Lowe (“A cyclist's open letter to Councilman Weaver,” May 3).

I don’t ride a bike in Glendale, but I would like to see the Glendale Police Department enforce the vehicle code on all the adult bicyclists who ignore stop signs and cut off motor vehicles. I suppose these cyclists believe they are saving the planet by riding a bike and feel that they are above the law.

Maybe if these people are ticketed enough, they will finally grow up and act like responsible adults.

Phillip Pilgram

That inspired a response from me, which I submitted but has not yet been published in the News-Press:

I would like to correct Phillip Pilgram's mischaracterization of my earlier open letter to Councilman Dave Weaver. Pilgram called my letter "anti-Councilman Dave Weaver," but my disagreement is not with Mr. Weaver personally, merely with his arguments against providing infrastructure to protect the safety of citizens who get around by bike. I strongly agree with Mr. Pilgram that bicyclists who break the law or ride unsafely should be ticketed. Enforcement of traffic laws and well designed streets are absolutely necessary for the safety of cyclists and motorists alike.

Scott Lowe

Glendale resident Scott Peer also wrote this powerful response to Pilgram, which the News-Press did publish:

I was taken aback by Phillip Pilgram's letter (“Police should cite errant bicyclists,” May 12) which concludes by stating that bicyclists who break vehicle codes should “finally grow up and act like responsible adults.”

Like Pilgram, I don't like seeing bicyclists who break traffic regulations. However, unlike Pilgram, I have been cycling to work and on errands in and around Glendale for decades, totaling about a thousand miles a year. Bicycling reduces pollution, benefits health and also reduces traffic and road surface wear and tear.

But those are not the issues that motivate me to write.

The big issue is who is doing what to whom. When a car ran the stop sign at the intersection of Chevy Chase Drive and California Avenue and struck me, I was thrown in the air and spent more than a year in doctor's offices and physical therapy getting healthy again. Years later, I still need to do special exercises to keep my foot from hurting.

My wife's brother was not so lucky when he was struck by a car running a stop sign in New York. He died. When a co-worker of mine was struck from behind by a car, he died. When my brother's friend was hit by a truck from behind, he died.

If Pilgram were to ride a bicycle, he would understand how many drivers recklessly endanger bicyclists by driving too close to them, running stop signs and not watching where they are going.

All of us in the bicycle community know victims of vehicular manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon (a car). No matter who is at fault, it is always the cyclist who is injured or killed.

The priority of law enforcement should not be trying to make cyclists behave more responsibly; it should be enforcing laws that reduce the violence against cyclists.

Scott Peer

My intent in writing my original response was to start this type of dialogue, so if you have anything to add, here is how you submit letters to the News-Press:

By e-mail:

By mail: 221 N. Brand Blvd. 2nd floor, Glendale, 91203.

Letters should be no longer than 275 words and include writer's full name, city of residence and phone number.

The Glendale News-Press reserves the right to edit content. Letters become the property of the News-Press.

Contact City Editor , or (818) 637-3220 for inquiries.

I also recommend writing them regarding any community issues you feel strongly about. If your letters are reasonably cogent, they'll likely be published. And if they aren't, they'll likely be published. Judging from some of the letters that do get published, they must be hurting for well-written letters.


A condensed version of my open letter to Dave Weaver published in the Glendale News-Press:
A Cyclist's Open Letter to Councilman Weaver

Video of Councilman Weaver's comments and the expanded (original) version of my response to him.

My account of the City Council meeting where the Safe and Healthy Streets plan was approved, including video of my speech to the council

Monday, May 16, 2011

Naked Lady Frolicking With Dolphins*

*Updated: City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian correctly identified the restaurant as Elena's Greek-Armenian Cuisine on Glendale Avenue, which is one of my favorite South Glendale spots. Great kebabs, lentil soup, hummus, friendly service, ridiculous portions. Get it as take-out and each plate will comfortably feed two.

Can you name the Glendale restaurant that features this glorious mural and potted plant?

I want this on the City seal.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Griffith Park Hippie Love-Ins

Fun little bit of local history - Griffith Park was the site of a number of hippie love-ins in the 60s! There is a Facebook page dedicated to the memories of those events, and from there I found this page of photos from back then. Their description:
Griffith Park, Sunday Afternoon...

The sounds of musicians. The smell of patchouli oil, incense and weed. Pissed off cops. Shady characters. Acquaintances, good friends and lovers. People so high on 2-Way Orange Sunshine with speed in it that they presented a problem for the air traffic controllers at Los Angeles International Airport. What more could a long haired hippie photographer dream of? Did I mention the smell of weed?

(via Griffith Park Wayist)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

ICE CREAM Bike Ride This Saturday 05/14!

Colin Bogart of the LA County Bicycle Coalition/Glendale Safe and Healthy Streets will be leading an ICE CREAM RIDE of Glendale this Saturday, May 14th. I'm out of town this weekend but the ride will be awesome:

Time: Saturday, May 14 · 1:00pm - 4:00pm

Location: Meet at Verdugo Park, Colina gate
1621 Canada Blvd. Glendale, CA

More Info: Ride with us as we visit Glendale purveyors of unique and delicious ice cream. The ride is free but you will need money to purchase the ice cream. Ride will be at a slow, easy pace with some hills (nothing too difficult). Distance will be approximately 12 miles or less. Meet at the Colina Drive gate at the north end of Verdugo Park at 1:00 pm. We ride at 1:30 pm. Ride will begin and end at Verdugo Park. Helmets required. Minors must be accompanied by an adult. Rain cancels the ride.

This ride is FREE and is part of Glendale Bike Month 2011.

More details about Glendale Bike Month 2011 at www.la-bike.org/glendale/bikemonth

Verdugo Park website: http://www.ci.glendale.ca.us/parks/parks_north.asp

Glendale Bike Month is a collaboration of the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition, Glendale Community Services and Parks, Glendale Public Library, and the Glendale Transportation Management Associates.
You can RSVP via Facebook here.

History Tour of North Hollywood Saturday May 14th

The Museum of the San Fernando Valley is leading walking tours of historic sections of North Hollywood on a semi-regular basis, including this Saturday, May 14th:

Please join us on Saturday, May 14th from 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. to learn about real cowboys, pioneer families, movie television and recording stars, the Spanish conquest, Mexican ranchos, great steam trains, vast ranches and orchards, land barons, wars, architecture, and much more! Tour highlights include:
  • Amelia Earhart Statue
  • Security Trust and Savings Bank (1924)
  • Amelia Earhart Library (1928)
  • El Portal Theatre (1926)
  • NoHo Arts District
  • NoHo Fire Station #60
  • So. Pacific Railroad Depot (1896)
  • Commonwealth Savings & Loan Building
  • Weddington Family History
  • North Hollywood Masonic Temple Lodge 542
  • St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church
  • Lankershim Arts Center (1939) (S. Charles Lee, architect)
  • Commonwealth Savings & Loan Building
  • Air raid siren
  • Lankershim Elementary School (Marilyn Monroe attended)
They recommend a $10 donation. More details here.

Red Car Presentation Tomorrow Night!

I posted this earlier, but it's so cool I'm posting a reminder the day before the event-

From local historian Paul Ayers:

On May 12, 2011 I will be presenting my slide show on the Pacific Electric’s Glendale Line at the Glendale Public Library’s main auditorium. The poster for the show is pasted in below; my 3 year old self is shown hanging out of the back window of P.E. #5010.

Featured will be over 270 views including personal material and comparison shots of line locations as they appear today. P.E. shows are very popular and we expect to fill the auditorium early and have to turn people away. A second presentation is tentatively scheduled for June 1st.


Thursday, May 12, 2011 @ 7:00pm
Glendale Central Library
222 E Harvard Street
admission is FREE and open to the public

More info:

Paul also occasionally does an excellent presentation on early silent film locations in Glendale and surrounding areas.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Glendale Scandals: Reloaded

This is a reprint of a letter in the Glendale News-Press a few days ago:
Councilman Rafi Manoukian's nomination of Richard Espiritu to the Traffic and Parking Commission is perhaps the most illustrative example of the new and improved Manoukian.

In a 2008 Glendale News-Press article: “Court records show that Espiritu has been convicted twice for driving on a suspended license in Glendale and, in 2001, for the 'unauthorized entry of a dwelling' — a conviction that led to three years of probation and restitution fines.”

It went on to state, “Even in terms of his advocacy for disabled access, Espiritu appears to have misrepresented himself as a doctor at dozens of City Council meetings over the past two years.”

Manoukian's nomination of Vartan Gharpetian to the parks commission is interesting too. Parks commissioners represent the interests of Glendale residents with regard to recreational facilities and our open spaces. Yet, while serving as chairman of a Design Review Board — tasked with protecting residential and neighborhood integrity issues — Gharpetian did just the opposite, creating a private advocacy group about which then-fellow commissioner John Cianfrini stated in a 2007 Glendale News-Press article “the group was organized to counteract the influence of the city’s 19 homeowners associations.” The conflict of interest led to Gharpetian being unseated.

The new and improved Manoukian also nominated Aram Kazazian for Glendale Water & Power Commission, but in a 1997 News-Press article chronicling Kazazian's circumventing of city ordinances to build a 13,750-square-foot house, “El Tovar” — some 6,000 square feet in excess of the legal limit — the article states: “The City Council referred the mystery to a San Diego law firm, which detailed its investigation in a 36-page report delivered last week. The report assigns much of the blame for the situation to Kazazian, who allegedly used his position on two city building commissions to manipulate normal land-use procedures to his advantage.”

I could go on about Manoukian's nomination of Brian Ellis, a Bob Yousefian retread to the Design Review Board, or Razmik Grigorian to the Arts & Culture Commission, who previously pushed for the creation of a new arts department, or Greg Astorian to the Planning Commission who, as a prominent Realtor and consultant, would be the very perception of conflict of interest, but why continue?

The big question is will Council members Frank Quintero, Dave Weaver, Ara Najarian and Mayor Laura Friedman demonstrate any evidence of having spines and express objections to these nominations by voting “no”?

Mark Lassiter
Espiritu's nomination has since been withdrawn, but the other commissioners come up for confirmation at tonight's City Council meeting. Much of the previous drama referenced in the letter occurred well before I had moved to Glendale, but I've been catching up. Here are some links I found that will get you up to speed on the Kazazian/El Tovar mess. It makes for pretty juicy reading that is quite damning of both Kazazian and the city government at that time.

in Kazazian's defense:

Information on Vartan Gharpetian's tenure on the Design Review Board:
  • Design Review Member Unseated
    Gharpetian — whose term officially ended Oct. 23 — loses his seat after weeks of public criticism over a perceived conflict of interest for his simultaneous management of a private association that advocates on the behalf of property owners.
  • Design Board Member Draws Public Ire
    Gharpetian has been the target of critics at numerous recent City Council meetings who have said that, as a reviewer of commercial and single-family home design, his involvement in the Glendale Property Owners Assn. LLC — which asserts on its website that view and privacy protection ordinances may “further restrict and negatively affect” property rights — represents a conflict of interest.
Why revisit old, massively embarrassing civic misdeeds by nominating these guys to city commissions? Is this the best we can do? Glendale should accept nothing less than fresh faces and original scandals!

The Glendale City Council can be contacted here via e-mail, or you can always show up to a council meeting (they're every Tuesday) and speak in relation to a specific agenda item or during general oral communications.

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Homeless Survey Results

The data gathered in the 100,000 Homes/PATH Achieve Glendale survey of Glendale's homeless population (previously: part 1, part 2) has been compiled and was announced at a community briefing at Glendale City Hall last Friday.

Some of the key findings:

  • 73 homeless individuals were identified on the streets of Glendale
  • 43 agreed to be surveyed
  • 35 of those had risk factors that increased their vulnerability
  • 19 of those have health conditions associated with high mortality risk and are at dramatically increased risk of dying if they don’t gain access to housing
  • 7 are veterans, comprising 16 percent of homeless individuals surveyed in Glendale.
  • 13 of the 43 surveyed were over 55 years of age
  • 10 reported being homeless longer than 5 years
  • 13 report being the victim of a violent attack since becoming homeless
  • average time on the street was 4 years
  • those with vulnerable risk factors had been on the street an average of 7 years

At the briefing, Mayor Laura Friedman announced that the city would be devoting 5 units within a low-income housing project that is already in the works specifically for veterans. So between those new units and existing housing resources, the city has the goal of ending veteran homelessness in Glendale within the next year.

The full fact sheet is available as a PDF here. It's interesting reading:
Glendale Registry Week Fact Sheet

More info is also available from PATH Achieve Glendale and Common Ground's 100,000 Homes Project.

Glendale News-Press article on the community briefing. I'm quoted.

Interviewing Tropico's Homeless at 4am

Searching For Glendale's Homeless: Days 2 and 3

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Free Bike Repair Workshop Tonight 05/09/11

Bike Month continues with a free basic bike repair workshop tonight at the Glendale Central Library. Come learn how to fix your bike!

Glendale Central Library Auditorium, 222 E. Harvard St.

Time: 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm.

Parking: Bike racks are located in front of the library. Library Visitors receive 3 hours FREE car parking across Harvard at the Marketplace parking structure with validation at the Loan Desk.

Description: Come learn basic bike repair skills like how to fix a flat, that will help keep you rolling on bike to work day and beyond.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Atwater Outspoken: New Neighborhood Blog!

Please welcome Atwater Outspoken to the local blog scene! Like many of my south Glendale neighbors, I spend as much leisure time in Atwater as in Glendale - my ideal lazy Sunday morning generally involves riding down to the farmer's market, hanging at Kaldi Coffee, and then doing a lazy loop on the bike path. There has been a definite gap in Atwater Village news since the the much loved Atwater Village Newbie went into semi-hibernation. I hope Atwater Outspoken can fill some of that void.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Tropico Tweets

A selection of tweets from @tropicostation over the past week or two:
  • The Porto's Bakery effect: the longer the line, the more you buy; regardless of what you actually need
  • little known rule - bagels and bear claws are nonfat if you're volunteering #100khomes
  • Was in a restroom with 2 hipsters who got into the same stall and loudly peed into the same toilet while yelling "sword fight! sword fight!"
  • only in glendale: white shoes, white pants, white jacket with embroidered yellow lamborghini, stubble, wraparound shades
  • actress @starbucks making multiple shouty narcissistic phone calls turns to me, asks, "are they being especially loud behind the counter?"
  • does your company pay for a parking space? ask them to give you the cash instead + bike to work = profit! http://1.usa.gov/gEALJu
  • coworker running to show his wife mythical mustachioed, fannypack pipe smoking man of Maryland Ave. he's real! you just have to believe
  • alternate name for "Adult Chocolate Milk": children's alcohol
  • found and explored glendale's "cave of forgotten dreams". tunnel full of interesting graffiti, mostly art, only a few gang tags #100khomes
Follow me on Twitter @tropicostation!

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Follow Tropico Station on Facebook

A quick reminder to click here and press "Like" to follow Tropico Station on Facebook. Stay up to date on the latest Glendale goings on directly in your Facebook feed, and post on the Tropico Station wall with news and event suggestions. Please share and recommend to your friends.

Tropico Station on Facebook

Also, you can follow me on Twitter @tropicostation.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Searching For Glendale's Homeless: Days 2 and 3

Today and yesterday I continued my volunteer efforts with PATH Achieve as part of a 3 day survey to count and identify the most vulnerable homeless people living in Glendale. The actual surveying takes place between 4-7am. My account of the first day is here. On the first day, our team discovered 6 individuals within a block and a half radius of Los Feliz Blvd and Central Ave. An excellent start, but we didn't cover much ground beyond that block and a half. So on day two, we conducted a broader search so we would comprehensively cover the area to which we had been assigned - everything between Forest Lawn/the LA border to the east, the railroad tracks to the west, Chevy Chase to the north and the southern border with Atwater Village.

Our search area.

Day 2

My worry was that if we found six people within a mere block and a half, who knows how many we'd find when we broadened our search?

Our team - leader Sgt. John Gilkerson of the Glendale Police Department, volunteer Ron Crosthwaite and myself - started by searching the deep minimalls in the southern portion of Glendale Avenue and found nothing. We headed to the secluded back roads and alleys along San Fernando east of Glendale Ave. Nothing. We drove to Glendale's historic train station, awakened the security guard, and asked him if he knew where we could find any homeless nearby. He replied with his entire english vocabulary - "Metrolink nine-fifteen" - so we fanned out around the railroad tracks on our own. We walked between the railroad tracks with our flashlights and didn't find anyone. We combed all of the other back alleys and couldn't find any new homeless. We went back to the spots where we had better luck the night before, and reapproached two people who had refused the survey previously. They refused again. We gave them the bagged lunches we had with us that were donated by a local church.

On our way back to Registry HQ at 6am, I spotted a woman breaking down cardboard boxes behind Tacos El Sauz and piling them into a stroller. The taco place was closed, but she could have been an employee. We approached her. She spoke only spanish, and with Ron's basic spanish language skills, we were unclear on whether or not she was actually homeless. She was clean and industrious, but from what we could understand, it sounded like she lived in a baƱo...a bathroom? We needed a spanish speaker. I called PATH Achieve's Christina and handed the woman my phone. She talked to Christina for about 5 minutes. The woman handed the phone back to me and Christina told me that yes, the woman was homeless but didn't want to take the survey.

While it was disappointing to not survey more people, it was a relief to see firsthand that homelessness in Tropico is not as widespread as I had initially feared. Many of the other teams had similar experiences - they found nearly everybody on the first night.

Day 3

With our initial search area covered comprehensively, John, Ron and I were assigned a new zone near the 2 and 134 freeways. We covered the usual alleys and loading docks, then worked our way up to the now-closed Minx night club near In-N-Out. We parked and explored the hillsides with our flashlights. We walked around the perimeter of Minx. I explored a dark patio and noticed that a nearby door was ajar. Hmm. In a high voice I called for John, our police officer. We opened the creaky door and stepped inside. There were many tense moments as we explored a series of perfect hiding places, but no one was there. We drove around more. John spotted a hole in a fence alongside the freeway that seemed suspicious.

A hole in a fence by the freeway.

We got out of the car and ducked through the hole. We walked through the thick vegetation of the hillside for about ten minutes and found evidence of habitation, but none of it seemed recent.

Evidence of activity.

With no homeless in sight, we headed back to San Fernando Road to see if anyone new had shown up in our original search area. I thought I saw someone under a blanket and approached. I called out and there was no movement. I worried it was a body. Nope, just a bunch of clothes under a dirty blanket.

These discarded clothes under a dirty blanket gave me a scare.

We explored a tunnel filled with graffiti - mostly art, with surprisingly few gang tags - under San Fernando Road at Colorado, and then headed back to revisit one of our initial refusals one last time.

Some of the art in the tunnel linking Atwater Village and Glendale under San Fernando Road.

She and her boyfriend were in the same doorway, but there was a new homeless person near them! Another volunteer team spotted them as well and both teams pulled up simultaneously. The other team included two women, so they approached the woman who had refused the survey initially. We later heard that one of the registry workers from this team had her wallet stolen from her car by a random passerby while conducting the interview. Very bad karma. We heard about a possible lead on Chevy Chase, so we headed north and found a homeless man on the sidewalk. We approached him and he agreed to take the survey. He was a talkative and likable former Marine whose life had fallen apart after the death of his wife, a nurse, two years ago. He is 56 and has been homeless for 7 months.

For all of our spooky explorations, the only new survey we conducted was in the bright sunshine in front of the Glendale Recycling Center.

Sergeant John Gilkerson and volunteer Ron Crosthwaite.

The final results of PATH Achieve's vulnerability survey will be presented this Friday at 1pm at Glendale City Hall in the City Council Chambers. It is not a regular council meeting, and the Glendale Registry survey is the only item on the agenda.

Previously: Interviewing Tropico's Homeless at 4am

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dave Weaver Comments and Response*

A condensed version of my open letter to Dave Weaver was published in today's Glendale News-Press. Here is the video of Councilman Weaver's comments and an expanded version of my response to him.

My letter in the Glendale News-Press:
A Cyclist's Open Letter to Councilman Weaver

My account of the City Council meeting where the Safe and Healthy Streets plan was approved, including video of my speech to the council.


Two side notes:

A) I initially wrote this letter and sent it to Weaver privately the day after the meeting. After several days without a response, I published it on the blog alongside the video of his comments. After still not hearing any sort of response, I've escalated to dead trees.

B) Weaver's assertion that "Southern California was built on cars" is plainly, factually incorrect. It was built on the Pacific Electric Red Cars, which were then made obsolete by cars...until so many cars took to the roads that no one could go anywhere. Downtown Glendale - built for light rail! Efficient public transit was so important to the city founders that after the incorporation of the city, it was their most urgent priority after building a high school. From 1904-1923 there was a Pacific Electric Rail Depot at Brand and Broadway, and the Red Car ran from downtown LA to Glendale until 1955.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Interviewing Tropico's Homeless at 4am

This morning I volunteered with PATH Achieve Glendale for Glendale Registry Week. Registry Week is a census of the homeless population within the city of Glendale designed to identify the chronically homeless individuals who are most vulnerable. Once they've been identified, resources can be targeted specifically towards getting those individuals into housing. It is part of the 100K Homes Project, which you can read more about here. How do you count homeless people? You divide the city into a grid, break up into teams, and walk and drive around until you see them...from 4-6am in the morning.

Registry Week leader Becky briefs us at 4am.

At first I thought that seemed extremely early, but after seeing the streets at that hour, I now see that by 5:30am most of the homeless in the area already are waking up and heading out for the day. Once we found an apparently homeless individual, one or two of us gently approached them and woke them up, asked them if they would participate in our survey...and by the way they would get a small McDonald's gift card at the end. The survey takes about ten minutes and includes questions about how long they've been on the street, health problems, etc, and at the end we take a picture of them so that the information can be entered into a database and outreach professionals can find them in the future.

Volunteers get caffeinated courtesy of Glendale First Baptist Church and munch on donated pastries and bagels from Panera Bread in Burbank.

My team was led by Sergeant John Gilkerson from the Glendale Police Department, and consisted of myself, Ron, Eddie, another John, and intrepid embedded reporter Emily. In a happy coincidence, the area our team was assigned to cover just happened to be Tropico - my exact neighborhood; including the block where I live. We started by driving down San Fernando and didn't see anyone immediately. I suggested heading over to Vons on Central, where I have frequently seen a homeless man in one particular spot. As we headed over, the thought crossed my mind that the one time we are specifically LOOKING for the homeless would be the one time we wouldn't see any. We didn't see the guy I was thinking of at Vons, but found another apparently homeless man on a bus bench. We parked in the Vons parking lot, made our approach, and the guy wouldn't talk to us at all, he just walked across Los Feliz to another bus stop on the other side of the street and appeared to have mental issues. I tried to cross Los Feliz to approach him again, and he just crossed the street again. We marked him as a refusal. A disappointing start! With no other homeless people in sight, we started walking around looking for less obvious hiding places. We quickly found a homeless man in an alley, and he was our first interview.

Emily and Ron conduct an interview.

While Sgt John, Ron, and Emily interviewed him, Eddie, other John and I set out on foot to see if we could find anyone else. I spotted a nook across San Fernando where I thought I saw movement. We approached and found two people, a man and a woman.

John and Eddie make a successful approach.

John and Eddie made a successful approach and I continued walking around the industrial area between San Fernando and the train tracks looking for individuals (and bravely tweeting). In an hour and a half of looking, we found 6 people within a mere block and a half radius of Los Feliz and Central. Here are some pictures from this morning's efforts. I also tweeted about the experience here, and you can follow the efforts of the other volunteers on Twitter by using the hashtag #100khomes. The count continues Tuesday and Wednesday, so I'll be up at 3:30am tomorrow.

Click to view large. Pink x's are refusals, red x's are successfully completed surveys.

Our stats at the end of the morning. I am on Team Rex.

*Update: My account of days two and three of the homeless vulnerability survey is now up here.

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Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Great FroYo War of 2008

I'll never forget the mid-Brand "Cold War" of 2008: Rosegreen, Twinkles, and Dolci Mango. We were young then, and thought the good times of pay-by-the-ounce frozen yogurt piled high with fruit and candy bars in a uncomfortably hyperdesigned atmosphere would never end. And we laughed, oh, how we laughed at the inevitable brainfreeze!

One cruel weekend our youthful innocence was shattered. The ambitious proprietor of Twinkles realized he had accidentally created a gay bar instead of a frozen yogurt spot, complete with thumping techno and embarrassed Armenian teenage boys in sailor uniforms offering "free samples" on the sidewalk, and either fled to Korea or committed suicide. Dolci Mango, reeling from the shock of unseasonably cold 71 degree temperatures in December, closed the same weekend, with Rosegreen following just a few weeks later. We now have the overpriced Pinkberry at the Americana to console us, but somehow it fails to capture the yogurty essence of that more innocent time.

Uh, what I MEANT to say is one of the very cool new GATE Projects featuring the work of local artists in vacant storefronts is coming to the long-empty Dolci Mango space. Sorry, sometimes I get "Cold War" flashbacks.

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