Friday, August 31, 2007

LINK to GMA Video Story on Bel~Air Burglars

Good Morning America Story: Bel Air Burglars Rob Rich and Famous

A manhunt is underway for two Bel-Air, Calif., burglars, caught on tape as they burglarized a mansion in Los Angeles.

LINK: Full GMA Story

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Heat wave strains the power grid

Southern California's heat wave intensified today, as rising temperatures strained the power grid and Los Angeles was on track to set an all-time record for electricity consumption.

State energy officials warned of a possible Stage 2 power emergency. They also urged people to reduce their energy use.

Link: Full LA Times Article

Steve Twining on Channel 7 News Tonight!

Steve Twining of the Bel~Air Beverly Crest Neighborhood Counsel was interviewed today by Leslie Miller of Channel 7 ABC News about the Bel-Air burglaries. Unless the story gets the ax, it should be on this evening.

Increased Helicopter Traffic over Bel~Air?


Have you noticed the increased frequency of helicopter traffic, as well as the extremely low altitude of these aircraft -- to the point of shaking your house -- in just the past 2 years?

I believe that we have a problem that nobody is talking about and needs to be discussed. It is seriously damaging the peace and tranquility of our neighborhood.

LAPD is one thing...UCLA Med-evac is another, but do we need all the private helicopters invading our airspace? Not to mention the problem with the need for 5-6 news choppers looking at the same stalled vehicle on the 405. How about one video feed goes to all news channels, assigned on a rotating basis? Talk about noise pollution, wasted flight fuel and potential for the same chopper-chopper crash that recently happened in AZ.

Does anyone believe that this is worthy of exploration and possibly a petition drive? If so, please contact me.

Gregg Elliott

Thanks for reading.

Questions & Answers from the DOT - I-405 Widening Sepulveda Pass Project

1. How effective are High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes (HOV) in reducing congestion?

HOV lanes, referred to as carpool lanes, are very effective in improving the people carrying capacity of the freeways, which reduces congestion. As the most successful example, the El Monte Busway on I-10, carries as many people in the HOV lane during the peak commute hours as the remaining 4 mixed flow lanes. HOV lanes encourage many individuals to change their drive alone patterns and use carpools, vanpools or buses. The more extensive the HOV system becomes in the Los Angeles Basin, the more individuals recognize their benefits.

2. Will these proposed improvements be outdated by the time the project is finished ?

Caltrans conducts traffic forecasts for each proposed project that predict traffic volumes 20 years in the future. These forecasts are based upon the approved regional growth projections. Based upon these projections, it is clear that future traffic congestion on the I-405 Freeway will be reduced by this project. When compared to the No Build Alternative 1, Alternative 2 will result in a decrease of 16,060 hours of delay and Alternative 3 would result in a decrease of 16,190 hours of delay. These are estimates for reduced vehicle delay on a typical day in 2031.

3. The southbound I-405 drops to three lanes at the I-10 interchange creating a severe bottleneck that this project will not fix. Without improvements to the 405/10 interchange, isn’t this Sepulveda Pass Project a waste of money?

The current construction project from Waterford Street south, is adding an HOV lane and auxiliary lanes through the 405/10 Interchange. The interchange will become less congested for southbound 405 traffic, especially for people using this additional HOV lane through that interchange. Major reconstruction of that interchange to allow for additional lanes is very costly and not programmed for study. The southbound improvements proposed for Alternatives 3 and 3 Modified will allow for improved access to the high-density areas between Sunset Boulevard and Pico Boulevard. On and off ramp volumes in this area are substantial.

4. The northbound I-405 has a bottleneck that exists at the US-101 interchange creating severe congestion that this project will not fix. Shouldn’t the northbound HOV lane end well before the 405/101 Interchange?

The ongoing 405/101Interchange construction project will alleviate much of the current northbound bottleneck at this location. When the current construction project is completed in September, an additional HOV lane will be striped, starting at Greenleaf Street. If a build alternative is selected as a part of the Sepulveda Pass Project, a northbound HOV lane will be added that will connect directly to this soon-to-be-striped lane. Access points to/from the HOV lane will be located to allow vehicles to exit well in advance of the 405/101 interchange.

5. Why are design standards (12’ lanes, 10’ shoulders, 11’ medians) important?

Design standards are important for numerous reasons including freeway operations, safety issues and the belief that standard designs allow for drivers nationwide to be familiar with the roadway they using. Driver comfort levels are viewed as highest when there are standard roadway widths. Roadway capacity (at 2200 to 2300 vehicles per hour per lane) is based on 12’ lanes. Standard shoulders and medians are designed to accommodate vehicle breakdowns and emergency vehicle access. The medians on I-405 are also designed to accommodate future transit development.

6. Can certain areas be reduced to a non-standard design to reduce property acquisition?

Pursuing a waiver allowing non-standard design features at spot locations is a possibility. This is being examined on a case by case basis and will be fully evaluated when Caltrans selects a recommended alternative. It is important to note that the Draft EIR/EIS needs to identify the maximum potential impacts to meet full disclosure requirements.

7. What freeway ramps are proposed for closure and why are the closures necessary?

Freeway widening does not leave enough room for the Montana Avenue off-ramp northbound and it would be closed under all build alternatives. This ramp cannot remain open unless additional properties are acquired. The Sunset Boulevard on-ramp southbound (from Sunset eastbound) would be closed under Alternatives 3 and 3 Modified. Approximately 12 homes on Church Lane would need to be acquired to keep this on-ramp open. There are 2 Design Options to replace the current Valley Vista Boulevard Interchange and 2 Design Options for replacing the current Skirball Interchange (see the Draft EIR/EIS for details). There have been suggestions calling for the closure of the northbound Moraga Drive on- and off-ramps, which is under review.

8. Is it possible to select certain aspects of each alternative in the Final EIR/EIS?

Yes, a hybrid combination of elements from any of the alternatives identified in the Draft EIR/EIS can be selected (see page 27 of the Draft EIR/EIS).

9. Will cost be a factor when Caltrans selects the recommended alternative?

Yes, this is especially true for this project because of the conditions for the use of bond funding.

10. When will the preferred alternative be selected?

The preferred alternative will be selected near the end of this year, after all comments on the Draft EIR/EIS have been carefully considered.

11. What will be done to mitigate traffic congestion during construction?

The I-405 Freeway in the study area handles an average of 300,000 vehicles a day. As a consequence, construction will need to be well planned and lane closures allowed only during off peak periods. There will be no reduction in the number of through lanes on the freeway in either direction during normal commute periods. Traffic mitigation conditions will be placed on the contractor and interaction with local emergency service operations will be mandated. Temporary lane, ramp, and street closures will be restricted by a Traffic Management Plan that Caltrans will develop in consultation with LADOT. Notices and signage will be extensive.

12. When will the community have answers to all the comments on the Draft EIR/EIS?

All written comments will be included in the Final EIR/EIS with written responses that will address the issues raised or direct the commentor to the section of the Final EIR/EIS where their issues were addressed. The Final EIR/EIS will be revised to reflect changes raised as a result of these comments. The transcript, comments and responses for the June 11 Community Meeting and the August 22 Public Hearing will also be referenced.

Bel~ Air Burglars Images on Channel 2 / 9 News

It's just a matter of time now, fellas!

LINK to Full Story

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bill would end mortgage tax deduction for all homes 3,000 SF & Up!

Despite the political spin through use of the label "McMansion", the proposed bill would eliminate the mortgage tax deduction for ALL homes 3,000 SF and Up!

Besides imposing hefty new federal taxes on gasoline, the forthcoming bill will, in Rep. John Dingell's (D-Mich.) words, seek to "remove the mortgage-interest deduction on McMansions -- homes over 3,000 square feet."

I suspect that will impact a few folks here in Bel~Air - McMansion or not!

LINK to the LA Times Full Article

Power couple sues private patrol service ADT

Sherry Lansing and William Friedkin contend that ADT Home Security was negligent in checking on a break-in at their home. They also say burglars actually target houses that display ADT signs.

LINK to full LA Times story

LINK to full FORBES story

Bel-Air Association Letter to CalTrans concerning Sepulveda Pass Widening Project

Mr. Ronald J. Kosinski, Deputy Director

Division of Environmental Planning

CalTrans District 7

100 S. Main Street

Los Angeles, CA 90012

RE: Revised DEIR for Sepulveda Pass Widening Project

Dear Mr. Kosinski:

After review of the Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report ("DEIR"), as well as the presentations made at the informational meeting on August 22, 2007, we wish to augment and supplement our letter of June 12, 2007. We want to stress the following points to be considered in the final Environmental Impact Report ("EIR") and issues to be considered by CalTrans in its design, engineering, and EIR process.

1. The entire DEIR is irreparably flawed because of the drastic changes that were made. CalTrans must begin with a new EIR process. The current project must be aborted because it will be subject to a successful Court challenge in view of the drastic and dramatic changes and procedural problems created by CalTrans.

2. The DEIR fails to consider and deal with the closure of the right hand southbound on-ramp to I-405 at Sunset Boulevard. This closure creates additional long traffic delays for Sunset Boulevard in both directions by creating another left turn across a major thoroughfare in order to travel a short distance to enter onto the southbound I-405. The closure of the southbound I-405 will have dramatic repercussions on Sunset Boulevard and the communities that use that thoroughfare, as well as commuters traveling on Sunset Boulevard going to and from the West Side of Los Angeles County.

3. The DEIR utterly fails to prove that a 12-foot lane with buffer areas is materially safer for the drivers, especially in that particular area which has a safety record on "sideswipe" accidents that is one of the best in the entire Los Angeles County freeway system.

4. The DEIR failed to analyze the effect of foregoing all federal funds and the addition of an additional HOV lane without the alleged federal requirements. The State of California would spend far less money over all if it simply added the I-405 lane and did not accept federal funds and therefore would not have to augment the existing freeway with medians, buffers and lane widening.

5. CalTrans has failed to consider the alternative previously suggested to you of considering both alternative 2 and alternative 3 with the addition of a northbound HOV lane, but only commencing the augmented freeway (medians, buffers, 12-foot lanes) north of Getty Center Drive, in an area that is not heavily restricted, compacted and populated.

6. The DEIR totally fails to present any rationale for 12-foot medians, buffer lanes, and 12-foot traffic lanes on both sides of I-405 in the section of the freeway from approximately Montana to Skirball. This section is in a mostly highly developed, constricted area and there is no comparable augmented freeway section from the San Fernando Valley to the City of San Diego (a distance of approximately 150 miles). CalTrans must explain the basis of such blatant discrimination against a very small area which, according to traffic figures submitted in the DEIR would have a minimal saving of driving time, while creating extensive delays for the users of Sunset Boulevard.

7. The DEIR fails to address the handling of the adjacent high-pressure pipe lines on the east side of Sepulveda Boulevard, which have been the subject of written comment and which pose an extremely dangerous condition. Moving these high-pressure pipe lines could have disastrous effects if not handled in an extreemely cautious fashion.

8. The DEIR fails to evaluate how the added lanes on the Sunset Boulevard overpass of the I-405 will handle traffic that is reduced from three lanes to two lanes.

9. The DEIR fails to justify the takings or partial takings of private property and three office buildings, including the Verizon Switching Station. These takings are not required for the construction of the northbound HOV lane, but would be required because of the augmented conditions required by the medians, buffers and wider lanes. This issue is critical.

10. The DEIR and CalTrans have failed to explore a long-standing recommendation that the Moraga onramp be closed and replaced with the construction of a new righthand onramp at Getty Center. This would require the relocation of the Getty Trailhead. There is an established easement for CalTrans for constructing this onramp. The rationale for constructing this onramp is that the cars could flow smoothly on Sepulveda Boulevard and make a righthand turn onto an onramp in an area which not undeveloped and is uncongested. This would remove the congestion in the area of Moraga Drive and Sepulveda Boulevard, which causes a backup and signalized delay to allow the bulk of traffic to make a left turn across Sepulveda Boulevard to enter the onramp to the northbound I-405. This suggestion should be thoroughly analyzed. Relief of the traffic congestion at the area from Moraga Drive south on Sepulveda Boulevard to Ovada Place will ameliorate the problems created by the widening at that section of I-405 which is very close to Sepulveda Boulevard.

Very truly yours



Milton Louis Miller

Chairman 405/Traffic Committee

Caltrans Holds Final Public Meeting on 405 Expansion

'No-Build Alternative' Plan Was Crowd Favorite

KABC By Robert Holguin

- Caltrans is nearing a decision on a controversial plan to widen the northbound 405 Freeway. One proposal could lead to the destruction of dozens of homes. Wednesday night the public got another chance to speak out about it.

Wednesday night's meeting was the last chance for residents to come out and speak their minds about the proposed expansion, and there was a new plan on the table, one that would not require the demolition of any homes. But that doesn't mean that there was any kind of consensus.

Hundreds of people packed into the Skirball Cultural Center with what seemed like hundreds of opinions as to how to ease congestion on the nation's busiest freeway.

"What you're going to do with this mobility is you're going to immobilize the traffic on Sunset Boulevard all the way back to Napoli and Amalfi Drives," said Brentwood resident John Keller.

Caltrans hosted Wednesday night's public forum. At issue: several controversial plans to build a carpool lane on the northbound side of the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass. Some of those plans call for the demolition of 30 homes and businesses in the Brentwood Glen neighborhood.

"The greater good is definitely to keep traffic moving through the Sepulveda Pass," said L.A. City Councilman Jack Weiss. "I think there's a way to do it that won't impact these communities."

Wednesday night, the questions also focused on a new plan, one that won't require the demolition of homes, by moving the 405 and Sepulveda Blvd. to the east, while making Church Street narrower.

"There's been a serious failure to design an alternative that creates an HOV lane northbound without re-aligning Sepulveda," said Stephen Rohde, of the Westwood Hills Property Owners Association.

The plan that got the biggest reaction at Wednesday night's meeting was what's called the "No-Build Alternative." That means they would leave the 405 exactly as it is. Caltrans says it will make a decision as to what plan it will pursue some time later this year.


The following links to testimony was presented by Tim Whalen, Acting Director of Operations, on behalf of the J. Paul Getty Trust, at a Public Hearing at the Skirball Museum on August 22, 2007:


Reminder - 405 Freeway Closure Tonight!

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close all lanes of the southbound San Diego Freeway (I-405) from 12:01 a.m. to 4 a.m. on the following two nights:

Wednesday, August 29, from Getty Center Drive to Wilshire Boulevard.

Thursday, August 30, from Santa Monica Boulevard and the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10).

Detours will be posted.

LAPD Operations-West Bureau Emergency Preparedness Summit


10:00 am - 2:00 pm




Presentations will be given by:

The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), Disaster Preparedness Unit/CERT Unit, Firefighter/Lead Paramedic, Marc Shapiro (LAFD), Disaster Preparedness Unit/CERT Unit, Firefighter/Lead Paramedic, Marc Shapiro (LAFD), Disaster Preparedness Unit/CERT Unit, Firefighter/Lead Paramedic, Marc Shapiro.

City of Los Angeles Emergency Preparedness Department, Lisa Hayes. All Hazard Preparedness and an Overview of the Emergency Operations Organization (EOO)

City of Los Angeles Department on Aging, Dale Osborne File for Life Program & Special Needs Awareness Project (SNAP)

City of Los Angeles Department on Disability, Angela Kaufman Emergency Preparedness and the Special Needs population.

You will also receive handout materials and informational pamphlets from the above agencies, as well as the Department of Animal Regulations.

LAPD 8-28-07 Report of WLA Residential Burglaries

1400 Pandora, RD 0829. MO: On 08/25/07, between 1100 and 1230, suspect(s) pushed-in the window-mounted AC unit, activating the alarm. There was no apparent property loss.

1400 Club View, RD 0829. MO: On 08/25/07, between 1110 and 1500 hours, suspect(s) smashed window on side door, and unlocked the door from the inside.

10600 Wilshire Blvd, RD 0834. MO: On 08/24/07, between 1015 and 1500 hours, suspect(s) entered the apartment using a possible passkey.

900 Tiverton, RD 0817. Between 08-11-07, 1030 hours, and 08-18-07, 1800 hours, unseen suspect(s) entered victim's residence by unknown means

1400 Warnall Ave, RD 0829. On 08-23-07, between 1240 and 1440 hours, unseen suspect(s) entered victim's residence via an unlocked rear door.

Community Alert from LAPD - Burglary Theft from Motor Vehicle Alert!

Burglary theft from Motor Vehicles (Car break ins) have been on the rise throughout the West Los Angeles Area. Burglary Theft from Motor Vehicle is the highest crime in the West Los Angeles area with approximately two hundred car break ins occurring monthly. This is due to very valuable and expensive personal property being left inside unattended vehicles.

An automobile is not a safe or secure place to leave any valuables whether locked or unlocked. If any property is left unattended in the car even for just a few minutes IT WILL BE STOLEN! Even something as simple as a small sun glass case, an empty backpack or gym bag will cause your car window to be smashed resulting in hundreds of dollars in damage alone.

Car burglars are stealing a variety of small expensive electronics and valuables. The top items being taken in most car burglaries is portable GPS systems, IPODS, cellular telephones, lap top computers, purses, wallets and money.

The West Los Angeles Area continues to be a target rich environment. Based on the history and information from arrests that have been made we know we have a variety of car burglars that travel to the west side of Los Angeles to commit their crimes. Although many arrests have been made the crimes continue to occur. This tells us there are numerous suspects that are targeting the area.

The Los Angeles Police Department is making every effort to combat this problem. Community awareness and involvement is instrumental in the prevention of these crimes.

If the car burglars do not find valuable property inside cars eventually they will seek out other areas to commit their crimes. Please do not leave ANY personal property visible in the car!

Christopher Ragsdale, Senior Lead Officer

West Los Angeles Community Police Station

Office: 310-444-0741


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Contribution Form for Bel-Air Association Security Projects

Mailing from AIG Insurance Concerning Bel-Air Burglaries


The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close all lanes of the southbound San Diego Freeway (I-405) from 12:01 a.m. to 4 a.m. on the following two nights:

Wednesday, August 29, from Getty Center Drive to Wilshire Boulevard.

Thursday, August 30, from Santa Monica Boulevard and the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10).

Detours will be posted.

The closure, to re-strip lanes, is connected to the $50 million project to extend the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV, or carpool) lane on southbound I-405 from Sunset Boulevard to I-10. The project, completing in late summer, is one of several improvement projects underway on I-405 in Los Angeles County. By early 2009, when all are completed, there will be a continuous HOV lane on southbound I-405 from the San Fernando Valley to Orange County.

Bel-Air Security Committee Announcement

The security of our homes and family will always be our greatest concern. In light of the recent upswing in burglaries and home invasions in Bel-Air this past year, the Bel-Air Association Security Committee was formed to help combat this problem and formulate ways to better protect our beloved community.

An important first step in increasing our security came with the installation and monitoring of the video cameras and warning signage at various locations about Bel-Air. But this is only a start as far more cameras are needed to properly monitor all significant vehicular access points to and from our community. We need your help and respectfully ask that every Bel-Air household contribute and invest in this project by clicking here to open a printable form for your donation.

This BLOG is also a significant advancement in area security – as it allows us to disseminate important information that will help to keep our community safe and strong.

In this post, you will find links to various pictures of the security cameras and signage located at Bel-Air’s West Gate. Also above, you will find links to the Security Camera Project Contribution Form, still pictures taken from the current cameras showing the power and value of these devices.

In the future, we anticipate postings to include project progress reports, area security alerts, significant security announcements and the like.

Bel-Air Association Security Committee
Harvey Saferstein
Jeffrey A. Kaplan
Colleen Hanlon
Christopher Hameetman

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bel-Air Burglars Identified (by Video Stillshots)

These are Community Alert pictures [click on any picture for the full-sized image] that were received from the police -- they include actual pictures of the burglars robbing a Bel~Air Home. Area residents should be on the lookout and inform all staff to report any suspicious activity. It is reported that a $100,000 REWARD is available for information leading to the capture of the criminals ($50,000 from the City of Los Angeles and $50,000 from AIG Insurance).