Monday, August 31, 2009

URGENT ALERT from LADWP Public Affairs

DATE: August 31, 2009 10:52:49 PST

The Station Fire Threatens Power Transmission Lines While Temperatures
And Energy Demand Remain High


LOS ANGELES- The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) asks all customers to conserve as much energy as possible today as the Station Fire rages in the Angeles National Forest and high temperatures continue to increase energy demand from customers.

The Station Fire has the potential to cross and affect the Department's 500 KV transmission lines northeast of the Acton area today. These high-voltage power lines are critical to maintaining a steady supply of power to the city, especially as demand for energy rises throughout the day.

To make up for the potential loss of power transmission, the LADWP has activated all in-basin power plants in order to generate energy.

The LADWP power distribution system is functioning normally during the current heatwave. The threat posed by the Station Fire is to two transmission lines used for importing power into its system. The threat to these lines, combined with the typical high energy demand on hot days, makes it even more necessary that all customers make every effort to reduce their energy demand immediately and continue to do so throughout the day.

Residents are urged to turn off air conditioners if possible and when safe, or otherwise run their air conditioner systems at 78 degrees or higher; turn off lights not currently in use and avoid using appliances as long as doing so does not compromise their or their family members' health or safety.

The Department is vigilantly monitoring the fire and in the event there is reason to believe the LADWP system may be impacted, we will update the media and the public accordingly.

For updates, please go to www.ladwpnews.com and follow the Department's Twitter account, @LADWP.

Joseph Ramallo
LADWP Public Affairs
(213) 367-1361
LADWP Neighborhood Council Liaison

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday Real Estate Peep - Price Chop on Nimes

You can buy a home for $200,000 in Riverside County, or with $72 million, you can likely buy all of Riverside County. Or you can spend that $72 million on this French Chateau in Bel Air. A residence that appeared on "American Idol," according to Big Time Listings, the 10-bedroom home is owned by well-known area homebuilder Mohamed Hadid and hit the market back in February for $85 million before dropping a mere $13 last week. The home, which has the nickname, Le Belvedere, even has an official web site. [From CURBED LA]

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bel~Air Association Moonlight Sonata


Under the moonlight stars of the gorgeous Southern California sky, almost one hundred Bel-Air Association Members enjoyed the likes of Bach, Beethoven and Cole Porter played eloquently by pianist Antonio Castillo Delagala of the Bel-Air Hotel. To complete the setting, the gardens were lined with trays of finger foods and deserts that not only tantalized the taste buds but captured the eye with their eloquent presentations. The Bel-Air Association's Moonlight Sonata was a perfect cap to another wonderful summer in the hills of Bel-Air.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mike Feuer August Newsletter 2009

Reform, the State Budget and Beyond

By now the impact of the recent state budget revisions is reverberating throughout California. The painful results, and the flawed process leading up to them, underscore the need for broad reform. With the Legislature now back in session, I intend to do everything I can to advance reform of state budgeting, local government financing and the initiative process. I hope to help lead an effort to reorganize state government so it is more efficient, innovative, transparent and customer friendly. And I would like to experiment with ways to de-escalate undue partisanship.

Some of the impediments to a better budget are well-known: an anomalous 2/3 budget vote requirement that prevented enactment last month of an oil severance tax and increased tobacco taxes (which would have mitigated cuts to our kids’ schools and health care programs); voter-approved initiatives that constrain our flexibility in a crisis; an antiquated tax code built for a previous century’s economy; and a federal system that exacts much more revenue from California taxpayers than it returns in services.

Other hurdles are less widely discussed. For example, long-term thinking is essential, yet even our Constitution creates structures that discourage it. Over time the state has slowly assumed responsibility for services best controlled by local officials. The Legislature and Governor do little to set priorities annually, let alone organize government to address them.

Look for the Legislature to elevate reform of state government in the days ahead. I’ll keep you apprised of our progress. But more than that, I would like to get you engaged in this process. From time to time I’ll send around few ideas we’re considering to get your feedback. And that’s a two-way street: I hope you’ll pass along your ideas for how to put California back on track, and I’ll circulate those as well.

In the meantime, there are a couple lawsuits you should know about. In one, Senate President Darrell Steinberg is suing the Governor, alleging he had no power to make hundreds of millions of dollars in additional cuts to crucial programs for AIDS patients, kids’ health care, state parks, senior services and other key items. (Legislative Counsel and other knowledgeable experts agree with Steinberg.) In the other case, former UCLA Chancellor Charles Young has sued to enjoin further enforcement of the 2/3 budget vote requirement. The outcome of these suits could have a profound impact on our state’s future.

Assemblymember Mike Feuer
42nd District



Update on Legislation

The Governor just signed four of my bills, two of which I highlight here.

An Important Shield for Good Samaritans

In December the California Supreme Court ruled that California’s Good Samaritan statute did not protect from lawsuits volunteers who provide non-medical help in emergencies. I immediately introduced AB 83 to shield all Good Samaritans from being sued if they act responsibly. Especially now, with public resources more scarce than ever, I wanted to encourage Californians to look out for each other without fear they might face litigation when they do. AB 83 garnered bipartisan support, and will take effect immediately.

I was moved to introduce AB 83 from personal experience. While driving home from work a few years ago on a Los Angeles freeway I witnessed the driver of a pickup truck swerve and lose control, overturning in traffic. I was able to help pull the driver and his family from the overturned vehicle while others blocked traffic on the busy freeway. I wrote this bill so that no one in a similar situation will have a reason to hesitate to intervene out of concern they could be sued.

Restoring Protections for Abused or Neglected Nursing Home Patients

Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs protect vulnerable residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities from abuse and neglect. Ombudsmen make unannounced visits and investigate thousands of abuse cases reported each year. Indeed, these Ombudsman programs are the front line of investigative services for often isolated and frail residents of long-term care facilities.

Last year the Governor vetoed roughly half the funding for these programs. As a result, local Ombudsman programs have laid off staff and drastically reduced services, putting patients at significantly greater risk of harm.

AB 392 immediately restores $1.6 million for this crucial program. This funding comes from otherwise unused penalties paid by long-term care facilities that fail to comply with federal laws that protect residents.



Solving California’s Water Crisis
A Public Forum with the Metropolitan Water District

Last month I was pleased to participate in a public forum with the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) in North Hollywood focused on solving California’s water crisis. I’m a member of the Assembly Water Working Group and this year authored pending legislation to reduce urban per capita water use in our state 20 percent by 2020. We discussed this and other ideas—including our urgent need to fix the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region, from which Southern California received more than one-third of our water. Years of neglect have threatened the Delta’s health, and a series of recent court decisions have set aside larger portions of water for endangered species of fish.

More than one hundred concerned citizens from throughout the district attended the event, many of whom want to continue to be involved in finding solutions. If you do, too, please let my office know. I’ll report on the Legislature’s progress on water issues in future editions of this newsletter.



Sherman Oaks Landmark Restaurant, Casa Vega, Named Small Business of the Year in 42nd Assembly District

In May I was pleased to honor Casa Vega as the 42nd District's Small Business of the Year. The award was presented to restaurant owner Rafael "Ray" Vega as part of the California Small Business Association's 2009 California Small Business Day in Sacramento.

Since its opening in 1956, Casa Vega has earned its place as a San Fernando Valley landmark serving authentic Vega family recipes in a friendly, festive atmosphere. Together with his daughter Christina and his cousin Rick, Ray Vega has managed the restaurant for over 50 successful years. “People come up and say, ‘Thanks for being here,’” says Ray. “But it's the other way around; I should be thanking them.”

Ray, his family, and the Casa Vega staff exemplify the small businesses that drive our economy, and bring joy to our community. In addition to providing hundreds of jobs and a friendly dining experience, Casa Vega has been a consistent supporter of civic events and institutions - including Chambers of Commerce, local schools, and public safety organizations. I know I am joined in honoring Ray by the countless people he has mentored, worked with, and most importantly, fed.




A Few Nice Awards

On September 15, I’ll receive the 2009 Distinguished Leadership Award for an Elected Official by the California chapter of the American Planning Association. The APA selected me because of my work to improve transportation. You might recall that in my first term as an Assembly member, I authored legislation that enabled Measure R to be on the 2008 Los Angeles County ballot. Measure R then passed with an extraordinary two-thirds majority vote. Because of this effort, approximately $40 billion will go toward traffic relief and transportation upgrades throughout the county over the next 30 years. These upgrades will include westward extension of the subway and adding north/south routing to the San Fernando Valley's Orange Line bus way. I received this statewide recognition after receiving the 2009 Distinguished Leadership Award for an Elected Official by the Los Angeles section of the APA in June.

The California Congress of Seniors recognized me this week as a “2009 True Friend of Seniors” for my work on Assembly Bill 392. (That’s the bill the Governor signed on August 6 to immediately restore $1.6 million for local Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs over the next year.) Without the scrutiny of the Ombudsman programs, nursing home facilities are reviewed just once a year (or less) by government agency inspectors, so the passage of the bill is especially important for residents’ quality of life and quality of care.




New Field Representative Joins District Staff

Haeyoung Kim, our new Field Representative, joined our district office in July 2009. As a westside native, she is thrilled to be in Los Angeles and working with the residents of the 42nd District. Ms. Kim is a recent graduate of the Master in Public Policy program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government where she was Co-Chair of the National Asian Pacific American Conference on Law & Public Policy and Senior Editor of the Asian American Policy Review. While completing her studies, she also worked with the office of Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino to help devise a comprehensive municipal food policy strategy to increase the accessibility, affordability, and desirability of healthy foods in Boston.

Prior to graduate school, she worked as a researcher and policy analyst for nonprofit organizations in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., focusing on multilateral and bilateral trade agreements, international energy policies, and globalization. She has also interned with the U.S. House and Senate, on Capitol Hill and in district offices.
Ms. Kim’s responsibilities will include providing constituent services to the residents of the 42nd Assembly District communities of Griffith Park, West Los Angeles, Bel Air, Holmby Hills, Beverly Glen, Westwood, Hollywood, Fairfax, Hancock Park, Los Feliz, and the Cities of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. Ms. Kim is deeply committed to public service, and enthusiastic about getting to know the community and being a resource for the 42nd District. She is reachable at (310) 285-5490 or Haeyoung.Kim@asm.ca.gov.


OFFICE LOCATIONS
Capitol Office:
State Capitol P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0042
Tel: (916) 319-2042
Fax: (916) 319-2142District Office:
9200 Sunset Boulevard, PH 15
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Tel: (310) 285-5490
Tel: (818) 902-0521
Fax: (310) 285-5499

Thursday, August 20, 2009

West LA Police Notification

COMMUNITY ALERT NOTIFICATION LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF WEST LOS ANGELES AREA
Burglary Theft from Motor Vehicle AlertBurglary 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. 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 for even 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 westside of Los Angeles to commit their crimes. Although many arrests have been made the crimes continue 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 RagsdaleSenior Lead OfficerWest Los Angeles Community Police StationOffice: 310-444-0741Cell: 213-305-5895Email: 26690@lapd.lacity.orgWebsite: www.lapdonline.orgPlease do not respond to this email, replies are not monitoredImportant Telephone Numbers | EMERGENCY CALL 911CITY-WIDE DIRECTORY 311 | NON EMERGENCY 1-877-ASKLAPDfor additional Crime Prevention information, Log on: www.lapdonline.orgSupport the LA Police Foundation: www.lapolicefoundation.org
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Preditor Alert Update - Mountain Lion or Bobcat


One of our residents recently reported losing their Westie to a suspected Mountain Lion or Bobcat, while another spotted a Bobcat on Orum around 3PM in the afternoon. Below is information on Bobcats.

There are two species of lynx in North America: the common lynx (Felis lynx) and the red lynx (Felis rufus), otherwise known as the bobcat. Lynxes and bobcats are also called wildcats. San Diego County only has bobcats.

Bobcat coat colors vary, but most are reddish above and pale underneath with some patterned dark stripes or spots. A distinctive characteristic of both lynxes and bobcats is the tuft of fur on each ear.

Bobcats weigh 15 to 35 pounds and have a short bobbed tail with black on the tip. Their ears are long with 1/2-inch black tufts at the end, and their large noses resemble rubber erasers.
Bobcats live in varied habitats including rocks, brush, and dense vegetation.

Bobcats are found below 8,000 feet in all of the western states and Canada. Although bobcats prefer rimrocks and gullies in the West, they also roam swamps and woodlands in other areas. They den in rock crevices and hollow logs. Their territories (small compared to those of mountain lions) vary with food supply, averaging 4 to 15 square miles.

Bobcats eat a varied diet, including rats, mice, rabbits, squirrels, carrion, and insects, so they rarely encounter food shortages. Like mountain lions, bobcats use stealth in hunting their prey, often waiting for hours near a game trail for prey to come within their 10-foot springing range.
Bobcats are solitary and active both day and night. They see well in darkness because their eyes have a special light reflector behind the retina; they also have extremely well developed hearing for locating prey. They are expert tree-climbers and swimmers and powerful fighters. Their large scent- marked territories are traveled daily. They have a life span of 15 to 20 years.

As with all large carnivores, the bobcat's main enemy is humans. People have been killing these animals (hunting and trapping them for pelts) for profit since 1730. In some parts of the country, hunting them is still permitted, though they are valuable to farmers because they eat many rodents. Bobcats have few natural enemies, and their primary defenses include speedy escapes and tree-climbing.

Bobcats are the most common wild felid in the U.S. and Canada, but their numbers are decreasing due to hunting and habitat loss. In 1977-1978, more than 85,000 bobcat skins were harvested. Their current status is controversial. Some experts believe that they are common and have adapted well to habitat loss and human hunting and intrusion; others assert that they are endangered.

Bobcats are most likely to be seen in remote, rugged country during early morning or late afternoon feeding times. Because of their elusive nature and caution around humans, however, they are rarely seen

TIPS
Unlike mountain lions, bobcats have adapted to human settlement of wildlands. Even a woodlot in a farming area can sustain a pair of bobcats. Often people living on farms and in small towns are unaware of bobcats living nearby.

Bobcats avoid human contact as much as possible, and if you can share your land peacefully with a resident bobcat, it will help keep down rodent populations. Natural rodent control is preferable to man-made poisons and inhumane traps.

Bobcats remain a strong link in the ecological cycle. State laws protect bobcats in many areas.

1. Do not feed the bobcat.

2. Never leave pet food outside.

3. Restrict use of birdseed. Bobcats are attracted to the birds and rodents that use the feeder.

4. If possible, eliminate outdoor sources of water. Generally, home owners cannot eliminate sources of water that attract bobcats (i.e., drip irrigation, fish ponds, bird baths). You might purchase a large water dish (as for a large dog), put it on the outside of your fence, and keep it filled with water.

5. Trim and clear near ground level any shrubbery that provides cover for bobcats or prey.

6. Use fencing to help deter bobcats. The fence must be at least six feet tall with the bottom extending at least six inches below ground level. Augment your existing fencing with outwardly inverted fencing, hot wire, or cement blocks and large rocks buried outside thefence line to prevent animals from digging into your yard.

7. Actively discourage bobcats by making loud noises and throwing rocks to make them leave.

8. Battery operated flashing lights, tape recorded human noises, scattered moth balls and ammonia- soaked rags strategically placed may deter bobcats from entering your yard.

9. Keep cats and small dogs indoors, allowing them outside only under strict supervision.

10. Keep chickens, rabbits and other small animals in well protected areas and in sturdy cages at night. Cages made of chicken wire are meant only for keeping small animals contained. They will not keep bobcats or other predators from entering.
Stronger gauge wiring is a necessity in protecting these small animals.

11. Trapping and relocation of bobcats is not a recommended or viablealternative. Wild animals are territorial and like species will simply take over the areavacated by the relocated or dead animal.


Information was provided by the Fund for Animals and WildCare Terwilliger Nature Education & Wildlife Rehabilitation, San Rafael, CA.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

COYOTE WARNING ON LINDA FLORA AND BELLAGIO ROAD

COYOTE (CANIS LATRANS)

The California Department of Fish and Game surveys an estimated population range of 250,000 to 750,000 coyotes throughout California.
The coyote weighs an average of 18 to 40 lbs.
They can run at speeds of 25 mph and sprint up to 40 mph.
They mate January through March with pups being born in April through June.
They average about 4 to 8 young.
Urban coyotes may often die early as a result of being hit by cars, or become afflicted with disease and parasites, such as distemper and mange.
Although coyotes may be seen in a family group which may contain 4 or more, it is the urban coyote that is often seen traveling alone or in pairs.
The coyote is a very clever indigenous predator that has conformed to living in close proximity to humans.
They are often seen in residential areas around vacant lots, hillsides, parks, city streets, landscaped areas and abandoned properties.
Coyotes will travel via use of horse trails, fire roads, aqueducts, flood control channels, freeways, erosion gutters, city streets and sidewalks.
Coyotes find water from a variety of sources throughout the City.
The coyotes diet consists primarily of rodents, small mammals and insects.
When hunting in a pack they will go for larger prey such as deer.
Coyotes are also scavengers and will eat fruit, vegetable matter and trash.
They are opportunistic as well and will not hesitate to kill cats, small dogs, poultry, sheep and goats when given the chance.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
FENCES
Coyotes are capable of scaling or jumping fences upwards of 5 1/2 feet in height.
They can be deterred by increasing the fence height to at least 6 feet and adding an angle at the top facing outward at 45 degrees and 16 inches wide.
(For fences over 6 feet check local fence height laws, a variance may be required.)
Bury the bottom of the fence at least 12 to 18 inches underground and line the trench with rock to prevent the coyote from digging underneath.
An apron underground at the base extending an additional 18 to 24 inches out from the fence should be added as well.

DO’S and DON’T’S
Keep your pets indoors or secured in an outdoor kennel.
Environmental factors can affect the time a coyote may appear.
Coyotes are active during daylight hours also.
Walk your dog on a leash at all times.
If your yard does not have a fence, use a leash while on your property to keep your pet close to you.
You may carry something with you for protection such as an air horn, whistle, walking stick or cane.
Confine small animals and birds that you cannot keep indoors to covered enclosures constructed of a heavy gauge wire mesh.
Coyotes can break through chicken wire.
Put all trash bags inside the trash cans and keep all outdoor trash can lids securely fastened to the containers.
Place trash bins inside sheds, garages or other enclosed structures.
Pick fruit from trees as soon as it ripens and pick up all fallen fruit.
Cut low hanging branches to avoid the coyote feeding from trees.
Trim ground-level shrubbery.
Vegetable gardens should be protected with heavy duty garden fences or enclosed by a greenhouse.
Check with your local plant nursery to see what deterrent products are available.
If you have access to the Internet, you may find some items on-line.
Keep your property well lit at night.
Close off crawl spaces under porches, decks and sheds.
Coyotes use such areas for resting and raising young.

Share this information with your neighbors.
Your efforts may be futile if someone is providing food or shelter for coyotes.
Remember this is a neighborhood effort.Do not feed wild animals.
It is illegal to feed predatory wildlife in the City of Los Angeles. (L.A.M.C. Sec. 53.06.5)
Do not leave pet food or water bowls outside if your pet is not outdoors.
Local law requires that food and water be available to your pet when it is kept outside.
However, bring in the dishes when your pet is inside.
Do not allow pets to roam from home.
Do not set your trash out for pick-up until the day of pick-up to reduce attracting predators in the middle of the night.
Do not attempt to pet or otherwise make contact with them.
Coyotes are wild animals and should be treated as such.
Never leave small children unattended.
Do not throw food into an open compost pile.

DETERRENTS & SCARE TACTICS
Spray a little ammonia in your trash can several times a week to cut the odor of food.
Place moth balls or moth ball cakes in areas where coyotes sleep or hang out to deter them from staying.
Motion activated devices such as lights, strobe lights and sprinklers can be useful.
Use radios that are set to talk or news stations to help deter the coyotes.
Use a Coyote Shaker: A can containing a few coins which can be shaken and thrown at the coyote.
Throw balls or rocks.
Bang two pans together, blow a whistle, use an air horn or use high pressure water sprayer.
Alternate the deterrents to prevent the coyote from getting used to one method.

Common Q&A
What should I do if a coyote approaches me?
Wave your arms. Shout in a low, loud tone. Throw objects at the coyote while maintaining eye contact. Make yourself look as big as possible; if you are wearing a jacket open it up like a cape. If possible go towards active or populated areas but do not turn your back on the coyote.

How can I keep my dog safe? If you live in coyote country, closely supervise your dog. Walk your dog on a leash at all times and stay close to high pedestrian traffic areas. Try not to establish a regular routine and route to avoid setting up a pattern for the coyote to detect. Avoid bushy areas or paths near abandoned properties. If you notice a coyote when walking your dog, keep your dog as close to you as possible and move towards an active area. Never encourage or allow your dog to interact or “play” with coyotes.

How can I keep my cat safe? Keep your cat indoors at all times. If your cat must be outside, consider constructing an outdoor 6 sided enclosure that is made of heavy gauge wire or chain-link with an enclosed access way to the house.

Related Linkshttp://www.fundwildlife.org/coexist/coyotes.html

ALERT! Coyote Attack on Linda Flora and Bellagio Road

One of our residents has just lost their beloved pet to another coyote attack. We will be posting some tips and other measures shortly to help address this problem.
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

POLICE COMMISSION MEETINGS - PUBLIC INPUT FOR NEXT CHIEF OF POLICE

POLICE COMMISSION ANNOUNCES MEETINGS THROUGHOUT THE CITY TO OBTAIN PUBLIC INPUT FOR NEXT CHIEF OF POLICE


Los Angeles – In order to hear and understand what the people of Los Angeles would like to see in their next Chief of Police, the Los Angeles Police Commission will be holding community meetings. On the Westside the meeting will be September 9, 2009 at the Felicia Mahood Senior Center 6:30 pm,11338 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90025.

It is imperative you try to attend and voice your concern about traffic safety and lack of traffic enforcement on the Westside. We need to be sure that any future police chief makes traffic enforcement a priority and supplies the necessary resources to insure this on the Westside; something that was woefully missing from our current chief.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

ALERT! - Falsified Mailing Sent to Bel~Air Residents!

BE ADVISED that a mailing was sent out using the Bel~Air Association's 100 Bel-Air Road address in a falsified and potentially criminal manner. This mailing had correspondence concerning a crimnal and criminal activity.

PLEASE NOTE that the Bel-Air Association is NOT responsible for the mailing and we are unaware of who created the mailing and are investigating the issue.

Today we are receiving many calls from upset residents regarding this mailing.

The back of the envelope has our mailing address without any identifying logo or letterhead.

If anyone has information as to this matter, please contact us immediately.

Thank you for your help.

CONTACT:

Paulette M. DuBey

General Manager

Bel-Air Association

100 Bel-Air Road

LA, CA 90077

310-474-3527

Thursday, August 6, 2009

L.A. traffic prompts the Geffen to push back curtain time to 8 p.m.

From the LA TIMES

GEFFEN

A few years ago, L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky told Times columnist Steve Lopez a memorable story to illustrate how bad L.A. traffic can get:

Yaroslavsky recalled that in the late 1990s, Los Angeles philanthropist Richard Colburn declined a request for a donation to Disney Hall, arguing that a concert hall ought to be on the Westside. That's where the subscriber base would be, he reasoned, and why would beach dwellers want to fight the traffic to get downtown, of all places? "We do now and again see some empty seats, but there isn't anything in terms of research that could tell you why," said Catherine Babcock of the Music Center, whose companies include the Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles Master Chorale, L.A. Opera and Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Now, The Times' Diane Haithman at Culture Monster reports that the Geffen in Westwood is pushing back the start of its productions from 7:30 p.m. to 8 -- a nod to how hard it is to get around:

One popular refrain from the Westside is that the rush-hour commute makes it virtually impossible for Westsiders to make it downtown to the Music Center theater complex by curtain time on weekdays. That's usually 8 p.m. at the Ahmanson Theatre and the Mark Taper Forum, and 7:30 for Los Angeles Opera performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. But here's some welcome news for reverse commuters: The Geffen Playhouse in Westwood announced today that its evening performances on weekdays -- that is, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday -- will be moved from 7:30 to 8 p.m. for the 2009-10 season.

-- Shelby Grad

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hotel Bel-Air will be closed nearly 2 years for renovation

From the LA TIMES

Hotel Bel-Air
Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times
The Hotel Bel-Air decided against staying open because the construction noise would be unbearable, general manager Tim Lee said.
Nearly all of its 300 workers will lose their jobs next month because of a multimillion-dollar project to modernize all guest rooms, suites, the restaurant and bar and add 12 hillside villas.
By Hugo Martín
August 5, 2009
The Hotel Bel-Air, a storied Mission-style landmark frequented by Hollywood's elite, will close for nearly two years for a multimillion-dollar face lift that will put hundreds of staffers out of work.

The massive renovation, beginning Oct. 1, will include upgrades for all 91 rooms and suites, the hotel's Champagne Bar, its restaurant and private dining rooms. When it is finished in mid-2011, the hotel will boast 12 new villas and a spa with seven treatment rooms.

Nearly all of the hotel's 300 workers, however, will lose their jobs as of Sept. 30.

General manager Tim Lee promised to do his best to find the staffers jobs in other hotels owned by the Hotel Bel-Air's operator, the Dorchester Collection, or at competitor hotels.

He said the hotel would ask resume writers and state employment specialists to come to the hotel to help employees land new jobs. "We are doing everything in our power to help with this transition," he said.

Hotel union officials said they were unhappy with the decision to lay off nearly the entire staff and were pushing management to assure workers that they could return to positions at the hotel after the renovations were completed.

"We feel very strongly that they should rehire or put back to work the staff once the hotel opens up again," said Tom Walsh, president of the hotel workers union Unite Here, Local 11, which represents most of the Bel-Air staff.

Launching a renovation amid an economic recession and near-record low hotel occupancy rates might seem unwise. But hotel industry experts say this is the best time for such a modernization. During a weak economy, contractors and building suppliers are willing to negotiate.

When occupancy rates are low, a renovation project uproots fewer guests. In the Los Angeles-Long Beach area, occupancy rates are about 70%, according to Smith Travel Research.

Alan Reay, president of Atlas Hospitality Group, an Irvine consulting firm, called the 18-month closure of the Bel-Air "very, very unusual" because most hotels perform such renovation projects in phases while keeping the hotel open. Still, he said the timing of the renovations seemed to make sense.

"The owners are probably taking advantage of this downturn in the economy," he said.

Lee said the hotel decided against staying open because the construction noise would be unbearable, particularly since the grounds are primarily flat and noise carries throughout the hotel. By closing the hotel during the renovation, he said construction time also would be shortened.

He declined to reveal the price tag for the project, except to say it will be a "multimillion-dollar" renovation. Lee also declined to disclose the hotel's recent occupancy rate, but acknowledged that the hotel has felt the sting of the global recession.

"We all are affected," he said. "But that's not the main reason why we are doing it now."

The five-star hotel on Stone Canyon Road is operated by the Dorchester Collection, the successor to the Dorchester Group, which was established by the government-controlled Brunei Investment Agency in 1996 to manage the oil-rich country's luxury hotels in Europe and the U.S. Some Hotel Bel-Air suites have been priced at up to $4,000 a night.

Ringed by 12 acres of landscaped gardens in an exclusive residential neighborhood, the hotel is a favorite haunt of Hollywood's rich and celebrated. In 1962, Marilyn Monroe posed for some of her most memorable photos by the pool and in a hotel room. Actress Joan Collins renewed her wedding vows at the hotel this year, near a picturesque pond known as Swan Lake.

Los Angeles developer Alphonso E. Bell created Bel-Air estates in 1922 in the hills northwest of Beverly Hills. In 1946, hotel entrepreneur Joseph Drown purchased some of the estate lands with plans to create a luxurious hotel retreat. The hotel, with its pink facade and manicured gardens, has since epitomized Los Angeles' luxury and beauty.

Lee said the exterior of the hotel would remain the same. Much of the work will focus on modernizing the rooms and indoor public spaces, he said, adding that cellular phones can't get a signal inside the hotel.

"Everyone requires the use of cellphones to make calls for business or pleasure," he said.

Lee emphasized that the new modern amenities would be subtle, such as adding a mechanism to close the window curtains via remote control. He said he wanted the hotel to retain a quiet, residential feel. "That's the magic of our canyon oasis," he said.

During the renovation, Lee said the gardens and their many oaks, redwoods and other trees will be preserved. Three swans that make a home in the hotel's lake will be relocated and returned after the work is done.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

Brentwood Grand Prix this Sunday

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

National Night Out Tonight


Good Afternoon to all,

This is a quick reminder that the West Los Angeles Community Police Station is having their National Night Out BBQ tonight starting at 6 PM until 9 PM at Stoner Park, 1835 Stoner Avenue. The event is free and we will be having a BBQ, activities for kids and crime prevention information. This is a great opportunity to meet your local police officers, including the Commanding Officer of the West Los Angeles Community Police Station.

I hope to see you there. Sergeant David Podesta, WLA Community Relations.

Monday, August 3, 2009

6.9 quake in Baja California rattles office workers in San Diego [Updated]

From LA TIMES BLOG - LA NOW

Quake415

A 6.9 earthquake this morning in Baja California was felt in the San Diego area, prompting some people to evacuate a downtown San Diego office tower.

The temblor hit about 360 miles south of the California border, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. TV news footage showed some office workers milling outside San Diego high-rise buildings, and the local NBC affiliate reported that people had left City Hall.

The temblor struck about 11 a.m. in the Gulf of California, about 49 miles from Santa Isabel. There was no immediate word of damage or injuries.

[Updated at noon: There were several moderate temblors in the same part of the Gulf of California before the 6.9 earthquake struck, and officials said this might be a quake swarm.

Officials have not issued a tsumani warning in the wake of the quakes. A preliminary estimate placed the temblor's epicenter about 4 1/2 miles underground.

According to the USGS's Did You Feel It? Web page, the quake was felt in San Diego, Phoenix, Tuscon, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Long Beach, Orange and elsewhere.]

-- Shelby Grad

City Attorneys' Neighborhood Forum - August 13th, 6pm - 9pm

Forum