Tenant groups are collecting signatures to repeal Costa Hawkins rent control law

Posted · Add Comment

Signature gatherers are headed to neighborhoods “heavily hit by… rapidly rising rents”

Signature-gathering will pick up steam this weekend in an effort put a measure on the state ballot asking California voters to repeal Costa Hawkins, a law that limits cities’ abilities to expand rent control.

The campaign kicked off last month with paid signature gatherers, but will expand this weekend with “hundreds, hopefully, eventually, thousands of volunteers,” says Walt Senterfitt, a spokesperson for the LA Tenants Union.

They will knock on doors and post up at high-trafficked areas, like flea markets and grocery stores across Los Angeles County. But Senterfitt says to expect a bigger presence in cities and neighborhoods with high concentrations of tenants and areas that have been “heavily hit by the threat of displacement or rapidly rising rents.”

That includes, he says, Hollywood, Boyle Heights, East LA, South LA, and pockets of the San Fernando Valley.

“On the other hand, I’d say we’re getting a lot of support from homeowners and even small landlords, because they don’t want to see this massive displacement by development that also changes the character of their neighborhoods,” Senterfitt says.

Under Costa Hawkins, cities are restricted from applying rent control to new units. In Los Angeles, only buildings constructed prior to 1978 are under rent control.

Tenant advocacy groups want the law repealed so that Los Angeles and other cities with rent control have the option to expand rent control to newly constructed buildings.

The same groups are also collecting signatures to enact rent control Los Angeles County cities that don’t have it already, including Inglewood, Pasadena, and Long Beach. Only 15 cities in California have rent control right now.

The proposed ballot initiative to repeal Costa Hawkins was filed with the state in October. Its backers—including Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation—wanted to use the initiative to put pressure on lawmakers to pass a repeal in the state legislature.

But lawmakers rejected a repeal bill in January.

Now, the issue might go to voters in November 2018—but only if it supporters can collect the 365,880 valid voter signatures required to get the initiative on the ballot.

Next to Pershing Square, sun-soaked condo asks $449K

Posted · Add Comment

The building has a rooftop pool

If you want to live in the heart of all of the action, the corner of Fifth and Broadway in transit-friendly Downtown LA is a good place to call home.

That’s where this one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo is located. It’s steps from Pershing Square and The Last Bookstore, an easy walk to the breezy rooftop at Ace Hotel, and less than half a mile to the restaurants at both Grand Central Market and the Spring Arcade Building.

At 650 square feet, the unit is compact, but not unmanageably so. Bright and sunny, it comes with an unit washer and dryer, lots of windows, concrete floors, and tall ceilings.

The building, constructed in 1923, has a gym and a rooftop pool with sweet views. Last sold in 2008 for $199,000 the unit is now listed for $449,000 with monthly HOA dues of $248.

  • 312 West 5th St #719 [Mona Ghossein, Brita Kleingartner / The Rental Girl]

Metro moves forward with plan to widen the 710 freeway

Posted · Add Comment

Opponents call the project a “1950s-era solution” to congestion on the busy route

A Metro committee forwarded a $6-billion plan to widen much of the 710 freeway to the full Metro Board of Directors Wednesday.

The agency’s Ad Hoc Congestion, Highways, and Roads Committee reviewed a version of the widening project that would expand a 19-mile stretch of freeway running from the 405 to the 60 to five lanes in each direction. Two truck bypass lanes would also be constructed in either direction at the 405 interchange, allowing goods to be transported in and out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach more efficiently.

Environmental groups and residents in areas around the freeway say adding lanes will worsen air quality and expose communities to the harmful effects of diesel exhaust emitted by trucks hauling freight along the route.

“Today is Ash Wednesday,” John Fasana, a Metro board member said at the meeting. And for communities living near the 710, “tomorrow will be Ash Thursday and the day after that Ash Friday.”

The project’s draft environmental impact report acknowledges the poor air quality alongside the freeway and its association with health problems like asthma, cancer, and heart disease.

New state regulations on diesel-powered vehicles are expected to cut down on harmful emissions in coming years, but opponents of the project worry that expanding the freeway to accommodate more trucks will limit the effect of those reforms.

Widening the freeway will also displace some residents and business owners who live or own property close to the 710. Metro estimates that more than 400 residents in the cities of Carson, Compton, Long Beach, and others would have to be relocated as a result of construction.

In a letter to Metro, a coalition of community organizations and environmental advocates, including the Trust for Public Land and the Los Angeles Sierra Club, asked the agency to work with Caltrans on crafting a new version of the project—with or without widening—that would avoid displacing residents, force shipping companies to use zero-emission trucks on the route, and ensure construction is carried out by local workers.

Instead, the committee sent a motion from boardmembers Janice Hahn, Hilda Solis, Robert Garcia, and Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker to the full board asking state agencies to investigate the possibility of setting aside one of the five lanes for zero-emission vehicles. Of the project’s total budget, $200 million would also be used to fund grants and subsidies encouraging companies to switch to zero-emission trucks.

Opponents of the project say that’s not enough to counteract the negative impacts of making room for more vehicles.

“You’re going to make the problem worse, then go get taxpayer dollars to clean it up?” asks Earthjustice attorney Adrian Martinez. He calls the widening project a “1950s-era solution” to congestion on the busy freeway.

The project still has a long way to go before construction gets underway. Metro’s full Board of Directors will need to sign off on the plan approved Wednesday, after which the environmental review process will continue into next year. If construction gets underway after that, the project would be built in multiple phases, taking years to complete.

Members of the committee were optimisic that, by that time, zero-emission technology will be commonplace, cutting down on any additional smog that a widening project would produce.

Metro and Caltrans have already spent years developing the plan, and its long approval process has given opponents plenty of time to mobilize resistance to the project. Last year, after decades of redesigns and community pushback, Metro’s Board of Directors pulled the plug on an extension of the northern portion of the 710 to Pasadena.

“The highway system we have today is what we’ll have 100 years from now,” said Fasana at the time.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the committee recommended widening the freeway to five lanes in each direction. In fact, the committee forwarded a staff report to the Metro Board of Directors that recommends this option.

Romantic Spanish-style in Palm Springs can be yours for $1.39M

Posted · Add Comment

There’s no butterfly roof here. Palm Springs is most closely linked with midcentury modern, but, in the Mesa, there’s a charming mix of architectural styles—as evidenced by this Spanish Colonial Revival beauty with its clay tile roof.

The neighborhood is tucked into the foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains, and this property affords nice views of the range. Inside, instead of glass walls, you’ll find tiled floors, arched entryways, multiple wood-burning fireplaces, and wood-beamed ceilings.

On a gated lot that measures 12,197-square-feet, the home holds three bedrooms and an office, plus a lower-level guest suite that, per the listing, adds roughly 1,000 square feet of living space with an additional bed, bath, and kitchenette. Outside, there’s a pool, rock terraces, and a smattering of bougainvillea.

It’s listed for $1.395 million.

32-story condo tower near Ace Hotel is making headway

Posted · Add Comment

The project would replace a parking lot with nearly 240 for-sale units

After years of waiting, plans for Downtown developer Barry Shy is closing in on all the approvals needed to build a 32-story tower near Ace Hotel.

The project’s design and scope were unanimously approved by the city planning commission in December, Kate Bartolo, the project’s land use and development consultant, tells Curbed. Bartolo estimates that the final two hearings will take place sometime in mid-spring of this year, with construction expected to follow soon after.

The Takacs Architecture-designed project would demolish a 167-spot parking lots at 920 South Hill Street, and build a 32-story condo tower in its place. The building would hold 239 units and about 5,600 square feet of retail space.

The tower would offer 295 parking spaces, including 68 replacement parking spots for a nearby property (939 S. Broadway, another Shy project in the works), whose tenants use the existing lot.

“The developer has pledged to provide first time homebuyer incentives” for the condos, says Bartolo, the project’s land use and development consultant. “And the project will feature an improvement project for the adjacent alley, that provides urban relief through concrete paving and lushly landscaped tall walls.”

Downtown LA will get more train stations—but where will they go?

Posted · Add Comment

The transit corridor will bring more stations to Downtown

Metro wants to open service on the West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor by the 2028 Olympics, but the agency doesn’t yet know exactly where a significant portion of the route—the section that runs into Downtown Los Angeles—will be built.

A Metro committee on Wednesday weighed a proposal to study more route options for the future light rail line’s path through Downtown LA, and decided to move the motion for consideration at the agency’s next meeting of its full Board of Directors.

Metro has already studied four route options for the rail line—all of which end at Union Station. The new options would have the line ending south of Union Station, either in the Financial District or the Arts District.

Once it’s complete, the West Santa Ana Branch transit corridor will connect Southeast LA County’s Gateway Cities to Downtown LA. The route is still being planned, but it’s shaping up to be an approximately 20-mile line with anywhere from 11 to 15 stations, depending on exactly where Metro decides to build it.

The line was originally scheduled to open in multiple phases between 2028 and 2041 under the voter approved Measure M expenditure plan. But Metro is now shooting to complete the entire rail line by 2028, under Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Twenty-Eight by ’28 initiative.

Opening the line by 2028 is an ambitious goal, even more so when considering the train’s northern alignment is still an open question at this point in the planning process.

So far, Metro has considered four potential routes for the line’s alignment between the proposed Pacific/Randolph station in downtown Huntington Park and Downtown Los Angeles. Two of these options these options run west from Huntington Park to the Blue Line’s Slauson station, at which point the line would follow Alameda Street all the way north to Union Station. The other two options turn north from Huntington Park, and would run to Union Station via Santa Fe Avenue.

But during Metro’s community engagement process, the agency learned that Little Tokyo, Arts District, and Downtown Industrial District stakeholders all broadly oppose an at-grade or aerial alignment for the train along Alameda Street. Further complicating matters are space constraints at Union Station, which could possibly lead to a complicated transfer process—much like the Gold to Red/Purple line transfer today—should the line run to Union Station.

That’s why Metro wants to consider more route options through Downtown. Though some options still run to Union Station, three do not. One of these would connect to a potential Red/Purple Line extension along the LA river in the Arts District.

The two others would snake through Downtown and end at a yet-to-be-determined location in the “Downtown Transit Core,” defined in the map below as the area ringed by the Pershing Square, 7th Street/Metro, and Regional Connector project stations.

All of the options mean more Downtown LA rail stations, though exactly where depends on which alignment Metro chooses to build.

Options Metro is considering for study for the West Santa Ana Branch line, through Downtown LA. (Metro)

Metro’s full Board of Directors will weigh in on the options later this month at the agency’s next board meeting on March 1.

Assuming the full board gives the green light, Metro will continue studying and conducting community engagement for the revised northern alignment options over the next few months.

By late spring, Metro aims to have a more concrete idea of where to build the train, at which point the agency will be able reinitiate the environmental review process for the entire rail line.

Futuristic house by William Krisel asking $2.5M in Palm Springs

Posted · Add Comment

The midcentury home is actually five circular pods

Here’s a truly unique offering from prolific modern architect William Krisel. Nestled right up against the fairway at the Indian Canyons Golf Resort in Palm Springs, the 4,365-square-foot home consists of five circular pods attached to one another, creating a maze-like floor plan.

Built in 1968, the home’s unusual layout seems like an ambitious followup to Krisel’s earlier design for Palm Springs’s famous “House of Tomorrow” (the spot where Elvis and Priscilla Presley spent their honeymoon). Its futuristic interior includes walls of glass, skylights, towering ceilings, and a pair of impressive stone fireplaces.

Featuring five bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms, the residence also boasts a roomy, updated kitchen and a gated entry with a pond.

The home sits on more than half an acre of land, surrounded by a curiously lush, green lawn. The grounds include multiple outdoor patios, a fire pit, and a swimming pool and spa. A large driveway leads to a two-car garage with an extra covered spot for a golf cart.

Asking price is $2.495 million.

Front of house
Living/dining area
Backyard pool
Aerial view of house

Electric scooter company founded by former Lyft, Uber exec is taking over the Westside

Posted · Add Comment

They’re pretty cheap and easy to ride—but they’ve run afoul of city officials

Sunday afternoons on the Venice boardwalk are chaotic, with neighbors, artists, Angelenos, and tourists talking, trading, and traveling up and down the beachfront. Bikes, skateboards, and Segways continuously stream by on the winding two-lane path.

Recently, a different vehicle has dominated the road. This past Sunday, anybody planted in a beach chair, looking back towards the boardwalk, would have seen a parade of Bird scooters roll by, accompanied by the faint hum of electric motors.

Since the Santa Monica-based company began operating on September 1, placing hundreds of scooters on the city’s sidewalks, Bird has quickly become ubiquitous in Venice and Santa Monica. But the startup’s rapid growth and dockless technology has already set the small scooters on a collision course with local regulators.

In December, the city of Santa Monica filed a criminal case against the company, accusing it of operating without proper permits and owing more than $6,000 in fines. On Wednesday, it agreed to pay more than $300,000 as part of a settlement with the city; it also agreed to “run a weeklong public safety education campaign on the Big Blue Bus.”

“Santa Monica is a multi-modal city focused on carbon reduction,” city spokersperson Constance Farrell says. “We’re supportive of… the concept of Bird. They just need to operate lawfully and safely.”

The proper way to ride.

Bird claims the Chinese-made electric scooters are an innovative, convenient, and more sustainable solution to last-mile travel. Being easy-to-operate scooters, they’re pretty fun to ride.

“Our mission is to get people out of cars,” says spokesperson Marcus Reese.

The company would not provide an accounting of the number of Bird’s on the road, though estimates suggest its more than 1,000 scooters.

But early reactions from riders suggest its catching on. Their slim profiles stream up and down the retail and restaurant corridors of Abbot-Kinney and Rose Avenue, circle the tech offices of Silicon Beach, and dart throughout downtown Santa Monica. Sidewalks and side streets are filled with the scooters, since the dockless vehicles, locked and unlocked with an app, can be dropped off and picked up anywhere.

Bird now claims more than 40,000 active users and has started expanding, with small trials in Brentwood and on the UCLA campus as well as Pacific Beach in San Diego. On Tuesday, it announced $15 million in additional funding, suggesting its plans for expansion to other cities are on track.

Bird’s new rental agreement focuses on safety.
New users also need to scan their licenses to ride.

While small in stature, the scooters seemed poised to follow the path of the big ride-sharing companies, growing as fast as they can, and letting regulations and precedent play catch up.

In the last few weeks, Santa Monica police have started being more aggressive, ticketing riders who scoot by on sidewalks instead of streets and bike lanes, or those without helmets.

Farrell says the company only had a license to operate a brick-and-mortar location when it first started placing scooters out in September.

Some early riders, especially those younger than 18, were violating state safety laws. Upon a referral from the City’s Code Enforcement Division, prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Bird on December 6 for operating a commercial scooter rental business on the public right of way without a proper business license and failing to comply with administrative citations.

The city has since worked with the company to institute measures to improve performance and safety, and deal with right-of-way issues when users ride them on the sidewalks, leading up to today’s announcement that Bird agreed to pay $6,115.63 in previously issued citations, pay additional fines and investigative costs totaling $300,000, and run a week-long safety campaign on the city’s Big Blue Bus.

Over the weekend, only a handful of the dozens of Bird riders spotted on the streets and sidewalks of Venice and Santa Monica wore helmets. A plane pulling a banner with the Bird logo that read “Ride Safely” circled around the beach. Most users, while cruising the beach in a perfectly safe and orderly fashion, either didn’t notice it or ignored it.

Bird founder Travis VanderZanden, who has spent years with tech and transportation companies as both the first COO of Lyft and as VP of driver growth for Uber, has taken the dockless biking model and, in the parlance of tech, “removed friction.”

Rides are quick and easy, with little to no physical effort involved. They’re relatively cheap, at $1 per ride, plus 15 cents per minute, and while they may not be fast enough or convenient enough for a daily commute (they max out at 15 miles per hour), the ubiquity and ease of use make it incredibly easy to use for a quick errand or trip.

The prices compares favorably to single rides on existing bike-share systems, such as Breeze Bikes ($3.50 for 30 minutes) or Metro Bikes ($3.50 for each trip of 30 minutes or under and then $3.50 per additional 30 minutes), though both bike systems have membership plans that make the per-ride cost more affordable.

Perhaps the most interesting innovation may be how they’re powered every night. In addition to employing teams to pick up and charge the scooters every night (which have a max 15-mile range), users can sign up to charge them at home, and get paid in cash and credit ($5 per scooter). Bird has created a quick, easy to administer, decentralized, electric transit option. Having used the scooters on-and-off for the last month, I would say it’s easy to find one when you need it.

The company has also been aggressive when it comes to expansion. The Washington Post revealed that VanderZanden initially contacted Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer via LinkedIn after putting Bird’s on the road.

The mayor, and different members of the Santa Monica government, have complained about Birds, including rider citations and eight related accidents that required responses from the fire department. One woman seriously injured her head earlier this year, according to Farrell, and the city is concerned about people seeing them as toys as opposed to vehicles that share the road with cars.

Bird claims to be a better partner than other tech companies in the transit space. In addition to paying fines, in response to the safety concerns raised by the city, the app now requires users to scan their driver’s licenses (to verify that they are 18 or older). The sign-up and log-in processes repeatedly tell users to wear helmets and to leave the scooters in convenient places that don’t block pedestrians. Users can also request a helmet, which Bird will mail to them for free (they’ve sent out thousands, says Reese).

The company and the city plan to discuss “the best regulatory regime going forward,” says Reese. “We feel we were legally licensed from the beginning, and oftentimes technology moves faster than government, and when new things are introduced, there isn’t an appropriate regulatory regime. We’re glad to be a partner with the city to figure it out.”

“Santa Monica would like nothing more than to have this type of transportation integrated into its other options,” Farrell says. “A robust transportation infrastructure is better for everyone.”

Reese wouldn’t comment on any new expansion plans for the company. But with the $15 million recently raised from venture capital firms such as Craft Ventures, Tusk Ventures, Valor, Lead Edge Capital, and Goldcrest Capital, it’s quickly becoming a leader in a space poised to crowd streets and sidewalks across the country. Both Spin and LimeBike, two dockless bike startups, have announced plans to add the service.

Reese says the company plans to expand safely: “One rider without a helmet is one rider too many.” And, anyways, he says, the real danger is the cars on the road.

Huge Chinatown development with no affordable housing skewered by neighbors

Posted · Add Comment

Lack of affordable housing, transit connectivity, and community outreach were sticking points for locals

Developers were hit with waves of criticism Monday night about a 920-unit apartment complex they plan to build between Broadway and Los Angeles State Historic Park in Chinatown.

Critics say the proposed project, called Elysian Parks Lofts, effectively puts a wall between the state park and a large swath of the surrounding community, which fought to create the park in the first place. One resident called it “The Ugly Wall of Chinatown.”

At the meeting, hosted by the Historic Cultural Neighborhood Council’s urban design and land use committee, members of at least two advocacy groups for the state park criticized the project, saying it will block views from the park to the surrounding hillsides and cut the community off from the park.

The multi-building complex would rise on a slim property that runs from the northern side of the park to its western point, near the Spring Street entrance to the park. The Lofts would bring 920 apartments units in six buildings, ranging from seven to 14 stories tall, a two-story resident amenity center, and 1 acre of public green space to the site.

The developers, Lincoln Property Company and S & R Partners, which is run by the Riboli family that founded the San Antonio Winery 101 years ago, have not committed to providing a set amount of affordable units in the project. That was a major pressure point for many speakers, as Chinatown and Solano Canyon are overwhelmingly low-income.

Historic Cultural Neighborhood Council executive officer and developer Yuval Bar-Zemer said it was clear to him that the Lofts would not be within financial reach of the community. (Bar-Zemer is not involved in the development of this project.) Elysian Park Lofts is merely “capitalizing on the large investment the state made on the park,” he said.

 Via Department of City Planning
The project’s “South Parcel” would be closest to Chinatown; it would abut the Capitol Milling Company building (another S &R Partners project). The “North Parcel” would be in Solano Canyon, near the Broadway Bridge over the LA River.

Robert Kane of Lincoln Property Company said at the meeting that the exact amount of affordable units was still being decided.

Several attendees also railed against against the project’s lack of transit connectivity. This stretch of Broadway, many noted, is a vital corridor for people in the neighborhood seeking to head Downtown or to Northeast LA by bus. Additionally, the project’s “South Parcel” segment is a stone’s throw away from the Gold Line’s Chinatown station.

In spite of the Lofts’s proximity to two forms of public transportation, not only do project renderings not show enhanced bus stops (or any bus stops at all), but the 920-unit project includes nearly 1,800 parking spaces, noted Sissy Nga Trinh of the Southeast Asian Community Alliance.

To build the project, Lincoln and S & R Partners need approval from the city to build taller than what code allows including a height district change, a change to the site’s zoning, and a general plan amendment.

“You’re asking for massive changes,” but you’re not giving anything back to the community, said land use committee chair Laura Velkei.

Plans for Elysian Park Lofts are in the environmental impact report process now. The public has until February 28 to submit comments on the plans as part of that process.

In a statement to Curbed, Lincoln Property’s Robert Kane says that the developers “highly value” the comments voiced at the meeting, and that they “are committed to a thorough and engaging process … in the months ahead.”

The Palm Springs midcentury feature you should pay more attention to

Posted · Add Comment

Nowhere are the blocks more appreciated than Palm Springs

Palm Springs’s midcentury modern flair—its swooping butterfly roofs and endless walls of glass—is now nationally known. But the city is a haven for another midcentury feature that doesn’t get the widespread attention it deserves: the concrete screen block.

Prevalent in front yards across Palm Springs, concrete screen blocks have a handful of aliases—breeze blocks, ornamental blocks—that hint at their functional but decorative use as permeable fences and walls that filter sun and wind and offer privacy at homes, offices, and churches. Stacked together, the blocks form striking larger, geometric patterns, sometimes looking like overlapping circles, waves, or honeycomb.

Advances in technology, like air conditioning and building materials such as double-paned glass, have made it easy and affordable to keep homes cool without these stylized screens. But Palm Springs residents still have an affinity for them.

“In Palm Springs, there’s a high architectural IQ, and these blocks are much loved locally,” says Ron Marshall, co-author of Concrete Screen Block: The Power of Pattern, a new book on breeze blocks that will be released Friday to coincide with Modernism Week.

 National Concrete Masonry Association

“That kind of appreciation is driven by the concentration and density of the blocks [here],” he says.

Marshall and his co-author and wife, Barbara Marshall, estimate that Palm Springs is home to 40 different types of of concrete screen block patterns.

“For a city of 40,000, there’s an amazing concentration and diversity of screen block here,” he says.

The Marshalls, retired security specialists who now serve on the board of the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation, spent about a decade researching the book, driving across the country hunting down screen blocks on a mission to spread the screen block love beyond the borders of Palm Springs.

It “gave us an opportunity to indulge in something we were passionate about,” Ron says.

They found there’s not much reverence for them outside of Palm Springs, and they want them to be better understood, appreciated, and, when possible, protected.

Patterned or not, sun-reducing screens have been used in Indian, Arabic, and Japanese architecture for centuries. Architect Edward Durrell Stone drew attention to the building material when he incorporated them into his 1959 design for the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India.

They rose to prominence in the Sun Belt in the late 1950s, coinciding with a surge in migration to the Southwest and the South. At a time when large glass windows were in fashion, the blocks were practical.

Entire tracts of homes built in that time incorporated patterned concrete blocks. During the 1950s and ’60s, Alexander Construction Company used screen blocks on many of its 1,200-plus moderately priced, architect-designed modernist homes, most of them designed by William Krisel.

Krisel—who referred to screen blocks as “functional ornamentation”—used the element throughout his Sandpiper condominiums in neighboring Palm Desert. Still standing today, the complex features “an extraordinary (and well-preserved) assortment of screen block patterns,” according to The Power of Pattern.

 John Lewis Marshall
 John Lewis Marshall
 Al Troub

In Palm Springs, they took hold in part because modern houses boasted walls of glass and high ceilings, making them harder to keep cool, a problem in the hot and dry city.

Architect William F. Cody, often credited with creating some of the Palm Springs area’s most prominent modernist buildings, used an array of screen blocks liberally in his 1960 Racquet Club Cottages West (now known as “Raquet Club Garden Villas”).

 John Lewis Marshall

The blocks were durable, versatile, and inexpensive to produce.

“A monumental wall of period screen block, seamlessly wedded to a building and functioning as a dramatic and beautiful brise-soleil, should be valued and understood to be representative of an innovative period in American modernist architecture,” the Marshalls write in their book.

But their popularity waned in the late 1960s and ’70s. Power of Pattern attributes the drop-off to a number of factors, including the growing reputation of concrete blocks as a material that was used to hide unattractive or sub-par architecture.

Some stunning examples of screen block, like Edward Durell Stone’s Stuart building, have been maintained, while others, like G. Thomas Harmon’s six dormitories for the University of South Carolina, have been lost forever, according to The Power of Pattern.

“It’s certainly not our intent or opinion that every single screen block be preserved,” says Barbara Marshall. “But our hope is that the book will educate the public so that informed decisions can be made.”

The Power of Pattern can be purchased from the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation’s website starting February 16.

The most anticipated transit projects opening in time for the 2028 LA Olympics

Posted · Add Comment

From the subway extension to the Westside to a people mover at LAX

When Los Angeles hosts the 2028 Olympic games, visitors from around the world will find that they can ride the train to LAX, hop aboard the subway to Urban Light, and cruise straight from Santa Monica to East Los Angeles via light rail.

Flush with cash from Measure M, the voter-approved half-cent sales tax, Metro will expand the transit network so much during the next decade that Los Angeles may very well boast the nation’s second most extensive rail system—second only to New York.

“The Olympics didn’t create our transportation revolution, but the revolution is readying us for a successful Olympics,” Metro spokeswoman Kim Upton tells Curbed.

Dozens of other infrastructure improvements are also in the works, all in a quest to give Angelenos and tourists more public transit options so they don’t have to take the freeway.

Below, we highlight the biggest public transportation projects anticipated to open in the next 11 years. The Olympics are a big deal not just for LA but for the entire host country, and Upton says it’s possible that more state or federal funding will trickle down to speed up construction on even more projects than those listed here. Scroll on:

The Westside subway extension

By 2028, Metro plans to operate rapid, heavy-rail service beneath most of Wilshire Boulevard, extending the subway nine-miles from its current terminus at Western Avenue, all the way to the VA hospital, west of the 405 freeway. Originally mapped out in the 1980s, construction for Westside Subway was snarled by litigation and legislation. Once complete, it promises a 25-minute ride between Downtown LA and Westwood.

Metro plans to open the subway in two phases. The first, which will add subway stops to the intersections of Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea, Fairfax and La Cienega, is under construction now. Before Measure M passed, Metro anticipated this section would open by 2023. But, the extra cash means this date will likely be much sooner. Under the Measure M expenditure plan, Metro anticipates the second portion of tracks should be operational by 2027 at the latest, adding subway stations to Wilshire/Rodeo (drive in Beverly Hills), Century City, Westwood, and the VA Hospital.

The Crenshaw Line

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGi7koC4nCo?rel=0&]

Connecting the Expo Line to the Green Line, the 8.5-mile Crenshaw Line will add light rail service south from the Expo/Crenshaw Station through Leimert Park, Crenshaw, Inglewood, and portions of unincorporated (but densely populated) Los Angeles County. Construction on the the Crenshaw Line is blistering along, and Metro anticipates a fall 2019 opening date.

Though not at first, the Crenshaw Line will eventually be the vehicle by which Angelenos will connect to LAX by train. By 2024, Metro will have added a station near 96th Street/Aviation Boulevard that will connect to the LAX Automated People Mover, allowing easy, car-free transportation to and from our beloved and bemoaned airport.

The LAX automated people mover

LAMP People MoverConnecting LAX

With an anticipated 2023 opening date, the LAX Automated People Mover will mean Angelenos will finally be able to take the train to the airport. Once open, the people mover will serve a station on the Crenshaw and Green Lines, connecting them to the broader Metro rail network.

“It’s an important program for people Angelenos and people visiting L.A. alike, far beyond just the Olympics,” said Mark Waier, the director of communications for Los Angeles World Airports. “It will relieve congestion in and around the airport. And, we are doing it with a timeline that will deliver it well before the Olympics in 2028.”

That said, the Metro rail connection is just one part of a broad push by Los Angeles World Airports to de-stress the experience of getting in and out of LAX. Six stations will adorn the APM once complete. Three of these stations will serve LAX’s various terminals inside the airport itself. The other three stations will serve a pair of “Intermodal Transportation Facilities,” and a consolidated rental car center. The two ITFs will serve to reduce the amount of congestion inside the airport itself, providing more accessible spots for drop-off, and bus and rail connections. The consolidated rental car center will draw all the various rental-car companies, currently scattered throughout Westchester, under one roof.

The Downtown Regional Connector

 Courtesy Metro

Metro calls the Downtown Regional Connector the “missing link” in its rail system. Once complete in 2021, the Regional Connector will connect the Gold Line directly to the Blue and Expo Lines, and add three shiny new train stations to Downtown LA. Right now, train riders traveling from, say, USC to Pasadena or East Los Angeles, have to deal with a clunky double transfer (Expo to Red to Gold) to get to their destination. The regional connector will eliminate at least one of these transfers by consolidating the current three light-rail lines into just two. One of these will run on an east-west axis, from Santa Monica to East Los Angeles. The other will run on a north-south axis, connecting Long Beach to Azusa.

The trains will run together for five stations through Downtown LA, three of which will be new. Joining the the Pico and Seventh Street/Metro Center stations will be the Little Tokyo/Arts District station at First Street and Central, a station at Second Street and Broadway, and a Bunker Hill station at Second Street and Hope.

Bus Rapid Transit on Vermont

By 2028, Metro hopes to have installed a Bus Rapid Transit line on Vermont Avenue, from Hollywood Boulevard and 120th Street, and right by the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Bus Rapid Transit consists of buses that operate like trains. They have their own dedicated lanes that cars can’t enter or block, their own stations where people pay fares before boarding, and their own segregated signals. The level of service is comparable to light rail, but without the high cost to build.

How this will play out is a little bit more ambiguous. Where the other aforementioned projects have all been thoroughly planned, development of this project is a bit more present tense. It’s worth mentioning, too, that Metro intends to build a similar BRT line connecting the North Hollywood Red Line Station to the Del Mar Gold Line station, in Pasadena. This line, functionally serving as an extension of the Valley’s Orange Line, would offer transit connection to Burbank and Glendale, along its way to Pasadena.

Van Nuys Boulevard Transportation Corridor

Speaking of the Valley, the Measure M expenditure plan targets the opening of a major transportation project along Van Nuys Boulevard sometime between 2027 and 2029. While this project is also in a nascent planning stage, Metro wants to build either a high-capacity bus, tram or light-rail system along Van Nuys Boulevard, from the city of San Fernando to Sherman Oaks.

This corridor would also connect to the Sepulveda Pass transportation project, an ambitious plan to link eventually the Valley to the Westwood subway station, and eventually to LAX. Metro anticipates the first phase of the Sepulveda Pass project to complete sometime between 2026 and 2028, though it’s important to note that this will likely take the form of a express bus on the 405, at least initially. Phase two of the project, ostensibly a heavy rail train like the Red and Purple lines, is slated for completion in the mid 2030s.

Other goodies

Aside from the big Metro construction projects will come a slew of other infrastructure improvements crucial to keeping Los Angeles moving. Eleven years from now, Los Angeles’s bike share network will have grown to blanket great swaths of the city, in neighborhoods like North Hollywood, Koreatown, and across the Westside. Bike lanes, and other pedestrian improvements a part of the city’s Vision Zero (traffic deaths) campaign, will likewise come along.

Metro is also hard at work on improving its enormous network of buses. While this is also more ambiguous at this point, Metro has articulated a goal to vastly improve bus connectivity and reliability over the next decade, not to mention rolling out an all-electric fleet. Though Metro rail gets lots of good press, it’s critical to remember that Metro’s bus fleet carries more than twice as many passengers as Metro Rail.

LA wants Hollywood to kick its car habit

Posted · Add Comment

The Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council might put up a fight against the city’s plans for bus and bike lanes

Dense and transit-rich, Hollywood is one of the easiest neighborhoods in Los Angeles to traverse without a car. City planners want to capitalize on that by boosting transportation options in the neighborhood, to the alarm of some residents.

“It’s kind of out of control. We are a car city, and you can’t make changes like that without total gridlock,” says Anastasia Mann, the president of the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council. “We have total gridlock right now, so where do we go with this? It’s a shot in the dark. The city is going to come to a complete stop.”

Mann wants the neighborhood council to send a letter to the Los Angeles Department of City Planning challenging several aspects of its draft community plan for Hollywood. The plan calls for studying whether to put dedicated lanes for bikes and buses on most thoroughfares in the neighborhood.

That means that roads such as Los Feliz Boulevard, Santa Monica Boulevard, La Brea Avenue, and Western Avenue could, one day, get their own dedicated bus lanes. Also outlined in the draft plan is an idea to study putting in fully protected bike lanes on Hollywood Boulevard, Vine Street, Virgil Avenue, and Melrose Avenue, as well as regular bike lanes on several other Hollywood streets.

Mann says she fears adding bus lanes and bike lanes will remove car lanes, and only serve to make traffic worse.

A letter she drafted says the goal of encouraging more people to walk, bike, and use public transit is “admirable.” But the letter encourages the city “not be unrealistic about the number of people who still rely on vehicles to move about the Hollywood area.”

“The plan must acknowledge that Hollywood is attached to the Hills and people in Hollywood will always require cars,” it says.

The letter hasn’t been sent yet, but it’s creating tension with activists for safe streets and improved bicycle infrastructure.

The neighborhood council is also proposing an addendum that dismisses several potential bike-lanes in Hollywood as “infeasible;” it suggests they should removed from the community plan update without any formal analysis.

“What are they afraid we might learn from a feasibility study?” says Ben Creed, member of the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition who commutes by bicycle daily from East Hollywood to West Hollywood via Sunset Boulevard.

“The evidence that bike infrastructure makes streets safer for everyone is endless. So it’s hard to take seriously the [council’s] overtures to safe streets and traffic decongestion when they seem so opposed to simply allowing people who want to ride a bike safely to do so if it costs cars even a sliver of road space.”

A draft document from the City of Los Angeles that maps out corridors to be studied for potential bike infrastructure in the future.

“Los Angeles has to add that transit infrastructure, and Hollywood is the most logical place to start, because it is one of the most dense and congested areas of the entire metropolitan region,” says Alexander Totz, a Hollywood resident who serves as a Neighborhood Bicycle Ambassador for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

A subway line and multiple bus routes run through Hollywood already, but at least 290,000 cars travel through the neighborhood daily, making for a hellish and sometimes dangerous commute.

A draft document from the City of Los Angeles that maps out corridors to be studied for potential bus infrastructure improvements in the future.

Taking street space away from from private vehicles and dedicating it instead to public transit and people who walk and bike is consistent with what Los Angeles leaders have outlined for the entire city in Mobility Plan 2035.

City planners are trying to entice more people out of their cars with better bike and pedestrian infrastructure and faster bus service. But parts of that plan have been meet with resistance all across LA.

“Many Angelenos are essentially locked in a mindset that they are their cars and that their cars are Los Angeles,” says Totz. “I believe that this mentality is changing in places that are not so far away from Hollywood, but they require leadership.”

The Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council will consider sending the letter on February 21.

Architect of New York’s famous High Line will help design San Pedro Public Market

Posted · Add Comment

The $150-million project will totally overhaul the waterfront site

The designer of New York’s High Line linear park has signed on to the upcoming San Pedro Public Market project.

Curbed has learned that High Line designer James Corner Field Operations will be heading up landscape design and master planning for the entire Public Market project.

Rapt Studio, a California-based studio known for building stylish brick-and-mortar offices for internet companies, will oversee the architecture and design for the project.

Developers The Ratkovich Company and Jerico Development are set to reveal a new timeline and new renderings for their $150-million waterfront redevelopment at a public meeting next month, according to the Daily Breeze.

We have assembled an exceptional team,” Alan Johnson, CEO of Jerico Development, said in a statement.

The Public Market project will bring large, warehouse-style building housing restaurants, retail, and markets to the site of the Ports O’Call Village. A waterfront promenade, open-air event space, year-round event programming, and possibly even a new route for a few refurbished Red Car trolleys are also planned.

“With the delivery of San Pedro Public Market, the San Pedro community is finally going to get the extraordinary waterfront this historic port deserves,” Wayne Ratkovich, CEO and president of The Ratkovich Company said.

The Public Market project will require the demolition of the Ports O’Call Village, a kitschy collection of shops and eateries that has been boarded up for at least a month. Many retailers sought to slow or halt the evictions that preceded the shuttering of their shops, but that doesn’t seem to have stalled forward movement on the site.

The San Pedro Public Market site will be built out in phases, with completion on the first phase slated for 2020.

High Line’s landscape architect will help design San Pedro Public Market

Posted · Add Comment

The $150-million project will totally overhaul the waterfront site

The designer of New York’s High Line linear park has signed on to the upcoming San Pedro Public Market project.

Curbed has learned that High Line designer James Corner Field Operations will be heading up landscape design and master planning for the entire Public Market project.

Rapt Studio, a California-based studio known for building stylish brick-and-mortar offices for internet companies, will oversee the architecture and design for the project.

Developers The Ratkovich Company and Jerico Development are set to reveal a new timeline and new renderings for their $150-million waterfront redevelopment at a public meeting next month, according to the Daily Breeze.

We have assembled an exceptional team,” Alan Johnson, CEO of Jerico Development, said in a statement.

The Public Market project will bring large, warehouse-style building housing restaurants, retail, and markets to the site of the Ports O’Call Village. A waterfront promenade, open-air event space, year-round event programming, and possibly even a new route for a few refurbished Red Car trolleys are also planned.

“With the delivery of San Pedro Public Market, the San Pedro community is finally going to get the extraordinary waterfront this historic port deserves,” Wayne Ratkovich, CEO and president of The Ratkovich Company said.

The Public Market project will require the demolition of the Ports O’Call Village, a kitschy collection of shops and eateries that has been boarded up for at least a month. Many retailers sought to slow or halt the evictions that preceded the shuttering of their shops, but that doesn’t seem to have stalled forward movement on the site.

The San Pedro Public Market site will be built out in phases, with completion on the first phase slated for 2020.

Commissioners sign off on changes to new Hollywood hotel to allow public rooftop

Posted · Add Comment

The Godfrey Hotel is going up at Cahuenga and De Longpre

Construction is already underway on a new hotel at Cahuenga Boulevard and De Longpre Avenue in the heart of Hollywood, but city planning commissioners on Thursday approved changes to allow a rooftop bar—with public access.

The eight-story Godfrey Hotel is going up at 1400 North Cahuenga Boulevard, south of Sunset Boulevard, and about a half-mile from Mama Shelter and Dream Hollywood, both of which have public rooftop bars, too.

“We’ve done a dozen of these in Hollywood,” said commissioner Caroline Cho. “I think it’s fine.”

Dana Sayles, a real estate consultant working with the developers, told the commission that The Grodfrey “will sit amongst other iconic hospitality brands all helping to revitalize the economy of Hollywood.”

Plans for a hotel at that location were already approved by the city in June 2016. The site and development rights were sold to a new owner, Oxford Capital Group, LLC, a couple of months later.

After purchasing the project, Oxford tweaked the plans, increasing the number of hotel rooms from 175 to 220, eliminating space for shops, shrinking the size of a ground-floor restaurant, and adding a bar and lounge to the rooftop that would be open to the public.

Those changes require a zone variance and conditional use permit. That permit says the public portion of the rooftop will have to close at midnight daily.

The planning commission’s approval was granted to the dismay of a couple of residents, who told the commission that Hollywood doesn’t need any more bars.

“Dear god, how much more alcohol are you going to cram into projects coming into Hollywood?” said resident Susan Hunter. “I know that’s hard to believe, but there are actually residents who care about this community, who are sick and tired of being bullied around by projects coming in that are more worried about guest experience than neighbor experience.”

1920s Highland Park bungalow with urban farm potential asks $950K

Posted · Add Comment

The half-acre property offers room to expand

If you’ve got back-to-the-land inclinations but city obligations, this listing may be of interest.

Located in the hills of northern Highland Park, the property includes two parcels of land totaling over half an acre.

On one parcel is a bungalow built in 1922. Measuring 1,316 square feet, it features two bedrooms, two baths, hardwood floors, a stone fireplace, stained-glass cabinets, a vintage stove, and a walk-in cedar closet.

Out of doors is a certified wildlife habitat, populated with various cacti, fruit and pepper trees, plus a rustic stone fireplace and fountain.

Per the listing, the second lot is buildable, allowing for its future owner to expand or erect a separate residence.

Asking price is $950,000, and an open house is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.