Warner Brothers pitches LA on an aerial tram to the Hollywood Sign

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A rendering of the proposed tramway.

It’s the most fleshed out gondola proposal yet

One of entertainment industry’s largest and most recognizable movie studios wants to get into the transportation business.

Warner Brothers announced plans Tuesday for an aerial tram that would ferry visitors to and from the Hollywood Sign. The company would pay for the tram’s construction and would operate it from a parking lot just south of its Burbank backlot.

In a letter sent Monday to Los Angeles parks and legislative officials, the studio offers the tram as a potential solution to issues of access to the landmark.

In 2017, the city closed a popular Beachwood Canyon access point to the Hollyridge Trail, which provides some of the best views of the sign. Soon after, Councilmember David Ryu commissioned a study examining ways to alleviate traffic in neighborhoods around the sign while ensuring it remains accessible to residents and visitors.

The study included several outside-the-box recommendations, including an aerial tram or gondola and even a replica sign that would be easier for hikers to get to.

In December, Variety reported that media mogul Barry Diller, along with his wife, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, and her son, Alexander von Furstenberg, were considering their own plans for a tram that would take riders to and from the sign.

Now, the city has a more concrete proposal for such a system.

The Warner Brothers tram would take riders up the back of Mount Lee to an education center about the sign that the company also plans to build. Warner Brothers would charge visitors to ride the ferry and would split the revenue with the city.

The company would also pay for a new transit hub on the north side of Griffith Park from which passengers could access buses, shuttles, and the tram itself.

If city officials should pursue the proposal further, it would still need to go through an extensive environmental review process—and any related legal challenges.

Any privately funded development within Griffith Park is bound to draw plenty of public scrutiny, but Warner Brothers argues its solution is one that makes sense for the city and visitors alike.

In a statement, the company says its tram proposal would have the “least impact on the surrounding environment” and would allow easy access to the park “at no cost to the taxpayer.”

Metro bike share isn’t working in Pasadena—and the city wants out

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Staffers say the city only has money to keep the bike service running until the end of the month.

The city might try dockless bikes instead

Only a year after Metro’s bike share initiative launched in Pasadena, the city is looking to put a halt to the program—as soon as the end of the month.

In a report prepared for the city’s Municipal Services Committee, transportation staffers indicate that the city’s bike share budget will only be enough to keep the service up-and-running through the end of July.

The city agreed to a two-year contract with Metro in 2016 that expires at the end of October. But Pasadena may back out of the deal early, citing unforseen costs and lower-than-expected ridership.

The bike share system attracted more than 10,000 users in each of its first two months, before ridership plummeted to less than 4,000 in December. Since then, the numbers have been slowly improving, but not to levels needed to cover the city’s maintenance and operation expenses.

Even with fare revenue factored in, the city spends nearly $100,000 per month to keep bikes in good working condition, according to the report.

Previous reports also highlighted the low ridership numbers and suggested the city would exit the bike share program once its contract with Metro expires.

But now, Pasadena’s transportation department plans to let Metro know Wednesday that the city will leave the program early.

That could open the door for privately funded bike sharing services to set up shop in Pasadena. The city’s transportation department is also considering new regulations on dockless vehicles, which are popping up all over Los Angeles and the country.

Those rules would need to be fleshed out in coming months, but transportation staffers suggest that they would be similar to those established recently in Santa Monica and those now being considered by the city of Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, Metro continues to expand its bike share system into new areas, with lower fares to entice more riders. By next year, the agency expects to install nearly 80 new stations with around 700 rentable bikes.

Spotify will open regional headquarters in the Arts District

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At Mateo’s office and retail space is now 85 percent leased.

The streaming service is moving into At Mateo

Music streaming service Spotify will open a new regional headquarters in Los Angeles’s Arts District.

Representatives of the recently opened At Mateo office and retail complex announced Monday that the Swedish tech company had signed on to lease approximately 110,000 square feet of office space at the site.

The arrival of Spotify marks another big step in the Arts District’s transformation from a trendy area popular with artists and gallery owners to a major corporate hub and a live-work destination for highly paid creative types.

Warner Music Group announced plans to relocate to the neighborhood from Burbank in 2016, and both food-replacement startup Soylent and the USC Roski School of Art and Design are moving into At Mateo along with Spotify.

Spotify will occupy well over half of the complex, which was originally planned as an open-air shopping center before owners began focusing on office space midway through development. Rumors have been swirling since the beginning of the year that the tech company was considering a lease at the site.

At Mateo representatives say the complex, which quietly opened earlier this year, is now 85 percent leased.

Study: LA buildings will shake more in earthquakes than previously predicted

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In this Jan. 17, 1994 file photo, a Los Angeles police officer stands in front of the Northridge Meadows Apartment building, after the upper floors of the structure collapsed onto the open garages and first story, killing 16 people.

Developers and builders will have to reassess the safety of “tall buildings”

There’s a shift happening in earthquake science, and it’s not just in the tectonic plates. Results of a new five-year study reveal that the way experts model potential earthquakes is changing for good.

Experts behind the CyberShake project say they have identified a far more accurate and localized method of simulating earthquakes’ effects at specific locations. Based on the new models, LA is expected to see 10 to 50 percent more shaking across all magnitudes of earthquakes than previous models suggested.

The results have major implications for LA’s skyscrapers—and the future of building safety.

“We can’t predict earthquakes,” says Tom Jordan, a professor of geological sciences at USC and lead author of CyberShake. “But what we’re doing is a much better job of predicting what will happen when they occur.”

In the wake of CyberShake’s findings, developers and builders will have to reassess the safety of “tall buildings”—what experts call buildings of 20 stories or more. They’ll also have to figure out how to build stronger structures in the future, according to John Vidale, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center, which ran the study.

In the past, LA city had refused calls from experts to make a comprehensive list of earthquake-prone buildings. But in the past few years, the city has amped up efforts to supply engineers with the data they’ll need to secure buildings against the ever-impending “big one.”

In 2014, they identified approximately 14,000 buildings, including apartments buildings, that are at risk of collapsing in a major earthquake. Scientists at UCLA have also launched a program to expand earthquake-resistant design for individual skyscrapers and earthquake-resilient design for entire communities.

And city law now requires tall buildings to be outfitted with earthquake data-gathering instruments.

In the decades before CyberShake, scientists relied on retroactive models called Ground Motion Prediction Equations, or GMPEs. These equations are pieced together using historical records of quakes from around the world.

CyberShake, which was launched in response to data showing that the Los Angeles Basin was moving differently than previous calculations predicted, revealed that past methods resulted, not only in very broad estimates, but also in largely inaccurate ones. Instead, it relies on local conditions and existing geology.

“We’re making a shift from thinking about how dangerous the quakes are by looking at past records, to calculating what the next ones will look like based on geology,” says Vidale.

“Instead of going on the track record, we’re looking at the physics of where we are and what’s coming next,” he says.

Historically, GMPEs were used as the basis for building code design. But now, with CyberShake’s technology, its authors say engineers can couple predictive seismograms with structural simulations to better design buildings. That’s especially important civic facilities such as hospitals, dams, and power plants.

It is also possible that, using CyberShake’s technology, engineers will be able to locate a building plan tailored for seismic hazards specific to a proposed site.

The new models also reveal that some geographical regions are more dangerous than previously thought. Those in the large basins, like LA and Mexico City are particularly at risk, because the ground is soft and deep, so much so that experts often equate the shake to the jiggling of a bowl of Jell-O.

“In some areas of Los Angeles County like Century City, Culver City, Long Beach or Santa Monica, the new projections nearly double the previous estimates for the type of ground shaking that is most threatening to a tall building,” according to the New York Times.

But experts are quick to remind us that estimates are not guarantees.

“It doesn’t mean that the ground motions will go super high at all the locations,” co-author and developer of CyberShake Christine Goulet tells Curbed. “It may increase the risk, effectively, but we don’t know by which amount.”

That might mean there will be more windowless skyscrapers in LA’s future. The strength of a building is determined by factors like how much steel is used, and how many open spaces and windows it has. Buildings with open spaces like atriums and open causeways are much weaker in the event of an earthquake.

Moving forward, engineers and city officials will have to grapple with how to implement these new predictions into safer building codes. But because the building codes change every six years, there are many buildings in LA right now that are technically up to code, but structurally unsound, according to Goulet. Landlords and developers will have to decide whether to reinforce those buildings that were deemed earthquake-safe as far back as the 1930s.

“People have to realize that codes evolve over time,” Goulet cautioned. “As a society, we’ll have to make choices.” Choices, Goulet says, about what era code should be used as the safety standard.

Seattle is one of the first cities to have made that choice.It has announced that it will start using CyberShake’s new maps in determining building codes starting December 1.

For now, in LA, engineers and scientists like Goulet are waiting to hear when the new models will be taken into account.

“We have to incorporate it,” Jim Malley, a structural engineer and co-organizer of the conference told the New York Times. “We haven’t settled on how.”

Heat wave breaks records across LA; mercury soars to 117 degrees in Van Nuys

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High surf is also expected over the weekend.

Fire danger is high

A searing early summer heat wave broke Los Angeles-area records Friday.

In Burbank and Van Nuys—where temperatures reached 114 and 117 degrees, respectively—it was the hottest day in recorded history for each location.

The mercury started climbing early. By 10:15 a.m., the National Weather Service had recorded a temperature of 95 degrees in Downtown LA, eclipsing the highest July 6 temperature recorded in the neighborhood. Eventually, thermometers Downtown registered a high of 106 degrees.

The hottest temperature ever recorded Downtown this early in the year was 112 in June 1990.

Temperatures reached triple digits across much of LA, and more hot weather is expected Saturday—with little relief at night. Lows are expected to hover in the 70s and even upper 80s in the valley and mountain areas.

National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Wofford says the intensity of the weekend heat will be “somewhat unprecedented.”

In Long Beach, temperatures hit 108 degrees on Friday, breaking a July record set in 1985.

It wasn’t the only July record to fall. In Westwood, temperatures reached 106—3 degrees higher than the monthly record set in 1959.

Humidity is low, and with that dry heat comes increased risk of fire. “Gusty winds” forecasted over the weekend will further increase the danger, and Weather Service meteorologists expect fire weather conditions may reach a critical level Friday and Saturday.

The heat will probably bring even bigger crowds to the beach than on a typical Fourth of July weekend, so expect traffic—and be very careful if swimming. Strong rip tides are also in the weekend forecast.

“Anyone who runs away from dangers of the heat to the beaches will face the dangers of the sea,” says the Weather Service forecast.

Temperatures will only be slightly lower Saturday, with projected highs of 98 degrees in Downtown LA, 105 degrees in Burbank, and 91 degrees in Santa Monica.

Sunday will be “noticeably cooler,” according to the Weather Service—though temperatures will continue to hover in the 90s for much of the coming week. Overnight temperatures are also expected to be warm Friday, only dropping into the 80s in the most landlocked areas.

“Stay hydrated,” Wofford says.

If you need a place to get out of the sun, Los Angeles County has put together an extensive list of cooling centers where residents can benefit from free air conditioning during the hottest parts of the day.

Longtime LA Times headquarters nominated for landmark status

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Part of the Times Mirror Square complex could be demolished to make way for a new residential project.

An addition by architect William Pereira is under threat

Canadian developer Onni Group plans to demolish part of the Times Mirror Square complex in Downtown LA in order to build a pair of tall residential towers, but a group of preservationists want to landmark the office buildings before that can happen.

Last week, the group nominated the complex for Historic-Cultural Monument status. If Los Angeles’s Cultural Heritage Commission agrees to consider the application, the property can’t be razed as long as the review is ongoing.

The complex has long been home to the Los Angeles Times, but the paper is moving to a new home in El Segundo. Richard Schave of Esotouric, who is leading the effort to preserve the complex, says the offices have an important place in LA history.

“They tell the story of the Times, which is the story of Los Angeles,” he says.

The earliest of the buildings, a 1935 Art Deco structure designed by Hoover Dam architect Gordon Kaufman, was commissioned by Times publisher Harry Chandler, who famously used the paper to promote his own business interests, including real estate in the San Fernando Valley.

A 1948 Late Moderne-style addition designed by Roland Crawford was added by Norman Chandler to hold offices for the Los Angeles Mirror, an afternoon paper that folded less than 15 years later.

But by 1973, those offices and more were needed to support the Times, which was growing into a nationally recognized paper. Noted architect William Pereira designed a sprawling addition in the corporate modern style, with dark glass and wide pillars of granite.

That’s the portion of the complex that Onni plans to demolish, along with a parking lot, in order to make room for two glassy high-rises that would bring more than 1,110 units of housing to the area.

Schave says he’s not necessarily opposed to the development, but wants the developer to factor the historic value of the Pereira addition into plans for the site.

“I’m not here to tell Onni Group what to do with their project,” Schave says. “I just want to make sure this will be an important factor in the [environmental review] they submit to the city of Los Angeles.”

Though Pereira is today considered one of Southern California’s most influential modern architects, his work on Times Mirror Square is not his most popular project. When we launched a 2007 contest to determine LA’s ugliest building, the Pereira addition helped the complex earn the second-place spot.

But Schave and architect Alan Hess, who assisted with the landmark application, argue that Pereira’s fortress-like contribution to the paper’s headquarters is misunderstood.

“There’s a cycle, where a style is not appreciated, considered ugly, and many examples are torn down,” says Hess. “Then, inevitably, people say, `Those were great why didn’t we save them?`”

Like other preservationists, Hess is concerned about Pereira’s legacy in Los Angeles. Several of the architect’s most significant projects are under threat, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Water District headquarters, and the recently-landmarked CBS Television City campus.

Hess says the 1973 Times Mirror Square addition is emblematic of how Pereira “redefined modernism” when the familiar aesthetic of midcentury architecture was “getting stale.” He says Pereira set the building back from the street and kept its profile low so as not to upstage the Kaufman-designed building next door.

Pereira’s original concept for the building also incorporated a ground-level courtyard meant to create the kind of pedestrian-oriented public space now valued by urban planners and architects.

But the Pereira structure isn’t all that preservationists are concerned about. Schave says he’s especially worried about the ornate lobby of the original 1935 structure, which still sports a spinning aluminum globe, bronze bas relief sculptures, and murals by artist Hugo Ballin.

Built as a monument to the Los Angeles Times and its place in a growing city, the lobby may quickly become an incongruous feature of the building now that the paper is moving out. Schave says he’s anxious that it will also become disposable.

“I will do everything I can to create a dialogue around the lobby,” he says.

If the city eventually grants landmark status to the Times Mirror Square complex, parts of it could still be razed, but local officials would be able to delay demolition for up to a year in order to explore opportunities for preservation.

In a statement, representatives of Onni Group say the company is “looking to preserve and celebrate the history of the LA Times property, while investing in new additions that will add to the revitalization of the site and the surrounding area.”

The developer did not comment on whether the Pereira addition could be incorporated into the new project.

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20 vintage photos of LA beaches

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Back when elaborate bathing costumes and parasols constituted standard beachwear

For well over 100 years, crowds have flocked to Los Angeles beaches.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when elaborate bathing costumes and parasols constituted standard beachwear, visitors and residents descended upon beachfront resorts and boardwalk amusement parks.

Most of those attractions had vanished by the 1960s, but people didn’t stop going to the beach, and new activities like surfing and beach volleyball had emerged as some of the region’s most popular pastimes.

Thanks to old photos like the ones below, we have plenty of record of how, when, and where people have enjoyed the beach throughout LA’s history. If you plan to hit the shore this weekend, take these images as inspiration. And be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen.


Old photo of Hermosa BeachLos Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

A crowded day at Hermosa Beach. The photo is undated but appears to have been taken prior to the reconstruction of the beach’s pier in the early 1960s.

Woman in vintage bathing costumeLos Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

A bathing cap-clad beachgoer enjoys the Santa Monica shoreline.

Venice MidwayGetty Images

The Venice Midway in the early 1900s. One of the most popular attractions on the boardwalk can be seen on the right: Darkness & Dawn, an early haunted house.

Woman at Santa Monica BeachLos Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

A woman runs across the beach in Santa Monica.

Surfer at Will Rogers BeachLos Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

A lone surfer at Will Rogers State Beach in 1985.

Vintage cars in MalibuLos Angeles Public Library

A beach in Malibu, all parked up in 1923.

beach volleyball in VeniceLos Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

Beach volleyball on Venice Beach. In the background is an ornate bath house, once a common sight in LA’s beachfront communities.

Santa Monica coastLos Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

A view of Santa Monica in the early days of its development.

Surfers at Will Rogers BeachLos Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

Surfers at Will Rogers State Beach on an unseasonably hot December day in 1972.

Surfers sitting on the beach in MalibuLos Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

Malibu surfers wait for waves in 1961.

Beachgoers at Inkwell in Santa MonicaLos Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

Los Angeles beaches remained segregated until the 1960s. A stretch of Santa Monica Beach known as Inkwell, seen here in 1926, was one of the few places black beachgoers could go.

Couple at Inkwell beachLos Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

A couple lays out at Inkwell Beach in 1931.

 Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

Crowds at Hermosa Beach in 1947. On the right is the handsome Surf and Sand Club, designed by Rose Bowl architect Myron Hunt. It was torn down in 1969.

Manhattan Beach friendsLos Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

A group of friends at Manhattan Beach in 1961.

Long Beach PierUSC Libraries Digital Collection

An early view of the Long Beach Pier, seen here in 1910.

Crowds at Long Beach PikeLos Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

Crowds pack the beach near the Long Beach Pike amusement park in 1930. The stretch of beach seen here was later redeveloped as Shoreline Village and the Shoreline Marina.

Long Beach sceneLos Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

Long Beach crowds watch sailboats go by in 1939.

Redondo Beach familyLos Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

An Armenian-American family at Redondo Beach in 1937.

Marilyn Monroe at the beachLos Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

Marilyn Monroe above the pier at Paradise Cove in 1950.

LA rents continue to flatline

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Rental prices have plateaued in 2018.

Unlike the cost of buying, renting hasn’t gotten much more expensive in 2018

The weather is heating up in Los Angeles, but the city’s rental market remains rather cool, with monthly prices barely budging in June.

According to Apartment List, the median rental price in the city of Los Angeles is now $1,360—right where it’s been for the past two months. For a two-bedroom, the median price also remains unchanged at $1,750.

Those estimates are based on census data and give a good approximation of what LA tenants are paying right now. For a sense of what prices renters can expect to find searching for available units, we asked CoStar for average rental prices based on current listings.

Across all of LA County, the price of a one-bedroom stands at $1,676. Two-bedrooms are listed for $2,135, on average. As in the Apartment List report, neither number is much higher than it was a month ago.

According to the Apartment List report, the cost of rent has gone up just 1.6 percent since a year ago, well below the state average of 2.1 percent and far below the 3 percent annual rent hike allowed by LA’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance.

That’s certainly welcome news for tenants, who already face some of the most unaffordable housing prices in the nation.

At the beginning of the year, some experts predicted that rental prices would begin to plateau—or even drop—in 2018. With more than half of renters spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing, prices may simply be getting too high for the market to bear.

So far, that logic hasn’t carried over to the home-buying market. Prospective homeowners now face the highest prices in the county’s history, and the cost of real estate is only going up.

It’s enough to raise that age-old question: Is it better to buy or rent? In LA, neither option is cheap.

‘Unprecedented’ heat wave expected to break records with triple-digit temperatures

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High surf is also expected over the weekend.

Fire danger will be high

An early summer heat wave could break Los Angeles-area records this weekend

Temperatures will climb today, then soar into the mid-90s to mid-100s across much of LA on Friday and Saturday—with little relief at night. Lows are expected to hover in the 70s and even upper 80s in the valley and mountain areas.

The National Weather Service is advising residents to “begin to make heat mitigation plans now.”

Weather Service meteorologist Mike Wofford says the intensity of the weekend heat will be “somewhat unprecedented,” with temperatures expected to reach triple digits in much of the county.

In the San Fernando Valley, daytime temperatures Friday could climb above 110 degrees. In Downtown LA, forecasters are now predicting a high of 109 degrees. For context, the highest July 6 temperature ever recorded Downtown was 94 degrees.

Even in coastal areas, forecasters expect temperatures to reach the 90s.

In Santa Monica, Friday’s expected high is expected to be 94 degrees. In Long Beach, a high of 97 is expected. In Malibu, residents may get slightly more tolerable conditions, with a forecasted high of 86 degrees.

Low humidities are expected, and with that dry heat comes increased risk of fire. “Gusty winds” forecasted over the weekend will further increase the danger, and Weather Service meteorologists expect fire weather conditions may reach a critical level Friday and Saturday.

Temperatures won’t be the only things soaring Friday. A south swell is expected to bring waves up to 10 feet to Southern California shores. High heat and big waves will probably bring even bigger crowds to the beach than on a typical Fourth of July weekend, so expect traffic—and be very careful if swimming. Strong rip tides are also in the weekend forecast.

“Anyone who runs away from dangers of the heat to the beaches will face the dangers of the sea,” says the Weather Service forecast.

Temperatures will be nearly as high Saturday, but should begin dropping closer to normal levels on Sunday. Overnight temperatures are also expected to be warm Friday, only dropping into the 80s in the most landlocked areas.

“Stay hydrated,” Wofford says.

If you need a place to get out of the sun, Los Angeles County has put together an extensive list of cooling centers where residents can benefit from free air conditioning during the hottest parts of the day.

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What $2,800 rents in Los Angeles

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See what that price gets in five LA neighborhoods

Welcome to Curbed Comparisons, where we explore what you can rent or buy for a certain dollar amount in various LA ’hoods. We’ve found five rentals within $100 of today’s price, $2,800. Vote for your favorite below.


 Via Zillow

This pretty unit is proof that this price point won’t get you a lot of space in and around Hollywood. The apartment is small—it’s a one-bedroom that measures 570 square feet—but the trade-off is that it is stylishly updated with hardwood floors, subway tile, stainless steel appliances, and marble counters. Located in walkable Franklin Village, it comes fully furnished for $2,800.

 Via S.I.G. Property Management

If space is what you’re seeking, here’s a strong contender in Glendale. This Spanish-style home comes in at 1,022 square feet and holds three bedrooms and two bathrooms, plus a grassy backyard with an orange tree. The home is charming too, from the arched entryways to the fireplace, to the retro tiled bathroom. It’s renting for $2,725.

 Via Zillow

Two blocks from the Wilshire/Vermont station along the subway’s Red and Purple lines in centrally-located Koreatown, you’ll find this two-bedroom, two-bathroom pad. Bright and sunny, it features tall ceilings, a small balcony, and in-unit washer and dryer. It’s available for $2,800.

 Via Zillow

Here’s a delightfully charming two-bedroom, one-bath just off Fairfax Avenue. Walk to Canter’s, Jon & Vinny’s, and Council Thrift Shops. The garden apartment is replete with vintage tile, plus lovely molding and white and black checkered kitchen floors. It also comes with an in-unit washer and dryer, a balcony, and a single car garage. It’s renting for $2,895.

 Via Zillow

If this heatwave has you pining for ocean breezes, here’s a bright one-bedroom on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice Beach. South of Venice Boulevard, it’s a short walk to hip restaurants and boutiques. It’s also just a short walk to the Venice canals and the beach. And, per the listing, a side yard offers “easy storage for your bikes and boards.” The building has parking and shared laundry. It’s renting for $2,775.

26 must-do things in LA this summer

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26 places to visit in LA, from the Hammer to Yamashiro Night Market

Welcome to Curbed LA’s pocket guide, a map of 26 essential things to do in Los Angeles. Suited for locals and visitors and curated by our editors, this map is updated seasonally, focusing on cultural institutions, architecture, the outdoors, and beautiful spaces.

This summer, we’re paying special attention to things to do along the water, lush parks and gardens, impressive architecture that’s open to the public, special exhibits, and our favorite museums. Our picks include well-known classics and new favorites, from the “Beyond the Streets” graffiti showcase to the beach bike path to Yamashiro Night Market. If we missed any cool spots, let us know in the comments.

Looking for more ways to explore the City of Angels this summer?

Plan to add some density along the Expo Line wins full council support

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Expo Line in Culver City.

The Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan wins City Council approval

A plan to allow thousands of new apartments and condos to be built around some Expo Line stations on the Westside was approved unanimously today by the Los Angeles City Council.

Under the Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan, taller, mixed-use buildings will now be allowed in a half-mile radius around five train stations in Palms, Rancho Park, Sawtelle, Mid-City, and Cheviot Hills.

With the goal of boosting transit ridership, reducing dependency on cars, and creating “vibrant neighborhoods,” the plan rezones 256 acres of land, mostly from industrial and light manufacturing uses to residential and office space.

But one of the more radical pieces of the plan changes single-family zoning on several blocks fronting Bundy Drive south of Expo Line’s Bundy station to allow “neighborhood-scale mixed-use development that creates ground-floor commercial activity” with the “capacity for multifamily housing.”

The plan estimates that between 4,400 and 6,000 new housing units and between 9,400 and 14,300 new jobs could be added across the entire plan area by 2035. Every new residential project built in the plan area that takes advantage of density bonus incentives will have to include “some level” of affordable housing.

Abundant Housing LA, a group that advocates for the construction of more housing in Los Angeles as a solution to the affordability crisis, says the plan “reorients development away from sprawl” and will help “thousands more Angelenos benefit from LA’s public transit” network.

It says parts of the plan that allow “hundreds of single-family parcels to be re-zoned for multi-family housing” are progressive.

But the group’s Westside advocacy coordinator Nick Burns says it doesn’t go far enough in every neighborhood.

At the request of Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz, building heights were scaled back on a stretch of Pico Boulevard roughly between the Expo/Sepulveda and the Westwood/Rancho Park stations.

Burns says reducing the building heights means 987 fewer units of housing.

A statement from Koretz’s office says that change reflects input from residents after the city planning commission tweaked the plan in October to allow for taller building heights. That change, he said “contradict[ed] with what we believe are the appropriated capacities for the proposed change areas.”

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Here’s what $880K buys around LA

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Looking at options from Glassell Park to Topanga

Welcome to Curbed Comparisons, where we explore what you can rent or buy for a certain dollar amount in various LA ’hoods. We’ve found five homes within $10,000 of today’s price: $880,000.

Front of house
Living room
 Dining room
Back of houseVia Giovanny Anaya, Alfredo Gutierrez | PSL Realty

This Spanish-style home in Glendale sits north of the 134 freeway on a 5,599-square-foot lot with a well-manicured front yard, a pergola-shaded patio, and a two-car garage. Inside, the 1,392-square-foot house has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The kitchen has been recently updated, and the windows, electrical wiring, and HVAC system are new. Asking price is $878,000.

Backyard of house
Living room
Sun room
BedroomVia Catherine Campbell | Sotheby’s International Realty

Here’s a spacious two-bedroom home that sits on a one-third-acre lot in Topanga with trees on all sides. Inside the house is 1,800 square feet of living space, with wood-paneled walls, built-in shelving, and skylights. A large sun room leads out to the hilly yard, which includes a hot tub and a storage shed. Asking price is $875,000.

Front yard
Living room
Kitchen
BackyardVia Marissa Buss, Scott Ange | Re/Max

This 1930s home in Sherman Oaks sold earlier this year for $733,750, and is now flipping back to market with a host of updates. The 1,416-square-foot house has three bedrooms, with a renovated kitchen and a pair of remodeled bathrooms. Features include hardwood floors, a living room fireplace, and a curious octagonal hall that separates most of the rooms. Sitting on a 5,002-square-foot lot with a yard and a detached garages, the house is asking $889,000.

Front yard
Living room
Bedroom
DeckVia Bradley Holmes | Pacific Union International

If you need another reminder of how wild the Los Angeles housing market can be, this Glassell Park residence last sold in 1999 for under $200,000. Times have changed, and the 2,142-square-foot home is back on the market for a lot more. The house has three bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms, with pitched ceilings, glass sliding doors, and an open floor plan. Sitting on a 4,915-square-foot, hilly lot, the house has multiple decks that offer views around the neighborhood. Asking price is $875,000.

Front of house
Dining room
Kitchen
BackyardVia Peggy Vaccaro | Podley Properties

On the eastern side of Altadena you’ll find this pleasant 1950s residence, fronted by trees and terraced gardens. The house has three bedrooms and two bathrooms spread across 1,622 square feet of living space. Interior features include hardwood floors and an open kitchen and den that leads out to the backyard. Sitting on a 7,221-square-foot lot with a covered patio and a detached garage, the house is asking $875,000.

LeBron James, will you be LA’s Bike King?

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LeBron James at a Bike-a-thon for kids in Akron, Ohio.

The newest Laker loves riding bikes—imagine if he demanded a safer, healthier way to get around Los Angeles

Here is the most important thing you need to know about our newest Laker: LeBron James loves riding his bike.

During his time with the Miami Heat, James became well-known for riding his bike to games, crediting his performance to the two-wheeled aerobic warmup. He also rode to beat traffic, telling reporters it was faster than driving. James became a fixture of local cycling culture, posting his own photos of group rides to social media.

Upon hearing the news that King James was on his way to LA, bike groups all over the city added their own shouts of excitement to the welcome chorus.

But let’s get serious about this for a minute. This is Los Angeles, where the expansion of the city’s protected bike infrastructure has slowed and more cyclists are being killed on our streets every year.

LeBron James—arguably one of the most famous athletes on the planet—could exert some sorely needed influence to make LA better for biking.

In Miami, James rode from his Coconut Grove home to the American Airlines Arena, which took him about 30 to 40 minutes. For some of his trip, he could use the M-Path, a paved, dedicated multi-use trail. The ride finishes with a protected bike lane on the bridge over the Miami River.

Let’s say hypothetically that James wants to ride from his house in Brentwood to Staples Center. It’s a much longer distance than his Miami commute—about an hour and 20 minutes—and it has little to no safe biking infrastructure.

Westwood Boulevard would provide the most direct route. But bike lanes along that thoroughfare were rejected by the Los Angeles City Council after homeowner groups said it would slow down their commutes.

On his route from Brentwood to the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo, he would fare a bit better. Much of the ride would take him through Santa Monica, which has better biking infrastructure than the city of LA.

But then he’d have to take Vista del Mar in Playa del Rey, where a bike lane was installed and then taken back out after homeowner groups said it would slow down their commutes.

James would not have to go far from where the Lakers play to see what kind of safe biking infrastructure can be possible in LA with a little political will. The best bike infrastructure in the city of LA is right outside Staples Center, a four-mile stretch of Figueroa with new protected bike lanes—that took more than a decade to implement.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQd4TiM5O3M?rel=0]

Now, imagine one of the greatest basketball players of all time—and one of the most influential people on social media—riding outside Staples Center, demanding a safer, healthier way to get around our city.

The number cyclists and pedestrians killed on LA’s streets has risen sharply. From 2013 to 2017, 489 walkers and cyclists were killed on LA’s streets. In some underserved communities, the increases are even more dramatic. In some parts of South LA, for example, collisions that involve bikes have increased by 70 percent.

James’s four-year, $153.3 million contract with the Lakers works out to about $38.3 million per year. That’s about the same as the city’s annual Vision Zero budget to eliminate traffic fatalities. In 2017, the city of LA paid out an additional $19.1 million just for cyclist injuries and deaths. Instead of settling lawsuits, we could be making another half-a-LeBron James-worth of safe streets improvements each year.

James will be playing in LA until 2022. The city’s goal is to eliminate traffic deaths by 2025.

People on bikes are among LA’s most vulnerable road users, but are treated like second-class citizens in this city. With few advocates among our city leaders stepping up to improve the situation, it’s time to look to star power.

Now, more than ever, LA needs someone who can stand up for the hundreds of people who are being killed and seriously injured while riding our deadly streets. We also need someone to advocate for Angelenos from all walks of life who are too terrified of the city’s dangerous streets to even give it a try.

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Midcentury home in Los Feliz is an airy time capsule for $1.3M

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The 1959-built home has a bridge-like design

Built in 1959, this Los Feliz home is looking sharp almost 60 years later, with plenty of original details intact.

The 1,312-square-foot home has an unusual bridge-like layout, with the kitchen suspended above the driveway. The living room opens to an elevated back deck that provides east-facing views across the LA River.

Inside are two bedrooms and two bathrooms, complemented by a storage room and a detached guest unit. The home’s many vintage features include pitched ceilings, glass walls and sliding doors, cork floors, and some lovely wooden cabinetry. The spacious living room is equipped with cinderblock walls, a fireplace, and built-in bench seating.

The bedrooms boast wood-paneled ceilings, and the master opens to a long, private balcony.

Sitting on a 7,969-square-foot lot, the house has a terraced backyard, from which it’s possible to take in more of those views.

Asking price is $1.2999 million. Open houses are scheduled Tuesday, July 3, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursday, July 5, between 5 p.m. and 6:30 pm.

Living room
Living room looking to deck
Bedroom
Kitchen
Guest room
Second bedroom
Back deck

Weekend heat wave could break records with triple-digit temperatures

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High surf is also expected over the weekend.

Fire danger will be high

An early summer heat wave could break Los Angeles-area records this weekend, according to a preliminary forecast from the National Weather Service.

Mike Wofford, a meteorologist with Weather Service, says the intensity of the weekend heat will be “somewhat unprecedented,” with temperatures expected to reach triple digits in much of Los Angeles County.

In the San Fernando Valley, temperatures Friday could climb above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Wofford calls a projected temperature of 100 in Downtown LA a “conservative estimate.” For context, the highest July 6 temperature ever recorded Downtown was 94 degrees.

Even in coastal areas, forecasters expect temperatures to reach the 90s.

Low humidities are expected, and with that dry heat comes increased risk of fire. “Gusty winds” forecasted over the weekend will further increase the danger, and Weather Service meteorologists expect fire weather conditions may reach a critical level Friday and Saturday.

Keep that in mind when making plans for the holiday weekend (particularly those that involve fireworks or sparklers).

Temperatures won’t be the only things soaring Friday. A south swell is expected to bring waves up to 10 feet to Southern California shores. High heat and big waves will probably bring even bigger crowds to the beach than on a typical Fourth of July weekend, so expect traffic—and be very careful if swimming. Strong rip tides are also in the weekend forecast.

Wofford says temperatures should begin to drop close the beach on Saturday. Further inland, relief likely won’t come until Sunday. Overnight temperatures are also expected to be warm, only dropping into the 80s in the most landlocked areas.

“Stay hydrated,” Wofford says.

 
 
DMS