Staples Center Gets a New Name

So let’s get this straight. The new name of Staples Center is going to be Arena. The center has been the home of Los Angeles LakersLos Angeles ClippersLos Angeles KingsLos Angeles Sparks.  The owner of the stadium is Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG).

L.A. Live is an entertainment complex that adjoins the Staples Center and it too is owned by AEG.  So what is the big deal over its name? Absolutely nothing. Staples stationary paid for the naming but their naming rights contract has expired.

It’s not the first theater complex to have its name changed.  Kodak Theater in Hollywood next to the Chinese Theater became the Dolby Theater when Kodak went out of business. We survived that name change.

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum became United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 2019 That helped to fund a $315 million renovation.

It’s obvious. Money talks! We’ll soon adjust to Arena.

Los Angeles – Cesspool of Corruption

Jose Huizar former Los Angeles city councilman seeks to gut corruption case, says alleged $1.5 million in gifts were not bribes.  They were just little gifts of appreciation says his lawyer.

Former Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander was sentenced in January 2021 to 14 months in prison for lying to federal authorities about his dealings with a businessman who provided him $15,000 in secret cash payments and a debauched night in Las Vegas.

Marilyn Louise Flynn, 83, was dean of USC’s School of Social Work when she allegedly paid off Mark Ridley-Thomas, now an L.A. city councilman, when he was on the county Board of Supervisors.

Englander, Huizar and now Ridley-Thomas.  The council is a cesspool of corruption.  The battle over which district includes USC and the surrounding area has something to do with prestige and probably some kind of kick back in an area ripe for development.  After all it is the city council that finally approves every new development.  Since there is little development in the mid San Fernando Valley no one even wants to represent that area since there is little likelihood of new development.

As Pat Morrison wrote in her October 26, 2021 Los Angeles Times column “In 2015, as civic guru Rick Cole was departing his post as deputy mayor in L.A., he explained to me that “a lot of checks and balances are built into the system to avoid corruption and half-baked ideas, but … ironically, most were designed by reformers [who] were petrified of abuse of power. The charter was designed to prevent corruption, not to enable effectiveness. They took effective government for granted. So when you ask questions like, “Who’s responsible for the miserable state of L.A. streets?” you can blame anyone, because almost anybody has a piece of the problem and almost no one has the power to fix it. To avoid one problem, we so diffused power and hamstrung accountability, it’s no wonder we have the results we all complain about.”

These tiny homes in Los Angeles offer the city’s homeless a new lease on life

Los Angeles (CNN) Jolinn Bracey slept in her Toyota Corolla for five years until she put homelessness in her rearview mirror by moving into a tiny home.

Bracey, 48, is one of 41 residents of The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village in North Hollywood, California, which provides transitional housing for the homeless.

“This has given me a place to reconfigure myself and build up to my new home,” Bracey told CNN. “It put me back into practice of being consistent in the normal things that you do. It grounds you.”

Bracey moved into the 64-square-foot home in February. It features a bed, air conditioner, racks to hang her colorful clothes and, most importantly, a door that locks.

“It’s the first time in a long time that I don’t feel like someone is going to come up on me,” said Bracey.

She said a fire in a house she once owned and an unfair eviction at a place she rented led her into homelessness.

There are more than 41,000 homeless people in the city of Los Angeles, according to the last count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, an independent, joint powers authority created by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles mayor and City Council.

Villages like Chandler aim to chip away at that number by placing formerly homeless people in protected, fenced-off communities.

At Chandler, case managers can offer residents help for anything from drug and alcohol abuse and mental health issues, to navigating the complexities of job applications, health insurance and more.

“We’re dealing with people at the worst moment of their lives,” said Rowan Vansleve, president of Hope of the Valley, the non-profit that operates Chandler and other tiny home villages in the Los Angeles area.

“It’s really humbling to say, ‘I can’t feed myself. I can’t house myself. I can’t get a hot shower.'”

Vansleve says new residents revel in that first shower on site and calls hot water and great soap “magic” that helps residents feel like a better person.

The residents are also fed three meals a day.

“We do everything we can to make this site welcoming. We call it the ‘Love Club,'” Vansleve added.

Despite the nickname, the village does have rules. At the top of the list is no weapons or drugs allowed on campus, and paraphernalia must be checked at a locker outside.

Hope of the Valley says residents live in the homes for free and can stay as long as they are on a pathway to permanent housing, which counselors estimate takes three to six months.

Vansleve said the strategy is to take people off the streets within just a few miles of the tiny home village, not from other parts of Southern California, such as Skid Row.

“That way, people in the neighborhood see less homeless, less trash, less crime, fewer drug users roaming around,” he added. “I think these villages should spread across the country like Starbucks — be in every community.”

Vansleve says the tiny home villages are built on small parcels, many repurposed city properties. The Chandler complex sits on just half an acre.

An Everett, Washington, company called Pallet, which specializes in small shelter homes for homeless or temporary housing, built the homes for the Chandler village. The company estimates the minimum cost of each home to be $5,495.

Pallet reports it has helped build 44 tiny home villages, most on the West Coast, with 13 projects in the pipeline.

Hope of the Valley aims to house more than 900 people by November, Vansleve said.

Completely out of view from any passersby, Chandler resident Todd Dumanski loaded his laundry at the row of stacked washers and dryers

.”I’ve been a heroin abuser and polysubstance abuser almost my entire life,” Dumanski said.

Dumanski, 36, said he once amassed a net worth of well over a million dollars by founding a vitamin and supplement company in the Philadelphia area. But he said business misfortune and his drug use eventually put him on the streets after a move to Los Angeles.

“I’m one of the lucky ones,” he said, “because a lot of people (addicts) died.”Dumanski described a dark homeless underworld filled with debilitating or lethal drug abuse, rampant theft, all forms of violence including sexual assault against women and men, and bullets flying.

“I got shot at six times, by a revolver, by three gang members,” Dumanski said.”They were young, maybe 18 to 24 years old. They shot at me because they wanted my spot for one of their friends who would soon become homeless.”

Dumanski said he had built an elaborate shelter near the 170 Freeway, hidden from view, and he had rigged up a grill.

Now, Dumanski lives in a tiny home less than a mile away, with little more than his bed, toiletries and a huge water jug with a handle that he lifts to add to his workouts.

“I like to throw everything in one backpack,” Dumanski said. “I don’t attach emotions to material stuff. Technically from the outside I have nothing, but I feel I have everything. “

Dumanski once had a house and a BMW — but also feelings of depression and suicide, he said.”

You give me tens of thousands of dollars, that isn’t going to help me right now,” Dumanski said. “I’m right where I want to be right now. I know what I have to do moving forward. This place has been a game changer, man.”

Each tiny home is different. The interior style ranges from Dumanski’s minimalist white to Bracey’s kaleidoscopic flickers of purples, reds, aqua and more.

“My décor is just me — I’m colorful, funky,” Bracey declared. “I think outside the box.

“Inside her tiny home, Bracey dreamed out loud about getting a bachelor’s degree and spinning all the good will she found at Chandler onto people who are currently homeless.

She says she’s two classes away from finishing up an associate degree at Los Angeles Valley Community College.”

I just want to help everybody not go through what I went through,” Bracey said.

At the end of the month, Bracey said, she plans to move into an apartment. It will be just down the street, not far from the parking garage where she used to sleep in her car.

Being Mayor of Los Angeles

Being mayor of Los Angeles is all about public service. There are no rewards.

Mayor Eric Garcetti

Mayor Eric Garcetti cannot run again in 2022 due to being termed out. Thank goodness for term limits.

Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León  is the latest local household name jumping into the fight to become the city’s next mayor, joining an already crowded field.

De León is joining an already long list of candidates.

Fellow City Councilman Joe Buscaino has been campaigning for months. So has L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer.

Jessica Lall, of the L.A.-based Central City Association, recently announced her candidacy. As has San Fernando Valley real-estate broker Mel Wilson.

Congresswoman Karen Bass is said to be considering a run at the mayor’s office. Billionaire developer Rick Caruso is reportedly also considering a run. Austin Beutner, the former superintendent of the L.A. Unified School District, is also being mentioned as another candidate for mayor.

While being mayor of the second largest city in the country in the most populous county in the country (10 million people) might seem like a powerful position, the mayor has limited authority.  The city council holds the power.

The issues are homelessness, lack of affordable housing, poor maintenance of streets, high crime, high unemployment (9.7%). Why anyone would want this job is a mystery to me.  It has not been a stepping stone to a more significant position.   

So why pursue the job? Very good salary ($308,214) and prestige.

Wilshire Boulevard Temple

I assigned myself the project of photographing the interesting buildings of Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.  The photo collection includes office buildings, theaters, and places of worship.  Thus far I have a collection of photos in what is generally called the mid-Wilshire area that primarily is also called Koreatown.  I have photos of the property once known  as the Ambassador Hotel, that should have been preserved, the Wiltern Theater and the Bullock’s building (a famous upscale department store now long gone).  It has taken three trips to the area and as I am quite old the walking has been difficult.

Included in that area is the Wilshire Boulevard Temple (Jewish Reform).  The doors were locked and tours are by appointment only according to the temple’s website.  It is an enormous structure topped by a large a  Byzantine revival dome.  Today’s Jewish community primarily lives in West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley although most areas of the city do have synagogues.

Wilshire Boulevard Temple serves as the third home of the Congregation B’nai B’rith, which was founded in 1862 and is the oldest Jewish congregation in Los Angeles. The congregation left each of its first two synagogues, both located downtown and both now demolished, as its size grew and as the city moved westward. The congregation purchased property at the corner of Wilshire and Hobart Boulevards in 1921.

At the time, the Mid-Wilshire area was an upper-class suburban enclave with great commercial promise, sometimes called the “Fifth Avenue of the West.” Religious organizations of all denominations followed their members here as they moved west from downtown, and most of the churches were grand and impressive.  That accounts for the fact that other religious organizations also build beautiful churches in that immediate area.

Because the immediate surrounding community is now primarily Korean and Hispanic the synagogue has decided to retain the facility but provide services for the non-Jewish. The community outreach has been recognized by local leaders, who hope it will become a model for other organizations as well.

The photo of the exterior is mine.  The interior photo posted by the temple.

Vista Theater in East Hollywood

Vista Theatre is a historic single-screen movie theater in Los Angeles, California, located in East Hollywood on the border with Los Feliz. The neighborhood is not a tourist destination. It is mostly an area for working class residents.

Despite that fact Quentin Tarantino, the film director, has purchased the property. The building is closed. He told the news media he plans to reopen the theater by the end of this year. With a reported capacity of 400 seats the theater it is not likely to be divided into a complex.

Tarantino told a local TV channel he was planning to open the theater by around Christmas. He already owns the New Beverly in the Fairfax district that has an extremely dedicated fanbase partly because of Tarantino’s involvement in programming the movies shown at the revival house, which only shows movies on film, not with digital projection. Of the Vista, Tarantino said, “And again, only film.”

This location is adjoining the eastern end of Hollywood Boulevard where it intersects with Sunset Boulevard. A new luxury apartment house is under construction abut the only benefit would be its easy drive to other parts of central Los Angeles from downtown to Hollywood. A five minute walk to the many hospitals near Sunset Blvd and Vermont Avenue. Just a mile from Griffith Park.

That is a supermarket, pharmacy and used clothing across the street from the theater

‘$4 isn’t much’

The Kroger company is the biggest retail grocery company in the United States. As the largest pure grocer in the United States (trailing only Walmart in overall grocery sales and at approximately double the revenue of number-two Albertsons.

Kroger owns many chains other than Kroger stores. Food 4 Less and Ralphs in metropolitan Los Angeles are two of its chains. When you shop in Ralphs, as I do, you see the Kroger name on many of its private label products.

The company has decided to close its stores in Long Beach (one Ralphs and one Food 4 Less) because the city council has ordered food markets to pay a $4-an-hour increase for grocery workers during the pandemic. The city called it hazards pay. This is not a permanent increase.

Kroger, which has enjoyed a big jump in profits during the pandemic, is pushing back. Customers and workers say that’s unfair. Kroger’s decision is most likely based on the fear that once the pay rate is increased it will never go back to the previous level and it will set precedent for the city and county of Los Angeles. That then could spread across the nation.  

Ronald Fong, president of the California Grocers Association trade group, which filed a lawsuit over the Long Beach ordinance, said the group tried to warn the city about “unintended consequences” of the measure.

This is the best example of workers versus employers that we have seen since the last strike of grocery workers. The 2003-04 Southland grocery strike dragged on for 141 days. That work stoppage was estimated by some analysts to have cost the supermarket chains as much as $2 billion, with locked-out workers losing $300 million in wages.

One shopper at the Ralphs store told an LA Times reporter she supports the hero pay, in part because her son works in the retail grocery business. “It’s hard work for him!” she said. “$4 isn’t much.”

With a 2020 Net Income of $1.64 billion it seems the company needs to become a responsible member of a society that is struggling with a pandemic.

West San Fernando Valley Isn’t a Suburb Anymore

The Promenade 2035 project will include a new sports arena, two hotels, a 28-story office tower and more than 1,400 new apartments. This development, that will take 15 years to complete, will impact the West San Fernando Valley bringing more residents, businesses, and traffic. The idea of the suburban life style will be gone.  It is the price citizens of this city will pay for having an area that so many want to enjoy. L.A. approves $1B ‘mini-city’ in west San Fernando Valley with sports arena, hotels, office and apartment units | KTLA

L.A. approves $1B ‘mini-city’ in west San Fernando Valley with sports arena, hotels, office and apartment units

Unknown Los Angeles

Los Angeles has many places of historic significance that many Angelenos are not familiar with.  Historic Bunker Hill was a community of wealthy people with very large sumptuous homes overlooking the downtown that was abandoned as the wealthy moved west to Hancock Park and Beverly Hills. The Bunker Hill homes were ultimately torn down and the area became an area of high rise office buildings.

Forgotten but still there is a group of mansions in what became known as Angelino Heights. Carroll Ave Victorian Era Residents were built in the 1880s and 1890s. Many were destroyed when the Hollywood Freeway was built. There are no signs directing sightseers to the street. The house that sits at 1345 Carroll Ave in Angelino Heights is known as the Sanders House and is most famous for being featured as the spooky setting for Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video. The 3,532-square-foot Queen Anne style house was originally built for a local warehouse operator named Michael Sanders in 1887. Many are occupied and none are open for tours. The two block street is lined with the mansions. The street is not gated and anyone can park there.

I learned of the street when we signed up for a city tour.  This was not the tour offered in the front of the Chinese Theater in Hollywood.  The tour gave us only a drive-by. Later on my own I drove around the neighborhood for about a half hour before finding the street.

Ferndell, Griffith Park, Los Angeles California

Four best photos taken with my new Panasonic DMC-FZ1000 camera.  Much higher pixel count photos than those taken with older models that have a smaller sensor.  The result is sharper pictures. Click the link.

The dell is a narrow canyon and the trail is less than a mile in length.  The small creek helps keep the plant life lush.