Los Angeles Now Has Traffic Ticket Kiosks

Pay with cash or even a personal check at the new machines

To help out the unfortunate drivers who’ve gotten tickets, LA Superior Court has added five new traffic ticket payment machines at courthouse locations throughout the county, so that if someone has to pay a ticket, they can at least avoid having to physically go into a courthouse to do it.

According to a release from the LA Superior Court’s Public Information Office, the new kiosks are available 24/7 to help people take care of a whole host of traffic transactions, most notably paying those pesky tickets as soon as possible.

Though people can already pay parking and traffic tickets online around the clock, the advantage of the kiosks is that they accept cash, personal check, and money order payments, which the online portal does not. Who doesn’t like options?

The kiosks will provide services in Armenian, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese, in addition to English. They’re installed at LA Superior Courts in Beverly Hills, Chatsworth, Van Nuys, West Covina, and the Metropolitan Courthouse. An LA Superior Court rep tells LAist that the machines were installed by a third-party vendor at no cost to the court, though they do charge a $3 fee for each transaction.


Mayor Garcetti & Artist Shepard Fairey, Renowned for his Obama HOPE Portrait, Unveil L.A.’s First Artist-Designed Library Card

Mayor Eric Garcetti, artist Shepard Fairey, City Librarian John F. Szabo and L.A. Cultural Affairs General Manager Danielle Brazell were joined by students from the Downtown Magnets High School for the unveiling of L.A.’s first limited-edition, artist-designed library card today at the Central Library. The card launch concludes the library’s celebration of National Library Week.

Designed by artists Shepard Fairey and Cleon Peterson, the new library card is now available at all 73 locations of the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL). The design features an illustration of the historic Central Library, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2016.  Read more

LA Animal Euthanizations Drop Dramatically

Los Angeles animal shelters’ save rates have reached unprecedented levels, but hundreds of animals have already been put down this year.

Los Angeles city animal shelters appear to be on their way to becoming “no-kill” facilities, with 84.3 percent of cats and dogs saved from being euthanized so far this year, according to figures released today by the Department of Animal Services.

Dogs were saved 86.3 percent of the time, while cats had a lower save rate of 79.2 percent, Animal Services Department officials said.

Los Angeles animal shelters

Cania is a 5-year-old pit bull currently available for adoption with Los Angeles Animal Services.

During the first three months of the year, 854 animals were euthanized, down from 1,226 in 2015.

The city’s latest overall save rate of 84.3 percent at its six shelters puts it near the 90 percent national standard used to designate shelters as “no-kill” facilities, according to Animal Services officials.

The overall rate is an improvement over the city’s 57.8 percent save rate in fiscal year 2011-2012, city officials said.

Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette attributed the reduced number of animal euthanizations in recent years to a partnership with Best Friends Animal Society, which helps place dogs and cats into homes.

The city has “made steady progress towards saving the lives of thousands of orphaned pets,” Barnette said. “We are hopeful to have our best year of reducing shelters deaths and increasing the live save rate since establishing to become a no-kill city.”

Los Angeles City Budget

The Mayor’s proposed City Budget has been released and will be reviewed by the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee during intensive hearings that begin on Wednesday, April 27th at 9 a.m. in the City Council chambers in City Hall.

The $8.76 million proposed Budget strives to increase efficiency and services in a variety of areas, begin the process of bringing civilians into LAPD’s ranks to allow more sworn officers to be on patrol, inject more muscle and compassion into the City’s attempt to deal with homelessness, and start a wholesale updating of Community Plans across Los Angeles, among many other things.

If you’d like to check out the Budget, please visit:


LA Bans Pet Stores from Selling Bred Cats, Dogs, and Rabbits

The Los Angeles City Council voted 12-0 to make permanent a temporary ban on the pet store sale of commercially bred cats, dogs and rabbits.

A temporary ban on the sale of commercially bred cats, dogs and rabbits at pet stores in Los Angeles will be made permanent, with the Los Angeles City Council voting today to remove the prohibition’s sunset date.

The ban went into effect in 2013 and was set to end June 30. The sunset was included as a way out in the event the policy proved too economically disruptive for pet stores.

The council voted 12-0 to amend the ordinance to take out the sunset date and make the law permanent. Supporters of the ban say the law has proven successful, with more pet stores hosting adoption events for animals from shelter and rescue groups, and relying on the purchase of pet supplies to make money.

The ban was put in place in response to a push from activists who say it is inhumane to breed and sell cats, dogs and other animals. The limiting of such practices is also aimed at reducing the number of strays.

LA Still Has Nation’s Unhealthiest Air, But There’s Reason to Breathe Easier

Los Angeles continues to earn its reputation for smog, but air pollution dropped to the lowest level in 17 years of monitoring.

The Los Angeles-Long Beach metropolitan area continues to have the worst ozone pollution in the nation, but the area has seen marked improvement in short-term and annual particle pollution, showing its best readings in 17 years, according to a report released today by the American Lung Association.

The association’s “State of the Air 2016” study noted that 16 of the nation’s most-polluted cities showed their lowest levels of particle pollution in the 17-year history of the report.

Los Angeles-Long Beach, while ranking worst in terms of ozone pollution, ranked ninth-worst for short-term particle pollution and fourth-worst for annual particle pollution.

California cities, however, dominated the top-10 lists of worst offenders in all three categories. Bakersfield ranked worst in the nation for short-term and annual particle pollution, and second for ozone pollution behind Los Angeles-Long Beach. The Visalia-Porterville-Hanford region ranked among the worst three in all three categories. Fresno-Madera ranked among the worst four across the board.

The report is based on readings taken at monitoring sites across the country from 2012-14.

“Thanks to California’s cleaner vehicles and fuels and other innovated clean-air policies, we’re seeing steady progress in our fight for cleaner air,” said Olivia J. Diaz-Lapham, president/CEO of the American Lung Association in California. “However, more than 80 percent of Californians — 32 million residents — still live in counties with unhealthy air during certain parts of the year. We simply must do more to protect the health of Californians.”

The report noted that Los Angeles had its “best air quality ever in the history of the State of the Air Report.” Lung Association officials said Southern California has seen a 90 percent reduction in particle pollution over the history of the report, noting that Los Angeles had the fewest unhealthy ozone days ever reported.

But air pollution continues to be a major issue nationally, according to the report’s authors.

“The State of the Air 2016 report shows that, even with continued improvement, too many people in the United States live where the air is unhealthy for them to breathe,” according to the report. “Despite that continued need and the nation’s progress, some people seek to weaken the Clean Air Act, the public health law that has driven the cuts in pollution since 1970, and to undermine the ability of the nation to fight for healthy air.”

LA to Host Free Medical and Dental Services Clinic at Convention Center

LA Residents who may be uninsured or under-insured can get the medical help they need – even surgery – next week. (April 27-29)

Free medical and dental services will be available next week at the Los Angeles Convention Center for uninsured and under-insured residents.

Thousands of healthcare professionals and volunteers will take part in the no-cost clinic, offering services on a first-come, first-served basis from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 27 and 28, and from 7 a.m. to noon April 29.

No insurance and no identification are required, and no appointment is necessary, other than for major surgical procedures, which require pre-surgery visits.

Free on-site services will include primary care visits, women’s health services including pap smears and mammography, consultation by medical specialists including heart evaluation, as well as gastroenterology, neurology, pulmonology, rheumatology and pediatrics.

Specialists in podiatry, immunizations, root canals, pharmacy, eyeglass fittings and examinations, and STD screenings will also be on hand.

To schedule surgical procedures, patients are asked to call (888) 447- 2849 as soon as possible.

Los Angeles residents can obtain more information at www.YourBestPathwayToHealth.org.

The event — co-sponsored by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services — is organized by Your Best Pathway to Health, a service of Adventist-Laymen’s Services Industries, in partnership with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Adventist Health, Loma Linda University Health, and other entities.

Controversial AngelFest music festival in Sepulveda Basin delayed a year

A controversial music festival planned for the Sepulveda Basin this fall has been pushed back a year to allow more time for its producer to book the bands, its promoter announced Wednesday.

The Make Good Group, producer of the proposed three-day AngelFest planned for Woodley Park, said a lengthy environmental review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has impacted its talent-booking plans.

“We have made significant progress in the planning of AngelFest, including the very positive development of the Army Corps of Engineers’ release of the festival’s draft Environmental Assessment showing no significant negative environmental impacts,” said festival organizer Tim Sexton, co-founder of Make Good Group, in a statement.

“However, it has taken longer than anticipated and impacted our talent booking plans,” he said. “We made the decision to reschedule so that we can secure the best musical talent and ensure the kind of extraordinary festival experience that LA can be proud of and that our citizens deserve.”

The Army Corps, which manages the flood basin, had been accepting public comment on a draft environmental assessment released last week for the three-day festival once planned from Oct. 7 through Oct. 9. A public meeting had been scheduled for May 10.

A decision whether to approve the festival was to follow a 30-day public comment period.

Despite strong opposition from environmental groups worried about the impact of five concert stages on a Basin Wildlife Reserve, the Corps found “no significant impact” on air quality, noise, traffic, public safety and wildlife.

The Make Good Group, based in Los Angeles, said that Department of Recreation and Parks will reissue its festival permit in 2017. It also said the Army Corps’ environmental assessment will remain valid, “streamlining” the approvals process for next year.

But an Army Corps spokesman said the federal agency had not received a request to modify the AngelFest application from the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, which leases the federal flood basin for parks. He said it can’t “streamline” the process, which is the same regardless of the date of the proposed event.

“I can’t speak to whether the (draft environmental assessment) or public meeting will go forward at this time,” said Jay Field, spokesman for the Army Corps district office in Los Angeles.

Festival organizers said they were forced to reschedule AngelFest because of the anticipated completion of the federal environmental document and public input.

The proposed AngelFest was to take place on five concert stages and draw up to 65,000 visitors between Woodley Avenue and the 405 Freeway, north of the Wildlife Reserve, in music, arts, culture and food festival celebrating the “best of L.A.”

The festival has split environmentalists, who contend it will harm wildlife, and supporters, who welcome a festival that would raise money for the park.

Critics said its noise, crowds and lights could disturb the many species of birds within the reserve and surrounding northeast basin during 27 days of festival setup and teardown, in addition to polluting creeks and parkland.

Supporters, including the cash-strapped Parks Department, said the festival is a boon for the Sepulveda Basin, which would benefit from hundreds of thousands of dollars in user fees and ticket proceeds. More than $1 million could be raised in three years of repeat festivals.

Make Good Group organizers, meanwhile, said they were committed to safeguarding the Sepulveda Basin and surrounding neighborhoods during an environmentally sustainable festival.

An official from the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society, which has opposed the festival, said the delay was good news – but didn’t solve anything. He said a 2017 festival date meant the producer must reapply for city federal festival permits.

“We’ll continue to monitor the situation, and make it clear to all the regulatory agencies that we’ll continue to oppose this kind of festival in the Sepulveda Basin – in any year,” said Mark Osokow, a biologist and Valley Audubon board member. “It’ll be very destructive to wildlife.

“The presence of up to 65,000 people will cause an unmitigatable trampling of the ground, causing compaction of the soil, and will eliminate any small mammals as part of the food web for birds and other animals,” he said. “It’ll completely alter the ecology of the area.”


Re:code L.A. Comes to the Valley Wednesday to Talk Updates to Zoning Code

Re:code L.A. is holding a forum in Northridge Wednesday evening from 6:00 pm to 9:00pm to talk with the community about the city’s $5 million, five-year effort to update its outdated zoning code.

I know. That announcement did not set you on fire. Believe me, I get it.

But you should still think about attending the forum or at least perusing the re:code website.

Here’s why. The zoning code was last fully updated (if that is even the right word) in 1946, when the scattered bits of code that had previously guided development were compiled to create a massive, somewhat unwieldy, and largely insufficient code for a growing suburban-style city.

As you might imagine, 1946 was a very different time in Los Angeles.

Anyone familiar with the history of planning and development in L.A. in the early part of the 20th century knows that policy tools were used both to enforce segregation (see also, here) and, as Occidental College professor Mark Vallianatos wrote in 2013, to create a more “horizontal” Los Angeles as a way

…to avoid some of the perceived ills of dense European and east coast metropolises. Policy makers, planners, voters, industry and real estate interests made choices around land use and infrastructure that enshrined the single family house, the commuter streetcar, and later, the automobile as the building blocks of L.A. Just as London, Manchester, and New York symbolized the scale and challenges of the 19th century industrial city, Los Angeles, with its sprawl and unprecedented car culture, was the “shock city” of the 20th century, a new way of organizing urban land.

Instead of remedying that orientation, since 1946, planners have been adding to the code in such a piecemeal way that the language and codes governing what can or cannot happen on a single property can be both confusing and contradictory.

The situation has gotten so bad that as much as 60% of the city is governed by special overlays and site-specific designations (qualified, tentative, and restricted uses). Meaning, according to re:code Project Manager and senior planner, Tom Rothmann, that 61% of city planning staff are currently dedicated to processing of cases and synthesizing competing regulations in order for development to be able to go through.

60% of city is subject to special overlays and site-specific conditions as well as different and sometimes competing sets of regulations. (The darker brown areas). Source: City Planning

60% of city is subject to special overlays and site-specific conditions as well as different and sometimes competing sets of regulations. (The darker brown areas). Source: City Planning

Streamlining the code by creating a more flexible and appropriate web-based set of tools will help free up planning personnel to do more actual planning work. It will also make it easier for the end user to know what they can or can’t do with their property before they attempt to undertake that process.

So, the technical reasons for updating the code are more than justified. As is the decision to prioritize the code that will orient Downtown development toward supporting both job and residential growth as its complex set of neighborhoods and land uses continue to evolve.

But questions of how a modernized code will intersect with realities in the surrounding communities in such a way as to foster growth that is more transit-oriented, inclusive, innovative, affordable, healthy, and celebratory of culture and heritage are harder to answer.

Zoning, Rothmann reiterated, pointing at the enormous binder on his desk that housed the city’s current code, represents the tools used to implement the policies set forth in the General Plan and community plans.

Which means that it can’t really address the more complicated questions I often hear in lower-income communities about how to limit displacement, encourage the creation of more green space, or safeguard the cultural character of a community (not just the architectural look and feel of it) in the face of gentrification.

It does not mean zoning cannot ever play a role in addressing some of those issues. Indeed, density bonuses can sometimes be used to carve out some space for affordable units in new developments. And in specific plans, a mix of zoning and planning tools can help make unique community visions a reality. But, generally speaking, zoning can’t tackle these issues independently of planning.

Community members can benefit from learning about how their community is being categorized, just as planners will benefit from hearing community members’ thoughts on those categorizations.

For one, residents could help broaden the conversation around how single- and multi-family neighborhoods are structured.

Concerns about mansionization in more well-to-do and historic neighborhoods have pushed re:code to prioritize finalizing code for single-family neighborhoods. Meaning that re:code’s current discussion of housing focuses on neighborhood character, historic preservation, parking, streetscapes, walls, privacy, height, etc. (see a housing presentation, here) while also ensuring the code is flexible enough to meet the needs of L.A.’s many single-family neighborhoods.

Re:code presentation slide on single-family zones. Source: City Planning

Re:code presentation slide on single-family zones. Source: City Planning

It is also not unusual to see housing double as informal commercial spaces. Where job opportunities are scarce and services are limited, back patios, garages, or home kitchens can be turned into informal restaurants or prep kitchens (for kids or adults vending food outside the home). Or they might serve as repair shops or sources for clothing or other goods — or a mix of both. It all depends on the neighborhood.

It’s a different approach to live/work than you currently see discussed in planning, but it is a live/work arrangement nonetheless. What do planners need to know about how residents live and work in their homes and their neighborhoods so that regulations can better fit their unique realities? Not necessarily so that a community can be frozen in an informal economy framework for the next however many years (if that were even to be possible). But so that people can hone their entrepreneurial skills and build themselves and their communities up from within without fear of being in violation of code. Or so a man whose mother runs an informal diner in his back yard can avoid having law enforcement show up with guns drawn (again), treating his family as if they had been feeding El Chapo.

The likelihood that that level of flexibility in zoning could ever be worked into a plan is probably quite small, unfortunately. But the more planners know about the kinds of activities people engage in, the easier it will be to build a more inclusive set of tools for them to choose from.

And since planners are currently working to categorize land uses that particular kinds of structures might be able to accommodate as part of the new code formula (below), now would seem to be a good time to speak up about the activities you want to see in your neighborhood.

Re:code presentation slide of the proposed zoning code which would classify a property by context (character), form (the structure), frontage (how it engages the street), and the uses (activities) it housed. Source: City Planning

Re:code presentation slide of the proposed zoning code which would classify a property by context (character), form (the structure), frontage (how it engages the street), and the uses (activities) it housed. Source: City Planning

Another aspect of zoning that might be of concern for lower-income communities is what city planners are calling “tienditas.” These are corner markets that have been grandfathered in to neighborhoods that are otherwise zoned as residential.

For people who don’t have easy access to grocery stores or whose funds are so limited that they tend to buy cheap food or staples (e.g. milk) in small quantities, corner markets can be a lifeline. For kids on their way to or from school, they can be a source of breakfast or an after-school snack. Depending on the neighborhood and how local the clerks are, they can serve as a source of community news, since everyone passes through them at some point. And they can also, unfortunately, be a significant nuisance, as sales of liquor and junk food tend to be what keep them afloat.

What would you like to see changed about them? What standards should they meet in order to be permitted to operate? Should the city be working with shop owners to help them offer a healthier selection of products? Should they be zoned out of existence altogether? Or replaced with a more community-enhancing use when the market owner decides to close up shop? Given the multiple roles they play, it is important for planners to know if these shops count as assets for your community.

Some of the above questions are more planning-oriented than zoning-related, but knowing the extent to which small markets contribute to making a residential area better (or worse) is important to both planning and zoning staff as they think about the future composition of a neighborhood.


Re:code presentation slide on downtown-specific development. Source: City Planning

Re:code presentation slide on downtown-specific development. Source: City Planning

There are a host of other perfectly sound reasons to attend the re:code forum Wednesday, of course.

If you’re a resident of one of those communities, and you’re still not convinced zoning is your bag, it’s OK. I get it. It’s pretty technical and not terribly exciting, and it is genuinely hard to visualize what zoning changes might actually mean for your neighborhood 20 years down the road. (Kudos, by the way, to the members of the re:code team that are working very hard to make code easier to visualize — that is no easy task and they’re doing some tremendous work.)

That said, I keep coming back to zoning’s history.

I keep getting hung up on how very effectively it was once used to deny residents of some communities the opportunity to accumulate wealth via home ownership.

And I can see how it helped strip residents of the ability to have some control over development in their communities. And how vulnerable it has left them to displacement.

Zoning, planning, design — these are processes that are slow-moving and that only crystallize over the longer term. But they certainly leave their mark. Which is why community engagement and particularly that of marginalized community members is so important in the early stages. Not so that past ills can be undone — they can’t. But so that future harms might be averted and more inclusive ways forward might be found.

Adapted from this lastreetsblog article.

100 & Counting – Lake Balboa NC Offers Free Community CPR Training

Every day, more than 1,000 persons fall victim to Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Unfortunately more than 90% of victims do not survive the trip to the hospital. A major reason is the critical lack of people trained to perform CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) – one of the simplest yet most important life skills that a person can learn. “Using CPR in the critical time before EMT’s & Paramedics arrive can mean the difference between life or death of someone you know – even yourself,” said James Brown, chairman of the Lake Balboa Neighborhood Council Public Safety Committee.

Since 4 out of 5 Sudden Cardiac Arrest emergencies happen at home, the life you save with CPR is most likely to be a loved one, a child, a spouse, a parent or a friend.

That’s why the Public Safety Committee of the Lake Balboa NC is sponsoring FREE community First Aid/CPR/AED training for all residents. Since August 2015, more than 100 Lake Balboa area residents have been successfully trained to use CPR/AED, and have received optional CPR certification cards.

A Sudden Cardiac Arrest event can happen to anyone, at any time, and at any place. It is critical that community members step up to help increase survival rates by learning CPR. “If more people learned to use CPR, we can double or even triple the survival rates,” said Brown.

Each month, the Lake Balboa NC Public Safety Committee sponsors free CPR training for all community and SF Valley residents. The training is conducted by a certified American Heart Association training organization using AHA approved training. The training class is open to adults, teen/young adults – ages 12 to 18 years. All training is free. Optional First Aid/CPR/AED certification is also offered, at a small fee. Training is held at:
Flyaway Bus Terminal – 2nd Floor Community Mtg Room
7610 Woodley Ave
Lake Balboa

Training is held every 3rd Saturday of the month. Meetings start at 10 am.

Every Neighborhood Council is urged to join in to help increase survival rates of victims of sudden cardiac arrest — a major cause of death in the U.S. For more information, please contact Public Safety Committee Chairman James Brown at jamesb@lakebalboanc.org

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