(March 3rd, 2011; Los Angeles) – These days, it’s not enough to create a new greenspace in the City of Los Angeles. Like the rest of us, it has to multi-task. And, that’s exactly what the Whitnall Gardens Demonstration Project will do. Planned for a DWP right-of-way on Whitnall Highway, between Cahuenga Boulevard and Clybourn Avenue that is – let’s be honest – downright ugly, the Whitnall Gardens project will certainly spruce-up the area, with drought-tolerant landscaping to replace the bare-dirt that turns into a quagmire with each heavy rain there. It will include a walking-path that provides area residents a place to get out and exercise or just stroll; and drinking fountains along the way.
But this project goes deeper – literally. There will be a storm-water catch-basin and permeable pavers that will reduce urban flooding in the area, using a series of gutters to direct runoff into the catch-basin and any overflow into nearby storm-drains. The captured storm-water will be allowed to percolate naturally into the San Fernando Valley Groundwater basin, much as nature intended – with a little help from our engineers and the excellent soil in the area, which allows for sponge-like infiltration at a rate of 8.2 feet per day.
Councilmember Tom LaBonge welcomed community members and city officials to the ground-breaking event for this multi-benefit project, which will cost around a million-dollars to complete. “This is a great collaboration among my Council office, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the Bureau of Sanitation, the MidTown North Hollywood Neighborhood Council and the community.” The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Water-Systems is kicking-in $200,000.00 for the project, as well as lifting restriction on use of the easement itself. Councilmember LaBonge says, “It’s something we’ve been working on for a long time, and I’m so pleased that we’re now able to break ground on this important recreation and beautification effort here in North Hollywood.” Construction is slated to begin at the site in the summer of 2011.. Michael A. Coia, Assistant General Manager of the LADWP Power System said, “In addition to beautifying the community by the addition of a drought-tolerant garden, we are creating an open interactive space and a stormwater capture site all in one.”
(March 3rd, 2011; Los Angeles) – Councilmember Tom LaBonge announces that the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission is recommending approval of a new Historic Cultural Monument. Commissioners recommend that the folk-art garden in Beachwood Canyon known as the “Garden of Oz” be given Historic Cultural Monument status at an upcoming City Council meeting. The private garden is located in the Hollywoodland neighborhood of Los Angeles. It’s a unique collaboration of artists creating a “found-object” and folk-art oasis in the Hollywood Hills. It is a gem amidst the bustling city, a great place to get lost in child-like imagination and whimsy. “There’s no place like home. And, now there’s a home for the “Garden of Oz” and the fascinating artwork it contains,” said Councilmember LaBonge, who helped the community shepherd their labor of love toward Historic Cultural Monument status. The matter now goes before the Planning Commission before it can be sent on to the City Council for final approval.
Councilmember Tom LaBonge joined Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LA County Director of Health Services Doctor Jonathon Fielding to unveil the "Fresh Air Dining LA" program. The new smoke-free outdoor dining ordinance takes effect on March 8th, after a one-year rollout period. Officials revealled a poster advertising campaign, restaurant signage meant to inform diners about the new policy, and a website to educate smokers and non-smokers alike about the intent of the new smoke-free outdoor dining ordinance. Starting March 8, 2011, this smoking restriction prohibits anyone from smoking within 10 feet of outdoor dining areas including restaurant patios, cafes and food courts, and within 40 feet of food kiosks, food carts and mobile food trucks in the City of Los Angeles. Several food truck operators were on-hand to show their support for the new policy.click here for more information
(March 3rd, 2011; Los Angeles) – Responding to calls from the community, Councilmember Tom LaBonge helped secure approval from the City’s Cultural Heritage Commission for a new Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) in the Hollywood Hills. Commissioners recommended that the full Los Angeles City Council approve the Hollywood Grove HPOZ at an upcoming future meeting. Councilmember LaBonge said, “This is a wonderful opportunity to preserve another great neighborhood. These are beautiful Craftsman style homes. There’s a lot of love in that neighborhood, and I applaud the community for their tenacious efforts to get this Historic Preservation Overlay Zone.” The Hollywood Grove neighborhood is a quaint community of historic Hollywood bungalows, north of Franklin Avenue, between Canyon Drive and Saint Andrews Place. These bungalows were built between 1905 and 1939 and 78% of them are very much intact. Councilmember LaBonge helped the community push hard for a speedy adoption of this historic district. The matter goes to the City Planning Commission for approval on March 10th, then on to the City Council.
I'm proud that the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved the Bicycle Master Plan on Tuesday, March 1, 2011. The plan has a long-term goal of 1,680 miles of interconnected bikeways. It calls for the City to create more than 200 miles of new bicycle routes every five years. Bike lanes could be coming to Figueroa Street, Wilshire Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard in the near-future. City engineers and transportation consultants have been working on the Bicycle Master Plan for the last three years, with input from bicycle activists and the Council Transportation Committee, which I co-chair. Ten percent of the City's share of Measure R funds -- the 2008 sales-tax to support countywide transportation projects -- will go toward initiatives for cyclists and pedestrians. Off-road cycling in Los Angeles Parks is still being hashed-out. I introduced a motion to make sure that any proposal to allow mountain-biking in city parks, where trails are shared by hikers and equestrians, must be fully vetted by the Department of Recreation and Parks.
There's no dispute about the importance of childhood reading to a student's continuing educational success. That's why I support programs like "Read Across America", which instills the love of reading early in a child's life. "Read Across America" came to Rio Vista Elementary School on February 28th, with Curious George, the character from the series of childrens' books by HA Rey that have delighted kids for generations. Curious George was a big hit with the kids, thanks to the folks over at Universal Studios, where the curious monkey lives. I just want to make sure all students are curious about their world ... and discover their universe -- and beyond -- through a lifetime of reading. "Read Across America" Day is March 2nd, which happens to coincide with Dr. Seuss' birthday!click here to see more photos
The traffic-signal at Talofa and Riverside is up and running, activated during a community ceremony on February 23rd in Toluca Lake. This project was funded by the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Dozens of people turned out at the intersection for the activation. We'd like to thank the Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce, the Toluca Lake Homeowners Association, the Greater Toluca Lake Neighborhood Council, the West Toluca Lake Residents Association. As retired St. Joseph Medical Center Chaplain Father James Boal quipped during his invocation: "Let there be light" at Talofa and Riverside. The light helps the flow of traffic at the increasingly busy intersection, where people flock to the Trader Joe's on the southwest corner. The signal also allows pedestrians to safely cross the street to businesses like the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on the north side of Riverside. It's a safety improvement the community needed, and I'm proud my office could help make it happen.Click here for more photos
Be advised: Oscar takes-over Hollywood this weekend and there will be no red-carpet for most of us drivers. A number of streets in Hollywood will be closed for the 83rd Academy Awards presentation, which will be held at the Kodak Theater on Sunday, February 27. Traffic has been affected all week, and will be affected for a few days after the Oscar ceremonyclick here to see street-closure info