November 29, 2014
I'm sure we've all noticed that the stores that sell souvenirs for tourists will have stuff bearing the name "Palm Springs" even in Desert Hot Springs. Well, take a look at what I found at Walgreen's today:
They're marked $19.99 but ring up as $9.99 at the cash register. They were in only two colors: that sort of raspberry pink I bought (similar to that raspberry house on Cactus Drive) and fire engine bright yellow-green. That yellow-green color will make the wearer a little bit more visible in bad lighting, so if you know a chronic jaywalker, this might be a gift for them.
They are in men's adult sizes. I saw XXL, XL and L. I didn't dig through all of them, stopping when I found an XL. There is a limited supply and I don't see any reason why they wouldn't sell out of these pretty quickly. I mean, every City Council member is going to get at least one, right?
Made in Honduras and imported via Mexico.
Heading Out The Cottonwood Exit
While leaving Joshua Tree National Park on Thursday, I mounted the GoPro on the front of my truck and photographed the road from Park Boulevard to the Cottonwood exit. Made this video from the photos:
If you think that the views along that road are so beautiful you want to see every single photo, then go look at this video which the same thing, but slowed down to only 2 fps.
November 28, 2014
Crown Prince Lookout?
Yesterday, Thanksgiving, I went up to Joshua Tree and did a little hike near Jumbo Rocks. I was trying to find the Crown Prince Lookout that I thought we did not find last April. I might have gotten there - or not. I was in the area that the hiking guides point to, but I didn't find any indication of any sort of human encampment there at all. Last April a few of the guys hiked to the top of those rocks east of where I hiked today, and they did find some 20th century manmade stuff up there. Anyway, there were pictures:
November 26, 2014
The Tamir Rice Shooting
The security camera video of the shooting of Tamir Rice. The first seven minutes show what looks like a bored kid just hanging around waiting for something to happen. Shortly past the 7-minute mark the police arrive on the scene.
Questions for cops with experience. How often do dangerous shooters calmly stroll up to the point where you are going to stop your police car? If you are responding to a report of a man with a gun, do you drive right up to that man and stop within only a very few feet? What's the minimum amount of time you think it might take from the moment you stop your vehicle until your partner has put a bullet in the suspect? In this video we see that it took three seconds. How much longer do you think it would take if the man with a gun was not black?
DHS Planning Commission - 11/26/2014 - a quick report
6:18 PM the meeting began late because Commissioner Parker was late.
Less than 2 minutes later Commissioner Gray proposed an urgency item for the agenda. It would be to select a new Chair. One of the requirements for an urgency item is that the matter came to the attention of the Commission some time after the agenda was published. Former Chair Gerardi announced his resignation from the Commission well before November 20, so this could not possibly be an urgency item. But that determination is to be determined by the Commission. Attorney Quintanilla was present, but he wasn't going to stop them. It was hardly necessary to appoint a new Chair. Vice Chair Sobotta, who has had plenty of practice chairing the meeting, was present. Any new Chair would have served only at this meeting and the beginning of the December meeting. New Chairs are chosen in December. A unanimous vote of all four sitting Commissioners. Commissioner Romero said that she thought it would be more appropriate to wait for the City Council to appoint a new Commissioner (which could happen as early as next week) and then let that new Commissioner participate in electing the new Chair. Seeing that he couldn't get a 4-0 vote, Commissioner Gray withdrew his motion.
At about 7½ minutes into the meeting they were to consider approving the agenda. Commissioner Parker had a technical problem with his display and couldn't read the agenda. He said he couldn't vote to approve it if he couldn't read it. This seems a sure indication to me that he didn't bother to read it before he came to the meeting.
At 9½ minutes the Commission moved on to approving minutes from past meetings. There was quite a backlog, so they had minutes from eight meetings going back as far as the April 2013 meeting. Commissioner Gray moved to table that so that each Commissioner could submit their own minute corrections to staff outside of this meeting. But before his own motion could be voted on Mr. Gray proceeded to discuss them. Specifically, he objected to the fact that each of his public comments are summarized in one sentence, for example: "Dean Gray, resident, spoke of the lack of code enforcement." He wanted his full 3-minute comment to be summarized. Public comments are reduced to one or two sentences in the minutes for the City Council as determined by a resolution of the City Council. It saves staff time and reduces the possibility of an error in the written minutes. The audio recording is available for anyone who needs a fuller report. Everybody's comments, not just Mr. Gray's, are condensed like that.
Then the discussion moved on to seeking an explanation as to why there was such a backlog of unapproved minutes. There was also the question of how many meetings remain for which minutes have not been approved.
Finally, after discussing the minutes for 16 minutes, the vote to table them so they could skip discussing them in order to save time at this meeting was approved 4-0.
Next on the agenda (26 minutes into the meeting) was a discussion of upcoming capital projects by the Mission Springs Water District. Danny Friend and John Soulliere were there to discuss the next steps in the sewer project, the upcoming expansion of the Horton Waste Water Treatment Plant and the attempt to organize a financing mechanism to allow the property owners around the I-10/Indian interchange to pay for construction of the sewer system that they need in order to fully develop that area.
43 minutes into that presentation Commissioner Parker asked a question about odor and got an answer. First, Mr. Friend tried to answer him followed by another answer from Mr. Soulliere. Mr. Parker then asked if the sewer project around Indian and I-10 would be paid for by raising the water bills for the rest of us, thereby indicating that he had somehow totally missed the rather big and obvious point that Mr. Soulliere had been making about the challenges of putting together a financing structure that would allow the property owners of that area to pay for their own sewer system. I'm not going to transcribe it, but here's the recording of that part of the meeting.
Commissioner Parker took deep offense at these words. About an hour and a half later during Commissioner reports (the staff from MSWD had left long before this point) Mr. Parker had this to say:
At an hour and seventeen minutes into the meeting the Commission moved on to the next agenda item: a discussion about banner regulations with Heather Coladonato from the Chamber of Commerce. A business can display a temporary banner for a maximum of four 30-day periods in a calendar year. The periods may be consecutive. A business pays a fee for approval of each banner, so using one sign for consecutive periods saves the business some fees.
Finally at an hour and twenty-eight minutes the Commission got to the one item on the agenda that I think would be of wide interest to the residents and voters of the city: a discussion of possible revisions concerning parking on streets and on private property, on driveways and off, with an eye given to RV parking; and possible revisions in driveway regulations; and possible revisions in the code regarding fences. While I know the public loves to hear urgency ordinances, discussions of minutes, and how to put together a financing district for sewer construction it's things like parking, RVs, driveways and fences that really bring out crowds of pitchfork-carrying citizens.
Five minutes into this discussion Commissioner Gray expressed his concern that the subject could "take a while." Senior Planner Richard Malacoff acknowledged that it could. Mr. Gray said he had read it already and he proposed they just vote it up or down rather than going through each proposed change one by one. Otherwise "it could take all night." Nevertheless, the discussion continued. The greatest share of time was spent discussing how wide a side yard should be in order to legally park an RV on it.
About an hour later after discussing mostly RV parking, but also a little bit of driveways, the decision was made to table the RV elements indefinitely while Mr. Malacoff sought input from code enforcement. Fencing will be brought back at the next Planning Commission meeting which is currently expected to be December 9.
They decided to continue the next item on the agenda, "Rules and Responsibilities of the Planning Commission," to the next meeting.
From there they moved into Commissioner and staff reports, which consumed another 42 minutes. Mr. Gray encouraged staff to stay up to date on the minutes. He also pressed to have the results of the applications for marijuana dispensaries and cultivation sites brought to the Planning Commission meeting in two weeks even after Alex Meyerhoff explained that they had only today done the first scoring of the applications (some were grossly incomplete, he said) and that they needed to check their scoring and they needed to verify everything on all the applications and when that is all brought to the Planning Commission it will be a public hearing and in order to have a public hearing on December 9 they would have to send out the notices tomorrow and staff was not prepared to do that. Mr. Meyerhoff did not mention one of my big concerns, and that's that some of the applicants can afford very good attorneys and if city staff makes an error while rushing this process, the city can be sure to hear about it from some of those attorneys. I think doing it right will make everyone happier, even if it delays things a month or two (or three).
Commissioner Parker said he didn't see the email notifying him of this meeting so he didn't pick up his agenda packet last Thursday. Then he whined about wanting Mr. Malacoff to hold his hand more or to wait on him more or to generally coddle his unwillingness to make an effort. IOW, there was no indication that Mr. Parker would take any responsibility to occasionally check the city calendar to find out about city meetings the way all the rest of us do. Being a Commissioner I suppose he's above all that.
Three hours and 14 minutes, all told, and the one item that people are genuinely concerned about was left incomplete.
November 25, 2014
New At Cabot's Pueblo
BIG CHANGES at the PUEBLO
New Tour - New Experience Announcing our new Signature Tour beginning on December 2nd.
You'll experience Cabot's Pueblo Museum in a whole new way! There is so much to learn about the man responsible for the settling of the Coachella Valley. Do you think the Valley would be the same if Cabot hadn't made it his home?
New rooms open to the pubic for viewing!
Many haven't been open in decades. Cabot's Office and Artist sleeping quarters and drawing space are open for viewing. More rooms will be open soon!
Walk around the beautiful grounds.
We've been hard at work creating peaceful paths and gardens throughout the grounds for you to enjoy. Make sure you see the Alter in the Wilderness - Meditation Garden (it's also the perfect place for a wedding or special event!)
Remind yourself why there is No Place Just Like this Place.
Few people have left as indelible a legacy on the Coachella Valley as Cabot Yerxa. When you tour his remarkable hand-built 5,000 sf Pueblo you experience how his life changed the Valley. His stories will inspire you.
Cabot's Pueblo Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Guided tours are offered every half hour.
The Future Has Arrived
This...THIS is the genuine, real, official poster for the current crew on the International Space Station. Your jetpack and flying car will be available for pick-up in the first week of December. The crew includes two Americans, three Russians and one from the European Space Agency who is, to be specific, Italian.
Have I mentioned that the ISS will be landing on the Black Rock Desert next August? Oh yeah, you gotta be there.
Mission Creek Preserve
While Joshua Tree National Park is our literal backyard, we do have another backyard over in the Mission Creek Preserve (not to slight our yet-another backyard in the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve). Yesterday, "Nobody Hikes In L.A." (a website dedicated to disproving its title) did a bit on the Mission Creek Preserve. The author describes the popular hike from the gate to the Pacific Crest Trail down in Whitewater Canyon.
November 23, 2014
Great Los Angeles Walk 2014
This year's Great Los Angeles Walk was all in the San Fernando Valley, proceeding from Warner Center mostly along Ventura Boulevard easterly to Lankershim Boulevard and then north to the North Hollywood Red/Orange Lines station. The organizer measured it at 17.12 miles, but I think his distances are car miles and, therefore, straighter and shorter than pedestrian wandering miles. My GPS said my mileage was 18.8. All of it was in Los Angeles proper, but the neighborhoods included Woodland Hills, Tarzana, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Studio City and North Hollywood.
The route also traversed this neighborhood I've marked in green for which I could find no name. It's bordered by Toluca Lake, West Toluca Lake, Studio City, Universal City and North Hollywood. If anyone can give me a name, I'd appreciate it.
A little rotation and perspective. North is to the right in this image and we walked from top to bottom.
A big plus for some people this year was that the beginning and end of the route were close to the Orange Line Busway, making it easy to put your vehicle at one end or the other and get back to it fairly easily after the walk. I have some advice, however, for tourists who follow after me and come to the North Hollywood station for their fist time to catch the Orange Line. That large structure with a big orange arch over the entrance to the escalators that go underground to the ticket machine area where the highlight color is orange and to the waiting platform which is also highlighted with orange where you will see NO signs at all bearing the word "Red;" yeah, that place is NOT the Orange Line. It's the Red Line and your first clue that you have gone in the wrong entrance will come after you pay your fare and proceed to the waiting platform where you will see that either side of the platform will take you to Union Station and you would get there on a train that runs on rails. So, not the Orange Line. If you're looking for the Orange Line, it's across the street. There is one sign at the Red Line station with one arrow pointing to your right as you exit the Red Line station, but it doesn't indicate that you need to cross the street. Over there is a sort of nondescript bus shelter where you will see no color orange and there are no signs saying "Orange," until you get right into the station and look at the maps. The buses are, however, labeled with the word "Orange" and have some orange trim. This will only help you if a bus is there and you can see it from across the street.
IOW, the Metro's system designer must have worked for Boston's MBTA before coming here.
And while I'm on it, I have a few more observations about the Orange Line. As expected, every sign is in both Spanish and English, except for the warning labels on the poles next to the rear doors that tell you not to hold onto them. Those are only in Spanish. Both poles, left and right, have Spanish warnings. Are we to assume that English speaking people don't ever grab those poles or that they never ride standing up?
The names of stops on the Orange Line are announced once and once only. For some reason, the recorded voice always drops slightly when speaking the actual name, so that I could almost never understand it. Simultaneously, the electronic message display at the front (which is far less sophisticated than the ones they use on ordinary buses) will also display the name of the next stop once and once only at the same time as the recorded announcement. Then the display goes blank. Why it can't be continuously displaying the name of the next stop until it's needed for something else is something I don't know.
When you're waiting in a station and the electronic display shows you the times of the next three Orange Line buses coming, those are not the times of the next three buses coming. That is only a list of the scheduled times. You might as well look at your paper schedule. There seems to be no communication link between the Orange Line buses and the Metro system so that passengers might be able to realistically gauge their travel times. Every other transit system I've encountered that electronically shows train or bus times uses real times based on real feedback, not simply a display of scheduled times.
Despite all of that I somehow managed to traverse the distance from North Hollywood to Warner Center where our walk began. The walk was far less interesting than my three previous walks which all started in central L.A. and headed to Santa Monica, routing us through a range of economic levels and historical architecture. Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley is fairly much homogenous.
This unusual building heralded a view to the east that let us know our walk was going to be downhill for the next 15 or 16 miles as we descended towards the L.A. River.
The small building on the left is the Blue Velvet Beauty Boutique on Lankershim Boulevard.
I'm not as impressed by the claim of "real falling snow" (you can just rent that from Hollywood) as I am by the idea of a 7-foot Hanukkah puppy. This is a Hanukkah tradition I'd not heard of before.
The Valley's Miracle Mile is not quite as impressive as the one on Wilshire Boulevard, but I'm sure they are trying really hard.
Memorial to Thomas G. Taylor who died fighting a fire at this location which is now a Wells Fargo bank. The full story is here and there you will find the photo of the firefighter's 9-year old son which was the basis for the image on the memorial that wraps around the corner to the right. Here's a recent news story. The fire was started by an arsonist who, as of 2013, was still in prison.
"Vape" - new dictionary word of the year. On a related note, while I was waiting for the Orange Line bus a fairly stereotypical medium-sized old lady, wearing her everyday cloth coat, and carrying some shopping whipped out her vape device, took a big draw, and exhaled a cloud of smoke that was obviously from cannabis. Then she put it away.
Related to that is this sign I saw on Lankershim Boulevard. If it needs explaining, an ounce is 28.3495 grams. Marijuana traditionally has been sold in "eighths," an eighth of an ounce, which is about 4 grams. This dispensary claims their 8ths somehow contain 6 grams, which is all fine and good, but it's what they charge for that eighth that matters, isn't it?
This was the goal at the end of the walk. Not exactly the ocean view from Santa Monica, is it? In fact, I would have passed this by except there were about a dozen walkers hanging out there chatting and taking photos.
November 22, 2014
The Votes Are In
The final results for this month's election have been posted. Here are the numbers for the three tax measures in Desert Hot Springs.
|Measure HH (MJ cultivation tax)|
|Measure II (Tax on sales of MJ)|
|Measure JJ (Sales tax)|
The small difference in outcomes for HH and II is a little curious. Were there thoughtful people who supported the tax on cultivation, but opposed the tax on sales? Or was there some sort of confusion?