April 28, 2009

Could This Be LA's Most Mind-Altering Block?

View LA's Most Mind Altering Block in a larger map

WHERE ELSE in Los Angeles can you chill out with 4 marijuana dispensaries (plus a hydroponics supply store), drown your sorrows at 6 wine, beer and liquor establishments (plus 2 liquor stores), and get your blood pumping again with caffeine from 2 coffee shops (plus a brownie bakery) , all without getting back in your car?

Welcome to Atwater Village. Not too long ago we thought we only had 2 marijuana dispensaries but AV News now lists 4 of them.

And they're all on Glendale Blvd., mixed in with the depressant vendors (55 Degree Wine, Bill's Liquor) and stimulant slingers (Kaldi Coffee).

Is it any wonder we also enjoy so many art galleries?

Sunset Magazine Shines on Atwater Village

THE MAY 2009 issue of Sunset Magazine profiles a 5-mile bike tour of the Los Angeles River with 2 stops in Atwater Village:
  • Stop for art - "Cross to the river's east side on Glendale Boulevard (take the path upstream from the bridge), and you’ll find Black Maria Gallery (3137 Glendale Blvd.; 323/660-9393) on an arty row of shops and galleries in the up-and-coming Atwater Village area..."
  • Brake for bread - "Cross to the river's east side on Sunnynook Footbridge, and strike an eagle pose at the yoga course (upstream from the bridge) before hitting one of the city’s best bakeries, L.A. Bread ($; 3119 Los Feliz Blvd.; 323/662-8600)..."

April 27, 2009

City College Site Might Not House City College

THE NORTHEAST CAMPUS of Los Angeles City College, nearing completion at the old Van de Kamp Bakery site at San Fernando Rd. and Fletcher Dr., might not house the community college after all.

A letter from LACC President Jamillah Moore indicates that other tenants might occupy the $70 million, 30,000 sq ft historic building the first 5 years. What tenants? A reader says a 9th-grade charter school and a WorkSource job-seeking center are likely. Public meeting tonight:
  • Meeting: Future Plans for Northeast Campus LA City College (site of historic Van De Camp Bakery on Fletcher Drive)
  • Monday, April 27, 2009, 6:00pm
  • LA City College MLK Library
  • 855 N. Vermont, LA
Read more about the unexpected move from The Eastsider LA.

Next LA River Cleanup: Saturday May 9

THE NEXT LA River cleanup in Atwater Village is Saturday, May 9, 9:00am to noon in the Glendale Narrows area of the river north of Los Feliz Blvd., brought to you by Friends of the Los Angeles River and Hyperion Volunteer Corps.

LAist has some great photos of last week's cleanup. And see FOLAR's well-drawn flier.

April 26, 2009

Road Rage! Another Shooting in South Atwater Village

View Larger Map
A 40-SOMETHING motorist was shot multiple times at Carillon Street and Atwater Avenue, near the Fletcher Drive taco stand, this morning around 1:00am.

Police say he and another driver started arguing at a red light in Atwater Village, and the other driver opened fire. The victim drove himself to LAPD's Northeast Station, where he was taken to a hospital and was expected to survive. The LA Times has more.

For those of you keeping score at home, this is a block from where Steve Garcia was shot and killed on Carillon Street in February 2008.

And today's news brings this month's neighborhood gunshot reports to a grand total (so far) of 6, including:

April 25, 2009

Atwater Village: 'Nice Transition to Suburbia'

Home! Atwater VillageHERE'S HOW our neighborhood gets portrayed in a roundup of stereotypes about the 5 Los Angeles hipster boroughs (Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Echo Park, Koreatown, Atwater Village):
Atwater Village: This is the closest to suburbia you will get within the 5 LA Hipster Boroughs. Mostly consisting of homes instead of apartments, this is where hipsters go to have families yet somehow stay connected to their skinny jean roots. Volkswagens in Atwater are like BMWs in Beverly Hills. People from Atwater make their kids look dumb by putting fake vintage tees on them, and will take their family to the Farmers Markets because organic food is good for their health. In reality these hipsters need to suck it up and just move into Glendale, Burbank or Pasadena but in the meantime Atwater is a nice transition to conservative suburbia.
I guess Glendale and Burbank qualify as "suburbia" till you've taken a spin out to someplace like Rancho Cucamonga.

April 24, 2009

New to the Hood: Media Contour Studio

SAY HELLO to a website design firm called Media Contour. They posted 10 photos of their new office on Casitas Avenue in South Atwater Village.

April 22, 2009

LittleBird Gallery Packing Up, Moving Out

LittleBird GalleryTHIS WEEKEND LittleBird Gallery opens a final exhibition, "Make the Logo Wooden," April 25-29, 7:00pm to 10:00pm, at its Atwater Village storefront, 3195 Glendale Blvd.

So is this goodbye? LittleBird tweets that the gallery is "preparing for podcasting and vlogging" and "not saying good bye, just see yah later." .

Update April 24 via LittleBird's Twitter: "We're NOT closing, just moving! Details coming soon."

April 21, 2009

Alas, Some Atwater Village Love from LA Magazine

Atwater Village in LA Mag
THE MAY 2009 issue of Los Angeles Magazine dedicates 2 pages to the banana-shaped northeast LA neighborhood we call Atwater Village.

"Warrants the 'village' moniker." "Relaxed enclave." "Small-town experience." Their words and, despite certain recent events, still ours. The magazine profiles much of what we agree the AV and its 18,000 residents are really all about:
LA Times' West magazine gave us a similar showcase in February 2007.

LAFD Knocks Down Brush Fire on Fletcher Drive

A BRUSH FIRE at 2375 Fletcher Drive, just across I-5 from Atwater Village, in dangerous proximity to our fave Home Restaurant, was knocked down at 11:43am, the Los Angeles Fire Department reports. Half an acre burned.

April 19, 2009

Yes, Atwater Village, We Have a Marijuana Dispensary

For Lease on Glendale Blvd.
AND IT LOOKS like we're getting a second one, smoking distance from the first. Here's what's known about the marijuana dispensary already open for business in Atwater Village:
  • Friendly Collective (sometimes LA Collective)
  • 3405 Glendale Blvd., Suite B
  • Operating since February 2009, perhaps earlier
  • Open 7 days a week (10am to 8pm Mon-Sat, to 6pm Sun)
  • Has a Money Back Guarantee: "Purchase one of our two highest grade medications ($30/gram) with a money back guarantee. If you try the medication and don't care for it, you can return 75% of the original quantity and get 100% of your money back"
  • Owned by Joseph Ron Ramirez, according to Los Angeles City Clerk
  • Cited by the City for failing to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy, which may include installing wheelchair access and on-site parking, like a "drugstore" would have
As for the second marijuana facility, it's expected to be the boutique pharmacy opening soon at 3106 Glendale Blvd., across the street and down the block from the first.

A reader confirms (on 4/20, no less): "It's going to be a medical marijuana pharmacy! Is that really what we need to bring change to the village? Unbelievable. All that time the Leasing sign was posted I was hoping for a nice cafe, deli, book shop, anything besides a bloody marijuana pharmacy!"

Now, what about that new brownie place...

Early Sunday: Gunshots in South Atwater Village

NEIGHBORS REPORT hearing up to 7 gunshots followed by cars quickly escaping in South Atwater Village around 3:00am this morning, April 19. More on the AVNC forum. So who still thinks these are isolated incidents?

April 17, 2009

New Pharmacy Coming to Glendale Blvd.

IN THE RETAIL center that houses Indochine Vien and Subway (and the defunct Cold Stone Creamery), a reader finds new life:
"So I popped my nosey head into 3106 Glendale Blvd to see who's opening up at this location. I only managed to speak to one of the builders who said it was going to be some kind of boutique pharmacy. Let's hope this brings new tenants to the building next to it as well as the old Coldstone building. Be nice not seeing all those to let signs everywhere.... Maybe someone knows more about the so called boutique pharmacy?"
And maybe someone also knows why Atwater Village needs a third "pharmacy" within walking distance. Seriously, how much medical marijuana does one neighborhood need?

See the leasing company's brochure for this property. The space rents for $3 per square foot per month.

Again! At Least 5 Shots Fired, Cops on the Hunt

WE HEARD distinct gunshot pops, 5 or 6 of them, a few minutes after midnight in central Atwater Village. By 12:15am we had LAPD patrol cars in the streets. And a police helicopter is now darting between Riverside Drive and San Fernando Road, essentially the width of the neighborhood. If you know or saw or heard anything else, now might be a good time to call the Northeast LAPD, (213) 485-2563.

UPDATE #1: 12:20am. All's quiet. Just the birds and the freeway. 

UPDATE #2: 9:30am. Sorry, Silver Lake, looks like this one's on your books. Thanks to a commenter for this: "I live in the Archstone apartments and heard the gunshots. About 10 cop cars came by with an ambulance. Thank god no one was killed. The incident originated at the Riverside Gas station/repair shop."

Keeping track at home? Add this to the March 31 Joey Romo hit and the April 2 shootup of someone's house.

April 16, 2009

Back in Time: Riverside & Fletcher (1960)

1960 Riverside & Fletcher Dr, originally uploaded by da90027.
AS SEEN FROM Red Car property, toward Atwater Village and Glendale. Photo credit: Antonio Futterer, Holyland Exhibition.

April 15, 2009

Newbies' First Visit to Angel Stadium

Adenhart Memorial
THIS SUNDAY we made our first visit to Angel Stadium in Anaheim. The Angels had just lost rookie Nick Adenhart to a hit-and-run accident, prompting overflowing fan memorials and, perhaps, contributing to tensions behind a bench-clearing near-brawl in the first inning.

The Angels ended up squeaking by the Boston Red Sox, 5-4, and opened the field after the game for an Easter Sunday kids run around the bases

Is Angel Stadium worth winging the 30-mile journey from Atwater Village? Pros: Easier parking, clean facilities, even a train station in the parking lot. Cons: weird suburban stadium construction, train schedules not exactly well coordinated with game times.

Chances we'll return: High as halos, especially since the Angels live much closer than the Dodgers do to a lot of the other places (and people!) we like to see in Southern California.

April 13, 2009

Clipboards vs. Computers: Spot the Real Census Worker

DOES ANYONE else think this might not be the best way to collect data? US Census Bureau workers are walking neighborhoods, verifying addresses with handheld computers. They may knock on doors to ask about additional living quarters, like guest houses.

But here in skittish Atwater Village, with our fake newspaper salesmen and fake phone salesmen and fake curb-painting salesmen, neighbors are understandably wary. From a reader:
"Last Thursday leaving for work a guy walking from house to house told me he was working with the census bureau.

I thought nothing of it as he looked professional enough and had a pretty official looking windbreaker with a census logo and a clipboard.

But then I got the following email: 'Everyone be on the lookout for census surveys going around door-to-door. These are FAKE, so DO NOT ANSWER YOUR DOOR when they come knocking. They are casing your place for breaking and entering and robbery. The Police Dept. notified us to this latest scam. Be Constantly Careful!'"
The Census Bureau fact sheet says nothing about logo windbreakers and clipboards. It says workers can be identified by handheld computers and badges. So "constantly careful" seems like good advice here.

April 10, 2009

Reports from the Gang Violence Q&A

REPORTS ARE COMING in from reader emails and AVNC forum posts about last night's gang violence Q&A at the Atwater Village Neighborhood Council meeting:
  • The Joey Romo homicide investigation is ongoing. It's likely there were eyewitnesses who could help, but none have come forward. 
  • The series of shots heard just 32 hours after the Romo killing may have involved someone shooting at a house, possibly in a case of mistaken identity or retaliation.
  • The police qualify these as isolated incidents, not part of a greater gang campaign or "all-out war."
  • And LAPD urges Atwater Villagers to engage in more Neighborhood Watch activities, like phone trees.
For what it's worth, Atwater Village suffers a fraction of the gang-related crimes found in neighborhoods in the east side of South LA and in the San Fernando Valley. So gang intervention activities from the likes of Aztec Rising typically don't focus on our area. But it's always worth asking.

Pick a Tunnel, Any Tunnel

Tunnel Entrance
The Next One
CHOOSE YOUR favorite entrance to LA's Figueroa Street Tunnels.

April 9, 2009

Tonight: Gang Violence Q&A

GOT QUESTIONS about recent gang-related carnage in Atwater Village? In lieu of actual gang members, these people might be good to ask:
  • Who: LAPD Homicide detectives, City Council President Eric Garcetti's staff, members of gang intervention group Aztecs Rising
  • What: Questions and answers at the Atwater Village Neighborhood Council meeting
  • When: Tonight, Thursday April 9, 7:00pm
  • Where: Christ's Church at Griffith Park, 3852 Edenhurst Ave.

April 8, 2009

My Vote for Mister LA: Charles Phoenix

MY CHOICE was easy in Los Angeles magazine's Mr. LA contest. While candidates like Magic Johnson and Bob Baker may give us reasons to love the city, I get the sense Charles Phoenix loves it more than just about anyone. Witness one of his slideshows or holiday pageants and see if you don't walk away a little more glad to be here.

And if Mr. Phoenix isn't Mr. LA, then he's Uncle LA, Cousin LA, Brother LA and Grand Poobah LA all rolled into one.

April 7, 2009

Romo Murder Not Showing on LAPD Crime Map

WHAT GIVES? I'm not the best at navigating the kludgy Los Angeles Police Department's crime map, but shouldn't these parameters produce results that include the March 31 murder of Joey Romo in Atwater Village?
  • Address: 3101 Glendale Blvd. (within 1 mile of incident)
  • End Date: 04/03/2009 
  • Date Range: 7 days (for week of March 27 to April 3)
  • Radius: 1 mile
Crimes listed for central Atwater in that timeframe are: April 2 assault in 3600 block of Brunswick Avenue, and April 3 theft in 3400 block of Garden Avenue.

Nothing for March 31. Nothing for 2900 block Glenmanor Place.

(By the way, a much better representation of local activity: Every Block's Atwater Village crime list. See the last 92 neighborhood crimes according to LAPD data. Still, no Romo.)

April 5, 2009

What a Pair of Vegan Sisters Ate in Atwater Village

TWO SISTERS regularly tour vegan restaurants in Los Angeles, and in this video they try Atwater Village's own Hugo's Tacos, 3300 Glendale Blvd.

For their "cheapest meal of the day," Whitney and Mary found Hugo's $6 vegan-cheese burrito "fresh and healthy," and the $2 chocolate-caramel swirl Frozato soft-serve "better than Scoops."

April 4, 2009

Weekend Promises to Be a Little Yummier

CHECK OUT neighborhood French fave Canele restaurant (3219 Glendale Blvd.) in the May 2009 edition of Bon Apetit magazine, an article about the top 10 brunch spots in the nation:
"Along Atwater Village's main drag sits this tiny gem run by chef Corina Weibel and her partner, Jane Choi. The omelets (filled with tomato confit, goat cheese, mushrooms, or caramelized onions) are simple perfection."
Canele serves brunch, first come first served, Saturdays and Sundays, 11:00am to 3:00pm.

April 3, 2009

An Extra Letter? Or Confirmation of Gang Membership?

EVER NOTICE how the Atwater Village gang spells its name Thee Rascals, not The Rascals? What's with the extra e? And what's with the extra e on this post about Joey Romo's murder on the AVNC forum: "Let us be strong and help THEE ROMOS get through these tough times."

Even the Sopranos Would Light a Candle Now and Again

Glenmanor Helicopter

NOT EVERYONE is pleased with plans for a Friday night vigil honoring slain Atwater Villager (and alleged gangster) Joey Romo. A reader emails:
"There is a lot of local Atwater opposition to the candlelight vigil being held by the candidate for Glendale city council (election 4/7, coincidence?) for the young man identified by LAPD as having been killed by his gang colleagues Tues nite.

"No one wants the media (who would call them I wonder) here to further tarnish the neighborhood. This is a good and safe community.

"Worse, the victim's family hasn't even been asked if they want a vigil in front of their house. For all these self-appointed 'do-gooders' know, the family may have funeral plans on Friday, want privacy and need the limited parking.

"Neighbors are also worried that running buddies may assemble at the vigil Friday nite then go drinking on the river then tag all night around Atwater and/or exact some revenge."
One report has the prayer vigil, "running buddies" and all, scheduled for tonight, April 3, 6:30pm, 2982 1/2 Glenmanor Place.

Another report says the vigil starts at Holy Trinity Church, Brunswick and Appleton, 5:00pm today.

April 2, 2009

Freshly Baked Donuts at New, Improved Intersection

OH WELL. Within days of the City's installation of a $110,000 curb improvement to the large 5-way intersection where Glenfeliz, Dover and Valleybrink meet (you know, the one intended to prevent vehicles from dangerously spinning tire marks) today's new photo shows how someone came along just after 11:30am and dangerously spun tire marks. As if it were a personal challenge.

See this AVNC forum thread about compromises that may or may not have been made in the intersection redesign

And another photo shows before-after donuts.

Again Today? Neighbors Hear 4-5 'Shots' in Wee Hours

Police, ParamedicsATWATER VILLAGE neighbors report hearing 4 to 5 "shots" sometime between 3:30am and 4:00am this morning. (Details on the AVNC forum.) I heard them too. They woke me up. But they sounded too regular to be gunshots. Too mechanical. And the helicopter that flew over 10-20 minutes later didn't seem to have on searchlights. So was it gunfire? Again? For the second time in less than 32 hours? Inquring neighbors want to know.

Non-homicidal theory #1: Something to do with the nearby trains?

Non-homicidal theory #2: Something to do with film shoot on Riverside Drive?

Semi-homicidal theory #3: A few days later at a gang violence Q&A, one possible explanation was that someone was shooting at a house, perhaps in a case of mistaken identity or retaliation for the Joey Romo hit. Should this make us feel better?

April 1, 2009

Perfect Timing: Garcetti Seeks Feedback on 'Public Safety'

LOS ANGELES City Council President Eric Garcetti is asking for input from the community on how local government can best improve public safety. Take the survey on Garacetti's website.

Last Night's Killing: The Aftermath

IF ONLY this were an April Fools joke. Last night's killing of an alleged gang member in the 2900 block of Glenmanor Place is a stark reminder that the gang era continues in Atwater Village.

Neighbors were outside this morning trying to grasp the violence and the reaction. Who was the victim? Did he live in Atwater Village? For how long? Was the killer with a rival gang? Is he coming back? Did LAPD respond fast enough? Did they look in the right places? Plenty of speculation on the AVNC forum, too.

One reader fairly took me to task for the first line of my report last night:
"I have a problem with the first line of your last post: 'There better be a good explanation for this.' These helicopters are not a nuisance. Both of us pay tax dollars so that they can come protect us if there is a problem in out neighborhood. You are a leader in this community by hosting this blog. Please consider that your actions may produce a negative effect by preventing our community members from calling the police if they see/hear suspicious activity in the future."
Agreed: a thorough and swift response to crime is greatly needed and appreciated. And I always recommend notifying authorities about suspect activity. Remember the newspaper salesmen? And the curb painters? And the Sunnynook meth house? Call, call, call.

But when a neighborhood is swarmed by police and residents are commanded from the sky to "go inside, lock your doors," I think an explanation is due.

How about it, LAPD? What really happened? Why did it happen? Is it going to happen again? Is there anything we can do? How do we make it all go away?