Thursday, February 21, 2008

Take Your Medicine (part 2)

It's time for another installment of "Take Your Medicine" -- where Chip and Sally tell you what the Park LaBrea advertising banners along 6th and Houser Street really mean.

Million Dollar Views = Yes, our apartment does have a million dollar view, but others not quite so much. Configuration of the towers and their rooms are arranged in a way that maximizes the view out from and sunlight into each apartment, the “x” shape layout of the rooms works out fairly well in that regard, in my opinion, however, this means lots of the rooms look out at another tower (which is great for any voyeurs out there, but not so million-dollar-ish). Just make sure you actually see your view before you move in and sign the lease (as opposed to just looking at the view in the model apartment they show everybody on the tour at the beginning.)

Oh, and just one more thing. . . Chip and I received a bill from Park LaBrea management last month for $4,500.00. The management "informed" us that we hadn't paid for December's rent and we were being tagged with a steep late fee and extra penalties here and there, that, in our view, didn't add up. Since we're smart people, however, we were able to copy all of our cancelled rent and fee checks and deliver them to the management office -- proof we were neither late on our rent or delinquent in terms of any fees. Here's a word of caution. Park LaBrea management is and is run like a large corporation, they will loose track of you and will try to get money out of you without the slightest hesitation. Keep copies of every transaction you have with Park LaBrea management if you move here and, if you can, keep those copies in a safe place off the Park LaBrea premises. Serious. And we're not conspiracy people. We're hoping this "confusion" doesn't happen to us again while we're here. Stay tuned . . .

Can You Guess What This Is?

Around the perimeter of Park LaBrea you may notice these curious metal columns that look like a lamppost, but that have vents a the top instead of a lamp. What are they? They are methane vents, as Kevin Roderick recently discovered in the course of writing a book on L.A. There’s a note about the vents at this page his blog, down in the comments section.

The vents exhaust the methane so that the gas doesn’t build up underground (remember, we’re across the street from the bubbling, belching, geologically active TAR PITS and we’re sitting on top of an oil field). This was supposedly the same underground methane that blew a hole through the basement of the Ross Dress-for-Less (next door to PLB) in the 80s. But a 1992 report on the incident connected the explosion to a type of oilfield wastewater disposal popular in the 50s. Either way, these little vents remain reminders that everyday, as we move through our routine, we are smack in the middle of L.A.’s strange geologic circumstances.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New Best Friend

The metal cart with wheels is a mandatory investment for our neighborhood; for trips to the Farmer’s market, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or getting loads of random stuff out to the car, laundry, etc. this little blue cart is indispensable. This powder-blue beauty came from Bed, Bath & Beyond for $20.

Look Familiar?

Preservationists in Germany are seeking Historic World Heritage Site-status for six 1920s-era, modern-living housing projects (like the project in Berlin shown above). This story in Der Spiegal points to the “cream of the crop” of European Architects and builders who sought to provide a “utopia in bricks and mortar” – decent, comfortable, functional social housing for ordinary people.

Even today, 80 years later, these complexes continue to provide convenient places for working class people to live comfortably, amidst green lawns and groups of apartment blocks, near transportation and shopping and jobs. Sound familiar?

From the article:
"The settlements are something really special, not just in Germany or even in Europe," says Annemarie Jaeggi, director of Berlin's Bauhaus Archive museum, "The quality of the building is so high and the architecture has spread right across the world -- it was really one of Germany's contributions to the 20th century."

Monday, January 7, 2008

Take Your Medicine (part 1)

Let's make this clear - we really like Park LaBrea so far; the experiment is going well, BUT life inside is not all the leasing office cracks it up to be. I let out a little snicker each time I drive down Hauser Ave. (the public street that cuts through PLB) past the lamp post banner advertisements for the various amenities offered inside the gates of Park LaBrea. This post will be the first in a series "Take Your Medicine" where we post the truth behind what the banners say and what they really mean.

"5 miles of running trails" & "bike trail" -- The Park LaBrea management company issues a small map to all new residents on their orientation day. The map is of the streets inside the complex which includes dotted lines showing 1-mile, 3-mile and 5-mile round about and doubled-back routes through the sidewalks and streets. In other words, there are no separate tracks dedicated for jogging or biking, it's just a planned out route through the place. Good news is, Pan Pacific Park is across the street – it does have a jogging, walking & biking path . If you circle enough times, I’m sure it adds up to 5 miles.


Elevators in Park Labrea are slow, rickety, often broken (thank God each lobby has two) and now, apparently, late for inspection. I normally don’t approve of tagging, but I would like to thank to this observant tagger for their well-meaning graffiti; hopefully the maintenance staff doesn’t just spray off this note with cleaning fluid (as has been done before to a similar note). This keen tagger has noticed that A) the elevator is to be inspected once a year and B) the last time the elevator was inspected was in 2006. This means the elevator is past its inspection date. There's even another note below where some other elevator rider "agrees." On the other hand, it’d be great if someone actually reported this maintenance issue to management. Note to tagger – next time use a non-washable Sharpie pen. And thanks for your continued support for safe elevators in the Park LaBrea towers !!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Towers on top of tar, on top of fault lines

This article by William Fox puts it in perspective -
read it here