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LAist Interview: LACityNerd, Part II

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This week, we ask LACityNerd some more technical questions on biking the LA River, money, art, cops and getting evicted. If you missed the Nerd last time, here is Part I.

When can we realistically bike commute via the LA River Trail from the Valley to Downtown LA?

The LA River trail may never connect completely from the Valley to Downtown - not until the hurtles of Warner Bros., CBS, and Universal Studios are overcome. All three own the property along the river in a way that would require them to give up currently used property for a bike way.

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There are issues of security that are of concern. Along CBS, you have the issue of the confluence of the Tujunga Wash; at Universal, the north side is part of Lakeside Golf Club; and Warner Bros. owns both sides (though Forest Lawn Drive could be an alternate here to bypass their property). So, these three obstacles really prevent a contiguous river path from existing easily.

So, realistically, it could be 25 years before those issues are worked out - just to get out of the Valley. As for the rest of the Route, the Right of way is there and most of the path could be built if funds were available. I would say the studios are the only thing stopping it from coming sooner.

The City spends a lot of money. Are they putting that money into things that probably should go to something else? Is money being wasted somewhere?

Yes, there is money that could go somewhere else. There is a lot of waste in the City, but not BILLIONS. For instance, the City pays for things that could be done for less if it was done privately. That was sort of what Riordan enacted by doing so much public/private partnership during his terms. But in terms of specifics - it's hard to say.

In what area? Some of the core services are quite efficient, while many of the programs that the City funds could be better managed. We become more lean by hiring freezes and eliminating positions in management and putting more employees on Street Sweepers, as Traffic Officers, Emergency Preparedness coordinators, gardeners & park maintenance workers, and tree trimmers and put less people in upper management.

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What irks me is that we had an increase in the City Budget this last year, hired more employees in most departments, but service levels did not increase for tree trimming, sidewalk repair, and street repair - the core services of the City. If we focuses more
the services and less on the programs, our City would be leaner and meaner.

Cultural Affairs. Why is it important to the city?

Ahh... Cultural Affairs. I see cultural affairs as important because this is where we an celebrate our City. Cultural Affairs runs galleries, administers grants, and maintains the City Art Collection. Now, do we need a department to do this or could these functions be divided by other departments like Rec & Parks, Library or General Services?

The Department has not done a great job in adjusting to the way a city needs to run efficiently and effectively. There is so much potential in this City do leverage resources of the artist community, but this has not been pursued. Also, Cultural Affairs is more than just visual or performing arts: literary arts, architecture, and most importantly, our history need to be included in the departments top priorities. Sadly, this department has done more programming than services. Instead of granting $5K each to 6 groups, why not hire a graphic artist to be available to support non-profits of a certain size in design work. The City could provide technical services as well as fund other groups.

Though, I still don't know why Cultural Affairs funded Life & Times last year at the tune of over $30K.

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Tell us one fact about the LAPD we don't know.

Well, most of what they do is fairly well-promoted. I've mentioned on the blog before how the SLOs [Senior Lead Officers] in Harbor Division all share one patrol car. I guess knowing that in some divisions, there are only 4 patrol cars on the day shift might be some news to people. And we're talking a division of ove 20 square miles. Also of note, police cars are purchased and then stored for months (or longer!) under the 101 freeway in the open air where they get covered in freeway dust so that when they finally are assigned to a station for use, they're all scratched up. Not a great way to manage a fleet, if you ask me.

Oh, and did you now that most often a police car from a division won't give you a traffic ticket - its usually the Traffic Officers from the Traffic Division. So, on City streets, be more cautious for Motor Officers on motorcycles than the regular officers in geographic divisions. (You can tell by the large number on the back of the police car trunk: 1 through 19 are the area divisions, with 20 & 21 being added soon...)

Condo Conversions are a passionate issue. Activist groups and evicted tenants are saying that the middle class is being shoved out of the city to San Bernardino and other areas. Is this true? Is ths city facing an epidemic problem?

Change is hard. As a renter, one knows that they do not have control of the property when they enter into a lease or other agreement to reside in the apartment. To fight what a renter has no control of, really, is an uphill battle. There are affordable units in
the City, even with "all" the conversions - the issue really is that they are not in the places that some people might want to live.

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So, if people wan affordability, they may have to move out of Sherman Oaks, Venice, or Los Feliz - it's a reality. The market will dictate where people live. I do not see this as an epidemic problem because the solution is simple: move.

But, again, change is hard. I feel like I might be middle class, and I know I'll find something in the area in which I want to reside.

Photo by maybernaq via Flickr