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Friday, January 28, 2011

Santa Monica Civic Center Parks - Sustainable Park Workshop

Tomorrow at 1pm, the design team for the Santa Monica Civic Parks project will be hosting an educational workshop on sustainable park landscapes.  The talk will focus on, among other things, how native plants and ecologies in Southern California work, and how they can inform and participate in the Santa Monica Civic Park project.  More on the workshop from the project's website below:
As part of the series of workshops to engage the Santa Monica community in the design process for two new Civic Center parks, an educational workshop on sustainable park landscapes will be held on January 29. Members of the park design team under the leadership of James Corner Field Operations will make in-depth presentations on sustainable landscapes and discuss opportunities for the new parks. (pdf announcement)

Bob Perry
, professor, author and preeminent expert on ecology, water conservation and California native plants

John Greenlee, internationally-recognized horticulturalist, grass and meadow expert, author and lecturer

Lisa Switkin
and Sarah Weidner Astheimer, lead park designers with James Corner Field Operations

:   Saturday, January 29 at 1 pm
: Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, East Wing (1855 Main Street, Santa Monica 90401)

Questions? Email

Sunday, January 16, 2011

SoCal Moments: Views of Los Angeles

Image from LA Times. All Rights Reserved.

The LA Times debuted a great online feature for 2011 called SoCal Moments.  The daily photo feed features a selected photo taken by one of the LA Times's readers of the large socio-cultural and environmental entity known as Los Angeles.  So far, the citizen-photographs have provided an diverse, and interesting, look at LA's landscape from the people who experience it everyday.  Below is the project's description:
What have you seen in Southern California that was compelling enough to make you stop and take a photo? We'd like to feature these moments you captured.

Every day of 2011, we'll choose one photo to share with our readers. Photos will be posted each day on L.A. Now and on Highlights will appear on Framework
Image from LA Times. All Rights Reserved.
Image from LA Times.  All Rights Reserved.
Image from LA Times.  All Rights Reserved.
Image from LA Times.  All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Replace Your Lawn Workshops all Month!

Killed my Lawn Bumper Sticker
Image, and bumper stickers, from Tree of Life Nursery.  All Rights Reserved.
Is your 2011 resolution to finally get rid of your lawn?  Well, you are in luck!  Tree of Life Nursery in San Juan Capistrano is hosting "Replace Your Lawn" workshops every Saturday during the month of January.   And, it's all FREE!

Sadly, this post is too late for the first workshop, but three great workshops remain.  Definitely worth checking out for expert advice on re-imagining your front yard without lawn, and the opportunity to find quality native plants for your new outdoor space. Upcoming workshop descriptions are presented below.  But, don't worry, if you can't attend the workshops, Tree of Life has handouts for every workshop (see the link below the descriptions), and a great cheat sheet on 30 California Native Plants to help you get started: Thirty Basic California Native Plants.   Go Green - Plant Natives!

Replace Your Lawn!

Start the New Year right by getting rid of that expensive water-guzzling, care-intensive lawn, and make way for a gorgeous native landscape!  Back by popular demand, we are presenting our Replace Your Lawn (RYL) workshop series in a four part installment about the basics of converting your lawn into a beautiful, carefree, sustainable habitat.

These workshops will be held SATURDAYS at 10 AM in the month of January, beginning January 8, 2011.  This RYL series is unique because we will hold two sessions on plant selection covering evergreen native plants and flowering perennials seperately.

All of these workshops are FREE of charge and each session lasts about an hour and a half, (depending on questions!).  Hopefully you will be able to attend each of the sessions at least once.  No reservations are required.

Saturday, January 8, 2011 - 10:00 AM

Replace Your Lawn I: Kill the Grass

Step one - get rid of it!  This may be more involved than you would expect and the methods to get rid of a lawn are quite varied.  Avoid unnecessary labor and learn several successful methods for lawn removal, depending on you turf type, budget, and timeline. First in our popular four-part series.
Download the handout:icon Replace Your Lawn: Kill the grass!

Saturday, January 15, 2011 - 10:00 AM
Replace Your Lawn II:  Creating and Caring for Your Native Garden
Second in a four-part series about Replacing your Lawn. Now that you have killed your grass, what are supposed to do?  Mike Evans will share from our booklet, "Creating and Caring for your Native Garden", that you can download here.  Learn how to create a thriving native garden.

Saturday, January 22, 2011 - 10:00 AM
Replace Your Lawn III: Plant Selection - Foundation Plants
Learn about the backbone of every native garden: neat, evergreen and carefree foundation plants.  While California’s flora offers a wide variety of flowering perennials to choose from, be sure to use plenty of hearty evergreen woody shrubs to provide an attractive backdrop to showcase your flowers as well as to keep your native landscape looking full, lush and neat.

Saturday, January 29, 2011 - 9:00 AM
Replace Your Lawn IV: Plant Selection - Flowering Perennials

After you have determined the look and feel you wish to achieve in your garden, the fun begins – plant selection!  We will present a group of plants we call our Thirty Plants.  These are the “must-haves” for any native California garden.  This selection of thirty plants represents a handsome mix of the most authentic native plants for Southern California gardens.  As we discuss the Thirty Plants, we will expand our knowledge of natives in general, and learn how to chose the right plants for any particular design theme.

Download the handout:icon Thirty Basic California Native Plants

CicLAvia is Coming Back!

Image from CicLAvia. All Rights Reserved.
CicLAvia is coming back to Los Angeles in April.  After a hugely successful inaugural event, the bicycle and pedestrian-focused fete is going to be taking over Los Angeles streets again on April 10th.  Although the route of the event will be similar to the first, the hope is to expand the event with future dates planned for July and October.  The LA Times has more:
Last October, CicLAvia drew an estimated 100,000 pedestrians and bicyclists to a long stretch of city streets that were cordoned off to traffic. Now organizers say they are ready to do it again.

The next incarnation of CicLAvia will take place April 10, according to Aaron Paley, CicLAvia's producer and a member of its steering committee. He said its footprint will be similar to October's route, which zigzagged from East Hollywood through Westlake and into downtown and Boyle Heights.

Paley said the committee, a diverse collection of bike activists, transportation experts, academics, artists and event planners, plans to host two more events in 2011, in July and October, and would one day like to see a monthly CicLAvia in L.A.

"We have tremendous momentum," said Paley, who reported that city officials had approached the group after the first event to start planning the second. "There wasn’t any question of whether this was gonna happen again. It was just, 'How soon can we do it, and how high should we aim?' "

The concept of the ciclovia, which is Spanish for bicycle path, originated in Bogota, Colombia, three decades ago. Now each Sunday there, hundreds of thousands of people take to the temporarily car-free streets. Many other cities around the world, including New York, have hosted similar events.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

LID Passes! (At least another round)

In rounding out unfinished business from 2010, a nice bit of news about the City Council passing a LID ordinance for Los Angeles before the calendar year ran out.  (Or, at least an important directive to prepare a full, legal ordinance to vote on and officially enact sometime in early 2011.)  LA Creek Freak has the details:
At its final meeting of the year, yesterday, Friday December 17th 2010, the Los Angeles City Council passed “LID”  Low Impact Development. You can read some earlier background at Creek Freak and elsewhere, but basically it means that, in the city of Los Angeles, new development (and substantial redevelopment) will need will need to be more sustainable in regards to rainwater. Buildings, landscapes, parking lots, etc. will need to slow, detain and store and/or infiltrate water on-site, instead of speeding it into storm drains, creeks, rivers, and the sea.

This took a while. L.A. Creek Freak started reporting on the city of L.A. efforts in September 2009, attended a workshop in October 2009, and reported on the Public Works Board passing LID  in January 2010. Plenty more excellent coverage is available at Heal the Bay’s Mark Gold’s Spouting Off.

It also took a great deal of effort from the city’s Board of Public Works and the Bureau of Sanitation’s Watershed Protection Division – in conjunction with city environmentalists, especially Heal the Bay, TreePeople, and Green L.A. Coalition. Some developers and building industry folks have opposed LID because it can make make some construction more expensive. Ultimately, though there had been opposition at earlier hearings, LID passed council with no elected’s nor public speaker’s opposition. It slipped in quietly via the consent calendar.

There are still a few steps before the mass proliferation of creek-friendly developments, too – the motion that passed directs the City Attorney to prepare the regulations, then those get adopted and take effect… stay tuned.

. . . .
Pretty exciting to recognize not only that environmental advocacy and education worked to pass the measure, but effectively worked (in conjunction with the support of environmentally engaged council members) to sway the entire City Council.   This bodes well for official passing of the final, legal measure once the City Attorney prepares it for the City Council.  Congrats to all of supporters of the measure, and the tireless organizations who helped move it forward.  The watershed, and I, thank you.  

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Fashion District

Project Area.  Image from Curbed LA.  All Rights Reserved.
In a nice contrast in urban planning philosophies of the past two decades, we follow-up plans for a downtown sports stadium (a controversial element of many recent urban renewals) with something that might just provide what urban residents really need, namely open space, public art, and, well, bathrooms.  Curbed LA reported the approval of an 18-month planning study for the Fashion District of LA that promises to provide quality of life services for potential residents of the neighborhood.  Among the elements high on their list (based on public feedback): places for dogs, more trees, some park space, and better lighting.  In other words, components of secure, liveable neighborhoods everywhere.  The project is being spearheaded by the Community Redevelopment Agency of LA (CRA/LA) with architecture and engineering giant AECOM acting as the lead consultant: 
The Fashion District, home to so many trends, has long gone untrendy itself. The Community Redevelopment Agency is hoping to help, reports California Apparel News, and has given AECOM a $1 million contract to conduct an 18 month study on improving the area. The CRA wants to connect the FaDi to the "Staples Center entertainment district and lure more people from the upper-crust Financial District near Bunker Hill." In focus groups this fall, residents said they'd like to see more public bathrooms near Santee Alley, restaurants open later, and more places for dogs. Business owners said they want public art, more security, more trees, and better lighting. They also want to keep businesses open later, limit food vendors, reduce jaywalking tickets, and rezone some currently industrially-zoned areas. And they're asking for some public transportation other than buses (the Regional Connector would come close, but not actually land in the District; the streetcar would graze it).
The CRA's project director for the FaDi tells the Apparel News there are several city-owned pieces of land that would make good Bryant Park-type parks, where "We could have fashion shows and do night markets." The agency would also like to turn Los Angeles Street into "a boutique street with some really interesting restaurants and street life," and to renew the Huntington Hotel at Eighth and Main.
The CRA will hold public workshops on the project in January.
· City Developing Big Plans for Fashion [California Apparel News]
· Fashion Your District [Official Site]
The project should provide an interesting foundation for extending the potential residential component and appeal of downtown, and certainly underscores AECOM's continuing and prominent role in envisioning LA's urban future (AECOM is the prime consultant on freeway cap park studies near downtown and Santa Monica, among other projects).  A timeline for the project is presented below and more on the project, including how to get involved, can also be found at the project website: Fashion Your District
Project timeline diagram.  Image from FashionYourDistrict.  All Rights Reserved.