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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Expo Line Opens! Public Rail Transit keeps Creeping to the Beach

Image from LA Times.  All Rights Reserved.
Celebrations should be ringing throughout Los Angeles, especially the Westside, as this weekend marks the official opening of the first phase of the Expo line.  To help celebrate, rides this weekend are free!  Eventually connecting downtown Los Angeles with downtown Santa Monica, the first phase connects downtown to the expanding Westside community of Culver City, which should continue to fuel the real estate and business renaissance happening in Culver City.  Residents can now commute to USC or downtown without getting into a car or facing a freeway.  With the completion of the second phase, LA will finally have a system that connects to the ocean, opening car-free and low-cost access to the Westside for all of Los Angeles. Oh, and benefiting all of the Westside residents heading east for work - kind of a win win, huh?  More from the LA Times below:
Almost 60 years after the Pacific Electric Railway stopped running trains to Santa Monica, the resurrection of passenger rail service to the Westside will begin with the grand opening of the $930-million Expo light rail line.

Saturday's start of service marks the first step in an effort to bring rail service back to one of the region's most traffic-clogged areas, something transportation experts have long said is crucial to developing a workable rail network for Los Angeles County.

Expo Line trains are scheduled to roll into Culver City by midsummer and Santa Monica within several years, although the segment opening this weekend stops at La Cienega and Jefferson boulevards.

Some may not consider that Westside service quite yet, but officials say it's a major milestone nonetheless.

"It's the first time in a half of a century that people will be able to access mass public transit west of Western Avenue," said county Supervisor
Zev Yaroslavsky, a Metro board member. "This is something that many people have been longing for for a long time."

The first phase of the Expo Line, which is nearly two years behind schedule and cost $290 million more than initially estimated, is an 8.6-mile stretch between downtown L.A. and Culver City. A $1.5-billion extension to Santa Monica, ending within walking distance of the beach, is under construction and scheduled to open in four years.

At celebrations starting Friday, the emphasis will be on the benefits the Expo Line will offer to students, commuters, tourists and, possibly, pro football fans who may ride it in coming years.

USC, with three nearby stops, is expected to be a big beneficiary. Thomas Sayles, a university spokesman, called the Expo Line's opening a historic moment for the city and the campus. The service, he said, will expand transportation options for students and allow visitors from all over Los Angeles to reach attractions on campus and at nearby museums.
Undoubtedly there will be critics of the cost of the project, and the delays involved in construction, but the larger success of slowly, but effectively, building a transit infrastructure in LA has to be celebrated.  Ask anyone who lives along the Gold Line or the Eastside of LA, and you can guarantee they appreciate the access transit gives them.  Finally, the Westside joins in the fun.  Hooray for transit!  

You can celebrate and learn more about it below:

Time Lapse Video of Route  (via LA Times)
Photos of Dedication (via Patch Culver City)
Everything Expo Line (via Curbed LA)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase - Sat. Apr. 21st

Image from Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase.  All Rights Reserved.
As spring arrives and April gains its foothold on the year, events such as National Landscape Architecture Month and Earth Day prompt a bevy of great Los Angeles garden tours, ranging in scale from the regional down to the local.  Perhaps one of the most exuberant (and a personal favorite) has to be the one coming up tomorrow.  The Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase, running from 10am to 4pm on Saturday April 21st, is great because it is basically an open-source, neighborhood celebration of sustainability and garden-making in all of its forms.  While some signature designed gardens are always present, you also get the opportunity to see amateur enthusiasts proudly share their converted front and backyards with neighbors and strangers alike.  The result of the event is both grounding and inspiring because it reinforces just how accessible sustainability is becoming and how much the notion of sustainable landscapes continues to infiltrate the community outside the confines of professional dialogue. 

The tour is organized for ease into 6 districts across Mar Vista, and you can preview and filter different focus areas for the gardens on the Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase webpage to help craft what you want to see, including urban farms or habitat-focused gardens.  Below is more info from the event webpage - hope you can make it out!
The Mar Vista Community Council invites you to participate in the FREE fourth annual Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase - a citywide Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 21st, 2012 from 10 am to 4pm. See the gardens on the tour hereWe have 50 NEW gardens this year! Use the  labels on the side bar to preview the gardens by areas of special interest.
Use this MAP to plan your own personal tour
      Print out the map for each of the six tours - 
          Map 1, Map 2, Map 3, Map 4, Map 5, Map 6
Maps will be available at these 9 gardens the day of the tour. Here are some tips to use the bus and your bike to take the tour!
The tour showcases drought-resistant landscapes and edible gardens with sustainability features ranging from composting techniques to water capture practices. Urban farms range from aquaponic farming to 6 gardens with chicken coops. This year the tour places special emphasis on the critical need for ocean friendly gardens and California native gardens that support much needed pollinators such as honey bees and monarch butterflies. See how creating outdoor rooms provides much more useful livable space than a traditional lawn and creates a sense of community.
This giant eco-festival is comprised of 90 private resident gardens broken into 6 compact self-guided walking tours throughout Mar Vista. On the heels of three wildly successful prior tours that topped 2,000 attendees last year, the Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase will include special guest presenters at many gardens to enhance your knowledge of sustainability in daily living. Especially valuable is the chance for guests to meet do it yourself gardeners who share knowledge and experience. This is truly a giant block party throughout Mar Vista and you will have a blast meeting your neighbors as you visit their gardens.
The Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase seeks to empower Los Angelenos to adopt environmentally conscious living solutions. With most people walking or biking their tours, there is a tremendous sense of community as residents throughout Southern California come to Mar Vista to celebrate our shared vision for a greener life.
Guest presenters on the tour include, Los Angeles County Master Gardeners,The Seed Library of Los Angeles, Open Neighborhoods on solar and  Grow Native Nursery. 26 Landscape designers will be at gardens to answer questions and share information.
Mar Vista can make a difference!
For more information please email
Media is welcome.