Saturday, January 26, 2008

Balboa Park in the eye of the storm

Here's something we haven't seen in a while - the park after a rain.
Note the snow also. It's winter in SoCal - tell your friends in the Midwest.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 18, 2008

Last night's EVNA Steering Comm. meeting

Last evening, the encinoblogger attended the (self-selected; if you were there, you're part of it) steering committee meeting. A funny thing here - several emails begged for confirmation of attendance because the room would only accommodate 25 people. No problem there; I think there were 12 people at the peak, so we could have each brought a guest and still had room within the legal limit.

At any rate. there was a discussion about the pending parking restriction experiment (see the EVNA blog for more on this; link below) put together by some Balboa Park-adjacent residents. Hard to believe anyone would oppose this, especially if you've seen the density of the parked cars on weekend days for blocks around the park. Obviously, the park was built in simpler, less dense times, and seen by the city as a neighborhood, not a regional gathering place. Soccer leagues changed all that, as did the explosion of apartments and condos that replaced homes. People drive to the park, they don't walk (so much, at least) and they come from all over the Valley, not from the neighborhood. There won't be any more parking built, at least not without shrinking the green areas of the park. Gotta wonder just where people will park once the restrictions start; I guess we'll see. I've dealt with this a lot as a guest at other's homes. It's a slight pain in the ass for all concerned, but less so than the unintended consequences of a horde of strangers using the nabe as a parking lot.

The rest of the time was spent discussing a few issues:
  • Someone needs to represent the Village on the Encino Neighborhood Council. Maybe me, I dunno. Wednesdays are a tough night for me; I have a recurring obligation that would interfere a lot, and which I'm loathe to give up. Who's out there that will step up?
  • Apropos of that, whatever time we meet will always pose a problem for someone. How best to decide this?
  • There is an ongoing need for better communication within the Village. Long detailed flyers don't work. A few bullet points and a source for more info are better. Bet you read the bold red stuff first, didn't you. Geeks and wonks (we know who we are) want the details immediately, and should be able to get them. Everyone else needs to be brought into the tent first. Simple solution - a flyer on everyone's doorstep with basic info and a referral to a website and a phone number (some people don't use the 'net; go figure) for more info.
Read this; tell your neighbors. Comment, but be nice and be on topic.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Really good to see some effort and some unity in Encino Village. It seems there are new people and new ideas surfacing. Maybe this time some things will actually get done.

The various problems around Balboa Park seem to be the factors around which people are coalescing now. If you live near Louise, this doesn't seem such a big issue, but we all have to kinda feel each other's pain for a while and not allow the Village to get too Balkanized or nothing will get fixed (again).

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Greetings, Trash-Pickers

Happy new year. I'm going to try once again to keep this going with some frequency. I have the time now, with a large part of my industry paralyzed by the writers' strike. There's a lot to write about in the Village; when I'm walking the encinodogger or cooling down after a long cycle trip I see people and things that bear, uh, blogging.

Here's the thought for the day: The trash pickers are back in force, and they're working smarter, not harder - they've figured out that we're looking for them on trash day, so they're coming into the neighborhood the night before trash day. How do I know? I saw a woman picking through a recycling can on Hatteras last night (Wednesday night; the trash pickup is delayed one day this week for the holiday, but still...), but I was on my way out for the evening and couldn't really stop to deal with it. This morning, I noticed that the newspapers, and I have a lot of newspapers by the end of the week, were totally cleaned out of my blue trash bin.

So here's the thing about this: as officer Trulick has mentioned, in most cases these are not individuals down on their luck looking for subsistence pickings. For the most part, they're organized and methodical in their treasure hunting. They know what they're looking for, and they know how to make a quick score and get out.
If that was all there was to it, I'd almost leave it to them. There's a big temptation to cut these guys a break - let them have the papers, even take the newspapers out to them when they're in the neighborhood, especially if they have kids with them, as they often do. If you really want to help people, there are lot of organizations set up to do this in an efficient and sensitive way

The dark side of this is there's a complicated formula determining how much the city clears from recycling our trash. If a representative load of recycling is worth a certain amount, that value is used as a determinant for the entire neighborhood, or street, or region, or whatever. It's something like that, if not exactly that, but the point is that we all lose if the load from the truck is light at the dump. Ultimately, the money cleared from recycling helps keep other fees down, not to mention that recycling is just the right thing to do on so many levels. (If you don't agree with that concept, you probably stopped reading this several paragraphs ago.) On the level that this is happening, it's big-time crime, not petty theft. These guys and girls can make several thousand dollars a week stealing our recycling.

Side issue #1: once they are in your bin, no rule says that they have to stop at your newspapers. They may have your financial records, your mail, your discarded blog print-outs. There is a market for this kind of information. Side issue #2: crimes of opportunity present themselves. Your car is parked in your driveway, next to your trash cans. Your iPod (laptop, Prada pumps, 1955 Stratocaster; whatever) is on the seat. Maybe your car window is open or your door visibly unlocked. You can fill in the blanks. If one aspect of the neighborhood shows vulnerability, we can't really control what follows. Why start?

We can all help out with this. If you see someone going through your trash, or your neighbor's trash, call the police. It's not petty crime, it's big-time larceny. (The cops may not roll out immediately on this. It's not murder, after all, and we have to have some perspective on this. Not enough police; too much mischief. Do the math.) But here's the thing: if we harden the target - if we show self-respect on a Village-wide basis, if we present that we have a sense of place and that we look out for each other, the bad guys will go where the pickings are easier, and we'll all be safer.