Viva Mulholland?

Either you bring the water to L.A. or you bring L.A. to the water
LA would not be LA without our imported water. LA’s growth was maxing out at the turn of the century because LA did not have enough of the wet stuff. Until the early 1900s the LA River was our sole source of water. LA was founded near downtown…not near the ocean, because downtown was where the freshwater was. LA basically exists because of the LA River. The 11 families who founded Los Angeles constructed the city’s first water system, a brush “toma” or dam across the LA river. This dam diverted water to the Zanja Madre, or mother ditch, which fed irrigation canals in their adjacent fields and to other smaller ditches to supply drinking water. This worked for twenty years or so then the demand for water outstripped the supply.
Then Mulholland…you know, the guy the street is named after…., a city engineer, crafted a plan to bring water in from the Owens Valley (near Mammoth) via an aqueduct. The LA aqueduct, completed in 1913, changed the water landscape of LA and helped turn it into the megalopolis it now is. Read more about him and how he shaped LA here:,0,6150147.story


Cycling Episode

Worried about cycling in LA? Consider the following….


Grow Your Own

Can You Dig It?

Spring has sprung and many are getting their gardens on.  There are probably few better things you can do for yourself and for LA than growing your own fruits and vegetables.  While many in LA do not have access to dirt, and some of the dirt that people do have access to is pretty dirty, there are still plenty of other gardening options.  We are indeed fortunate in LA to have many community gardens.  There are approximately 70 community gardens in Los Angles County, serving 3,900 families.  Community gardens are a special type of park: they are open to all who apply, but they are self-maintained and self-policed by the membership.  Unlike most parks, community gardens occupy three categories of land: private land with short-term leases, public land with short-term leases, and garden-owned land.  

If your community wants to build a community garden, the LA Community Garden Council will help you do it yourself.  There are several non-profit organizations that build community gardens side-by-sice with a garden club, church, or school.  A patchwork of private, federal and city funding has been used to build community gardens since 1996.

For more info about community gardens please visit

Let It Flow, Sis and Bro

You know I love that river and Lisa Boyle has written an excellent article that lets you know where it has been and where it is headed.  It all started with the river and as long as the river keeps flowing so will we.

Attend an LA River event this weekend.

Safe Cycling Is Da Best Cycling, Mon

We all need to get places and getting there on bike is starting to make more sense every day.  Cycling can be a safe mode of transportation – certainly safer than texting and driving – but stuff does happen.  Fran Pavley, Julia Brownley and Safe Moves ( are hosting a biclycle safety event on May 7th at Will Rogers State Park from 11 to 2.

Get Your Bike On!

The LA River Dog Has No Bite

He Just Barks A lot

I went to municipal court today in Van Nuys to support my Canadian friends who were cited for loitering by the LAPD in February for being in and around the LA River.  Fortunately and unfortunately the case was dropped.  So thousands of dollars and hours of time and pieces of six souls were burned up because the City of LA doesn’t know what to do when it comes to the LA River: “Hey, there is someone in the river, Chief. What do you want us to do? Go down there and write them one of those meaningless tickets…teach them a lesson?” What kind of a message does this behavior send to the thousands of Canadian tourists that come to LA every year? I know that people like to make fun of Canadians, but we Angelenos are the joke when it comes to the river. So, it appears, as suspected, there is no law that prohibits people from going in the LA River. Case solved. Paddle on safely, amigos.

Traffic in LA Not So Bad

I know it is hard to believe, but yes, we do have the worst traffic congestion in the US (not so bad, it’s the worst) and it is only going to get more sucky as the economy picks back up again according to a recent report covered in USA today.  When I am sitting in traffic I often think about the other fools stuck in more horrible gridlock in other cities like New York or San Francisco, but it turns out that we are the biggest fools of all.  Here is more of the story:

So this traffic beast isn’t going to magically go away so we have to start doing something about it. Cycling, bike commuting, is definitely part of the solution. The good folks at the LA Bicycle Coalition have been working on cycling issues for many years. Learn more about them at:

Canadians Do the Right Thing, Eh

Congrats to Dave Fort and crew for raising the profile of the LA River and the need for us to more quickly move toward a cogent plan to use it.  I will be posting the numerous internet comments about this trip as they reflect the need for leadership here:

“The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be.”
-Lao Tzu
*They probably didn’t know that when it rains in the Southwestern US (which is rare) flash floods are very possible. This is even more likely when the river is made of concrete. People have been rescued from the LA River before and rescue personnel are put in an incredibly dangerous position doing so.
*Maybe so, but you don’t know the Los Angeles River. It’s really not a river. It’s a wash with a small creek in it. When it rains, the water rises and moves very fast – definitely not canoe territory.
*I’m an experienced white water rafter and I wouldn’t go down it when the water is high simply because of the fact that it is also full of all kinds of discarded junk and debris and because it is really polluted.
*The Los Angeles River is a misnomer. Most of it is a huge flood control channel which every year flushes taxpayer money out to sea while authorities attempt to rescue people attempting to use it as some form of entertainment.

*It wasn’t a real rescue like four stupid Americans form OC in a yacht off of Somolia that will cost millions and possibly American lives. Though it did take police away from the usual LA drive by shootings, baby killings, sex abuse and celeb drug use .

*What a great adventure … traveling down the LA River, stopping at out-of-the-way villages and trading posts, treating the locals to the entertainment they’re unable to get to or hear on those newly invented radios and television.  I wished they’d stopped in my little village of Los Angeles so I could hear them.
*Everyone outside of L.A. knows this is not a river, it is a cesspool heading to the beach.
*Very liberal application of the word “river.” If somebody wants to self eradicate from gene pool, that is their business. Who is to say they don’t know what they are doing? Given their choice of vessel, I doubt it. Whatever floats their boat.

You Can’t Fake Plastic – Recycling the Truth

We have been trained to feel good about putting our plastic discards in the Blue Bin – “I am doing my part, so back off!”  Some people believe that their plastic bottles go off to magic land, get cleaned, and get reused.  Nice.  Most recycled plastic at best becomes new secondary products such as textiles, parking lot bumpers, or plastic lumber – can’t recycle those things – not new plastic bottles.  So all this recycling we are doing is not recycling per se and it does not reduce the use of virgin materials in plastic packaging.
Unfortunately, curbside plastic collection programs, intended to reduce municipal plastic waste, sometimes actually lead to more plastic going to landfills as people purchase more plastic items falsely believing that everything is being recycled – many studies have shown this.  The sad truth is that plastic manufacturers are not required to used recycled plastic resins for new bottles and bags, so they just keep cranking out more plastic.  A lot of time and energy has been spent on developing and implementing a recycling number system for consumer plastics – so hard to remember those damn numbers – but the only number we ever needed was zero,…cuz that’s about what all of this stuff adds up to.
Plastic packaging creates a variety of problems including: consumption of fossil resources; pollution; high energy use in manufacturing; accumulation of wasted plastic in the environment; and migration of polymers and additives into foods.  We can curb our plastic consumption by using refillable containers, buying in bulk, buying things that don’t need much packaging, and buying things in recyclable and recycled packages – glass, paper, etc.

We have enough plastic in LA already – not talking implants, here.  You can do your part – and feel good about it – by saying no to plastic and challenging our current system of faux recycling.

I Just Called to Say You’re Stupid

There are few things in LA that are more dangerous than people working their cell phones while driving – not as dangerous as Lindsay on a bender, but close.  There are over two hundred million cell phone subscribers in the U.S. and it is estimated that 85% of cell phone owners use their phone while driving and that 60% of cell phone owner’s usage occurs while driving. In California, you are required to use handsfree if you want to drive and cell and it is against the law to text while driving…you also can’t drive with your feet and juggle…sorry circus folk. The ticket plus court costs for this cell phone blunder runs around 160 dollars. The cost of running into another car and killing someone would be considerably more…on a lot of levels.

It is clearly dangerous to drive with one hand on the wheel and one hand on your mobile, however, the distracting effects of the phone conversation on driving are also considerable. David Strayer, a University of Utah psychologist, has done a lot of cell phone research and has found that participants who engage in cell phone conversations are more likely to miss traffic signals and react to the signals more slowly than when they are not engaged in cell phone conversations. The equivalent deficits in driving performance were obtained for both users of handheld and hands-free cell phones. His research showed that listening to radio broadcasts or books on tape, by contrast, did not impair driving performance. Other research has found impairments in the ability of participants to detect changes in real-world traffic scenes when they were conversing on a hands-free device; however, no such performance decrements were observed when participants listened to prerecorded conversations from other participants. These findings demonstrate that listening to verbal material, by itself, is not sufficient to produce the dual-task interference associated with using a cell phone while driving. It seems that no matter how inane the conversations are there is a significant risk of talking while driving and such activity is responsible for a significant amount of automobile related injury.

The bottom line here is that driving is a very serious task and it requires one’s full attention…sorry, easily distracted circus folk.  So the next time someone calls while you are driving, be smart and and let it go: you could be saving your life and the lives of others.

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