Category Archives: News

North Hollywood gets its own gateway

The NoHo gateway waits for its day

The NoHo gateway gets prepped for its big day.

I apologize for the lack of posting; I’ve been busy contributing to LAist and working on some other projects.  Moving on…

For months, there have been non-descript giant wood boxes on the sidewalk off Lankershim Boulevard and Huston Street, close to where this blogger is located offline…Could they be a makeshift homeless shelter?  A secret passageway to an underground tunnel?  Or just a big wood box?  Turns out NoHo is getting its own gateway, so while there will no be exciting hidden passages, there will be a new structure welcoming people to the Arts District.

The gateway is set to be unveiled tomorrow from 7 to 10 p.m.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend – I’m covering the Metro’s meeting on their bike policies in downtown for

Also in NoHo news: A walking tour by the San Fernando Valley Museum will take place this Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.   It meets at the Amelia Earhart statue at the corner of Magnolia Boulevard and Tujunga Avenue, with a suggested donation of $10.

Linda Vista Hospital featured in VH1’s “Charm School”


Screenshot courtesy of VH1.

After a noticeable spike in traffic (1,000 visitors is huge for me!), I started wondering what all the fuss was about.  Well, I was flipping channels the other day and got my answer.  VH1’s “Charm School with Ricki Lake”, which features dumped contestants from the network’s past two reality dating shows, sent its “students” to the abandoned Linda Heights Hospital.  The so-called haunted hotspot is actually Linda Vista Community Hospital, which was visited and previously written about on this blog.  (I am by no means whatsoever a fan of the show, but if you’re curious, check it out here, courtesy of an anonymous commenter’s link on that post).

Though no ghosts come out to play on the VH1 episode, others who’ve checked out the hospital have had their own odd experiences.  The Los Angeles Paranormal Association recorded strange humming noises during one of their visits.  In a past interview on this blog, the hospital’s manager said he believes oftentimes the old building’s natural noises are “misinterpreted.”  In any case, listen to LAPA’s recording and decide for yourself.

Regardless of whether the location is the home to the dead or living (remnants of the homeless can be seen here and there), the hospital continues to garner attention from urban explorers, paranormal investigators and curious Angelenos alike.

At LAist: Bob Baker Marionette Theater declared a landmark

The Bob Baker Marionette Theater by Xurble on Flickr

The Bob Baker Marionette Theater by Xurble on Flickr

The nearly-50-year-old puppetry theater of legendary marionette master Bob Baker was declared a cultural landmark by the city yesterday.

Check out this blogger’s contributed full story about the Bob Baker Marionette Theater at!

Roxana Saberi released, but one local woman remains in Iran

Photo Roxana Saberi courtesy of; photo of Esha Momeni courtesy of

U.S. journalist Roxana Saberi was released from prison in Iran, NPR reported Monday morning.   Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the press Saberi would be returning home in soon.

But one local woman, Iranian-American Cal State University Northridge grad student Esha Momeni (left, below), remains in Iran.  (Note: this blogger reported the story for the university’s Daily Sundial last semester.  Read a summary of Momeni’s case at the newspaper’s website).

Arrested last October while she was working on her thesis documentary project about the women’s rights movement in the Middle Eastern country, Momeni was held in solitary confinement for two and a half weeks until she was released from Evin prison, the same jail Saberi was held.   Initially, government officials said there were “no obstacles” keeping her from coming home, but it quickly became clear that this was not true when Momeni’s family said the student’s passport had been siezed.  Later, Iranian officials said a travel ban had been issued against Momeni, and that she would be charged with “acting against national security.”

Momeni had been recording interviews with volunteers of the One Million Signatures campaign, an organization that seeks to amend Iranian law to recognize men and women as equals, for her documentary.  At the time of her arrest, she had been pulled over on a highway for allegedly passing another car illegally.  Momeni was then escorted home, where her computer, video footage and other personal belongings were confiscated.

Her fiance, Hassan Hussain, has worked relentlessly for her release.  “I don’t know what to do,” he says, adding all he can do is “hold on and keep trying.”

Hussain says he does have some hope the new Obama administration will help the process of Momeni’s release, but with Iranian elections coming up in June, he adds that the Middle Eastern country’s government might be more preoccupied with a new administration’s transition than mending relations with the U.S. by allowing Momeni and others like her to return.

CSUN’s journalism department awarded Momeni with their first Academic Freedom Award last week.

For those interested in helping Esha Momeni return home, a petition is available to sign electronically:

More reading:

Looking to lend a hand? This Big Sunday is your chance

Courtesy of

Volunteers give a hand during last year's Big Sunday festivities. Photo courtesy of

Former British prime minister Winton Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give.”

This weekend, the non-profit organization, Big Sunday, aims to help L.A. give their time or money for a good cause.

Check out their 3rd annual Big Sunday Arts Fair at the L.A. Farmer’s Market at Third Street and Fairfax Avenue from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  on Sunday, May 3.  The event will include live dance, music and puppet show performances and craft-making, as well as a flea market in which all proceeds will benefit the long-running theatre group, “We Tell Stories.”

The organization is hosting several other events throughout L.A. over the weekend, including blood drives, electronic waste recycling, lemonade stands, and manicures (click here for a more detailed list).

Interested in donating time during Big Sunday?  Volunteers are needed for everything from beautifying public stairways in Los Feliz, exercising a green thumb at the Salvation Army residence Alegria, help repair reb center Phoenix House’s fence in Monrovia, take foster children on a hike at Whittier Narrows State Park, entertain seniors at St. John of God Nursing home and more – see all of the weekend’s opportunities here.

If you’re looking to do some shopping while doing some good too, Unique L.A.‘s anti-mall event at the California Market Center in downtown is showcasing independent designers’ and artists’ works this weekend, May 2 & 3.  Tickets are $5, and half of the proceeds are donated to local charities.

Hit-and-run driver arrested for bicyclist’s death; plus, “Safe Streets” bill introduced

A 22-year-old Panorama City man was arrested and charged on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter Sunday, the L.A. Times reports.  Police say Alejandro Hidalgo was under the influence when he struck and killed a 44-year-old bicyclist on Glendale Boulevard in Echo Park at about 1:45 a.m.  The identity of the biker has not yet been released.

In other related traffic safety news, Assemblyman Paul Krekorian’s “Safe Streets” Bill, AB766, is set to be heard a week from today on Monday, April 27.  The bill “would allow a local authority retain a prima facie speed limiton any street, other than a state highway, if the local authority makes a finding, after a public hearing, that a higher speed limit is not the most appropriate for the orderly movement of traffic upon the street and does not promote a safe environment for the neighborhood or pedestrians.”

The bill would benefit San Fernando Valley neighborhoods where pedestrian accidents are on the rise.  The L.A. City Council is raising speed limits on four busy Valley streets, CSU Northridge’s Daily Sundial writes.  Zelzah Avenue, which runs along the college campus’ east side, will have its speed limit raised by five miles per hour in order to keep up with drivers’ average speeds on the street.  But the university newspaper reports the speed limit raise is being met with criticism amid increasing pedestrian accidents, of which two recent ones resulted in deaths.  Just three weeks ago, LAPD’s Devonshire division addressed this problem when they held an early-morning  sting at Reseda Boulevard and Dearborn Street by CSUN aimed towards drivers who failed to yield to pedestrians crossing the street.

More to come on the subject!

For further reading:

Hunt down Hollywood’s history on a Saturday scavenge


Watson Adventures is offering a free scavenger hunt in Hollywood this Saturday. Though no more tickets are available, they regularly hold hunts throughout L.A. Photo courtesy of Watson Adventures.

When you’re an L.A. resident, Hollywood Boulevard is often just taken for face value as a hotspot for tourists mining for something more glamorous than its superficial sparkling sidewalks.

Watson Adventures is offering another twist to the Hollywood hunt for stardom…literally.  They’re hosting a “Hooray for Hollywood” scavenger hunt this Saturday, April 18 at 3 p.m.  Though there are currently no more tickets available at the moment for the free event (upon checking the website, there were no more tickets available at the moment, but those interested are advised to check back the night before on April 17), they do also offer other events that require admission.

Check out their page and Facebook page for more information.

Anyone ever tried out their scavenger hunts, or set up your own urban exploration-themed hunts?  Feel free to share!

SurveyLA’s head discusses technology, methodology for preservation project

As mentioned in previous posts, the city is asking its citizens to recommend their favorite neighborhood spots to be made historical landmarks.  An event is being held Saturday, April 4 at the Central Library to kick-off the SurveyLA project.  Ken Bernstein, the project’s head, discussed the city’s renewed efforts to protect the city’s historical areas.

According to a report released by the Getty Conservation Institute showed that there was “no comprehensive inventory of [L.A.’s] resources,” said Bernstein.  “[GCI] entered into a grant agreement with the city” in which L.A. matched the J. Paul Getty Trust’s funding of $2.5 million for the five-year project that would strive to document historical places.

“[The project will] radically rethink how historical surveys used to be [with] a pencil and clipboard,” Bernstein said, adding that the city consists of 880,000 legal parcels.  “[It’s] creating an entirely new methodology…we now have a new database, and a field tool that surveys with tablet PCs…[using] donwloaded information from our geographic survey.  The city an upload a photograph and match it to the parcel [being surveyed].  It’s taken a bit of time to design and get that tool in place.”

L.A. approved an ordinance in 1962 that would preserve cultural heritage sites, but “in many ways we are playing catch up” because it wasn’t until recently that the city began taking more initiative in protecting its historical areas.

“This really should have been done 40 years ago,” said Bernstein.  “We’ve been operating…very much in the dark,” and neighborhoods in West L.A., the San Fernando Valley and downtown cities have yet to be surveyed for important places.  These are the areas where “significant buildings [may be lost] without [us] even knowing it…Community members have to rally to save [these places] at the 11th hour,” he said.  “It’s far better to be proactive and upfront well before there’s a threat to a particular site.”

The city is reaching out to those community members who are willing to act as neighborhood coordinators and reach out to their “friends and longtime residents to identify places that are important local landmarks…We are hoping to begin building a network of engaged active neighborhood volunteers” and work with Angelenos.

So far, the city has been getting a stream of steady responses from their online MyhistoricLA submission form, Bernstein said.  One example includes “an old (Chatsworth) movie ranch up against a hillside…that has never been designate and has great natural features.”   There have been some “offbeat responses,” but for the most part, many of the submissions have been “very interesting.”

Bernstein, who used to work with the L.A. Conservancy, said they are working on “a nomination for the Bob Baker (who has been at his craft for about half a century at this point) Marionette Studio just west of downtown, along with the original See’s Candy home on Western Avenue.  Both sites are “very (architectually) modest…but it’s not always about a single place or one great grandiose architectural landmarks.”

“It’s how these buildings tell the story of Los Angeles,” Bernstein said.

The SurveyLA kick-off celebration takes place this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Central Library, located at 5th and Flower in downtown.  A panel discussion headed by KPCC Air Talk host Larry Mantle runs from 1 to 2:30 p.m., when local community organizers, city officials, developers and preservationists discuss issues in surveying the city; reservations to attend the panel discussion can be made at

City to celebrate new efforts in documenting L.A.’s historic places

Los Angeles Central Library by mental.masala on Flickr

A celebration will be held at the Los Angeles Central Library to mark the city's new SurveyLA project, which is encouraging citizens to recommend historical sites in their communities. Photo courtesy of mental.masala at Flickr.

Every community has it: that bizarre house at the corner known for its strange architecture and perhaps even stranger occupants.  Angelenos can now report that odd abode, whether it’s someone else’s or their own, as a historical place of Los Angeles.  As part of a new preservation program to document the city’s historic resources, officials are encouraging citizens to suggest oft-ignored areas of their neighborhoods for their new SurveyLA project.

The city is throwing a kick-off celebration at the L.A. Central Library, located at the corner of 5th and Flower downtown, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 4.  KPCC Air Talk host Larry Mantle will host a panel of community organizers, city officials, developers and preservationists discussing the survey from 1 to 2:30 p.m.  Reservations are recommended for the panel discussion and can be made at

Among the 11 communities to be surveyed include the 210-freeway cities of Sunland-Tujunga, La Canada, La Cresenta, Lake View Terrace and Shadow Hills.

Got a suggestion for the survey? Visit to help out.

To get to the April 4 event car-free, take the Red Line subway and get off at Pershing Square, located at 4th and Hill and walk west to 5th Street.  If you’re driving, parking is only $1 all day during library hours (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays) with a validation.

Unfortunately, this blogger will be unable to make it – she’ll be playing a real tourist as she explores Paris and London for two weeks (stay tuned for special out-of-LA posts during those travels!).

Lincoln Heights Jail may become lofts

Lincoln Heights JailEastsider LA reports city officials are looking to find a new use for the Lincoln Heights Jail (see a previous post I wrote about the former prison here for CSUN’s Scene Magazine).

It currently houses a state-funded youth athletics center and the Bilingual Foundation for the Arts, a Hispanic theatre group.

The blog also reports that Cal Poly Pomona architecture students put together a rehabilitation proposal “integrated sustainable strategies” for the site as part of a class project.

Read more @ Eastsider LA: “Are you ready for loft living at the Lincoln Heights Jail?”