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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Celebrating 10 Years of

This next May will mark ten years of blogging with 

To commemorate, I thought it'd be fun to go back and pick a random post from each of the past ten years. Feel free to click on the title (under the year, in red) with a link to the original post.

Ignatius Cafe: West Adams

Ignatius Cafe is a hidden oasis in the West Adams district of Los Angeles a mile west of USC. Ignatius Cafe is a coffee shop staffed volunteer by "Korean grandmothers" most of us never had. For anyone who already thinks they know everything cool about Los Angeles, this was an amazing find and unexpected treat. Originally posted 4/22/17

Echo Park Lake

There was a time not too long along when Echo Park was a rough, dangerous neighborhood. While there are negatives to gentrification, the positives are that neighborhoods like Echo Park are much safer, much more enjoyable for families and individuals. Located just a couple of miles northwest from downtown Los Angeles, the historic lake was recently refurbished. Originally posted 4/16/16

Re-Experiencing Los Angeles: Historic Downtown Core  

Speaking of gentrification, the 1999 Adaptive Reuse Ordinance is perhaps single most important factor in the revitalization of downtown Los Angeles. Historic office buildings, especially along Main Street and Spring Street, have been repurposed to apartments and condos, bringing in tens of thousand of new residents and breathing life down to the street level. This is the first of a five part series on downtown Los Angeles' Historic Core. Originally posted 11/7/15

Jimmy Kimmel Interview: L.A. Family Vacation

During Spring Break a few years back, my wife, kids, and I were back in Los Angeles for a three day get-away - staying in Hollywood. Lots of fun adventures, but a "only in L.A." moment occurred when my son (13 at the time) was randomly interviewed on Hollywood Blvd for the Jimmy Kimmel Show. No, they didn't use the interview, but it was still fun. Originally posted 3/30/14

Carsland on Wilshire: Petersen Automotive Museum

I was back in the area for a few days, and stopped off at the Peterson Automotive Museum on Wilshire Blvd. The facade to the building has since been changed, but I like the midcentury architecture, palm trees, and office buildings. And this was one of my first attempts at including some sort of graphic with a photo. Originally posted 3/23/13

Best Hike in Los Angeles: Upper Temescal Canyon Ridge

Forget the crowds of lower Temescal Canyon off of Sunset Blvd in Pacific Palisades. Drive ten more minutes to the trailhead at the top of the Palisades Highlands and enjoy the solitude of the upper Temescal Canyon Ridge trail. Even on weekends, you'll rarely see anyone else. Anytime is good, but the coastal fog rolling in off the ocean can make for some incredible views - especially at sunrise. Originally posted 5/26/12

City of Los Angeles: Who's In and Who's Not

When we moved out of Los Angeles in 2010, a friend asked how long I'd keep blogging on ExperiencingLA. I said, "until I run out of photos." I posted this the year after we moved and it's the second most popular post on this site, with a bit of interesting info explaining the difference between communities within the City of Los Angeles (like Hollywood) and nearby, independent cities (like West Hollywood). Originally posted 10/22/11

Birds of Paradise: Palisades Park, Santa Monica

January 2nd, 2010 - while much of the country was still enjoying their "white Christmas" - I took some time to walk around Palisades Park in Santa Monica, enjoying beautiful weather and "Bird of Paradise" flowers, the official flower of the City of Los Angeles (yes, L.A. has an official flower). 2010 was our last year living in La-La-Land. Originally posted 3/27/10

Chris Burden's Urban Light at LACMA

I posted some photos of Chris Burden's Urban Light outdoor art display at LACMA. This continues to be the single most popular post on this site. Originally posted 11/21/09
Our Beaches Best Kept Secret started in May 2008, our third year living in Los Angeles. We discovered some beautiful tide pools near the Getty Malibu, technically just within L.A. City limits. This was one of my earlier attempts and we have some good memories of exploring the nearby beaches and tide pools. Originally posted 11/21/08 

It's amazing how quickly ten years has gone by. I'll finish out with a couple of family photos, one from 2008 and another ten years later, from 2017. 



Wishing everyone a Happy New Year from

© 2017


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Journey of Faith at the South Bay Galleria repost: Merry Christmas from

Remember when flashmobs were "a thing"? 

With over six million views and counting, Journey of Faith Church's 2010 Flashmob at the South Bay Galleria is an outstanding reminder of what - or, better, who - Christmas is all about. As my family and I join Christians from around the world celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, I thought today would be a good time to once again repost this video.

love the fresh take on some very familiar Christmas Carol - and taking the Christmas message beyond the walls of the church in such a creative, winsome way. I'm  also reminded of the words of renowned British science fiction author H.G. Wells: If there is no God, nothing matter. If there is a God, nothing else matters.

A friend of mine started a new job in Los Angeles, a couple of miles from Journey of Faith Church. I showed him the video and suggested he try visiting the church once he gets settled in to his new job in L.A. 

That's his plan. If you're anywhere in the South Bay and are looking for a church community, I'd suggest stopping by (Journey of Faith is located in Manhattan Beach - six miles directly south from Los Angeles International airport). Here's a link to their website.

Wishing everyone a blessed and meaningful Christmas.

© 2017


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Santa Monica at Sunset (Part II)

This time last year I was back in Los Angeles and had time to visit the area around the Santa Monica Pier, including Tongva Park. Here's a link to Part I and Part II of Tongva Park, plus a link to the area surrounding the terminus of the new Expo line. Above, the Santa Monica Pier at dusk. 

Santa Monica has become an incredibly popular - and incredibly expensive - place to live, work and visit. Above, The Waverly Condominiums, located on the corner of Olympic and Ocean Avenues, and across the street from Tonga Park. 

According to the Waverly website, the condos are available for sale and for lease. 

Currently, there's one unit for sale, a 1 bedroom, 1 bath for $1.3 million. If you'r looking to rent, there's also just one unit available, a 2 bedroom 2 bath, 1,451 sq foot condo for $7800 a month - which ends up just shy of $100,000 in annual rent. For a condo. Welcome to Santa Monica. What blows my mind is that at even this price, there's only one unit available. 

As stated last time, Santa Monica now has the distinction of being the most expensive rent in the United States, with the average price for a one-bedroom apartment, an incredible $4,799 a month. New places a block from the beach like The Waverly condos are, of course, more than that.  

Santa Monica also has a huge homeless population, which certainly a bit jarring, especially around all this wealth. Many (but certainly not all) of these individuals are either mental ill, have drug or alcohol problems, or both. 

This is a very complex issue and I certainly don't claim to be any sort of expert on the subject. That said, here's a link to a previous post with some thoughts on this. 

As Christians, my wife and I continue to support the work of the Union Rescue Mission - which not only provides long-term housing for hundreds of most vulnerable men, women, and children but has a comprehensive program to get people permanently off the streets. That's the goal, isn't it? If you're looking for a way to make a difference in people's lives, they're one of the best. 

For the "working poor" (who often spend 50% of their income on rent) and the middle class (who are leaving Los Angeles for more affordable parts of the country) the answer is simply green lighting more housing. A lot more housing. For Los Angeles County, which currently has about 3.5 million housing units, somewhere along the magnitude of an additional 550,000 units. That would be like overlaying the entire housing stock of the city of San Francisco, plus another another 164,000 units, over Los Angeles County. 

While requiring developers to set aside a percentage of new housing units below market ("affordable housing") is perhaps a noble idea, the unintended consequence is this drives up the price for everyone else, as developers simply pass along the cost to other renters or buyers. Housing is built when the developer, who's taking a ton of risk, has a good chance of making a profit. No one is going to build housing that's not profitable. That's why most current development is for high end property. 

Perhaps a better solution would be to make it easier and just as profitable for developers to build mid range and smaller (that is, more affordable) housing. 

Meanwhile, back in the very beautiful city that very few people can afford, it's sort of weird to go from seeing an individual's possessions in an abandoned shopping cart back to the eye candy that along Ocean Avenue. Across the street, is the Loews Santa Monica

The Ocean Lodge Hotel is a reminder that Santa Monica, like much of the "westside" of L.A. was once much more middle class. The reviews on google are mixed, certainly the location is the biggest draw. No free parking. That's an additional $24 a night. 

The Ocean Lodge is literally against Tonga Park, and a couple of block from the Santa Monica Pier. 

I walked across the street, just to check out the Loews. Fire pits and a pool up against the beach. Beautiful place. 

From the upper floors, there's a beautiful view of the Santa Monica Pier. 

The public parking lot in between the hotel and the sand, perhaps not as scenic. The palm trees help. 

That said, I appreciate the fact that there's plenty of parking near the pier. However, the lot north of the pier is very busy, especially on weekends and during the summer, and becomes extremely backed up coming out of the McClure Tunnel and heading north on the Pacific Coast Highway. That said, I'd suggest one of these lots south of the pier, or a nearby parking structure. 

Next to Loews, is the smaller and older Hotel California. What name came first? The hotel, or the classic song by the Eagles? According to their website,  the Hotel California has changed their name to Sea Blue Hotel. I will say, considering the location, rates seems fairly reasonable. Travel + Leisure magazine named is "one of the top three affordable hotels in Los Angeles." Nice. (I wonder what the other two are?)

Walking to the other side of Ocean Avenue, and back to my car. 

And a final view of Colorado Avenue. The entrance to the Santa Monica Pier is behind me, the Expo Line is three blocks ahead. Apparently, these aren't Christmas lights, but are up year round. 

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. 

© 2017


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Santa Monica at Sunset

This time last year I was in the area and had some time to explore Tongva Park, a new six acre park a couple of block from the Santa Monica Pier. Here's a link to Part I and Part II, with some photos of Tongva Park and adjacent Ken Genser Square.

Above, the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier, located at Ocean Avenue and Colorado Avenue at sunset. 

Another view. The historic neon sign at the entrance was installed in 1940. 

The City of Santa Monica recently installed an artistic walkway from the entrance to the Pier to the terminus of the newly opened Expo Line. 

Another view, this time looking back toward the setting sun. 

Parking garage, with a new exterior. 

Pedestrian walkway to the Expo Line. 

Expo Line light rail station, downtown Santa Monica. 

The Expo Line extension to Santa Monica opened on May 20, 2016. 

Here's a handy map, showing the stops along the entire 15.2 mile route between Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles. For the first time since 1953, Angelenos can take a ride from the city to the beach on rails. 

OK, technically the Expo Line doesn't go all the way to the beach. You have to walk three blocks. What's that take? Five minutes? 

Speaking of five minutes, while the final station in Santa Monica doesn't have a designated parking lot, there 3,000 parking spaces within a five minute walk. 

Diagonal from the Expo Line is the Santa Monica Place shopping center. The Santa Monica Place opened in 1980 and recently went through a massive, three-year renovation process reopening in 2010. 

Across the street, and directly across from the Expo Line terminus is the 1947 Sears Building. Sears recently closed the store. The store was deemed a historic landmark in 2004, meaning the owners can't change or expand it. Plans call for a mixed used development. Meanwhile, the land that parking lot is sitting on is worth a small fortune - easily 100 million dollars, if it could be developed to it's fully potential. No idea if the updated version of the building will include an update to the parking lot. 

I walked back over toward Tongva Park along Olympic Blvd. This apartment building is across the street Tongva Park. 

Cool, modern light fixture on the walkway between the two buildings. 

Despite the new construction, supply is no where meeting demand. According to this article, Santa Monica has the distinction of being the most expensive rent in the United States, surpassing even San Francisco and New York City. The average rental price for a one-bedroom apartment is an incredible $4,799 a month

Olympic Blvd at Ocean Avenue. Olympic Blvd goes from Santa Monica all the way to downtown Los Angeles, and is named in honor of the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Olympics. Los Angeles hosted the Olympics again in 1984 and has recently been selected to host them a third time - in 2028. 

A final view from the deck of the beautiful Loews Santa Monica Hotel, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. More next time.

© 2017


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square, Santa Monica

I was back in the area this time last year and took some time to explore Tongva Park and the adjacent Ken Genser Square. Here's a few photos of this area from the previous post

Ken Genser Square is one acre park in front of the historic Santa Monica City Hall, named after a former mayor of Santa Monica. It's across the street from Tongva Park. 

Pictured above, the fountain at entrance to City Hall - obviously popular with seagulls. 

Santa Monica City Hall was formally dedicated on November 25, 1939. It's an outstanding example of the Public Works Administration (PWA) Moderne style of architecture. 

Place at the entrance. It was after 5pm and the building was closed. 

Beautiful lily pad flowers. These photos were all taken in last December.  

I walked back across the street to Tongva Park. Here's a link to a previous post with additional photos. 

As stated last time, Tongva Park opened in 2013, on a former six acre parking lot. Trees, paths, water features, sculpture, a children's play area, splash pad. Remember the lyrics to the old Joni Mitchell song "they took paradise and putting in a parking lot"? In this case, just the opposite is true. 

The park borders the Santa Monica Freeway, just as it narrows down to two lanes and merges into the Pacific Coast Highway. 

Up against the edge of the park, right where it borders the Freeway, is "Morty," a massive 100 year old Moreton Bay Fig Tree (Ficus macrophylla). 

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia) native to South Africa. This is the "official flower" of the City of Los Angeles. 

A view of the end of the Santa Monica Freeway at the 1935  McClure Tunnel. You can almost, but not quiet, see the end of the tunnel. Here's a link to a previous post with a bit more info. 

There's probably no bad time to visit Tongva Park, but sunset was particularly beautiful. 

Palm trees (another non-native) silhouetted against the setting sun, with one of the park's beautiful fountains. 

This sculpture is apparently also a weather monitoring station. 

The setting sun and the incoming coastal fog made for an beautiful view of the overlook deck. 

Another view of the overlook deck with the reflecting sun at sunset. 

I had more time to explore the surrounding area. More on that next time

© 2017