Friday, August 29, 2008

another installment in the apartmentification dramas of Lincoln Park

My neighborhood-watch block captain just mailed us out a copy of the hearing notice for next week's meeting of the Historical Preservation Commission. A house on the 200 block of Lincoln -- I gather the one that we discussed here a few months back, although I could be wrong -- is applying to add a third residence to the property. As in, one more apartment in addition to the current main house, carriage-house apartment, and garage. There is a petition going around (signatures due to the city by this Tuesday), or you could write/call the city directly to voice your opinion, pro or con.

I'm going to try to go to the HPC meeting in person, just because I'd like to see how they operate (and we'll need to go up before them ourselves in a few months, to get permission to remove an ailing tree in our back yard). It's on Wednesday the 3rd at 6:30pm, in the City Council chambers.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Shots fired!

The end of the month homicide map isn't quite ready for publication, but some among us are doing their best to add few more icons to the Pomona area.

Sunday Night:
Midnight 2200 Block of Belinda
18 year old driving through residential street was shot. He was removed from the car by rescue officials and flown to a nearby hospital.

Tuesday Night:
7:30 PM 800 Block of Monterey
Two men found with non-life threatening gun shot wounds. No further information about whether they had shot each other.........kinda relevant.

9:30PM 700 Block of Mayfair
71 year old woman was watching tv in her front yard with friends when two men approached and began shooting. According to the newspaper article 16 to 20 shell casings were collected. The gang word was thrown out for consumption, but who knows after the barbershop shooting on Holt also referenced gangs, but apparently was just a robbery. The officer did offer that the area has been very quiet for the last six months. I doubt that gesture will help the home sales in that neighborhood.

Wednesday Night:
9:30 PM 1700 block of South Huntington
26 year old man was shot in front yard by two men who fled the scene in a dark-colored compact car. He was airlifted to a hospital and is reportedly in critical condition. This shooting was only 6 blocks from the shooting on Mayfair. So much for the quiet neighborhood reference in the previous article.

If you get the chance, take a stroll around your neighborhood and report issues of concern to the police, code enforcement, neighborhood watch, or your Council representative. By working together maybe we can have an influence on or 'export' the fraction of one percent in this community who give the city a bad name.


I grabbed these tidbits from the online Daily Bulletin and SGVT if you're looking for more info. And if you care, the weather in Seattle right now is overcast and in the 60s.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

enough gastric unrest -- how about some civic unrest?

I am very touched by all the kind words in the comments on the last post. You don't have to worry about me -- I'm tough as nails, esp. when it comes to being flamed online -- but it was still nice to read. For the record, when I wrote the original post, K. said (about 20 times), "Honey, don't you think you were being a leetle tiny eensy-weensy bit harsh?"

But surely the readership knows that well-modulated, carefully considered editorializing is not the forte of this blog (or at least not this blogger -- John Clifford hasn't yet set the dogs barking that I've noticed).

And today we have a special for you: off-the-cuff opinion PLUS rumor-mongering! What could be better?

I don't know any details and haven't seen anything firm, but there is a proposal going around to limit parking in Lincoln Park. I've heard conflicting reports: Either it's to require residential permits of all cars or else to ban overnight parking on the street. As I understand it, the proponents need to get 75% of the residents to sign a petition before the city will consider it. It may also be the case that this is planned only for Alvarado -- supposedly to deal with the "problem" of apartment-dwellers and their vehicles.

You can probably guess that, like Groucho Marx, I'm against it. [Aside: You really should watch that video. Somehow it hadn't occurred to me how much the Marx brothers, and especially Horsefeathers, owe to Gilbert & Sullivan.]

We left Claremont in part because of the overnight parking ban (combined with the you-must-water-your-lawn-in-a-drought law and other measures aimed at keeping out the poor people). I don't want my house burgled and my life threatened more than anybody else does, but I get really upset at the use of legislative tools as an attempt to dictate the socioeconomic makeup of a neighborhood or to otherwise make life tough for some of our neighbors.

I'm also not pleased about the possibility of enacting the proposal (whatever it is) just for Alvarado, if indeed that is the plan. That's just shoving the problem (if there *is* a problem) onto neighboring streets.

In fact, I guess this is what bothers me about the whole affair: Instead of solving any problems at all, it's just moving them elsewhere. Pomona is living proof of the folly of that plan, if I understand our history; haven't we been the repository -- the heat sink, if you will -- of the unwanted aspects of all the other towns in the area? Problems need to be solved, not exported.

As I mentioned, all this opinionizing is based on rumor. As I get more information from reliable sources, I reserve the right to adjust the volume or change tunes altogether.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Battle of the Cs

Last night I met K. (who commutes to the west side, bless his heart) and another pal at Father's Office in Culver City. FO -- particularly the Santa Monica branch -- is famous for its enormous selection of beers and its amazing burger. Also its crowds and its surly employees.

The CC outpost features three of the four: The beer selection is amazing; the burger was slammin'; the place was so crowded they had a rope and a line at the front door; but the employees were perfectly civil.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about.

No, I'm here to say this: Back Abbey is a complete Father's Office rip-off. Even the LIGHT BULBS are the same, ferchrissakes! From the menu to the beer-tap presentation to the server's shirts, everything is strikinly similar. As for the burger, they are almost identical; it's just that FO's is fresher and cleaner-tasting than BB's. Oh yeah -- it's cheaper, too.

I can't describe my disappointment. Surely Claremont (to say nothing of Pomona) deserves better than this. Is a little originality too much to ask? Does the city of trees and Ph.D.s really want to build a business model on plagiarism?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

our daily bread

I've now been to Pomona Baking Company three times, which I consider a large enough sample size to make a preliminary report.

First of all, it's not all that easy to find, at least not unless you're on regular speaking terms with the back entrances of the Antiques Row shops and the Western U parking lots. The easiest way is to turn on to Antiques Row from Garey and immediately make a left, before Angelo's Pizza[1], and then make a right just after it. Then drive down the parking lot until you see an inviting wooden corner shop and smell the yeasty goodness.

My review is pretty basic. Pastries: very good. Bread: excellent. Coffee: needs work.

One of the things I like best, aside from the fact that these folks really know what they're doing, is the serving sizes. Pastries aren't the size of a beagle's head but more like a skunk's or a rattlesnake's -- and, yes, that's a good thing. Bread is sold in regular and half sizes, so that you can buy as much as you can eat before it goes stale. And the prices are extremely reasonable: What would cost you $5.00 at Some Crust is $2.50 at the PBC (and not over-sugared like Some Crust).

The down side is the coffee. All three times, the airpot was empty, and without asking, they made me an Americano using the cafeteria push-button espresso maker -- and those things don't even reach "halfway decent" on my portable espressometer.

So, I guess the PBC is the anti-Some Crust -- great reasonably-sized, reasonably-priced just-sweet-enough baked goods and iffy coffee. Makes sense, doesn't it? Pomona is pretty much the anti-Claremont, although some folks (not me!) wish that weren't the case.

Anyhoodle, I'll be paying regular (a couple of times a week, at least) visits to the PBC for baked goods, but I'll continue making my coffee at home or swinging by Some Crust in emergency situations.

[1] Speaking of Angelo's, Primo Castro, who appears to be running against Paula Lantz, emailed me to ask that I publicize his meet-and-greet event. It's at Angelo's at 5pm this saturday at 5pm, and you should RSVP to 909.677.0600. I'm going to try to stop by, although my calendar frowns at me when I say that. GoP has posted the flyer over on her blog.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Papers, please!

Claremont Insider points out that there is going to be a checkpoint Friday 6pm-2am. They call them DUI checkpoints, but as we've discussed here before, ain't nothin' DUI about it -- it's about stopping ordinary people to see if they've done anything wrong. The Insider posted a great cautionary tale back in July, in which the cops busted out their portable fingerprinter in order to discover that, gosh, the guy had done something wrong and required arrest!

What infuriates me most about this -- although I am nearly apoplectic about just the principle of the thing -- is that peaceable-looking middle-class white folks like myself get waved through these checkpoints with a smile and a tip of the hat, while the brown people and the obviously-down-on-their-luck people get the third degree.

No wonder one of our city council people opposes on principle any proposal that has the stink of the middle class about it, regardless of how much it would benefit other residents of the city.

The photo is of the new motorcycle-cop uniforms in Massachusetts, which were designed to "instill fear." Ain't that just grand? Big Brother searches scare me plenty; the Colonel Klink uniform is beside the point.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

this old house

K. and I are pretty tied to our morning ritual of coffee, (rapidly-declining) newspaper, and geeking out with our laptops, but we made an exception on saturday so as not to miss any historical goodness at the Pomona Heritage Restoration Workshop.

The first and last thing I want to say is hurrah for PH, Mark Gearhardt (sp.?), and all the folks who helped him pull off a great event. Snarky sarcasm may be my natural mode, but watch me get all Pollyanna about how lucky we are to have this annual do. I love the workshops; I love the fact that the roster changes each year, so there's always something new to learn; I love spending the day with like-minded fellow Pomoniacs. The only thing I don't love is walking into the house afterwards and thinking, à la Bette Davis, "What a dump!"

Breakfast snacks were provided by the Pomona Baking Company, and they were quite tasty. Loaves of bread were also for sale, and they looked great.

Here's what I went to:

Mills Act
Judy and Sandra from the city planning did a full walk-through of applying for Mills Act tax relief. In case you've been out of state for the last year, the Mills Act is a state measure that cuts your property taxes 40-60% or so if you contract to spend the savings on historically-appropriate improvements to the property (inside or out).

I learned a few important things. For one thing, I hadn't realize that the amount of tax savings is predetermined by a whole bunch of factors that are ultimately derived from the value of the property. I had assumed that it was the other way around -- that one decides how much work one wants to put into the house and that one then applies for that amount of tax remission. Not so: through the "capitalization of income" method, you figure out the tax savings, and then you're responsible for coming up with that amount of work.

Judy, particularly, was very articulate in stressing that you need to think carefully before entering into a Mills Act contract. Each contract lasts a minimum of 10 years, and it goes with the house, so that any future buyer is required to abide by its terms. This can be either a really big boon for a new buyer (woo hoo, biiiiiig tax savings!) or a big PitA (ugh, legal compulsion to finish construction). Still, it's a pretty sweet deal, if not right for everyone.

Code Compliance
Judy and Sandra were joined by the head of code enforcement for a session on code compliance. At least half the time was taken up by folks' specific issues ("Why did I get cited for the 70-foot wind turbine in my back yard?"), but I also learned some interesting general principles.

For one thing, I had no idea that the code enforcement folks are on duty seven days a week (except holidays -- "The city can't pay us overtime"). Also, time after time, we were encouraged to go down and talk with the planning office about things -- including "I wouldn't tell them your address until they say you won't be fined." I didn't know that getting work permitted after the fact costs double, although there may be some latitude if you're trying to make good on a previous owner's negligence. In general I got the impression that they're really eager to help us out, and I for one will take them up on it.

Oh yeah: Permit fees are going up significantly on September 5, so get all those permits pulled now, folks!

Mid-Century Modern Furniture
I confess I didn't learn much about mid-century modern furniture, but it was really interesting to have Kate Thornton give us an insider's look at what it's like to be a mid-century fanatic. She mostly talked about appliances and architecture, rather than furniture. And she's clearly very generous with her time and resources if you're a mid-century devotee too.

Plaster Repair
K. went to this session last year, so I thought it would be good to get some insight into the matter myself. We don't have any immediate plaster issues, but our house is all plaster, and I will forever be haunted by the giant piece of plaster, the size of a medium-heavyweight boxer, that sat on the floor in my parent's bedroom for half my childhood. If only I'd known then what I know now, I would have said, "Daddy, it's no good saving that! Just go buy some mud and taping compound and make a new patch."

Other random tidbits:
We met the new owners of the Eddie Cortez house, who after only a week have already gotten the house looking better than it has since we moved to town, despite the fact that the usual no-goodniks had stripped it of all its plumbing, crapped in the rooms, and wrought other repo-related misdeeds. Hats off to them for rescuing a piece of our history!

Someone told me that GoP's husband was passing out GoP bumper stickers, but I didn't get one. No matter; my bumper is too full of YAY, RESTORATION WORKSHOP! decals.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I need a map

What does Diamond Bar, Los Angeles, Inglewood, and Ontario have in common?

.....a murder in Pomona.

If you surfed your way over to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune or the Whittier Daily News, you might have caught the little snippet on Friday's court hearing in Pomona for the suspects in the July 27 Holt barbershop murder of Larry Hammett.

Prosecutors reportedly believe it was a robbery gone bad, and at least one of the suspects knew the victim. The location was targeted because of past drug sales. The suspected shooter was from Diamond Bar, his male accomplice was from Los Angeles, the female accomplice was from Inglewood, and the victim was from Ontario. What a crazy web we weave!

The Daily Bulletin wrote one article on the murder and another on the impromptu memorial service, so the follow-up in the Sunday or Monday edition of the paper discussing the arrests and hearing should be interesting. Can't wait!

It's now Tuesday, and I'm still waiting..........

Oh thank heaven, Will Bigham steps up with an article on Thursday discussing the arrests. It doesn't offer too much additional information, but does include a few quotes from the victim's son. The article mentions the possibility of the death penalty, but doesn't clarify whether the enhancement is gang-related or the result of the murder occurring during a robbery. Now, why exactly did that take almost a week?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

AMOCA in the news

As a prelude to this weekend's upcoming Saturday Art Walk, Diana Sholley has a short article in today's Daily Bulletin and SB Sun on the American Museum of Ceramic Art. AMOCA is currently running an exhibition featuring local ceramic artists, and this Saturday there will be an artist reception from 6-9PM.

It's good to be loved!

Here's a thanks to Ms. Sholley (I hope you get extra money when the article appears in two papers), and I'll be sure to take in the local talent at AMOCA........after I grab another cookie at Pomona Bakery..........stop for a bite at El Merendero..........visit a few antiques........and stop at the best public library.

Photo by Sally Egan

This message brought to you by yet another shameless promoter of Pomona.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Pomona Bakery

Metro Pomona Blog has announced that the Pomona Bakery has finally opened. Just in time for National Night Out at the Civic Center (tonight).

Monday, August 4, 2008

"H" word for July

For those of you who like to look at maps, here are the approximate locations for homicides in the months of June, July, and the first couple days of August. I troll the various local papers and coroner's press releases to assemble the map.

I started this macabre hobby after my image of Pomona didn't gel with the image I was reading in the local papers. Conspiracy? I doubt it. Is it a lack of understanding of PR within the city? I would venture to say, probably. Is it likely to influence who shops here, who buys homes here, who rents here, and what businesses locate here? Probably.

I'm not saying that image is everything, just the most important thing.