e.letter
March 29, 2017
President's Message
Crime - Better or Worse?
While there are always too many crimes, crime is inevitable especially when one lives in the second largest city in the United States.  It can be minimized, but it will never be totally eliminated.  Interesting and mildly encouraging statistics provided by the LAPD for 2016 include the following: 
  • Overall year-to-year trend:                   down by 2.5%.
    • o   Homicides                              no change (1 homicide)
    • o   Aggravated Assaults              down 12%
    • o   Grand Theft Auto                    down 2%
    • o   Grand Theft Person                down 33%
    • o   Robberies                               down 32%
    • o   Thefts                                      down 10%
Overall ranking for crime in other communities provides some surprises.  Communities that we would assume are safer than Eagle Rock, but are actually less safe include West Los Angeles, Marina del Rey, Los Feliz and Encino.  They all experience higher rates of crime than we do.  Also surprising is that Glassell Park, Highland Park and Mount Washington all have less crime than Eagle Rock.  Part of that may be because Eagle Rock has a more robust commercial center and is a more affluent community.    
 
Having a more visible police presence in Eagle Rock is a hope that is often expressed.  What is not often recognized is that the Los Angeles Police Department, as compared to the three largest cities in the country, is understaffed. 
 
City                            Population                Officers per  10K Pop. (2015)
New York                   8,336,002                              41.8
Los Angeles              3,841,707                              24.9
Chicago                     2,833,649                              44.2
 
We will not likely see an increase in police presence until there is considerable growth in the staffing of the LAPD.
 
Too often, we expect the police to do it all.  But, as residents, we also have a role to play in making our community as safe as possible.  Auto related thefts are way too frequent and so easy to prevent if you have a garage.  Remove the pool table, the boxes of things going to Goodwill one day and park your car inside the garage rather than on the street.  How often does a thief break into a garage to steal a car?  If you don't have a garage, park in the driveway with a motion detector flood light.  Keep your doors, windows and gates locked when you are not home.  Recently a friend's home was robbed.  They have a beautiful home with a very private back yard.  A brick wall surrounds the yard with a lovely wrought iron gate close to the sidewalk.  The gate was of course unlocked.  Thieves easily entered the back yard and broke into the back of the house, out of the sight of any neighbor.  Now they keep the gate locked.  Keep outside lights on, at least until bedtime.  When you are not home leave one or two lights on inside.  The number of homes that are totally dark early in the evening is amazing.  If it's within your budget, get an alarm system.  The system doesn't guarantee that you will never be robbed.  But your home will be less attractive to a thief than a home with no system.  If a streetlight is not working, report it to the City.  I reported a light that was out and it was fixed within a day.  Finally, if you see people lingering around your neighborhood that seem to have no reason to be there, offer them some assistance - making it obvious that you are being vigilant. 
 
Spend a few minutes to take inventory of your situation.  Identify areas where you could do a little more to protect yourself and all that is yours.  Then take action.  Let's send the message to all criminals that they won't find easy pickings in Eagle Rock. 
 
Cleaner Air, easier parking, less traffic - What's It worth?    
Eagle Rockers are known for having strong personalities and convictions.  We are not easily led.  We each have our own idea of how the world should hang together.  However, I suspect a few things on which we all could agree would be the desire for cleaner air and less traffic.  One of the ways we get these things is to increase the use of public transportation. 
 
The possibility of a BRT line running through Eagle Rock will be resolved over the next year or two.  Already, opponents have dug their heels in with arguments that appear based on fact when they are simply assumptions; no decisions have actually been made.  I encourage all readers to become better informed, to ultimately make a decision to support or oppose the BRT strategy with real facts.  In the spirit of becoming more informed, Board Member Severin has provided a factual overview of the BRT strategy.
 
Exciting Land Use
 
Rarely is the word "exciting" used in a sentence that also includes land-use.  The fact that the developer has submitted plans to the City regarding finally building something at the location that is affectionately known as Pillarhenge is truly exciting.  TERA was the first community group to address the issue with the Council Office.  Collaborating with CD14, we agreed that the best strategy would be to streamline the process for any developer who expressed an interest in this very unique property.  Allowing each developer to benefit from the experience of those who had preceded them we felt would make it more likely that a fully informed developer and qualified buyer would eventually emerge.  I view the recent submission of plans to the City to be a vindication of the long-term strategy that was adopted by the Council Office and TERA some time ago.

Grand Park - Make it All it Could Be


While TERA's focus is usually limited to the boundaries of Eagle Rock, we cannot deny that we are part of the great city of Los Angeles.  We cherish the small-town qualities of Eagle Rock.  Having a first class downtown is also to our benefit.  We don't get a lot of opportunities to get involved in downtown topics.  The Grand Park Foundation is a rare opportunity to influence the evolution of the relative new Grand Park.  Today it feels more like a way from one place to another than a place to simply relax on a bench in the shade of a tree.  The other issue is that the park is almost invisible from the Grand Avenue street level.  The Grand Park Foundation recognizes that the park could be improved and is inviting Los Angelinos to get involved.  

The program overview begins "The Grand Park Rangers™ Program contributes to the quality of life in Los Angeles County by cultivating community-wellness and community-building through free educational programming that encourages healthy/active lifestyles, fosters environmental stewardship and inspires 'champions' of Grand Park and urban green spaces among children, families and seniors of all ages."
 
Please consider getting involved.  Contact    
 
Rosamaria Marquez
Grand Park Rangers Program Coordinator
501 N. Main Street.  Los Angeles, CA 90012
info1@lacgpf.org       (213) 542-6267
______________________________________

  Bob's Signature   
Bob Gotham, President
 
In This Issue
Quick Links
Become a Member Now!
Your support as a member is essential to sustain our efforts to preserve and improve the quality of life in Eagle Rock. We can't do it without you! To join or renew your membership online via PayPal or credit card, visit our website at  www.tera90041.org . If you would like a membership packet mailed to you, or to get more personally involved in TERA please send me a note indicating your interest ( president@TERA90041.org ). Thank you for your support.


Merchant Summary

Membership Has Benefits!
Discounts are available for TERA Members at participating merchants (see list below.) Look for the TERA Membership Decals at merchant locations. Just show your active membership card. Click on http://www.tera90041.org to see the member benefits offered by each merchant. If you are a merchant and would like to participate in this program, which includes free advertising in the e.letter, please email us at president@tera90041.org .
Merchants 


 
Show Your Love / Stay in Touch
Follow TERA on Twitter (@TERA90041) and like The Eagle Rock Association on Facebook.  
State of the Town
 
Land Use Updates
Bekins Estate
A group of Eagle Rockers known as the Friends of Hill Drive has submitted an application for consideration by the City that could potentially assign Historic Cultural Monument designation to this home.  Should the designation be granted, in the spirit of preserving the integrity of the structure for the future, owners would be limited in changes that could be made to the property.  They would also receive tax benefits. 
 
In response to a request from the Friends of Hill Drive TERA restated its support for the historic designation in letters that have been sent to several interested parties including Councilmember Huizar, the Los Angeles Planning Department, the property owners and the firms that have been representing the Archdiocese in its attempt to purchase the property. 

2530 West Colorado Boulevard / Sizzler Restaurant


A proposal to demolish the Sizzler Restaurant and build a mixed-use structure on the property and the abutting hillside has been submitted to the City.  Early communication indicates that development will be mixed use with commercial units on the ground floor and 36 residential units above.  The developer has been invited to present their proposal to TERA at the April Board Meeting.  More information will be available after the presentation.  
 
Fitness 19 / Gym at Eagle Rock Plaza
Approximately a year ago approvals were received allowing this project to move forward.  However, according to the developer, the expansion of Seafood City, which is located under the space to be occupied by Fitness 19, caused delays in the development of the gym.  The current expectation is that the gym will be open for business close to the end of the year, or perhaps in January, the perfect time to shed those holiday pounds. 
 
1332 West Colorado Boulevard / Pillarhenge


Its location at a main entry point to Eagle Rock, and the high negative visibility of this parcel make this resolution especially exciting.  It will be a big plus for Eagle Rock, for the first impression of our community to be a recently built residential complex rather than a severely scarred hillside. 

Summary information indicates that the developer plans to build 24-market rate and 2 very low-income affordable units.  No further information is available at this time.  TERA is in the process of scheduling a presentation with the builder and will share the results of that meeting.    
 
4875 Onteora Drive


The developer has not yet filed detailed plans with the City for the proposed project.  This is a very sensitive type of project.  The plan is to build 14 homes on a hilltop in a location that is adjacent to many homes that have enjoyed the tranquility from the undeveloped nature of the land as well as great mountain views.  A representative of a neighborhood group objecting to the project is scheduled to present their concerns and observations to the TERA Board in the near future.  Once detailed plans have been filed with the City, TERA will invite the developer to make a presentation to the Board.
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
BRT - WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT
Severin Martinez, TERA Board Member



There is growing discussion surrounding the possibility of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) coming to Eagle Rock.  For those unaware, "BRT" refers to a high-quality bus service that is faster than regular buses and, in some cases, can feel more like a rail service.

There are no set criteria used to define BRT, but it can be characterized by:
  • Having its own dedicated travel lanes
  • Making stops roughly every half mile to a mile
  • Operating at such a frequency so that if you miss a bus you will not have to wait long for the next one.
  • Having more substantial "stations" rather than mere bus stops
  • The ability to pay bus fare at automated kiosks before boarding the bus,
  • And more..
Not all these components are required, and some BRT lines are more robust than others.  In reality, BRT can range from "a faster bus line" to "rail line on rubber wheels." There is no clear definition.  Lacking a clear image of BRT can cause confusion, but also indicates that BRT design is flexible.  The service is defined by the components that make it faster and superior to conventional bus lines, but those parts can vary on a case-by-case basis depending on funding, available space, and political will.

Metro is currently exploring an east-west BRT route that would link North Hollywood/Burbank to Pasadena.  The main question facing the agency is how to make this linkage: should the BRT line run down the middle of the 134 freeway or should it travel by surface streets?

Here is what TERA knows about the project:
  • Glendale, Burbank, and Pasadena will have stops in their communities regardless of the route (freeway or surface streets) selected.
  • As currently proposed, there will only be service to Eagle Rock if the street route is picked.
  • Metro estimates the street route to be slower and more expensive, but to also produce higher ridership and be more accessible.
  • For either option a finalized route, placement of stops, and BRT elements (dedicated lanes vs mixing with traffic, signal priority, etc.) have yet to be fully determined.
  • Once built, Metro's long-term plan is to upgrade the BRT line to a rail line.
Since there are few concrete details beyond this, we asked for further exploration of the street route and potential service to Eagle Rock.  TERA wants more community input, discussion, and substantive information about all our options before taking a position on this project.

Inevitably, there will be tradeoffs whether the BRT service operates on streets or the freeway.  For now, let's focus on the street option since it could more directly and visibly affect Eagle Rock.  In order to serve Eagle Rock, the BRT line would need to operate along Colorado Boulevard.  Simply adding a bus to the street is not controversial.  However, if the bus runs in the center of the street with dedicated lanes, something's gotta give.  Will the medians that replaced rail tracks decades ago be repurposed for buses?  Will bike lanes and general travel lanes be reconfigured?  Will on-street parking be affected?  Perhaps some "all-of-the-above" combination?  The answer is "we do not know" and "it depends."  Due to the flexibility of BRT, it could be possible to support a street alignment that doesn't have dedicated lanes or has bus lanes that operate part-time, similar to peak-hour travel lanes.  Nothing is set in stone.

Beyond the project's design mechanics, we might ask how various BRT options will affect safety, traffic, business, transit-dependent residents, air quality, economic development, and even housing costs.  Too many questions and details that have yet to be addressed in order to speak to specific benefits and disadvantages of either the freeway or street option.
Before jumping to conclusions we must consider several angles, and view them in the context of a growing population and changing urban landscape.  We must also consider the implications of a BRT line designed to completely bypass Eagle Rock.  And remember, the long-term vision is to eventually upgrade the BRT line to light-rail.  Suffice to say, the question of "street route" vs "freeway route" might not be as straightforward as it seems.  TERA looks forward to sharing more details about both routes as they become available, giving the project more thought, and engaging the community in discussions before taking a position.  The implications of our decision are far-reaching and could have local as well as regional impacts.

Take Back the Boulevard - Phase II
As has been reported in past issues, TBTB won $12M in grants for additional improvements to Colorado Boulevard.  The community will get its first look at what some of those changes might be on April 19 at Eagle Rock City Hall. 
 
The changes will be significantly guided by what has already been defined by the community in the Colorado Boulevard Vision Plan.  This important document can be viewed at http://www.tera90041.org/colorado_blvd_vision_plan.aspx.  


SWORK - EAGLE ROCK'S ORIGINAL COFFEE BAR
Kathleen Dunleavy, TERA Board Member
 
SWORK is "Eagle Rock's Original Coffee Bar" and long-time participant in the TERA Member Benefits Program.
 
SWORK is a well-known and well-loved Eagle Rock institution where you can grab a cup of coffee, fire up your laptop and enjoy the neighborhood.  Recently, they just completed a major renovation and the results are stunning.  The interior features darker wood, new menu items, and a revamped floor plan that gives the space a more open feel.
 
Patricia Vuagniaux, owner, said that the remodel has been popular with patrons.  Due to the recent remodel, SWORK has witnessed renewed interest and is enjoying levels of activity similar to when they first opened.



When SWORK first opened, over 15 years ago, Colorado Blvd. was far from having the energy we know today.  Vuagniaux was one of the first independent business owners who believed in the future of Eagle Rock, took a chance and made an investment.  The corner site which houses SWORK had previously been a pharmacy and sat vacant for a long time.  When Vuagniaux was exploring the area, she said, "I was mortified that there wasn't a coffeehouse in Eagle Rock!"  SWORK opened in 2001 and was a leader in the resurgence of our vibrant commercial community on Colorado Blvd.
 


Just as Eagle Rock has grown since 2001, so has competition.  It's heartening to see an independent coffeehouse continue to be so popular (especially when the "big coffee guys" are right down the street).  Independent businesses, owned by Eagle Rockers, are the gold standard in the Specific Plan, and this business meets that standard!

Vuagniaux is a long-time resident, and fan, of Eagle Rock.  She's witnessed Colorado Blvd. flourish and expand with new restaurants, shops and cafes; SWORK has remained relevant through it all.  SWORK is also an active participant in local community events through donations and sponsorships.
 
So, if you haven't already tried SWORK, now is the perfect time to do so - especially if you're a TERA member (TERA members receive 5% off of their total purchase).  You'll not only experience a terrific cup of coffee, but you will also find a knowledgeable and friendly staff, a selection of delicacies and a welcoming place to work, relax or hang out with your friends.
Shop Eagle Rock Merchants

 
TERA, The Eagle Rock Association | | president@tera90041.org | http://TERA90041.org
PO Box 41453
Eagle Rock, CA 90041
Phone: 323-799-1190