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Sunday
Apr102011

Even in LA, where our love affair with the automobile is legendary, everyone should take the bus

Even in LA, where our love affair with the automobile is legendary, everyone should take the bus…at least once.

 

Before you do, you may want to educate yourself. The internet is a good place to start, it’s infinitely better than the signs posted at the bus stop. (Try http://www.metro.net/  from your computer or smart phone.)

 

Let me explain why.

 

As a result of the “ Not If, When” rule, I was “bumped” by a fellow motorist a few days ago while stopped at the light at Van Nuys Boulevard. It wasn’t serious, just a gentle jolt and the grinding noise of a Lexus trying to free itself from its new perch on the rear fender of my SUV.  After a right turn into the parking lot of a bank, Ben Hur and I agreed that I would have the damage checked out by my local auto detailer (Handy J’s) to determine if any bodywork need be done beyond a good detailing.

 

That’s when the fun began.

 

I’d made arrangements to have a friend pick me up from Handy J’s Carwash and take me to work while the detailing crew removed as much of the damage as possible. I was earlier than planned, so I decided to take the bus to work.  How hard could it be?

 

I got lucky.  Just after the fourth bus sped passed the stop where I was waiting, a black Porsche pulled over and the window rolled down. As I crouched down to peer into the opening (fanaticizing that Susan Somers from American Graffiti would be behind the wheel), I recognized my friend Steven. He ordered me to get in and I dutifully folded my 6’3”, 260 pound frame into the front seat and we were off!!! Wow, this commuting thing is simple.

 

The return trip was not.  May I take a moment to explain the difference between the red and orange buses? The red bus is an express bus, meaning it doesn’t stop at every bus stop. Orange buses are “local” and stop at any bus station where there’s a sign and a bench. I, of course, did not know this when I boarded the red bus heading east toward Beverly Glen (and Handy J’s Carwash). I boarded at Sepulveda. Easy enough.  Slipping two one dollar bills into the change counter for the $1.50 fare, I jokily told the driver to keep the change to which she told me she didn’t give change to which I said, “Keep the change,” to which she said she didn’t give change, to which I said, “Just drop me at Beverly Glen,” and headed to my seat.  Shortly after our stop at Van Nuys Boulevard, I stood up and pulled the chain above the window indicating I wanted the bus to pull over at the next stop, Beverly Glen.

 

That may have been where I wanted to get off, but then, I wasn’t on an orange bus.  I was on a red bus and red buses only stop at designated stops.  Which stops?  Good luck trying to get that information from the signs at the bus stop. So there I stood, captive and at the mercy of the driver.  The next stop after Van Nuys wasn’t Beverly Glen, nor Hazeltine, or Stern, but finally Woodman. OMG, it would have been faster to walk to Beverly Glen from Sepulveda.

 

I crossed the street and waited an eternity (about 10 minutes) for an ORANGE bus to take me back to Beverly Glen. Finally, I decided to hoof it west. Bad call, because a block and a half after I started walking, the bus passed me, of course. Oh well, the exercise will be good for me.

 

Fifteen sweaty minutes later, I arrived at Handy J’s and was face to grill with a beautifully detailed Liquid Copper Infiniti FX35.  Oh sure, there were a couple of dings and scratches still evident, but all-in-all, it was practically as lovely as the day I drove her off the lot seven years ago. What joy to be behind her wheel again!

 

Will I take another trip on a bus?  Why not?

I’m always complaining about the traffic here. Everyone in LA should ride mass transit occasionally, if not regularly.  That might open the roads a bit.

But educate yourself at the MTA website before you board a bus…or just ask one of those lovely ladies sitting on the bus bench for a little guidance. Their advice will be far easier to understand than those bus stop signs.

 

Sunday
Feb202011

Wow. LA is one-of-a-kind.

Can you believe we hosted the Northern Trust (formerly the Los Angeles) Open at Riviera Country Club under blue skies and 60-plus degree tempertures AND the NBA All-Star Game at Staples Center, set against the backdrop of snow covered mountains...all on the same day?

We love L.A.!!!

Thursday
Feb032011

The 405 Expansion Impacts Sherman Oaks Traffic Congestion…

Anyone living on the Westside or in the San Fernando Valley is well aware there is a major multi-year renovation project underway on one of the country's busiest stretches of Interstate. Between the 101/405 interchange (rated the busiest freeway interchange in the nation by AAA) and the 10/405 exchange (rated the second busiest), Caltrans is building a carpool lane to help move commuters from the Valley to LA and back. The price tag for this renovation, which will widen the freeway by 25 feet, will be at LEAST $1 billion (yes that is a "b") and improve traffic flow from an "F" rating to a projected "D-" when it is finished (freeways are graded for their traffic efficience "A" trough "F"). This project will include demolition and reconstruction of all bridges in the Sepulevda Pass along with the reconfiguring of most on- and off-ramps.

Bob Anderson, Board Member of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association, states, "In February, Caltrans will begin major retaining wall construction on the east side of the 405 from Mulholland to Valley Vista.  The construction will continue for at least one year. It will be noisy work that includes extensive pile driving, but most of the work is supposed to be done during the day unless requiring freeway closures. In addition -- and not good news for Sherman Oaks -- Caltrans is setting up a "crusher" site on the east side of the 405 below Scadlock and Briarwood."

Mr. Anderson continues, "They will use this [site] to crush and recycle rubble from the demolished freeway bridges -- which is good environmentally.  The bad news is that the crusher may operate at all times of the day and the work will be noisy. We have been told that the crusher itself is ‘not too noisy,' but the real noise will come from trucks backing up (beep, beep,...) and dumping rubble into the crusher. SOHA has questions why the other two Caltrans crusher sites for this widening project have been located in non-residential locations and why Sherman Oaks residents will be subjected to increased noise pollution for a year."

"As part of the 405 widening project, Caltrans has also decided to relocate the Skirball on-ramp and off-ramp when it rebuilds the Skirball Bridge. The ramp entrances will be moved about 2000 feet south onto Sepulveda. For commuters, this means that all cars using the Skirball Bridge and all cars using Sepulveda to go over the hill will now merge onto Sepulveda at the bridge," Mr. Anderson concludes.

I wonder how much this will back up traffic on Sepulveda, Skirball and Mulholland Drive. Thousands of commuters from both the east AND west Valley use that on-ramp daily to access the 405 into West LA, UCLA and LAX. That means a lot of cars must feed onto Sepulveda before they can access the freeway.

As the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association's newsletter (written by SOHA President, Richard Close) reports, "Caltrans has stated that their analysis shows the ramp relocation will improve traffic flow. However, SOHA and all other affected neighborhood groups (Encino, Mountaingate, Bel Air Crest), the Skirball Cultural Center, Steven S. Wise Temple and many of the schools on Mulholland have all formally asked Caltrans not to relocate the ramps. Our main concern is unintended consequences resulting from the ramp relocation --which no amount of analysis can predict. And, once relocated, the ramps will be there for decades!"

Has Caltrans really thought this though? Will this ramp relocation serve to encourage commuters to use the 405, as intended, or will it increase traffic onto our neighborhood streets as desperate motorists try to find easier routes over the hill?

What are your thoughts?

 

Wednesday
Dec082010

Ask the 24/7 Agent about property values in the San Fernando Valley.

Do you know how much your home is worth?  Are you looking for property in the San Fernando Valley? If you have questions about the Sherman Oaks Real Estate market, let me know.

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