','subtitle>',$line); echo $line; $line = "\n"; } else if (strstr($line, '','updated>',$line); } else if (strstr($line, '','published>',$line); } else if (strstr($line, ' Impractical Proposals <br> Santa Monica: 2005.07


LAObserved observed

The Los Angeles Independent has a nice profile of Kevin Broderick and his newsblog, LAObserved.com. In The Man Who Watches Over L.A., the former LATimesman is called "possibly the most respected journalist in town." LAObserved, writes the Independent, "is a forum on local politics, the media and Los Angeles that has become an online salon for journalists and political junkies, especially early in the day when the Web site often offers a condensed compilation of the best stories in the Times, The Daily News and other newspapers or weeklies that morning."

Crosswalks, again

I'd never advocate this, of course, because, as Richard Nixon said in another context, it would be wrong, but I'm amazed that by now some good souls have not chosen to sneak down to Main Street in the middle of the night to paint mid-block crosswalks between Ashland and Hill and between Hill and Ocean Park. With the staff preoccupied with redeveloping downtown, it could be months or years before anyone in City Hall notices they're there, and even then it would only be fair if it took a staff report and the hiring of consultants before they could be painted out again. In the meantime, walkers will be crossing the street more safely, especially if the midnight safety commandos also happen to install a couple of those mid-street traffic markers you see in other towns (I like the ones that depict a policeman holding up his hand, especially if it's full-sized). As I've said before, the cemeteries are full of people who were alive and kicking when the Ashland-Hill crosswalk was first promised. How long does this neighborhood have to wait for an improvement even this minuscule?


Segways dangerous on the bike path

Used as we are to having the safety rules on the Santa Monica Bike Path honored mostly in the breach, it was still dismaying to see the photograph in Friday's Santa Monica Daily Press of the gaggle of Segways blocking the route.

The rule against motorized vechicles on the bike path is clear and unambiguous. It's also one of the few regulations that is routinely enforced, and for good reason: the margin of safety on the path is already dangerously compromised without the addition of heavier, self-propelled vehicles piloted by unskilled, often juvenile drivers.

Segway probably figures that as a national corporation with a showroom in Santa Monica, they can get away with ignoring laws that, if you are a young weekend visitor to Venice, can get you a moving violation if you dare to venture north of Navy on your rented scooter. If Segway wants to hold sales pitches by the beach for buyers of its pricey gadget, there is a huge, nearly empty parking lot south of Pico that the city is always happy to rent.

As admirable as these vehicles may or may not be (and, personally, I'd be happy see them clogging our streets; but, remember, there are enough questions about their safety for bans to have been considered or imposed in locales as divergent as Toronto, San Francisco and Disneyland), whether or not they are a solution to our commuting woes, they don't belong on the bike path.


Do we come in lower than Old Sturbridge Village?

"Intel's 3rd Annual Most Unwired Cities survey ranks the top 100 U.S. cities and regions for the greatest wireless Internet accessibility. This year's survey reveals a growing number of diverse locations - both indoors and outdoors - where people can log on and connect to the Internet without wires. Today, wireless hotspots can be found at coffee shops, colleges and hotels, but they're also popping up at skate parks, pipe shops, gas stations, bowling alleys and golf courses." Here's a link to Intel's top 100 unwired cities and regions. Orange County is #10 and San Diego is #11, Sacramento is #18, Los Angeles-Long Beach are at #24, Vallejo-Fairfield-Napa are #40, Ventura is 51#, Fresno is 54#, Riverside-San Bernardino come in at #74, the Stockton-Lodi area is #81 and Bakersfield is #98. Guess who's not on the list.


Municipal broadband is coming...
But is it coming here?

Governments as diverse as West Virginia's and Culver City's are sensibly treating wireless access as a public utility. Culver's redevelopment agency, for example, spent around $20,000 putting a network together to provide about a square mile of downtown with free wi-fi access.

The internet itself was developed using the public's money and, right wing propaganda notwithstanding, the US has a long and successful history of municipal ownership of utilities supplying water, electricity, buses, trains,and other services, continuing down to present-day L.A. Companies like SBC, Verizon and T-Mobile will do their best to undermine these efforts -- SBC recently got monoply control of fee-based wireless access in California's parks and beaches, but they may have a harder time if Arizona Senator John McCain, New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg and some of their cohorts succeed in passing legislation they've introduced with the goal of ensuring that cities and counties can provide community-wide broadband should they choose to. The solons want to amend the Telecommunications Act of 1996 in order to prevent state and federal legislative actions, backed by the telecommunications giants, that are aimed at keeping local governments out of the broadband business (just as the big real estate owners were able to get the California state legislature to put an end to local rent control). As many as 14 states have passed laws limiting municipal broadband services, mostly in response to lobbying by the large internet providers.


Why is the City of Santa Monica afraid of an open and democratically accountable development process?

Here is the concluding paragraph of an open letter delivered today by a number of community leaders to assistant Santa Monica city manager Gordon Anderson regarding the public review process for any future proposal for the redevelopment of Santa Monica Place.

"...We urge the City to adopt a public process that is meaningful and fair and designed to have residents' voices and choices be heard. A meaningful public process is one preceded by a development proposal for Santa Monica Place that clearly shows the height and density of the actual proposed buildings, includes a comprehensive environmental report that accurately assesses the traffic impacts, and includes an accurate financial analysis of the City’s direct and indirect costs and contributions to the proposed development."

For more information about the proposal by the Macerich Corporation to vastly enlarge Santa Monica Place and about the activities of the SM Coalition for a Livable City, please got to this website: smclc.net