Mystery of the stench deepens **

More readers are reporting in that they too detected the bad smell wafting through the Westside. Author Deanne Stillman writes that it was all over Venice and Marina del Rey yesterday. Another correspondent emails:

Experienced this in Venice yesterday - couldn't find the source. Smelled it early morning (2 AM) through mid-morning.

LAVoice and Blogging.la are picking up the thread now, and Mike at Franklin Avenue smelled it east of La Brea as well:

I caught a whiff tonight on the drive home from work. The entire drive. From the Miracle Mile to at least Los Feliz/Silver Lake (luckily, it hasn't made it to Glendale yet). I chalked it up to my imagination -- or perhaps a lingering effect of Tuesday's freak thunderstorm.

Lovely Mar Vista Hill has escaped the plague so far. Plus: A staffer at the KCRW program Which Way, L.A.? picked up the odor Sunday night south of Brentwood, and Mark & Brian took calls about it this morning on KLOS. * 10:45 am update: An emailer says the anchors on last night's Channel 2 News at 11 mentioned calls from Santa Monica to Eagle Rock and speculated on coastal red tide as a cause. Seems like a stretch so far inland. Meanwhile, there's this: "It smelled odd outside in Echo Park last night, I just thought it was the stale cat food. Hadn't heard about the creeping stench." And from the Greater Grove area:

Yes, the stench was everywhere in the Park La Brea area last night. It was so stinky I shut my windows. Rather moldy or rotten smell...thought it was the tree outside my house.

Cynthia writes from the Eastside:

I could smell something foul all the way east in Monterey Park (on the border of East L.A.). This was at midnight.

Author Denise Hamilton picked it up too:

I had dinner in West LA, then did an event at the Rancho Park/Palms library Tuesday night and noticed the stench as I walked around with author Naomi Hirahara. It was also on I-10, where we got on at Overland and headed east. I could smell it with the windows closed and the air on. It smelled faintly like sewage, an overflowing toilet. There must be something broken underground. Get the City San workers on it! It can't be red tide, that's ridiculous.

This from near the beach:

I ran some errands in Santa Monica yesterday at Wilshire and Euclid and thought some rain water must have gotten in my car because it smelled kind of musty as I drove down there. But when I got out, I realized that the smell was outside, too. Then I started to hope I wasn't just getting sick and my senses were out of whack. Glad to know I wasn't the only one who noticed.

Hmm, Santa Monica got it bad. Maybe there's something to the red tide idea:

I thought I was losing my mind until I saw your Stench blog today. Monday night in Santa Monica was brutal. I didn't sleep all night. There were waves of it yesterday (Tuesday), but I have not smelled it again today. I figured it must have been a beach odor, but it was worse than that. It was more like garbage. Anyhow, I thought it was just me -- I was looking for news on the LA Times web site and saw nothing. I am glad I saw your blog today -- and even gladder that the stench is nothing serious.

But then, these emails from further east (** and south to Palos Verdes):

hi, i smelled it late last night outside my place in koreatown. i thought it was rotten bul kogi from a nearby korean bbq restaurant or something. a friend and co-worker suspects it's from a farmer john slaughterhouse at vernon ave. and soto st.


Interesting Kevin. I live in Altadena and when I got home last evening, I thought I smelled a strong "mildew" type smell in my neighborhood. Something like if a mattress had been soaked. Don't know if that's the same thing, but it's an interesting coincidence.

In the Valley too.

Hi, Kevin. You probably don't need anymore stench reports but just in case, I smelled it in Encino around 2 a.m. Tuesday morning, right before it started to rain. The wind was blowing too so I imagine it could have come from over the hill with the storm.

Meanwhile, there is the usual warning from the county Department of Health Services to avoid contact with the ocean for several days after the first rain of the season. You don't even want to know what they measure coming down the storm drains, which basically collect runoff from all the pavement for fifty miles inland and funnel it just offshore, where it then washes back up on the beach.

Elevated levels of bacteria may continue for a period of up to 3 days depending upon the intensity of the rain and the volume of runoff. Elevated bacteria levels in ocean water may cause someone to become ill. The Department of Health Services recommends that beach users avoid contact with ocean water, especially near flowing storm drains, creeks and rivers for a period of 3 days after rainfall ends.

Our Iraq correspondent knows the smell. And a resident of Lunada Bay on the Palos Verdes peninsula reports an aroma not unlike spoiled milk: "My wife smelled a stench this morning, which convinced her our dog had pooped in some hidden place. Then she went outside, and it was worse out there, so the dog was exonerated."

More by Kevin Roderick:
Standing up to Harvey Weinstein
The Media
LA Times gets a top editor with nothing but questions
LA Observed Notes: Harvey Weinstein stripped bare
LA Observed Notes: Photos of the homeless, photos that found homes
Recent Westside stories on LA Observed:
Sure, there's a misanthrope or two in every community
Back home in a more suspicious Mar Vista
Returning to LA in sticker shock
Two Metro lines for two different LAs
Real estate developers: all aboard Expo
Development wars and malls: Beverly Center and Westside Pavilion
Bel-Air Camera closing
Mystery of the vacant houses


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