The "development" at Chicken Corner - named "Durbin" by its developers, the Angeles Group, gets ghostier every day -- a ghost town that went from A to Z without stopping for residents. Ailanthus trees have grown to fifteen feet, tobacco trees, too. All kinds of growth amid the sun-baked frames of homes that were never even half built. A sign that promises an "April 2009 debut" of the "homes" is still there. Piping and other materials that were left on-site when it was all but abandoned look like they have been there for a long time. For a while there was a white clunker - a Lincoln or Monte Carlo from '90s, I'd guess - parked on the lot. Now it is gone.
So when I saw that a representative of the Angeles Group was included on the agenda for the Echo Park Improvement Association's monthly meeting on Wednesday night, I made time to go to Barlow Hospital's meeting hall to find out how things were developing for the Durbin development.
But there was no representative from Angeles in attendance. According to board members, they had been invited, one guy had said they might come to address the group. But they didn't come.
It seems fitting that the ghost town would lack a representative. One we could see at least.
Los Angeles at large is talking about the D-word after the Dodgers lost to the Phillies last night. But in Echo Park the D-word became the D-word when the team started winning. Because that is when the traffic started to become unbearable. One neighborhood list is clogged with posts about how the McCourt Dodgers organization has underperformed (throat clearing) on promises to control traffic in the neighborhood after it reopened the Scott Avenue gate. Lots of questions about why the MTA doesn't have special bus service. A report of beer bottles and condoms. A moment of truth that was all but scheduled a couple of years ago when the Dodgers attended community meetings and tried to quell residents' doubts about the extra tri-zillion cars that would be tiptoeing (ha!) through the neighborhood after big games, upon the reopening of the Scott Avenue Gate. (If you're new to the issue, the newest Dodgers owners opened a gate that had been closed for years, due to an uprising of local residents in the mid-'90s.)
On one list, a neighbor offered:
We're lucky if it's only broken beer bottles we find, there are usually a bunch of used condoms strewn around, too.The McCourt Dodgers probably hoped the neighborhood would become acclimated in stages and then give up on ever having the Scott Avenue gate shut. The same way you hope a rival team will get acclimated to losing.
Chicken Corner is heartened to see renewed passion for a renewed padlocking of the dreaded gate.
Our big concerns get very small at Chicken Corner sometimes. As small as our eight-legged friends and feared ones. We have a no-kill policy at our house with the unpleasant exception for black widows. The no-kill rule is for my daughter's sake. She loves bugs and in the last few years I have started to love some of them, too. We had a yellow and black garden spider in our yard this summer that was named Hearts. We had an orb weaver on the porch that we called Our Lady Spider. Some of the rolly-pollys have names too.
Inside, we have long-long-legged tan colored spiders with tiny abdomens; they walk slowly and awkwardly when forced to move. Many of these we leave alone, clearing away their webs, and then they make new ones. Sometimes, when I'm not in a mood for a big, slow spider in the bathroom, we catch it and put it out.
Yesterday, we saw a large one of these harmless spiders in the living room under a window sill. My daughter shined a flashlight on the lady spider, and we saw that she had an egg sack -- a little white ball with white bumps that soon would turn into hundreds of spiderlings.
"Sorry, lady spider. You're going outside with those."
I got a stiff piece of paper to carry her out with -- at which point she turned into a hero. She grabbed the egg sack and ran for it. But she ran slowly, and I kept catching up with her, trying to get her to walk onto the paper so I could carry it out. She ran and ran. I gave up on the paper and went to get a plastic cup. My daughter kept an eye on her in the meantime. I assume the spider was exhausted. She stayed where she was. When I got back we got her into the cup and then took her outside. She still had the egg sack, which she had carried all over the living room. It was cold out, and she probably found a way back inside -- future generation in tow -- anyway.
It's a bug's world. We're just visiting.
Meanwhile, Chicken Corner received a pair of letters.
The first is from Anna Sklar, of Brown Acres fame:
Dear Jenny, Hate to sound like a cynic. But. Many years ago (late 70's), the Bureau of Engineering held many meetings regarding a planned multi-million dollar project at the Hyperion Wastewater Treatment Plant. Dozens of residents showed up, many expressed opposition. Plan went ahead. Oh, by the way, it ended in a Rube Goldberg-like project that wound up costing several hundred million dollars, was finally abandoned in the late 80s. Unused equipment sits like an enormous beached whale at north end of plant.
Unless you can marshall 1) a demonstration of folks (Saul Alinsky style) best done in front of City Engineer offices downtown with lots of notice to >media folk; or 2) many hundreds of letters. ... The only thing that City Hall (i.e., the Mayor) pays attention to is baaad publicity. Heal the Bay began with just a half-dozen very angry, but determined organizers.
Then, artist and community activist Jonathan Williams forwarded the following, to which Chicken Corner gives its most heartfelt cluck of approval:
Dear Ms. Martin, I have been following plans for draining and rehabilitating the Echo Park Lake from the beginning of public hearings.
One issue, which has been consistently mentioned at meetings is the community's concern for wildlife living in the park. This wildlife, most notably birds, depends on our lake for nesting and general habitat. Additionally, citizens of Echo Park and the rest of Los Angeles who use the park do so in large part because of the variety of wildlife present there. People count on seeing birds nesting and raising young at Echo Park Lake.
I understand that no provision has been recommended through the Environmental Impact Report to provide water and nesting habitat for resident birds during the period of construction.
I urge that the designers consider partial retention of water in the lake during construction. Under this condition the existing population of water birds would at least have a chance of remaining to live in our park during construction and we would thereby have a hope that our birds would continue to thrive here in the newly constructed lake thereafter.
If the State of California Department of Fish and Game has not weighed in on this issue, they should. It seems to me unconscionable that birds in our park would not be at least partially provided for in the interim during construction.
A few years ago, in the Chief Parks days, I had an unfortunate concern over some miscreants who lived in the neighborhood. I spoke to my senior lead police officer about it. And was told: if I ever were to call the northeast station, there were some magic words I should use: quality of life. Don't say: There are armed youngsters firing their guns without proper training, and it affects my personal safety. Do say: My quality of life is being impacted when armed youngsters fire.... The authorities had been trained to respond to those words.
Well, help! 911! If Black & Veatch kills the geese and ducks and the coots and the herons at Echo Park Lake, my quality of life will be impacted!
No one goes to a lake just to see water -- they go to see everything that water sustains, i.e., life.
Email comments for the EIR can be sent to:
Maria Martin (include "Echo Park Comments" in subject) Maria.Martin@lacity.org.