Tag Archives: economy

Empty LA

melrose I was shocked to see a nearly vacant Melrose shopping district today. Around noon I took my shoes to the Fluevog store to be repaired, expecting to deal with the post-Thanksgiving shopping masses, but parking was easy, the sidewalks were free and the stores I walked by were virtually empty. At first I was happy to not have to deal with the usual Saturday shopping crowd, but as I looked around I began to worry about the economy. On a positive note, most of the restaurants in the area seemed to be busy. Maybe it’s just because a lot of people are out of town for the holiday weekend, but what do you think?

LA is the second hardest city to get by in

Omar omar's photo of LA's Main Street used through a Creative Commons license
Omar omar's photo of LA's Main Street used through a Creative Commons license

Well fellow strugglers, we are a hair’s breadth from being declared the US city where it is “hardest to get by” according to Forbes‘ calculations. Ignominiously edged out by Providence (Providence?! Really?), we can still take some measure of pride in our position at the vanguard of economic collapse. Go team!

“To determine which of the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan statistical areas . . . squeeze residents most, [Forbes] measured cost of living, unemployment rate and median income in each.” LA, unsurprisingly, did okay on median income ($56,680) but pretty crappy on cost of living index (48 points above national average) and unemployment (10.2%).

Numbers three, four and five on the list were Riverside, California; Tampa, Florida; and Buffalo, New York.

Sing it along with me:  “It’s a hard world to get a break in. All the good things have been taken…”

Toluca Lake Restaurants Offering Recession Discounts

When economic times are tough, dining out is one of the first “luxuries” a lot of people cut out. Back in September, the L.A. Times reported on the sudden hit local major chains were taking. More expensive specialty establishments in Los Angeles and across the country are suffering as well.  It seems in bleak financial times, fast food joints are the only ones experiencing an increase in business.

Even though I’ve been trying to eat in more, I’m really not one for cooking and do go out or get take out several times a week. I was picking up a pizza the other night and noticed what seems to be a growing trend among restaurants in Toluca Lake, and possibly L.A. in general.

Robano’s, at 10057 Riverside Drive, is offering discounts on all food and yes, even alcohol every day of the week. Mo’s, at 4301 Riverside Drive, has special prices for certain menu items on Mondays after 5pm. This is great news to me and others who aren’t too interested in staying in every night and preparing meals. Hopefully we’ll see more of this around Los Angeles, which might also help the restaurants stay afloat.

Central Arroyo Stream Restoration & Watershed Programs Halted: Hooray for CA Budget Crisis

So in case you didn’t know (I shoulda told y’all when I found out, a while back, but I was stupid busy), the Arroyo Seco–which runs from Devil’s Gate Dam, south thru Pasadena and parallel to the 110 freeway into South Pas & Highland Park, was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places (although I can’t find it in that crappy database of theirs, maybe you can). It’s also a valuable habitat for the rare and wee Arroyo Chub, a leeetle beeeety fish that dwells solely in some SoCal streams, and which is valuable not only for adding its own little fishy topping to the biodiversity pizza pie, but ‘cuz it eats mosquito larvae: hooray for the Chub!

The nice people who did all the work theyre not getting paid for.
Just a few of the nice people who did all the work they're not getting paid for.

Of course the little Chub was pretty much on its way out, along with a lot of the Arroyo Seco–edged out by pollution, junk and Avenues graffitti–until recent rehabilitation grants came in the form of The Arroyo Seco Watershed Coordination Program ($35,000) and The Central Arroyo Stream Restoration Program ($251,000). The grants were awarded to the Arroyo Seco Foundation, and they got to work asap to fix up the river. Hence the Chub-comeback. And the river’s lookin’ mighty nice, too. And some folks got some fine work out of it during a tough economic time. Until now.

Just a few days ago the State Water Resources Control Board and the California Department of Conservation sent out orders (here & here) to cease activity on Arroyo Seco watershed management projects and–here’s the clincher–notified the river-rehabbers (who are not state employees) that the Arroyo Seco Foundation will not be paid for work already completed. WTF?!

Your tax dollars at work, ladies & gents, paying these fine folk in BallSacramento (heh) big fancy salaries to come to an agreement on the state budget. Yay!

So now how will the Arroyo Seco Foundation, a nonprofit organization, pay its workers and contractors and suppliers, who have already rendered services?

And–looking beyond the money issue–what will happen to the great progress that was being made in the Arroyo? Will the cease-and-desist-and-we’re-gonna-stop-paying-you order cause a big enough hiccup in the state & the Foundation’s paperwork & processes that the Foundation can no longer secure grants, or perhaps loses its current grants?

The full information is here at the Arroyo Seco Foundation’s site.

Scams increasing as economy sours

Last night we got a robo-dial message from Dr. Taylor, MUSD Superintendent advising that a group of people identifying themselves as being part of the High school’s ROP program were trying to sell subscriptions to the LA Times.  It was false and instructions on how to handle were included in her recorded message.

This morning’s Crime Scene Blog put up a post “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” that recapped a story appearing in the San Gabriel Tribune regarding scammers preying on the elderly in the eastern SGV.  That article outlined the usual distract while a partner ransacks the house scam we see.  What is interesting is that the articles actually give the names of the suspects who live in the Long Beach area and have been hitting numerous spots in the LA Metro.

My personal solution when strangers are at the door has been to ask for ID and to see their “solicitation permit” which scares most away.  (I know there isn’t such a requirement but it does freak them out).  What is your solution to dealing with unwanted visitors at your door?

Where did all the trick or treaters go?


The leftover goodies that went unclaimed at my house.
The leftover goodies that went unclaimed at my house.

Is it just me or were the Trick or Treaters way down this year?  My street has always been a hit or miss so it is hard to tell by our traffic.  I took my youngest out for his last year of trick or treating and we ventured off the street as legend has it one of the streets above us does “only big candy bars”.  Even off the street for the most part it was lighter traffic than usual.

It was scary seeing the other neighborhoods around me.  Barely 1 in 4 homes were handing anything out.  Even fewer homes were decorated for the day with mazes, haunted houses or just great yard art.  Both a big departure from years past.

While I was pondering what happened I noticed on my facebook feed that a metblog writer in New Orleans, Daneeta Loretta had run a post with a similar observation there titled “Silent Night, Hallow Night”.  I guess the economy freak out is much bigger than I thought, certainly much deeper than the signs I see around my little corner of LA.

I heard from my friend Jeff  who turns his house into a “haunted house” and he had over 600 kids visit this year.  My daughter spent hours in line in Old Pas for a Haunted House there.  Old Town Monrovia was packed with kids for their afterschool party that included trick-or-treating.  Did everyone shift from door-to-door in favor of those activities?

How was your  Trick or Treater traffic?  What was your take on the shift in traffic?

(The pic is by me, trusty phone cam, and this year we gave pretzels and I am so glad as I wouldn’t want it to be that much candy left in the house to tempt me).

Merry Christmas: ABC News Cancels LA Holiday Party

The New York Observer caught wind of an e-mail from David Westin, President of ABC News, that informed staffers of several cost-cutting measures to be implemented.

  • Executives are asked to fly one grade below what they’re entitled to.
  • Executives are asked to stay in “B” level hotels.
  • Any meals (or drinks) with ABC or Disney employees will not be reimbursed.
  • All newspaper and magazine subscriptions for executives and production employees will be canceled and moved to on-line.
  • Any convention or conference attendance will be kept to an absolute minimum.
  • All holiday parties will be cancelled this year. This includes company parties in LA.

I can understand ABC News tightening the belt during a global financial crisis. I would also be surprised if anyone was actually distraught at the idea that they won’t be forced to attend yet another awkward mixer with their co-workers. But, I think Westin missed a golden opportunity here. What if the e-mail read as follows: Continue reading Merry Christmas: ABC News Cancels LA Holiday Party

iPhone VS. Indymac

Digg!On Friday July 11, 2008, the new iPhone was released for sale.  On the same day, US federal regulators took control of Indymac Bank.  (Read more about that here.)  Today (Monday July 14) the lines were long at both locations.  At the Apple store a homeless looking man yelled at the crowd “Get out of our neighborhood!”  at the Indymac Bank line, there was a cop car out front and a taco truck in the alley next to the line.

Only six blocks apart.  Strange days indeed.



(Apple store on 3rd St. Promenade, Indymac Bank on Wilshire and 8th in Santa Monica.)