Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Beep beep BEEP

MB here...

It's noisy downtown. The general noise and hubub of the city doesn't bother me. Our loft doesn't face the street, we face a "light court". The building is U-shaped, and we have a nice little patio on one leg of the U, high enough to overlook the open air above the "arcade" portion of the Mercantile Arcade building. I have a nice view of the California Plaza buildings, and overall, it's pretty quiet back there. What noise there is is of the background variety. Traffic, laughing neighbors, etc.

The Arcade building consists of two 12-story towers, one facing Broadway just north of 6th street, and one fracing Spring street. Connecting the two towers is a walkable arcade filled with shops, so you can walk from Spring st. straight through the building to Broadway. It's been sitting empty above the ground floor ever since we moved in, but recently there has been an explosion of activity. Apparently the owners have overcome whatever obstacle has been in the road, and the conversion of the building to lofts is back on track.

The construction hasn't been loud or annoying at all. What has been annoying is the alarms. Occasionally, an alarm would go off in the building. Either a whoop-whoop alternating with a prerecorded voice instructing all within earshot to stop work and make for the exits, or an exceptionally annoying electronic beep. Beep beep beep. Three loud electronic tones emitting from the upper floors or roof of the broadway-side tower. Oddly enough, you really can't here the alarm from the floor of the arcade, but you can hear it from the parking lot north of the building on Spring, and you sure as hell can hear it in my loft.

For a while the alarm had been going off at odd times and running for anywhere from half an hour to a few hours before shutting off. But a week ago monday the alarm started beeping at noon and didn't quit until 10:00 PM. Really annoying.

Beep beep beep.

The following Wednesday, it went off again around Noon. Beep beep beep. I went next door and wandered around until I spotted some guys with "fire control" on their shirts. They really couldn't say anything about it, but they went and fetched a well-dressed young-ish dark haired guy they identified as their "big boss". "We are doing occasional tests, but it shouldnt' be going off on weekends" he told me. "It's going off now" I replied. "Now?" "Yes, Now." "Um, ok..." He got on the phone, and got the alarm shut off, but it was clear he had no idea it was running at all.

Beep beep beep.

Of course the beeps where back the very next day, at 10:00 AM. I had no idea how to contact anyone over there... I had neglected to get a number for the Fire Control guy, and there is no "In case of emergency" or "Managed by..." numbers on the building itself. There's probably some easy and simple way to get emergency contact info for any building downtown, but I don't know it. The building permits I retrieved from the Dept. of Building and Safety's web site gave the contractor as "Santa Fe Construction Co Inc; Lic. No.: 871003", with an address that Google showed to be a single family home in Winnetka. The contractor's phone #, (818) 326-3533, was a cell phone the no one picked up. The listed "Responsible Managing Officer (RMO)" for Santa Fe is Gregory Martin, and some googling of that name found that Greg Martin is the owner of the Arcade building, or a VP of the developer, "Fifth Street Funding", or perhaps the elusive avatar of a trio of front companies holding real estate on behalf of a wealthy and mysterious Australian family. Whatever. Calling Fifth Street Funding led me to Lucia Parisi, the manager of the Arcade Building.

Beep beep beep.

Lucia was able to get the alarm shut off in short order, once I convinced her that this wasn't just "testing", and that it was in fact running continuously. And the alarm pretty much stayed off, 'till today.

Beep beep beep.

The alarm is running when I get home today at 1:30PM.

Beep beep beep.

I call Lucia at 2, she's not in.

Beep beep beep.

I call Lucia an hour later, she's in but in a meeting.

Beep beep beep.

I convince the receptionist to break into the meeting, but Lucia "is aware of the situation and will take care of it ASAP"

Beep beep beep.

I call again at 4:30, everyone is gone for the day.


Listen developer people. I am your neighbor. I live here. I get to watch the comings and goings of your little construction project. And I'm not going away. Do you really want me to be the pissed off neighbor who spends his time filing complaints and taking photos and raising "issues" with the city and county, the police and the BID? Organizing the community? Showing up at every hearing to voice my concerns? Filing complaints with the LAPD Noise Enforcement Team? LA Building and safety? Of course not. And I don't want to be that guy. So shut off your goddamned alarm and pick up the phone when it rings. ok?

Monday, November 23, 2009

NY Magazine Profiles Bratton

Just wanted to share: New York Magazine profiles former LA police chief William Bratton.

In the debate over whether policing is an art or a science, Bratton is a firm believer that it’s a science. His successes, he says, were attributable to two basic policing strategies: CompStat and “broken windows.” The former is the system Bratton and his NYPD deputy commissioner, the late Jack Maple, developed in 1994 that introduced computer analysis of crime patterns and strict accountability measures to modern policing. The latter is the theory first articulated by the academics George Kelling and James Q. Wilson in 1982, and later put into practice by Bratton with New York’s transit cops and then with the NYPD, that by cracking down on minor quality-of-life crimes—graffiti, fare-hopping, breaking windows—police can reduce serious crime as well. “There’s nothing going on in Los Angeles that’s different from what I did in New York,” Bratton says. “I have CompStat and I have very assertive cops making a lot of arrests.”

And yet it was Bratton’s willingness to adapt these strategies to two very different environments that accounts for his successes. In other words, he was as much of an artist as he was a scientist. One crucial adjustment was patience. In New York City, Bratton had commanded 38,000 cops and was able to flood multiple high-crime areas simultaneously with hundreds of officers. In Los Angeles, he had only 9,000 cops. “Throwing 50 cops at a problem in Los Angeles was really difficult,” says Kelling, a consultant to the LAPD during Bratton’s tenure. “It meant he couldn’t do everything at once.” So, while Bratton cracked down immediately on prostitution in Hollywood, cleaning up the city’s notorious skid row had to wait. “This was much more of a patient, unfolding enterprise,” says John Linder, a consultant who worked with Bratton in New York and Los Angeles. “He was not as worried about the immediate impact as he was in New York.”

More here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kidlo gets his Swine Flu Shot on Skid Row.

MB here...

I wanted to get Kidlo his Swine Flu shot while the season was still young enough for it to do him some good. But no one seems to have it... His pediatrician doesn't have any, my doctor doesn't have any, Walgreens is out of stock... Kaiser Permanente has some, due to a decision by the state that the LA times says was "not previously discussed publicly" but the state says was not made in secret. "It was done openly with all our public health partners," said Mike Sicilia, spokesman for the Department of Public Health. I'm not sure who those partners are, but I expect these meetings could take place in a phone booth and still have room for coffee and snack service.

Anyway, this pretty much leaves the county Flu POD (Point of Dispensing) clinics as the only place for Kidlo to get the H1N1 shot, and as luck would have it, today there was one on 6th and San Pedro, not half a mile from our loft, in the heart of Skid Row.

The flyer said 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and as I had read about the mess that was the Glendale POD last weekend, I decided to get there early and be prepared to stay the day. County Dept. of Public Health had blocked off 6th street between San Julian and San Pedro, and set up tents and tables. There was six or eight cops hanging out watching over a small crowd that had gathered.

And by small crowd I mean small. They put us in two lines, one "Family" line (kids, pregnant mothers, caretakers of babies under 6 months, etc.) and another line for "everyone else". The "everyone else" line was in the hundreds, stretching around the corner and down San Pedro for a block or so, and seemed to be mostly Skid Row people, homeless or sheltered. Our line, the "Family line" as the staff called it, was maybe forty people. Maybe.

We waited. Volunteers came around with forms to fill out. I talked to the other families on line. The family crowd was pretty diverse. The family behind me had driven an hour to come here from the 'Burbs. He had actually driven around here last night to see if the neighborhood was safe enough to bring his wife and kid to. I guess it was, or at least his fear of Flu won over his fear of Skid Row. I lent my cell phone to the family in front of me so they could call their relatives and give them directions. No one in the family had used a cell phone before, so I had to dial it for them.

A KNBC news guy and cameraman came around talked to some of the families at the head of the line. They didn't seem interested in Kidlo or the Suburbanites behind me.

Soon enough, the line was moving. There was a short delay as they rearranged the tables -- all us parental units were blocking the way with our strollers -- but we were in and out in under an hour. Sweet!

So if you are hankerin' for a Flu Shot (they have seasonal flu shots as well as N1H1) and are in the neighborhood (and in the target group), drop on by.

It's a great day to be a Newsman!