Southern California environment news and trends

An ace caff with quite a nice DWP headquarters attached: freedom for the LADWP cafeteria!

Mercer 4443

nixhorizon/Flickr cc

Soon, the magic of reasonably priced public utility cafeteria food can again be yours.

If you're a fan of the price, location &/or view at the LA Department of Water and Power's Hope street headquarters, Festivus is coming early this year. I aired my grievances before about the fact that the cafeteria was closed to the public for "security reasons." Now I understand that it's opening back up again.

Perhaps not surprisingly, at least one reason is money. Sodexo, the company that runs the contract for the John Ferraro Building cafeteria, gave DWP 120 days notice back on May 17 that they planned to terminate the contract for the concession. During the DWP board's September 12 meeting, DWP's Gary Wong said, "what they [Sodexo] cited at the time, JFB has been closed to public and a significant downturn in catering both within the department and outside for external catering." In other words, those jurors and Yelp-driven diners were good business.


LADWP talking about Elysian Reservoir's Rubber-Mat Roof


Black plastic balls are a stopgap measure. LADWP is deciding on a long-term solution at Elysian Reservoir.

As we report elsewhere, the LA Board of Water and Power Commissioners decided to send forward a special “water quality adjustment factor” rate increase for customers. The biggest and shiniest fireworks over that factor-rate-increase will come at the City Council hearing, the one that has to happen for the bumped-up bill to happen. But the DWP board DID get a little taste of flaring tensions over the Elysian Reservoir, and the idea of a park there, from its champions.

The Department of Water and Power has been talking, on and off, about burying the Elysian Reservoir and turning the above-ground part into a park since the 1980s, from what I can tell.  Elysian Park neighbors and regional advocates want parkland; they want something visibly beautiful, something kind of like what Rowena Reservoir neighbors got a few years back.  


If and when #OccupyLA leaves, does City Hall's lawn have to come back?

Occupy LA

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Could a grassroots #OccupyLA uproot City Hall's grass?

As Julie Westfall writes elsewhere at SCPR's site, LA's Department of Recreation and Parks continues to play a key role in the city's response to Occupiers.

One of the three documents the City of LA will produce to counter the Occupy movement's legal efforts to halt clearance of City Hall Park will come from city parks chief, Jon Kirk Mukri. Mukri has already written to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa about how "soil has become compacted and extremely dry in turf areas and around trees. Trees and other plants are suffering from a lack of water and nutrients."

To people like ACLU Southern California director Hector Villagra, that's a fig leaf for the city's real desire to just make this spectacle stop.

In a piece for Huffington Post and at the City Watch website, Villagra made fun of the city's concern for the lawn, and set it as parallel to Bloomberg rationalizations in Zucotti Park. "New York mayor Michael Bloomberg explained that the increasing number of tents erected in the park made it difficult for the emergency services to ensure the protesters' safety, and the New York police then moved in, under cover of night, to clear the park of protesters and tents. There are reasons to question just how persuasive Bloomberg's justification was, but it at least sounds weighty."


Old-timey movies tell half the story about LA's water

LADWP's 1931 film "Romance of Water" told LA what it wanted to hear about the infrastructure that helped it grow.

Alex Cohen talked to film curator Scott Simmon this week, a conversation about the preservation of rare old timey movies about the west. Clara Bow ("Mantrap") was great and all, but what I loved about it were, of course, the ones about water. (Infrastructure!)

I never want to forget how we got here. And by we, I mean the white men who established the infrastructure for "Loss Angle-eez" (that's how they say it in the old movies) and by here, I mean, a dry basin we've made into a megalopolis. 

The language in the LADWP film and in the Hearst Newsreel is incredible. It describes chilly eastern Sierra mountains serving up water while "people three hundred miles away are basking in a semi tropical winter sun…" The great mountain lakes of the Mammoth area are "a fishermen's paradise where man may forsake the cares of the world among the grandeur and peace of nature." We have, in this imagination, "…a never ending water supply." The water was "wasted" in the Owens salt lake, until the "enterprise" of man harnessed it for the "benefit" of the city of the angels. 


From the LADWP board meeting, an update on once-through cooling

LADWP's Scattergood Power Plant.

Well, 2029 is the year.  

Earlier I wondered whether the DWP was planning to look for more time to end its practice of once-through cooling, using sea water to cool equipment at coastal power plants. The utility's already gotten 9 years past the initial end date for the practice, after a hearing in July at the state water resources control board. I wondered whether DWP was going to use the next meeting of the water board's independent experts on energy and infrastructure, SACCWIS, to push for more time. It seems I misunderstood. 

LADWP chief Ron Nichols says clearly that the DWP is doing 2029 - period. "That is our plan, that is our schedule, and that's what we're moving forward on is that."

You can listen to the discussion of the entire agenda item here. Nichols makes his statement about 3 minutes in, in response to a specific question.