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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Multimillion-dollar hotel project nixed by Long Beach council - latimes.com

Multimillion-dollar hotel project nixed by Long Beach council - latimes.com

I live in long beach and frequent this area of SE coastal LB, which i call the Marina, which actually could benefit from addition of more hotels, condo, retail upgrade. Normally i have reservations about Long beach adding more retail developmemt, as we have tons of retail mega-developments all over the city and retail dosen't create much high- paying blue-collar jobs. However, this part of long beach is fairly wasted. There is a huge decepit oil patch brown field there and a quite uselss eyesore old marina seaport motel, currently shuddered. Can't see much upside to adding another big mega-complex retail housing developemnt in LB but then the present site as it is seems a quite useless drag and eyesore.
Enviros are happy about not cluttering long beach with yet more retail and housing and perhaps they have a point here but then enviros are opposed to any developments period if it is in their own hood(nimbyism)) Long beach does have a small but quite vocal anti-growth faction but it is confined to the prim upscale SE coastal 90803 zip where the few owners of high-priced homes wish to keep their turf free of any new housing urban developements. This is Classic nimbyism and it is a quite common feature of LA OC coastal suburbs.

Here's the article:

'A four-year stalemate over land use in southeast Long Beach came to an end when the City Council rejected a $320-million development that included a boutique hotel, science center, shops and condominiums. In a 3-to-5 vote, the City Council declined to change zoning and permit requirements on the 2nd Street and Pacific Coast Highway parcel, which would have allowed the construction of a 12-story condominium complex. A long-standing moratorium limits the size of buildings to three stories in the southeast area.'...

'The council also did not uphold the Planning Commission's certification of the environmental impact report, which had been approved last month but appealed by environmental and community groups. It also unanimously agreed to direct city staff to return to the council with a report on revising a 34-year-old land-use requirement.'

'It was the second attempt to develop the southeast parcel. Developers first had partnered with Lennar Corp., a national home-builder, which funded and designed a project. But the giant company pulled out four years ago because of city opposition.

'Since then, developers say they have spent millions in an attempt to bring their new project to life.'

'The Seaside Village or 2nd+PCH project would have replaced the old SeaPort Marina Hotel with 20,000 square feet of restaurant space, 275 residential units, 155,000 square feet of retail space, 50,000 square feet of hotel space, plus an underground 'garage for 1,440 cars. The 12-story tower building would have had 126,000 square feet of condominium space topped by a helipad. Supporters had argued the project would have created hundreds of new jobs and millions in revenue.'

'Long Beach already benefits from hundreds of businesses, such as Boeing, Long Beach Airport, tourism, a large oil field and the nation's second-busiest port, which produces thousands of jobs and generates $16 billion in annual trade-related wages statewide, according to city officials. Still, the city has an unemployment rate of 12.7% as of last month, compared with the county average of 11.5%. Opponents of the project argued it would have increased traffic congestion at already backed-up intersections and harmed nearby wetlands. What's more, they said, changing the city's Local Coastal Program and the Southeast Area Development Improvement Plan to accommodate the project would have set a precedent for other high-rises along PCH.'

'Dozens of residents showed up to Tuesday night's council meeting, including another developer who offered to pay a portion in updating the development improvement plan. Amid the mixed crowd, those in favor of the project wore green T-shirts with the words "Live, work, eat and play in Long Beach" on the back, while opponents wore stickers with "Second and PCH" crossed out. Councilman Gary DeLong, whose district includes the parcel site, supported the project, as did councilmembers Robert Garcia and Suja Lowenthal.'

'And while the conversation between councilmembers and lead developer David Malmuth seemed to hint the project would be approved, the council's final decision shocked many. "I'm pleasantly surprised," said environmental activist Heather Altman, a resident and foe of the project. "I was not anticipating that the vote would go this way." But for Malmuth and SeaPort Marina hotel owner Raymond Lin, the council's vote was painful and bitterly disappointing. "I feel horrible," Malmuth said. "We need to process this, but I think the project's dead." "I now have to try and do what's best for my family," Lin said of the SeaPort Marina hotel. "I've already tried to do what was right for the community."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Rediculous OWS manifesto full of BS. lies and half-lies

This is a manifesto and rediculous action epigram of the OWS port protestors which was put out by the long beach/LA OWS coalition:

"As part of the Dec. 12 Boycott and March for legalization and good jobs, the Occupy movement will protest at one or more facilities belonging to SSA Marine, a shipper owned by Goldman Sachs, with 5 terminals and a warehouse in the Harbor area. SSA Marine was recently fined for building an illegal road to the site of its massive, dirty coal terminal project in WA. It was also caught recently not alerting workers to the threat of explosive cargo in Oakland. SSA/Goldman Sachs symbolize the ruin that corporate greed has brought into our lives. The 1% are depriving port truck drivers and other workers of decent pay, working conditions and the right to organize, even while the port of LA/LB is the largest in the US and a huge engine of profits for the 1%. The 1% have pursued a conscious policy of de-industrialization that has resulted in "trade" at the port meaning that there are 7 containers coming in for every one going out. The 1% have driven migrant workers into a "grey market" economy and repression. The 1% use police brutality and repression, jails and prisons to suppress, divide and try to silence the 99% and all who oppose their insatiable greed. To put an end to all that, we call on the 99% to march, boycott, occupy the ports, and STRIKE on December 12 for full legalization, good jobs for all, equality and justice."

I want to point out the lies, half-truths,and contradictions of this OWS port shutdowm manifesto. I will ignore and bypass the SSA Marine/Goldman Sachs issue and go on to other critiques of the manifesto:

"The 1% are depriving port truck drivers and other workers of decent pay, working conditions and the right to organize, even while the port of LA/LB is the largest in the US and a huge engine of profits for the 1%."

Port big rig truck drivers are mostly driven by Teamster unionized truckers but there is a significant percentage which are independent contract non-unionized truckers, operating as small businesses on wheels. IC trucking is a major part of SoCAl delivery and logistical trucking, esp in small/ medium-sized hauling/delivery/same day courier delivery operations. Most well-known is Fed-Ex. I was for a long time involved in independent contract small truck delivery/courier services and sometimes I made out fairly well, though there are pitfalls in negotiating your delivery skills in the open market in the admittedly unregulated, dog-eat-dog world of independent contract delivery services. It is very much like starting and running your own business on wheels, and you have to set up and carry your own benefits.

IC trucking or owner-operators allow the little fellow(the 99%) to invest in their own hauling business and should not be put down by OWS. IN SoCal lots of immigrants, mainly Hispanics, operate their own big-rigs. Does OWS despise immigrants owning their own trucks and getting paid per job. BTW the biggest expense for ind contractors is high fuel prices, a result of CA and USA policies of not allowing unrestricted drilling of oil, and CA/EPA's rediculous over-strict emissions rulings, such as CA AB32 and LA Clean Ports Act.

:"The 1% have pursued a conscious policy of de-industrialization that has resulted in "trade" at the port meaning that there are 7 containers coming in for every one going out"

Who persues a conscious policy of de-industrialization in America?. It is anti-business greens and their enviro-freak political allies who have driven out all 'polluting' businesses from CA and the other 'green' states. Overly restrictive enviro-rules make it impossible to operate so-called 'dirty' businesses in CA such as resource extraction, cement plants, chemicals/metel processing, oil extraction, ect. OWS loves the green agenda but excess green enviromentalism results in loss of 1000's, even millions of jobs in dirty extractive/processing industries which would, at least in CA, employ the 99%, including a huge CA population of low-skilled south-of-border immigrants, which OWS claims to be protesting on behalf of.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Los Angeles just became a more dangerous place

California's impending overcrowded prison release program- 1000's of state prisoners will be transferred to LA County's already overcrowded jails, forcing the county and city to release prisoners early and putting pressure on the maxed-out probation dept.

Pajamas Media » Cascade Effect: California’s Prison Release Program

"The greatest share of these prisoners, up to 7,000 of them, are expected to be transferred to jails in Los Angeles County, which, according to the Los Angeles Daily News, have only 4,000 vacant beds. This influx of felons will have a cascade effect, necessitating the early release of county prisoners doing time for misdemeanors and those convicted of felonies but serving jail time as a condition of their probation. And already county jail prisoners are serving only about 20 percent of their sentences behind bars."


Second reason for LA becoming a more dangerous place is the just-passed CA law banning open carry of unloaded guns:

"Governor cites police support in signing bill that puts California at odds with relaxed measures sweeping the U.S. 2nd Amendment activists predict a surge in concealed-weapons permits. With the announcement early Monday that he had outlawed the public display of handguns in California, Gov. Jerry Brown bucked a national trend toward more lenient firearms laws and placed himself in the political cross-hairs of the state's 2nd Amendment activists."


3rd reason is:
'Police agencies in California will no longer be able to freely impound cars from sober but unlicensed drivers who are stopped at drunk-driving checkpoints under legislation signed Sunday by Gov. Jerry Brown...

'Under the new law written by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), if a sober driver is caught at a DUI checkpoint without a valid license, law enforcement officers must release the car to a qualified driver representing the registered owner. In cases where a legal driver is not readily available, AB 353 says, the vehicle is to be released to one later at the impound yard.'

The two new CA laws passed by Governor Brown plus the U.S Supreme Court ordering CA prisons to relieve overcrowding of CA state prisons means that los angeles will become a much more dangerous place in 2012.

Also add to above reasons a heated divisive potentially explosive presidential election year and the local economy expected to have a double-dip recession. Plus LA unemployment rates remaining around 14-15% plus continued $3.50-$4.00 per gallon gas prices. And a potential big influx of illegals leaving Arizona, Alabama and other states which are cracking down on illegal immigration and pouring into CA, which just threw out a big welcome mat for illegals with the just-passed CA DREAM ACT.

Also there was a recent decision of the CA 9th Circuit court which reversed an earlier CA Court decision banning day laborers from hanging out in front of business soliciting work.

Los Angeles will become a more dangerous and even a largely lawless city in 2012. It has always been a high crime gang-ridden ghetto-polis cesspool but the crime and general lawlessness will spike even further. Be prepared for the worst.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Touring CA in a Recession-post 4. Incident with park rangers

My fourth post of my 7 day CA trip in Sept 2011. Here i do an entire post on an unfortunate incident with National Park Rangers patrolling Sequoia-King Canyon National Park. It occurred right after i had left from Grant Grove Village and was heading toward Giant Forest section of the park. It ended with an amiable parting of the ways and no harm done.

I left Grant Grove and went back along route 180/198 in direction of of Giant Forest. It is Monday mid-afternoon Sept 5th, last day of labor day weekend, and the park is emptying of visitors real fast.
When i got to intersection of 180/198 I took a wrong turn and ended up almost back at the park entrance. I did a turn around and went back in right direction, reached the intersection again and made the correct turn this time.

Only thing is I failed to stop completely and did not know there was a stop sign there, or missed seeing it. It may be because i was tired after being on road 6 hrs straight, driving 300 miles coming from northern CA, and my road alertness was off (I didn't get my usual coffee fix). I was rather beat up and looking ragged after five days on the road, staying at rough campsites last four nights. As i made the CA rolling stop i was spotted by National Park rangers in their white and green SUV headed in the opposite direction.

They turned around and followed me for a short distance and then came the inevitable flashing lights. I pulled over to stop and 2 park rangers came out of their vehicle and approached my vehicle. I need to point out that i am a veteran experienced delivery driver and have been stopped many times by police in LA for traffic violations so i did not panic or get upset. I was only dismayed somewhat by being pulled over in a scenic national park while i was on vacation.

The rangers told me i had just gone thru a stop sign at intersection of 180/198. But they and i knew that i had slowed down sufficiently and carefully at the stop and my actions were not intentional . It was more likely i was unaware of the stop sign, missed it accidentally, or had travelers disorientation. It is important to note here that i was rather tired and maybe a bit disoriented after a long drive and also me and my pickup both looked rather rough and grimy after five days on the road .

This may have been the real reason the rangers followed me and stopped me. The rangers treated me rather suspiciously at first as if they thought i was bent on some type of criminal intent while passing thru the park. Also, It was unusual to have a park visitor arriving right after labor day and perhaps they suspected me of being a courier and/or scout for a drug cartel looking to plant pot in the mountains( CA has a huge problem with illegal marijuana farms in all it's parks/national forest mountainous regions).

Whatever the reason for the stop one of the park rangers proceeded to do a partial search of my truck's passenger side interior, and ran an ID/ license check on me. I did put up a polite but nonetheless assertive objection to this rather inqusitive search high up in the mountains while i was on vacation.

My being somewhat cooperative( though putting up mild objections) was surprising in and of itself, as i have in past traffic stops behaved rather badly and rudely to law enforcement officers. That has always landed me in hot water with both cops and the traffic court judges. It is unwise to bicker at cops during a traffic stop, even if you are absolutely certain that you committed no wrong. Cops are human and vindicative, as i have learned from long and bitter experience dealing in the brutal, often unfair, money-hungry CA Superior Court Traffic Division.

As these were park rangers and not the usual urban city police officers i was given a bit more leeway and able to assert myself a bit more against the pullover. In Los Angeles i have been stopped over 20 times and never had my vehicle searched. I knew i could make a big protest over this likely illegal search but as i had nothing to hide i allowed the rangers to search my vehicle. They would find out soon enough that i was just joe traveler on a CA car camping trip. What they were attempting to find out is if it was just that or i was on another more sinister mission.

After a few minutes of vehicle searching and somewhat friendly bantering with the rangers they seemed to relax their attitude toward me a bit. I told them frankly that they were searching the wrong person as i was politically to the right, a right-wing blogger/tweeter with Tea Party sympathies( I am not officially with the Tea Party but share many of their aims). I told them that I was your normal everyday law-abiding US citizen on a CA getaway road trip, or words to that effect.

After they they found out i had conservative views I lectured them a bit on the fact that in my home city of Los Angeles they could not conduct a license ID check on a truckfull of illegal aliens just arrived the day before from across the border without the ACLU, illegal alien activists, and even LA politicians coming down on them. The rangers appeared dismayed. I further lectured them on the criminal realities of CA and LA and how i wrote frequently on my blogsite about the gritty criminal aspects of third world ghettoized Los Angleles. They completely backed off, gave me slack and even an unexpected but captive audience as i ranted on the gangster-ridden, graffiti-infested nature of Los Angeles, of which i am a world authority and blogsite publicist. They did not issue me a ticket.

I was not really all that upset about N.P rangers doing a rather inquisitive and legally questionable stop, search and ID check on me ( I was after all on a vacation getaway and had just entered into a really spectacular scenic CA national park so I was not all that stressed). I also understand the realities and stresses of law enforcement and the phychological profiles of law enforcment officers. I have plenty of experience with being stopped by police officers for annoying traffic citations in LA , due to long experience as an express delivery driver. Most of the time officers are polite and if you treat them with respect and don't hassle them they may even let you off on a ticket. I have had that happen more than once, though in most cases I was issued the citation.

I have competed my 'interlude with National Park Rangers section', a sort of digression from my CA trip log. It was a bit unsettling to be stopped by park rangers and searched while i was on vacation but i was soon on my way to the best car/ rv camping site in the Western Sierras. I would hopefully get over this unfortunate park ranger incident quickly, though there would be one more incident before i left the park. I am normally not the tin foil conspiracy type but perhaps I was being targeted and tracked by a federal government agency. Note: The park had indeed emptied out as i have alluded to previously, due to the severe CA great recession. Even Grant Grove Village, normally a swarming beehive of visitors year-round, had at most three dozen mostly exiting campers/visitors, and 1/4 of the folk at the village were park/ concession staff.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Touring California in a near-depression: post 3

I am continuing down the 41 hwy headed toward Fresno on a hot baking 100% mid-morning. I have a small ice bucket with cold water and a cold soda at my side. Also a headband soaked in icy water on my head. Am driving thru miles and miles of flat farm fields. After a 1/2 hr drive I spot a shady tree-lined road which borders a new real estate tract. I stop next to the real estate office which is closed on labor day Sunday. I get out to splash the cold ice bucket water over my head to cool me down as i am going the CA central valley in a simmering heat wave in late summer. There are no travelers on the road.

Not much to see along the route 41 drive from Oakhurst to Fresno outer city limits- just miles and miles of endless monotonous farm fields Occasionally I see a well-tended tidy ranch-style home off the road but keep going.

I finally enter the Fresno outer city limits, get off Herndon Avenue and head east, wishing to avoid the Fresno densely populated inner city urban areas. I have lived virtually all my life in the dense urban LA region and wanted to avoid that. I go east along a road with lots of modern suburban bldgs, malls and businesses. Guess i got off a little too close to Fresno urban area. I am now entering Clovis, which is a prosperous tidy suburban outlier at NE corner of Fresno. I make a turn south on Clovis Road and keep going till i get on Hwy 180 ,the Kings Canyon Road, and head east on way to Sequoia- King Canyon National Parks.

There was a long stretch of this highway which was being re-worked/ widened. Why? It is used only heavily on three summer holiday weekends. This is just one of 100's of CA highway 'improvement' projects going on all over the state. It is funded by Federal recovery/re-investment stimulus funds in conjunction with Caltrans/CA infrastructures bonds. These costly boondoggle projects appear to be inching along at snails pace in most cases as State/Federal dollars trickle in. Feds and CA both have budgetary deficit problems and these projects are budget busters. Furthermore, these road projects are mostly done with heavy road machinery so they don't generate a whole lot of jobs, the real need in a 20-25% UE state.

After a short drive I stop at the remarkable Blossom Trail Fruit Stand on corner of Reed Avenue and hwy 180. It was packed with customers even in midday 100% heat in middle of empty farm country east of Fresno. There were 30-40 folks standing in line and they had traveled way out this way to get inviting fresh fruit at .99 cents per lb. Plums, apricots, peaches, apples, ect. were lined up neatly along rows, packed in open boxes. Just pick em out and take them to the checker. There was this neat stone-built watering and wishing well you could wash your fruit in ,or yourself, which i did. It was a neat setup.

I left and kept going east along 180 and after a long drive thru extensive farmlands and orchards i arrive at Squall Valley( not the ski resort). This rural farming township of around 3000 population has suffered from the great recession. I saw lots of ravaged beaten down bldgs and the countryside had a depressed ragged look. Must have been much reckless real estate speculation prior to 2007 in this last town you pass thru before reaching the national park. Lots of local businesses likely shuddered as tourism dried up due to twin blows of recession and high gas prices. I stopped to get gas at the still functioning local gas stop & trading mart. It is the last gas fill-up before you head up into the park.

I am now heading up the Sierra Nevada western slope oak foothill /grassland country, a pleasant relaxing drive thru a scenic part of CA. There are views of rolling oak parklands interspersed with occasional farm bldgs, country residences, and grazing cattle and horses. Route 180 ascends up a fairly straight low-angle slope along a big natural mountain ramp, which takes the traveler almost to the northern entrance to the park. It is fairly easy on the travelers gas budget and nerves, though i find the southern entrance route 198(Generals Highway) much more scenic but far steeper, with many more sharp curving turns.

After a while i get to the Parks north entrance near 180/198 junctions. I pay the $20 park fee and after a further two miles driving i reach Grant Grove Village, a pleasant scenic national park stopover. It is situated close to the Grant Grove Sequoia Grove and has a complete suite of facilities for the park visitor and camper. I prefer Lodgepole for a car campsite but Grant Grove's three camping sites are almost as good. There is a good coffee-house type restaurant at Grant Grove, really the only halfway decent reasonably- priced eatery in the entire dual park system. I always stop for breakfast or lunch there on way to or from kings Canyon, which is in Kings Canyon National Park, a separate entity from Sequoia N.P. Most folks will look at maps and consider them as a single entity titled Sequoia-Kings Canyon N.P. I have much to say about King Canyon, which is well worth a 1 or 2 day side trip. The granite domes, spires, cliffs and buttes of Kings Canyon are almost as inspiring as the more famous Yosemite granite monoliths. On this particular trip i will bypass the canyon as i am pressed for time , have only two more days left and will spend it entirely in the Lodgepole/Giant forest area of Sequoia N.P.

I asked the excellent well-staffed Grant Grove Visitor Center and Museum about available campsites at Lodgepole, the most popular campsite in the entire park. They said there were 150 sites available(out of 212). I was surprised that the site had emptied out so quickly on the last day of labor day holiday weekend, Monday Sept 5th. Apparently the bleak California economy had forced most folks to leave on last day of the labor day weekend. In normal times Lodgepole would never have cleared out so quickly and thoroughly. I would have the entire park to myself.

This completes the third installment of my CA travel log. I am at Grant Grove Village, taking a brief rest before heading up into Lodgepole and the Giant Forest section of Sequoia National Park. Note: I have been to this fabulous park 20 times and i still love it. It is not as crowded as Yosemite, even in summer. It has magnificent sequoia trees and cold gushing rivers to wade in. It is deeply forested but also has a few trails which climb up into the real sierra high country granite and lakes region. It has few fancy facilities or amenities, no malls. and few shops. There are only two gas stations in entire park and they are hard to locate. It has few frills but that's why i like this park. I have been coming here forever. I have hiked almost every trail in this park and know it far better than most of the park rangers and staff.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Touring CA in a near depression - part 2

The second installment post of my recent 7 day CA road trip starts at Tioga Pass eastern entrance to Yosemite Park. Please see previous post for trip introduction and background.

I payed the $20 entrance fee at Yosemite entrance station and proceed down Tioga Pass Road. It was late in day and as i was trarveling without a reserved camping permit on a busy labor day weekend i needed to find an available campsite before dark. So i quickly passed thru Yosemite Park late in the afternoon. After a long descent down route 120 I lucked out and found a rarely used National Forest campsite. Poor, flat and dusty but available. So bad is was I decided not to even pitch my tent but set up a tarp cover over my pickup truck bed to make a sheltered sleeping spot . Drank lots of liquor to sleep quick and forget i was on that poor site. Up early and got out quick. It is Sunday Sept 4 mid-labor day weekend. Continued along route 120 and passed thru Groveland, a picturesque mt community which appeared to be one of the few CA Mt villages riding along ok in the CA great depression 2

Right after passing thru Groveland i got onto route 49 and went north thru the fabled CA gold rush country. There are lots of CA historical markers dotting the countryside- stone basilisks with a bronze plaque description of some historical event at a nearby site/ place of interest. Passed thru Chinese Camp and got to Sonora. Stopped to chomp down on a Carls Jr burger ( i had a discount coupon), then went to pick up supplies at a nearby Sonora discount mart. Surprized that Sonora population was almost entirely Caucasian.

Rushed thru at a rapid pace thru an area of California rich with historic gold rush sites but i had to go quick as i had only a week to do my trip and was only 1/3 way thru the journey which i had to finish on Sept 7.
Went into Columbia State Historic Park, which had a re-creation of a gold rush town/old west village. Good crowd activity here as it was Sunday on a labor day holiday weekend but mostly locals. There was evidence of poverty as i was passing thru here ; closed/shuttered shops, idle teens, yard sales, and foreclosed properties. No surprise as unemployment rates in Tuolumne & Calveras Counties are 13.5 % and 17.3 % respectively.

Went on to small, tidy Angels Camp, which appears kept up despite my seeing few tourists. Not much historical stuff to see here and town too gentrified so i got some info from the local tourst center/ rest stop and went returned back along 49 route in late afternoon.

It is Sunday September 4 late in the afternoon and i am passing thru sparsely populated Sierra foothill open oak woodland/grassland areas. Very empty of travelers. Stopped briefly at the route 49 hwy bridge span over an arm of the Don Pedro Reservoir. Lots of dammed up rivers and backed-up reservoir lakes in this part of CA, a feature alien to my Southern California/ Los Angeles experence

Passed thru tiny mountain community of Coulterville, which was decked out in full labor day regalia, complete with flags and bunting, but was completely empty of tourists. Even the locals at the old west style saloon looked bewildered when i passed thru.

Arrived at an undistinguished little campsite sited along an arm of Lake Mcclure, in the Bagby Recreation Area. I was lucky to find last worst available campsite( notorious site 18). Horrible privacy and little space but no matter. All i needed was a picnic bench table and space for a single vehicle so i snatched it. Talked that evening with a friendly neighboring camper about bad state of CA(in both senses).
After a few drinks i slept well, woke up early and got out quick from that forgettable site 18 and that dismal barren lake, which was geared toward large RV's and power boat lake recreationists.

Drove thru some fine oak/grassland rolling foothill country(California's version of the African Savanna without the wildlife). Passed thru Bear Valley, which had signs of great recession deterioration with abandoned properties galore before reaching Mariposa. Stopped at Mariposa visitor center at intersection of hwy 49 and hwy 140, which issues direct from Yosemite Valley and heads southwest, passing thru Mariposa. Very few tourists and day trippers at this main city junction on a Monday Sept 5, offical labor day. Maybe because Mariposa offers little worth seeing.

Leaving Mariposa I headed south/southeast-bound along route 49, passing thru deteriorated foreclosure-racked tiny mountain communities like Nipinnawasee and Ahwahnee before arriving at the built-up, suburbanized mountain community of Oakhurst. This southern gateway into Yosemite appears to have collected every major CA fast food franchise, and here was the first sign of heavy latino presence in a CA foothill/ mountain community. I stopped at a nearly empty Carls Jr. Like Marioposa, Oakhurst was virtually without tourists on a Monday the 5th, labor day. Saw only one at Carls - a couple pulling a powerboat thru the parking lot. Leaving Oakhurst i headed southbound along route 41. I passed thru Coarsegold, which was absolutely bustling and bursting from RE runup back in 2006 when i last passed thru there. Now it was less crowded and only activity was a town farmers flea market, which looked only half full on Sept 5th, labor day.

This completes the second installment of my CA trip log. I am now heading south along CA hwy route 41 on way to Fresno. It is Monday Sept 5th midday, temps are over 100% , and I am entering the CA Central Valley farmbelt.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Touring California in midst of a severe economic collapse

Intro to my California travelog,

This is first installment post of my recent week-long car camping trip thru some of best wild remote sections of California(CA). It basically circles the Sierra Mountain range, which i have hiked, camped, and backpacked since the late 80's. I wanted to do this trip to find out how the four-year deep recession has affected CA Auto and recreational vehicle touring during the year 2011 labor day holiday, and because it is my first excursion into Sierras since late 2007. I have been quite devastated by this recession as has a lot of CA folks, which has kept me from my beloved Sierras. In late 80's and all 90's during better times I did a lot of long CA road trips, hiking trips, desert trips, and long backpack trips all over south half of State, usually in remote desert and mountain areas. Have camped all over California State Parks, USA National Forest and Park areas. Did 7 long backpacks into remotest areas of hi-sierras.
I Managed to scrounge up a bit of money to do this trip, as i expect California/USA economy will worsen and i may not do this again for a long time. I went on the cheap, staying at $20 per nite Nat Forest/ Nat Park campsites entire time, and cooked all my meals. My total outlay was under $500, a miserly sum for a week long 1200 mile trip. Surprised that gas prices were constant $4 per gallon in every part of state and even deep in mountains, which kept my gas budget reasonable. Basically I threw all my camping stuff into my Tacoma ex-cab pickup and took off, a regular habit of mine. My 2002 Tacoma, with 184,000 miles on it, performed superbly without a glitch, a tribute to Japanese engineering and dedicated auto craftsmanship.

Now to the post:

I start my trip log from Lancaster on Thursday Sept 1. Not much to see in this forlorn outlier LA County hi-desert community so i got gas and quickly left. lots of inner LA Ghetto expats here in the CA hi-desert. Went on to Mohave, which appeared rather deserted late afternoon. Quickly passed thru this gritty tiny hi-desert railroad junction & crossroads connecting 58 and 14 hi-ways. Very few travelers on the road.

After a 1.5 hour long lonely drive thru mostly barren rocky CA desert I reached Lone Pine, passing thru numerous isolated desert roadstops/townships with lots of abandoned shuttered bldgs and shuttered businesses in such desolate map dots as Haiwee, Olancha, Cartago. ect. Lone Pine, the gateway into Eastern Sierra and Mt Whitney, seems in any economic climate to be always functioning. It is my 20th trip thru here. Still small and charming and has outstanding views of Mt Whitney and Eastern Sierra Wall. Camped in Lone Pine Campsite a bit up the slope at 6500 elevation. Campsite sited along a tree-lined stream gushing from the sierras, a tiny green pleasant seam amidst a desolate rocky/sagebrush-scattered desertscape.

Got an unreserved site Thursday Sept 1st and camped for the night. Woke up on Friday, Sept 2nd and decided to stay for a 2nd nite here. First day of Labor Day holiday weekend and half of reserved sites were no- shows. After Friday sleepover i awoke on Saturday Sept 3. Continued north along route 395 thru Owens River Valley. Few travelers on road the second day of labor day weekend. In fact i saw very few travelers period in this majestic east sierra vacation playground. Perhaps $4.00 gas prices and near-great depression level CA unemployment cut the flow of travelers. Got to motel/lodge-overrun Bishop, which normally is packed with tourists, backpackers, RV'ers, campers, fisherman, but was errily quiet as i passed thru Sat mid-morning smack in middle of labor day weekend. Continued on route 395 northbound, bypassing built-up condo-crazy Mammoth lakes area and continued on thru magnificent long Valley, which is the site of a long extinct supervolcano eruption/caldera collapse. Passed by Toms Place where there was a classic car show. Toms Place a very popular stopover and entry point for hikers and backpackers bound for Rock Creek and the sierra back country via Mono Pass. Did not see a whole lot of of folks heading up to Rock Creek today however.

Went on to June lakes loop and stopped at June lake, the main showcase lake along loop. It is a large roadside-accessible hi-sierra lake with a stunning mountain backdrop and a very swimmable beach. There was a light to medium crowd at the lake and most visitors appeared to be local day trippers. After a nice refreshing swim i continued around loop and got to Silver Lake. Another fabulous road-accessible sierra mt lake. There was a dedicated group of kayakers on the water and made me regret not packing my own 10-ft mini-kayak. I needed to save weight to reduce gas consumption but maybe it was unwise to leave the yak. It would have been an entire new experience to kayak a hi-mountain lake. Silver lake is a nice small gem of a lake. I have been to 200 plus remote hi-country sierra lakes on my numerous backpack trips but haven't visited a pine tree enveloped deep blue hi-sierra mountain lake in some time. Noticed that there were numerous lakeside lodges here but all of them had vacancy signs, a key indication of CA economic collapse. On this entire loop i saw few travelers, only a bit of activity at aformentioned June Lake swim beach. Last lake on loop was Grant Lake, completely barren.

left June Lakes loop and got back on and continued along route 395. Stopped at Tioga Gas Mart, a renowned popular stopover on way over Tioga Pass . After a brief rest I continued on over route 120, the Tioga Pass Road, which climbs up and over the 400- mile long Sierra Mountains at its mid-section. After a short distance along road i paid my $20 Yosemite Park entrance fee and 7-day park pass. Route 120 is the best way to see the real hi-sierra backcountry via auto touring as it ascends to 10,000 ft and skirts some fine hi-sierra lakes and meadows. I stopped at Lembert Dome, a road-assessible granite monolith towering 800 ft above the road. The dome base and parking area was jammed with cars, visitors, tourists, and would-be dome climbers. It was the first really big labor day holiday crowd i saw in the mountains since i left LA.

Too bad i was not going to use my Yosemite 7-day pass. I needed to find an unreserved campsite way outside the park because all park sites would be reserved and filled during this last holiday weekend of summer. I had to drive clear out of park to get an available campsite and the day was getting late so i left Yosemite for good. Anyway Yosemite Park is not my favorite place to be during labor day holiday weekend , when the showcase Yosemite Valley would be packed wall-to-wall with camera-clicking casual tourists. Even in a deep recession brand name world-renown parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Grand Canyon always get the crowds. They are too much like Disneyland for my remote wilderness-craving sensibilities.

This completes the first part of my CA trip log, which will likely encompass 4 or 5 blog postings. I Am about 1/4 way thru my CA trip. Notes: from Lancaster all way to Yosemite Park entrance i saw few road travelers and virtually no large recreational vehicles in the somewhat remote Eastern Sierra Region. The four year long USA great recession/near depression, CA 20-25% REAL unemployment rate ,and near $4 per gallon gas prices all summer appeared to have reduced CA road travel significantly. Saw many abandoned roadside bldgs,shuttered businesses & hollowed-out gas station marts in isolated settlements along route 395, especially between Mohave and Lone Pine.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Proposal for CA high speed rail flawed - why?

California does not need high speed rail. It is simply a big MASSIVE FED/ STATE Spending boondoogle which may temporarily put to work 10,000-20,000 highly paid union construction workers( most of the work will be done by digging/other earth mover equipment). After that rail system is completed and the jobs are drastically reduced, say the proposed line from LA to San Francisco, there will not be much demand for the service at normal free-market rail rates.
There is not much demand in CA for rail service anywhere in CA. Amtrak trains are little-used in CA, as is the Greyhound buses. CA folks are wedded to their cars and simply will not take the time, planning, and effort to take a bus or their autos to the rail station at union station in LA, have the cars kept there in a paid garage or fee parking lot, and hop on a train to Frisco. Unless it is deeply discounted at gov-subsidized rates. Therefore if the public is only beguiled into taking these high speed trains by subsided cheap rates then these rails will end up being public financial disasters and money-losing drains upon the taxpayers.
I know for a fact that the money-losing heavily subsidized Amtrak railways are rarely used here in LA/SoCal due to folks here being addicted to their cars. I have only used Amtrak 2-3 times in my 45 years here in los Angeles. Why? I like my auto as it is quick, convenient, and as long as gas is priced at under 3.00-3.50/gal it is reasonably priced transport to go anywhere in CA.
Only if gas prices shoot up to $4-5.00/gal, and even approach the rates paid by Europeans, and stay there for a long time you may see a dramatic shift in demand for Local, regional, and interstate rail service. LA has a halfway-decent network Of CITY METRO RAIL BUT MOST FOLK DO NOT USE THEM. THEY ARE ONLY USED BY POOR INNER CITY PPL/RECENT IMMIGRANTS, TEENS, AND BY A VERY FEW MIDDLE CLASS COMMUTERS. I live a 20 minite walk from the blue line metro station(long Beach to DTWN Los Angeles) but have only used it 10 times in my life(5 of those times my truck was in the shop).
I simply prefer the ease and convenience of getting into my pickup and swiftly traveling anywhere in SoCal, using the famous(and often jammed) SoCal freeway arteries, and being able to go directly to my destination. And i am not alone. Every SoCal household has 2-4 autos, perhaps one for every family member, and this fact means that CA rail service, at least from a SoCAL standpoint, will never be popular.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Beach parking lot being given back to the ocean in Ventura | L.A. NOW | Los Angeles Times

Beach parking lot being given back to the ocean in Ventura | L.A. NOW | Los Angeles Times

I am responding to an article posted in LA Times Sunday on the Pacific Ocean inundating/taking back beach/shoreline structures in the coastal city of Ventura, located 50 miles NW of LA. The writer is using this article to shill for the global warming alarmists/rising sea calamity doomsayers, which despite the collapse of the 'CAGW is all due to man-caused CO2 levels in the air calamity theory' are still out in force purveying their psuedo-science fallacies of the imminent global inundation of our cities by a 100 ft '2012/day after tomorrow' horrifying tsunami wall of water inundating New York & los Angeles:

Here's the problem. Folks in CA insist upon building parking structures, bikepaths, homes, highways right at waters edge. Highway 1/ PCH often winds along the coast at stones throw of CA coastal beaches/rocky headlands. Why? Because CA PPL want to enjoy California's world famous beaches/coastal scenic vistas from the vantage point of their cars, a lazy way to see the coasts. Same with building highways thru wilderness park/forests/ mt areas. It is for the PPL to tour the mts the lazy way, from their autos.
If natures erodes or washes away streets and other shoreside infrastructures built so close to the shoreline that is man's fault. Do not blame it on global warming/ rising sea level or other pseudo-science BS. Maybe we need to let the ocean take back the CA shore, bit by bit. If private multi-million $ beach /bluffside homes are threatened that is their problem: they will either protect their precious parcels with sand berms/seawalls/sandbags, or give up their parcels to the sea and nature.

The picture you see of deteriorated Ventura shoreside public infrastructures is partly due to the BK-broke status of CA state & municipal gov'ts. It takes huge amts of public $/public funding to shore up/maintain seaside recreational structures such as public parking, seawalls, piers, roads, ect. I see parts of Alamitos bay & belmont shore - Long beach's aquatic watersports/boating mecca- being eroded & neglected due in part to the dire fiscal straights of the Local/State gov'ts. Seawalls, roads, berms, pavement, BBQ pits, ect., are chipped, rutted w potholes, even revealing popped- out iron rods. The state public parks are little better; Bolsa Chica State Beach is kept withered and unirrigated in large parts, though it does receive basic minimal maintenance(bathrooms are regularly cleaned) from its reduced park service staff.

The picture reveals the stark nature of CAs' dire fiscal condition-the deterioration/neglect of public parks shoreside infrastructures , particulartly in the less well- off areas like Ventura.

I frequent the Long Beach and Huntington Beach coasts and if there was alarming global warming-caused rise in sea levels the 5000-5500 block of Ocean Ave & pennisula in East LB Alamitos Bay would be frequently flooded. Huntington beach seems to be seeing an increase in sand buildup/accretion and parts of the sandy beaches are now at least 1/4 mile wide. During heavy winter storms there is severe temporary erosion but the sands only shift and are redeposited further down the beach. Seal beach/Sunset beach residents have homes right along the beach a few ft above sea level and are sometimes buffeted by winter waves but have been there for 60-80 years and will still be there for another 60-80 years. The United Nations climate science organization and most reasonable sane scientists calculate the rise in sea level, in worst case, to be 2 feet by end of this century, or over nxt 100 yrs , which assumes unprovable assumptions about global climate change and relys on questionable computer models. Even granted this 2 ft rise that is no reason for hysteria.

BTW the global warming mongers are just as motivated by greed/profits via cap & trade and getting artificial high Gov-subsidized energy rates as are the fossel fuel companies.

Here is the most recent article printed by LA Times on supposed rising sea levels dooming CA coasts unless CA and US take step to deal with global warming. Much speculative soothsayer stuff here without scientific merit