Freeway Garden

Blue Lupines

This warm sunny morning, only one week away from the beginning of spring, I took a walk from my house to meet up with my neighbor Steven, who wanted to show me the colorful flowers blooming in his freeway garden.  For years now he has been planting a variety of native flowers, such as orange California poppies and blue lupines, inside the fence of the Santa Monica freeway next to his house. In 2003 our local journalist Martha Groves saw him engaged in this labor of love and wrote an article about him for the Los Angeles Times: Splendor blooms on the inhospitable ground next to Santa Monica Freeway.

10 Freeway: Bottlebrush

More often than not in our neighborhood the embankment along the 10 Fwy is littered with beer bottles thrown over the fence or illegally dumped bulky items. Several times during the past few years the dedicated volunteers of the Reynier Village (RVNA) and Helms Neighborhood Associations (Helms NA) have organized community clean-ups of this fenced area that is maintained by Caltrans. Click here to read a post on this blog.

Morning Glory

Steven says: “I hope people realize that, like the L.A. River before it was rediscovered, the freeway borders can be much more than an unused byproduct of a transportation system.  It’s valuable land that most people ignore.”
Take a walk along Regent Street between Cattaraugus and National, bring the kids for  a botany lesson, enjoy the super bloom of our Southern California spring after the heavy rains.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Freeway Garden: Lavatera bi-color

Mansionization in Reynier Village

On March 1 the Los Angeles City Council approved new regulations, backed by Paul Koretz of Council District 5, to control the size of Mcmansions, large modern 2-story houses built on small lots, replacing quainter older homes in single-family neighborhoods.

8921 Hargis-2017 house, photo by Elisa Leonelli

8921 Hargis-2017 house, photo by Elisa Leonelli

The first of these mansions was recently built in Reynier Village at 8921 Hargis, in place of a small wooden home, that was sold on May 12, 2016 for $750,000.  The asking price of the new house is $1,750,000.  A tidy profit for this developer.
I actually like the architectural style of this modern structure, in comparison to the old 1,346 square feet house built in 1947.  However we have to be watchful so that massive houses towering over your homes are not built to change the character of our lovely village.

8921 Hargis-1947 home

8921 Hargis-1947 home

Here’s a message from local realtor Laura Anderson, president of the Faircrest Heights Neighborhood Association: “Our beloved neighborhood, with the charm of its architecture, is a hidden jewel, much like Reynier Village. Concerned residents rallied together to go to City Hall for the hearings on a regular basis. I encourage you to join forces and keep the integrity of your neighborhood.  I support change but we need to have guidelines in place.”
Check out the Facebook page of ‘No More Mcmansions in Los Angeles’ and sign the petition. Contact the SORONC Board and our District 10 Councilman Herb Wesson, so they may put pressure on City Hall to protect Reynier Village from mansionization.

To understand the changes in city regulations, you may read an article posted by Deni Mosser on Nextdoor.

Robertson-Great Street

Tommy's Express Car Wash

Tommy’s Express Car Wash

Many residents were disappointed two years ago when South Robertson Boulevard was NOT included among the 15 “Great Streets” chosen by Mayor Eric Garcetti for transformation.  Last November SORONC (South Robertson Neighborhood Council) leaders applied for a $13,000 matching grant, with letters of support from RVNA (Reynier Village Neighborhood Association) and other community organizations, and on February 3, 2017 the Mayor confirmed that South Robertson (from Cadillac to Kincardine) is one of 7 additional Los Angeles Great Streets 2016.

2512 Robertson

2512 Robertson

I took a walk up and down Robertson a few days ago to see what’s new.  I spoke with Ari Cohen, the new owner of Fred’s Bakery who took over the  business 2 years ago, I checked out Tommy’s Express Car Wash, and I looked at the gated parking lot of 2512-2516 Robertson, a building left vacant for 30 years by an absentee landlady.  We wish she and her son would sell it already and allow a restaurant to open there. It would be a great addition to the existing eateries: Dolce Isola, Argentinian Empanadas, Campos, Monaco Gelato, Undergrind Cafe.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

P.S. For other posts about our “Great Street” click on Robertson under Categories

Pizza Pop Up

Roberta's Pizza

Roberta’s Pizza (c) Elisa Leonelli

I was checking their website to see if Sweetgreen had opened at Platform in Culver City (it has), and saw this page about Roberta’s Pizza. I was born in Italy, so I’m always on the lookout for authentic Neapolitan pizza restaurants in LA, and the photos of these pizzas looked promising. So today I went for lunch with a friend, we ordered one pizza to share, the Bee Sting with spicy soppressata, and after the first bite we had to immediately order a second. To be fair, these pies are quite small. They had set up a shack under the Expo line bridge, with wooden tables in front, and placed their awesome clay pizza oven outdoors.  I asked how long they were going to be there and they said they are leaving in 10 days, February 12, drive the pizza oven back to the original Roberta’s in Brooklyn. I told them that the parking lot for the Expo across the street would close on February 14, for construction of a commercial and residential complex, and they said, “We’re leaving just in time, then.”

Sweetgreen (c) Elisa Leonelli

Sweetgreen (c) Elisa Leonelli

We also did check out Sweetgreen, where you can get healthy salads, warm bowls, and fruit juices, made from local organic ingredients.
Platform is at 8840 Washington Blvd, Culver City 90232. See post on this blog.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Romantic Bookstore

It was only a few days ago, while reading an article in Los Angeles Magazine about the 14 Best Mom and Pop bookstores in L.A., that I discovered The Ripped Bodice, A Romantic Bookstore, in downtown Culver City.  It opened March 4, 2016, after a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $90,000.  It’s the dream project of two sisters, Bea, 27, and Leah, 25, smart and accomplished young women. Leah graduated from USC in Visual and Performing Arts, Bea studied Fashion History at NYU, her master thesis was titled “Mending the Ripped Bodice.”

Bea, photo (c) Elisa Leonelli

Bea (c) Elisa Leonelli

I was so intrigued that I immediately contacted the sisters. Bea graciously received me and answered my questions. “Bodice Rippers” is a term used for erotic romance novels of the 1970s and 80s. Bea said they wanted to poke fun at that popular perception, and immediately communicate to their fans, “This store is for you.” “Sex is not something that we should be ashamed or embarrassed about, we all come from sex. It’s completely insane to me the way sex is discussed in this country, and all these issues that women are facing right now.  We’ve reverted into this dark age.”
Their store carries all sub-genres in the romance novels category, from paranormal to LGBTQ, and they host community events. “Thursday December 15, 8pm, is our monthly romantic comedy night, and this month we are collecting travel size toiletries to donate to women shelters in Los Angeles.”

The Ripped Bodice (c) Elisa Leonelli

The Ripped Bodice (c) Elisa Leonelli

The store is huge and bright, decorated like a comfortable home, with armchairs and couches for reading, books are piled up everywhere. Get over there, it’s well worth a visit.

The Ripped Bodice: 424-603 4776
3806 Main St. Culver City, CA 90232

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Halloween

Bedford St (c) Elisa leonelli

Bedford St (c) Elisa Leonelli

 

Reynier Village celebrated Halloween with many neighborhood activities. Residents decorated their homes with pumpkins, skeletons and graves, kids went out trick or treating dressed in scary costumes.  The Relational Center on Robertson held a party for the community. RVNA (Reynier Village Neighborhood Association) organized a costume parade in Reynier Park on Sunday morning.

RVNA parade © Kimberly Villatoro

RVNA parade © Kimberly Villatoro

The history of this celebration is rooted in the Celtic tradition of Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season. People dressed in costumes to disguise themselves from spirits, who they believed came back to life to kill their crops. They went door to door to ask for food to offer the ghouls in exchange for mercy.” (watch video in Time online)
October 31 is the night before All Saints Day, a Catholic holiday set by the Church for November 1 to discourage this pagan belief, thereby the name Halloween is short for All Hallows Eve.  All Souls Day is November 2, when Catholics visit the tombs of their dearly departed.  In Mexico and Latin America the Day of the Dead is a huge 3-day festival.

Text by Elisa Leonelli

Sprouts is here!

sprouts-w

I have been shopping at Sprouts for years, ever since they opened their first Los Angeles area store on Sepulveda at Jefferson in 2010. I was glad when they took over a location on Westwood Blvd, since that is closer to my regular routes. Recently I tried their new LaBrea store at Willoughby.  So I was very excited today to finally shop at their latest store on Venice Blvd, so close to my neighborhood.  It’s a place where I already go often, to shop at Trader Joe’s, or the sadly departed Office Max, to watch movies at the new Arclight Cinemas, to eat at my favorite restaurants in downtown Culver City, like EnjoyEat.

vegetables

I did my regular shopping, I love their Strouds brand of gelato, their heirloom tomatoes, their nuts, lentils and beans in bulk, their salad bar, their home-made sausages. But this was a special day.  The atmosphere was festive, with frequent buzzing sounds, just like at the slot machines in Las Vegas, when every 15th customer won a booklet of coupons.  They were giving away green recyclable bags and passing out sushi tastings.  You can also see the discounts on their website.

Sprouts. 8985 Venice Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90034 (424) 361-6611

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli