Sunday, January 17, 2021

Remembering the Original Taix

Dear Readers,

Recently I was fortunate to be introduced to Jan Gabrielson, who visited the original Taix as a child and generously gave me permission to share some vintage photos.

Born in San Francisco, Jan has lived in LA since the tender age of 18 months. Jan grew up in South San Gabriel/Rosemead, currently resides in Cheviot Hills, and is a retired family lawyer and legal consultant who practiced downtown.

Jan started going to Taix in the early 50s as a child and went two or three times. Jan states “I remember going there and knowing I had been there before.” 

This 1961 photo, which Jan took from the City Hall observation deck, shows Taix in the very bottom center.

Jan describes the lost building at 321 Commercial Street as "a shabby old industrial building with more than 1 floor" and remembers sitting with family at a long table (communal seating was the norm, although private booths were available for a little extra). 

Jan's mother, a Home Economics teacher who had taken a college French class, insisted on the incorrect “tay” pronunciation and was unimpressed. Jan notes “she had no language talent whatsoever, but that didn’t stop her” from teaching Spanish at the family's dinner table.

In fact, there was a running battle with Jan's mother over how to pronounce Taix. Jan opines “it’s the family name and that’s how they pronounce it, end of story”. Jan also ran through a list of place names that ignore the X rule. (In French, pronunciation rules don't necessarily apply to names - of people or of places.)

Jan recalls coffee being served at the very end of the meal. The waiter would say “put your spoon in your glass” - to prevent the glass from shattering when the hot coffee was poured in. (Metal is an excellent conductor of heat, so this makes sense. That said, I studied art, not science.)

Jan went on to UCLA, majored in French (despite never having spoken French before!), and spent a year abroad in Bordeaux. By this time, due to UCLA's excellent language program, Jan was already fully fluent in French. 

Jan also worked as a passenger service agent for Air France. At the time, according to Jan, French visitors didn't spend much time in LA. They would visit Disneyland and Marineland, then go to San Francisco. 

This photo showing the 101 Freeway also shows the former Brew 102 brewery. Which was formerly the Maier Brewing Company and the Philadelphia Brewery before that... and the El Aliso vineyard and winery before that.

In the late 1970s or early 1980s, Jan became aware that there was a newer Taix location on Sunset Boulevard and began going there. Undeterred by the higher crime rate in Echo Park, Jan would sometimes go frequently (and sometimes less so), and often met friends with season tickets at the restaurant.

Jan recalls cheese grinders cranking fresh Parmesan into the restaurant's famous tureens of soup and calls the potato leek soup with Parmesan and pepper “one of the great joys of life”.

Jan may have been Sunset Taix’s last dine-in customer, since Mayor Garcetti shut down restaurants during Jan's last visit. (Guests already dining in were permitted to finish their meals.)

Here's hoping there will be many. many more evenings at Taix when the pandemic ends. 

Merci, Jan.

Friday, January 8, 2021

News, Maps, Guns, and Félix Violé

Félix and Jules Violé happened to be visiting their cousin in Bayonne when they encountered something unexpected: a copy of Le Progrés. 

Founded in 1883, Le Progrés was one of 19th-century LA's French-language newspapers (there were at least four, and there is some evidence that there may have been as many as ten). Le Progrés was politically independent and a popular newspaper, despite strong competition from rival paper L'Union Nouvelle (which lasted until well into the twentieth century). And a relative in Los Angeles had sent an issue of the newspaper to the Violé brothers' cousin.

A busy frontier city in the furthest reaches of the faraway American West had so many French expats that it had its own French-language newspaper - more than one, in fact. The very idea intrigued both brothers (who had little to look forward to besides modest success and a comparatively dull life). Félix decided to pack up and move to Los Angeles himself. (Jules would follow him to LA within a year. I will cover him in a separate entry.)

Interestingly, immigration records indicate that Félix entered the United States through another great city with French roots - New Orleans. The year was 1888, and Félix was 30 years old. 

Félix quickly settled into his adopted city. He was a civil engineer by training, but as the boom of 1887 was over (thus meaning little work for engineers), he took a job with hotelier Pascale Ballade - the very relative who had sent the copy of Le Progrés to Bayonne in the first place. Soon, Félix became editor of a different local French-language newspaper, Le Gaulois, and served on the committee for the Bastille Day centennial celebration. 

I've covered the Bastille Day celebration earlier, in my entry on Georges Le Mesnager. In a strange footnote to one of the biggest events Frenchtown ever hosted, there was a dispute over payment of a bill connected to the celebration. Félix was slated to duel with Charles Raskin, then-editor of Le Progrés, over the issue on September 5, 1889. Strangely, about a year later, Félix was listed as editor of Le Progrés (a position he would hold for two years) and Raskin as editor of Le Gaulois in different newspaper articles. I surmise the issue prompting the duel was solved in a nonlethal manner.

Just a few months after the duel, on January 13, 1890, Félix married Hortense Deleval in San Diego. (Hortense's uncle was murder victim Henri Deleval.)

Félix and Hortense had three children - Gabrielle, Marie, and Laurence. Sadly, Gabrielle only lived for 18 months.

Félix also had a wholesale wine and liquor business, along with his house, at 736 S. Spring Street (a block I know well, having been to 721 S. Spring Street, aka California Millinery Supply, plenty of times). Los Angeles did have some restrictions on alcohol sales by the 1890s, and Félix was fined $20 for selling liquor after hours in 1893. 

Two years later, Félix applied for a saloon license and was denied. It isn't clear whether this had anything to do with the 1893 fine - or with the French newspapers' strong opposition to the French gangsters who ran many of the saloons and brothels in neighboring Lil Paree. (Beret-tip to David Kimbrough for the clipping.)

Félix also worked as a surveyor, was the city's official draftsman until his death, ran for City Engineer, and incorporated the Félix Violé Map and Address Company. Félix compiled new maps of Los Angeles said to be the most detailed and complete to date, one of which was distributed free of charge through the city's Chamber of Commerce. If you've ever seen a map of Los Angeles produced in the 1900s-1910s (or a real estate directory), it was probably made by Félix.

Félix was active in the Knights of Columbus, and was an avid clarinetist. Laurence Violé also became a civil engineer, sharing office space with his father at 2nd and Main.

Félix passed away in 1924 and is buried at Calvary Cemetery.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

A Frenchtown Christmas Carol

(Dear readers: the following entry was inspired by my friend Kim Cooper's sizzling-hot take on the "wonderful life" of Eric Garcetti.)

Raymond Taix was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The beloved restauranteur had passed away a decade earlier.

There was no need to change the restaurant’s name; Raymond’s son Mike had taken it over when Raymond retired, just as Raymond had taken over for his father Marius Taix Jr. many years earlier.

Ten years on, Mike Taix still owned the restaurant. The business end, that is. He’d recently sold the restaurant’s building and property - a generously sized parcel fronting Sunset Boulevard, with an adjoining overflow parking lot opening onto Reservoir Street.

In an off-market sale. 

To a notorious out-of-state developer. 

For the whopping sum of $12 million. 

It was chilly in Utah, where Mike now lived. He poured himself a glass of wine before bed, ruminating over the past week.

His family’s restaurant had been nominated for landmark status months earlier. It had just passed the second hearing with a unanimous approval recommendation.

Mike was pissed. He’d made a deal with Holland Partner Group, which intended to build a five-story mixed-use complex on the site, and he did not want anything to get in the way of the plan. It was his business and it was his God-given right to sell what preservationists had called “a rare commercial example of the French Alpine style”, “the last link to old French LA”, “a beloved city institution”, and “the most charming building on the eastern end of Sunset”, among other things.

Mike put the glass in the dishwasher and went to bed. 

Well, he tried to, anyway. No sooner had Mike closed the bedroom door behind him than he heard the front door of his house fly open with a loud BANG!

Mike heard footsteps coming through the door and through the house. All of the color drained from his face as the visitor passed THROUGH the closed bedroom door.


“You don’t believe in me,” the ghost of Raymond Taix replied. 

“No…of course I do. Wait - don’t ghosts wear chains in this story?”

“Ghosts wear the chains they forged in life, and I have none. If you could only see the one you’re forging for yourself,” Raymond chided his son. “I can’t stay, Mike. But I had to tell you that you may have a chance of changing your fate.”

“Dad, what are you talking about?” 

“You will be visited by three spirits. Heed their warnings; they are wiser than you may think. Goodnight, son, and do try to have a Merry Christmas.”

And with that, the ghost of Raymond Taix departed. Upon inspection, the front door was locked, just as Mike had left it.

Mike made a mental note to take a better look at that wine in the morning and went to sleep.

A few hours later, Mike was awakened by the clock chiming one a.m. The room filled with light, and Mike found himself face-to-face with a spectral man in glasses, a frock coat, and impressive mutton chops.

“This can’t be real,” Mike groused.

“Oh, I assure you, young Taix, it absolutely can be,” the spirit replied in a faint Quebecois accent. “Good heavens, where are my manners?! I’m the ghost of Christmas Past. Come with me, I have much to show you.” 

Mike grudgingly accepted the ghost’s transparent hand and found himself whisked away to a place he had only seen in old pictures.

City Hall towered over the scene from a few blocks away, but Los Angeles Street was completely different. Gone were the government buildings. Gone was the strip mall. And was that - 

“The French-Mexican Drug Company,” the ghost announced. “Your grandfather’s pharmacy. Shall we drop in?”

Mike watched his grandfather, Marius Taix Jr., accept a shipment of medicinal wine, fill several prescriptions, and dispense instructions to a customer over the phone in his thick French accent. Why was the spirit showing him this?

“That wine is really for the restaurant, of course,” the spirit noted. “It’s 1928. Prohibition killed off every other restaurant in Frenchtown,” he added, gesturing to several vacant restaurant spaces nearby. “But, your grandfather could still get wine because he was a pharmacist. About 12 years from now, the rest of Frenchtown will be gone, and the restaurant will be the only thing left.”

Before too long, Marius Jr. locked up for the night, lugging a crate of “medicinal” wine bottles. The ghost and Mike followed him around the corner and down the street to a more familiar address. 

321 Commercial Street. 

At this point in time it was the Champ d’Or Hotel, housing Taix French Restaurant upstairs. 

“Before your grandfather and great-grandfather built this place, the Taix bakery stood on this lot,” the ghost added. “I remember when your family first came to town and when they set up shop about 10 years later. Los Angeles was much smaller then. My brother Victor and I helped change that, of course, along with our friend Remi.”

Despite the long day at the pharmacy, Marius Jr. wasn’t done for the day yet. The restaurant needed attending to before the family could depart for midnight Mass.

As the Taix family walked into St. Vibiana’s, the cathedral’s bell began to toll.

“Your time with me is up, young Taix,” the spirit replied. “I’ll leave you in the capable hands of the next spirit." 

And with that, the spirit strolled into the cathedral himself.

“Michael Taix, I presume,” stated a woman’s voice.

Mike turned around to see a transparent brunette in a black dress, black beaded gloves, black boots, and a dainty silver guillotine-blade necklace.

“Come with me, Mike. We need to talk.”

“There’s nothing to talk about.”

She scoffed. “Who’s the Ghost of Christmas Present, you or me?”

The spirit removed one of her gloves and snapped her fingers.

In an instant, Mike was back on Commercial Street. But now it was 2020 again, and Taix was gone.

In its place were a jail, courthouse, and parking garage. Commercial had been rerouted into Aliso Street to accommodate a curve in the 101 freeway. 

The spirit guided him on a quick tour of the neighborhood. More government buildings, parking garages, weedy empty lots, a scuzzy strip club, a bus parking lot, an old industrial building...

“This was a thriving French enclave for over 80 years. Unfortunately Beaudry didn't have time to show more of it to you. And now it’s gone forever. Only one thing remains.”

She snapped her fingers again and they were whisked by unseen forces to Sunset Boulevard.

This being Christmas eve under pandemic lockdown, Taix was only open for takeout. But that didn’t stop customers from chatting while waiting for their food.

“Man, I love this place. I don’t want it to go.”

“I moved across the street to be closer.” 

“Do you really think Taix will come back?”

“What, if the complex gets built?”

“Yeah. I just seems like Mike doesn’t care anymore. And I heard he tried to sell out a long time ago. Echo Park’s a lot more expensive now, of course.”

“I feel you. He doesn’t even live here.”

“So he sells the property. He’s got the money. Why is he involved with the development plan?”

“No one knows. But the whole thing is fishier than last week’s leftover salmon.”

“Off market sale, shady developer, bigger price tag than expected.”

“Yeah, I think something’s up.”

"Did anyone actually fall for those giant glossy flyers he sent to everyone in Echo Park?"

“I just want to know what his end game is. What’s the point of all this?”

The spirit snapped her fingers again, muting the conversation.

“Mike, do you even want to continue with the business? Philippe Mathieu sold his sandwich shop and retired when he turned 50, you know. There’s no shame in it.”

"It's not your business."

"Damn right it's not. It's YOUR family's legacy business. you understand how all of this looks to people?”

He didn’t answer.

“Do you even care what HPG is doing to this city?”

“Building housing,” Mike snapped. 

The spirit scoffed again. “Oh, they build, all right. But it’s not enough to build housing. The city needs good housing, managed well, with an appropriate mix of price points.”

“And what do you know?”

“I was an apartment manager,” she replied. “And I was a small business owner after that.”

Mike was surprised.

“That took the wind out of your sails, didn’t it? Now watch closely.”

She snapped her fingers again.

An image appeared on the wall before them, like a projection. It was a hallway in a sleek new apartment building.

People with suitcases and bags came and went, in time lapse speed, from sunrise until the following sunrise.

“This is one of HPG’s buildings, Mike. They’re allowing illegal short-term rentals on the site. Every short-term rental is a space that’s not lived in by long-term tenants. That drives down occupancy, keeps rents high in cities like LA, and does nothing for the community. You do know the value of community, right, Mike? Frenchtown was obliterated decades before I was born.”

“The building is coming down,” Mike replied. “It’s too big for the restaurant now.”

“It doesn’t have to be that way,” the spirit shot back. “But our time is up. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come will take over from here.”

And with that, she floated down Sunset Boulevard and out of sight.

Mike heard a low, raspy voice. “Mike...MIKE...” He nearly jumped out of his skin when a clammy hand came down on his shoulder.

Mike whirled around to see a tall, thin spirit in gray jeans and an oversized black hoodie, both having seen better years.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come hacked and coughed, finally clearing his throat. “Sorry about that. You get a lot of colds living in a public park. Especially with limited access to sanitary facilities.” 

“You’re homeless?”

“I wasn’t always. I had a place on Alvarado. But when the mixed-use complex went up, a lot of landlords raised rents, and there weren't enough low-income units in the complex to meet the demand. Not by a long shot. I was an essential worker, but I suddenly couldn’t afford rent anymore. And I work right down the street. You know how hard it is to commute and park in LA.”

“So what do you want with me? The property is sold. I can’t stop the developer.”

“You’ve still got some pull with HPG. And the building doesn’t have to disappear.”

The spirit waved his hand.

In an instant, the property changed. The restaurant now shared the lots with a bigger, French Alpine-inspired apartment building that matched it perfectly. 

“Come on,” the spirit urged, waving Mike through the door of the restaurant and towards the banquet rooms.

Mike was stunned to see a lawyer’s office in the first accountant in another one...the CD13 office in the biggest one...small businesses in the other three.

“In this future, the building was adapted and the extra space rented out. You saw the apartments on the way in. The people who hated HPG’s original plan love it. This is what the project could be, Mike.”

The spirit waved his hand again. They were back out on Sunset. 

“Or this could happen,” the spirit added.

With one more wave, the proposed development appeared. It was, to be fair, ugly, and already suffering from visible maintenance problems. Traffic backed up in either direction as residents and patrons waited to access the underground parking garage. It was noisy, too, owing to its acoustics. And something was missing.

“Where’s the restaurant?”

“It never reopened, Mike. There were delays, there was red tape, there were disagreements, and you finally just gave up.”

Mike was stunned.

“You may not own the building anymore, Mike...but you can still put in a good word.”

The spirit vanished.

Mike woke up in his bedroom in Utah. What the hell had just happened?

Friday, December 11, 2020

Erase, Rewind, Erase Some More

I've previously written at length about the Beaudry brothers' vital roles in developing early downtown LA. 

The houses built under the Beaudrys' downtown development plans are all gone - except for the home of John J. Ford, which was moved to Heritage Square Museum. The Ford house stood on Beaudry Avenue, at a corner shared with Mignonette Street.

The surrounding neighborhood, Temple-Beaudry (formerly the Park Tract), echoes Bunker Hill a mile away. Originally a middle class neighborhood filled with modest Victorian homes, it slowly became less fashionable, less expensive, and less valued to city leaders who didn't live there. The original buildings were lost to freeway construction or redevelopment over the years. Only the Beaudry brothers' street names remained.

Until now.

Beaudry Avenue and Victor Street are still here, but we'll be saying goodbye to at least part of Mignonette Street.

The city has not only approved, but accelerated, a street vacation for about 230 feet of Mignonette Street. A street vacation is a type of easement giving a public street's right-of-way to a private owner. The City of Los Angeles requires about $15,000 in deposit fees to the Bureau of Engineering, environmental review, public investigation, and public hearings to proceed with a street vacation, and the process normally takes at least a year.

It took all of three minutes for me to find this and this

Long story short, it appears that billionaire developer Geoffrey H. Palmer is building another one of his big, faux-Italian complexes. The street vacation was most likely requested to turn that portion of Mignonette Street into a parking garage entrance (or something similar).

I have concerns about this. I'm surprised the city doesn't. 

Oh, wait, no I'm not. City Hall only cares about money, developers, and lobbyists.

Besides the $20 million negligence lawsuit against Palmer filed in 2016 (which the city settled for a mere $400,000), there's the matter of his buildings being a little pricey. Currently, a small studio at the Orsini will set you back at least $1600. While that's certainly not as expensive as some downtown apartments, it does nothing to fulfill the city's need for affordable units. Which isn't surprising

So we're losing at least part of a surviving French-named street. I will need to update my street-name list (and, possibly, my parking-lot list). I should be upset about that, but I'm more irritated that a billionaire who appears to despise historic preservation and poor people has seemingly been given carte blanche to do as he pleases, regardless of how that affects anyone else.

I used to manage two apartment buildings. I took my role as a housing provider very seriously, and if every landlord did, Los Angeles would probably not be facing such a severe housing usage crisis.

Friday, November 20, 2020

FYI: Email Link Broken

 Hi everyone:

I just found out my contact link isn’t working. I have no idea how long it’s been down.

If you’ve emailed me and have not received a response, sorry - the best way to reach me (until further notice) is to use the email app on your phone or computer.

My email address is still losfrangeles (at) gmail (dot) com.

Thanks for your patience!


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Why Losing Taix WON'T Fix Echo Park's Housing Crisis

Last Christmas, my brother and his new wife flew out from Florida to visit the rest of us.

My sister-in-law and I had a "girls' day out" - full day at the Huntington Library, side trip to the Plaza, and finally dinner at the Formosa.

The Huntington Library is, of course, tucked away in spotless, well-manicured San Marino. The Plaza is wedged between the Civic Center and Chinatown. The Formosa Café is in West Hollywood. In between those three locations, there's a whole lot of dirty, trash-strewn, maintenance-deferred LA - and believe me, it pains me to type that.

It also pains me to see human beings sleeping in tents while vacancy signs are posted all over town, even though I'm used to it.

My sister-in-law, who grew up in Florida, was horrified. Los Angeles County has a healthier economy than some countries - how was this possible? 

She'd seen homeless people before, but not living in tents. And she was shocked and dismayed by the sheer number of signs advertising vacant buildings (both commercial and residential), quite a few of them on blocks with homeless residents.

"Why is that building empty?...Why is THAT building empty?...Why isn't that a homeless shelter?" (This conversation ran from Highland Park to downtown to Hollywood.)

"Greed," I explained. 

I know I was oversimplifying, but it's largely true.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: developers (and many real estate investors) see "Los Angeles" and get dollar signs in their eyes. The vast majority don't build (or buy buildings) to better their communities, they build (or invest) to make money. And in Los Angeles, many of them build (or invest) to make LOTS of money.

Consider the fact that Holland Partner Group paid a whopping $12 million for the Taix property and its overflow parking lot nearby. They plan to make a lot more than $12 million by building on the site.

The few people arguing against preserving Taix in any way, shape, or form always fall back on "oh, we need the housing". 

Here's why that's not a logically sound argument:

  • Preservation and housing are NOT opposites. They can, and MUST, coexist for the good of the community. 
    • Preservation of historic buildings does NOT, as is commonly assumed, make neighborhoods more expensive. In fact, historic preservation overlay zones tend to be far more affordable than non-preserved neighborhoods (and tend to be more diverse).
    • Neighborhoods with a mix of older and newer buildings offer a wide range of rents (generally speaking, newer buildings are more expensive and older ones are cheaper). That allows a wider variety of businesses, and a wider variety of renters, to thrive. Jane Jacobs explained this better than I can in The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Also, the Preservation Positive Los Angeles study disproves a lot of myths (I watched the webinar, and if you care about Los Angeles, you should too). 
  • Adaptive reuse can and should be considered.
    • Many older buildings in and around Los Angeles have been adaptively reused (consider all the older buildings downtown that now have loft apartments on the once-empty upper floors - my best friend's sister lives in one). This has provided thousands of new housing units without the delays, disruption, and sheer wastefulness of demolition and new construction.
    • Think of all the municipal waste generated every day in Los Angeles alone. Very few people realize that construction and demolition account for MORE THAN TWICE the amount of municipal waste created each year. And of that, demolition accounts for a whopping 90 percent
    • The existing Taix building could be wholly or partially adapted to suit another purpose. Mike Taix says the building is now too big (fewer groups booking the banquet rooms, etc.)...but why not downsize the restaurant to part of the building and adapt the rest for other uses? Hell, adapt one of those banquet rooms into an apartment and I just might move in myself. 
  • Taix's parking lot is HUGE (for Los Angeles). It is possible to build housing units on the parking lot without losing the Taix building itself.

Still not convinced? Too bad, I'm not done.

  • The developer, Holland Partner Group, has been building LUXURY units around town (look them up). LA already has too much luxury housing.
    • Since the 1970s, Angelenos have been grousing - rightly - that there are too many high-end apartments and not enough affordable units. This situation shows no sign of improving because virtually no one in modern-day Los Angeles wants to spend the money to build inexpensive housing. Developers want a high return on their investment, not a low one (consider this case study). There was only one Prudent Beaudry, and we lost him in 1893. 
  • The proposed development for the Taix site will be 86% market rate. 
    • With 170 units planned, that means 146 will be market rate, leaving only 24 lower-priced units. Echo Park alone needs hundreds. And here's something most people don't know: in Los Angeles "affordable" units are typically only required to stay below market rate for 20 years. That means in the early 2040s, those 24 units would most likely rise to market rate, displacing 24 low-income households and making Echo Park even less affordable (if it's even still semi-affordable in 2040). And consider how expensive "market rate" is for luxury units (including HPG's) in the first place.
  • Since the proposed development includes apartment sizes ranging from studios up to 3-bedroom units, I would very much like to know if the low-income units would all be studios, or if any of them would be larger units that can accommodate lower-income families. 
    • This is ESPECIALLY important in Echo Park, where gentrification has been driving out lower-income (and mostly Latinx) families for years.
  • And speaking of gentrification (the elephant in the room)...adding new housing to a gentrified (or gentrifying) neighborhood can encourage existing landlords to raise rents. Which tends to push out longtime residents who simply cannot afford a pricey new-construction apartment.
    • If enough landlords raise rents so that more than 24 households are displaced, the proposed development could ultimately end up harming the lower-income households that need housing the most.
But wait, it gets worse:
  • HPG uses the "housing" excuse to request modifications and exceptions for extra density...then allows an illegal hotel in their own buildings (see below). That ultimately doesn't help. There's a reason the city has had to crack down on short-term rentals...namely, housing!
  • Former tenants have nothing nice to say about Holland Partner Group, which is vertically integrated (meaning they build and own properties and also manage them).
    • On a personal note, I used to manage two apartment buildings. Bad landlords disgust me.
  • Specifically, HPG has allowed illegal short-term rentals in their buildings.
    • Two people I know worked with a production company that rented a one-bedroom apartment in HPG's STOA building...for one day.
    • The Be LA building, formerly the Sofia, was being used for short-term rentals (according to  Yelp reviews, former tenants, etc.) when HPG was managing the building (one reviewer states that some tenants were subletting their units on Airbnb and implies the tenants were not actually living there). This seems to have stopped after HPG ceased to be the property manager.
    • Illegal hotels in general contribute to lower occupancy rates. Every short-term rental is a unit that isn't being rented to a long-term tenant. 
    • This has long-term implications for neighborhoods, since long-term tenants are more likely to contribute in some way to their communities. People who rent a space for, say, three days are unlikely to do very much for the surrounding area.
    • HPG likes to blame this on corporate tenants. to real human beings and don't rent to corporations without checking them out first? Or at least don't allow tenants to run illegal short-term rentals and cancel their leases if they don't comply? (Again, I used to manage apartments myself, so I just might know a thing or two about this.)
  • Should HPG someday allow illegal short-term rentals on the Taix site (and although I sincerely hope they never do such a thing, I cannot put it past them), it will drive occupancy rates DOWN in Echo Park. 
Bottom line? If you truly want to make more housing available to Angelenos of ALL social classes (not just the wealthy), don't blindly allow developers like HPG to do as they please. Push hard for adaptive reuse, preservation of existing affordable housing (i.e. older apartment buildings, bungalow courts, etc.), and more emergency and transitional housing for the homeless. 

And if you REALLY want to help the growing number of homeless people living in Echo Park, set up a homeless shelter on Taix's overflow parking lot. Even cheap portable buildings are better than sleeping in a tent (especially now that cooler/wetter weather has set in).

P.S. A few months ago, this project - which would preserve a 109-year-old house AND create 128 new apartments (100 percent of them affordable) - was announced. THIS is the kind of development LA needs. (Tellingly, the backer is a local firm, not some out-of-state carpetbagger.) 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Friendly Reminder: Lost French LA Tours Still On Hiatus

 Dear Readers:

I greatly appreciate your support, and the interest in my Lost French LA walking tour. I am deeply touched.


All tours were postponed in March. A few people have, somehow, managed to purchase tour tickets anyway. 

That isn't supposed to be possible with postponed events, and I have emailed Eventbrite about this three times now, without any response. 

All tickets purchased for postponed events have been refunded, of course.

In order for tours to resume, the following criteria have to be met:

- LA County needs to fall into the orange or yellow tier, preferably yellow. Although I intend to restrict capacity to no more than 10 people (myself plus up to nine guests) until the pandemic is over, the tour does pass through the Plaza, which can be rather busy. I've heard it's quieter than normal right now, but it will pick back up. Angelenos have congregated there for 239 years, and probably always will. Also, the sidewalks aren't wide enough to distance properly.

- Additionally, while masks are helping slow the spread of COVID, they do interfere with my ability to lip-read. I need to be able to hear and/or understand my guests, and the traffic in the Plaza area can be too noisy for me to hear very much (hence reading lips).

- Some of this year's protests have, unfortunately, taken a violent turn. The tour route does pass fairly close to City Hall (often a target for protests). I have to be sure that my guests will be safe.

- The air quality needs to drastically improve. The ongoing presence of wildfire smoke has made it dangerously dirty.

One more thing: Eventbrite doesn't refund ticket fees. That means I have to eat them, and I just went back to my day job two weeks ago. So please, don't purchase a ticket YET (I will be back!).

I will definitely make an announcement when tours resume, or if I do another virtual tour via Zoom.