Playing With Politics

A Blog on Law, Politics, Planning, Development, and Other Vices

Archive for September, 2010

NIMBY Say What?

Posted by Roobs on September 10, 2010

Just the other day at the website: Next American City, Yonah Freemark, an Urban Leaders Fellow, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, wrote a column talking about one of my favorite subjects: The East Bay Bus Rapid Transit project.  As readers will have figured out, I am very much in favor of this project and have written two posts about the issue: Why Berkeley is Wrong on BRT and Why Councilman Arreguin is Wrong on BRT

I take issue with Freemark’s columns, specifically his most recent entitled “Opposition to a Bus Rapid Transit System is More than Just NIMBYism“.  The biggest and most frustrating part is that many of the arguments against BRT in the East Bay are either false or based off false assumptions that do nothing to further legitimate debate.

In his three part column (currently at two),  Freemark quotes former Berkeley Willard Neighborhood Association president, Vince Casalaina and both seem to suggest their biggest concern is with greenhouse gases.

“If you’re going to put a quarter of a billion dollars into it,” he said, “It better do something about greenhouse gases.” Casalaina points out that the diesel bus line could actually reduce ridership on the mostly parallel BART rail line, which is electrically powered and therefore arguably cleaner.”

The part about this criticism I never truly understood is that, in the same breadth that many critics of BRT use to say that they care about the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, they also say the one thing they are most afraid of losing is “driving lanes”, the ability to drive your car and park when going to the stores they are trying to protect.

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EQCA Mum on Melanie Shelby

Posted by Roobs on September 8, 2010

Equality California offers no comment on alleged relationship with former Prop 8 supporter and current Oakland City Council candidate, Melanie Shelby.

For some time I have been trying to research Melanie Shelby, candidate for Oakland City Council.  Since moving to Los Angeles to puruse my graduate education, I admit I have fallen behind.  But I haven’t forgotten.

Before I moved out of the Bay Area, I sent a request for clarification to the Melanie Shelby campaign regarding her August 4th press release following the initial verdict in the Proposition 8 trial.  I also sent a request to Equality California asking them to comment on the relationship Melanie Shelby continually says she has with them.

I first received a response from the Shelby Campaign in what one other Oakland blogger described as “psychotic”.  You can read the Shelby Campaign’s really bad, though entertaining, response as well as my rebuttal by clicking here.  It really is a great example of what a bad communications team can do for a candidate.  But that was just one side.

For the past few weeks, I have been trying different avenues to get a response from someone inside Equality California – California’s primary same-sex marriage advocacy group.  For a few weeks I have talked to individuals (off the record) and sent emails.  Unfortunately, all my requests have been unfulfilled and, as I said, my conversations with the few I have reached have been off the record.

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Irv’s Burgers, West Hollywood

Posted by Roobs on September 7, 2010

I have a Yelp account and love trying places and writing a review about it later.  It’s one of my nerdy guilty pleasures.  This blog was never set up to serve as a supplement to my Yelp account.  However, walking back to my apartment today I stopped at a hamburger stand who’s distance can be measured in hundreds of feet away from my front door.  The Place is called Irv’s Burgers and, at a risk of over-selling this… it is the BEST hamburger joint ever!!!

Now, before any of you local foodies comes screaming at my blogger door, I admit I am exagerating just a tad.  I’m sure we could find a burger with a little more flavor and who can really argue with the foie gras burger?  But so much more goes into a “hamburger stand” than just the burger itself.

Irv’s is an epic win; a hamburger stand serving up some real tasty burgers and fries at a decent price and the service to boot.  Less than will not only $8 gets you a cheeseburger, fries and a coke but the rediculously nice staff working the stand itself.  When I arrived there was one man ahead of me.  But the woman at the counter, pictured in the far left of the photo here waved and said “hello” to me with a big smile on her face.

The man in the photo took my order.  Another equally happy person who just seemed rediculously thrilled to be working the stand and thanked me for coming and placing my order.  He also brought out my food as well.

When my innocent looking plate arrived, I almost immediately began to rip open the paper wrapping my burger when my eye was pulled in to a most unusual print on my plate.  At first I thought there was some kind of smudge on my plate.  But wait… that’s not dirt.  It’s a message.  Sweet Jesus, had all this time of eating meat; killing one innocent animal after another for the benefit of my taste buds caught up to me?  Was this a poltergeist of the bovine kind?  No!  It was “thank you” message.  No Really.

Written on my innocent hamburger holding vessel was a note from the staff: “Just for you.  Enjoy! ^_^”  I was so taken back by the diabetically induced sweetness of the message that I didn’t eat the burger for a good sixty seconds.  Once I got over that I later did to discover was this not only a very friendly and happy establishment but a place that can serve a tasty burger.  Great proportion of meat, toppings and bun and the fries were served fresh and hot.  Mmmmm….

I strongly recommend Irv’s to any burger lover in Los  Angeles or anyone visiting.  Whether locals like it is beside the point.  This type of stand and this type of service is so rare in any part of the country that to even fathom it in a place like Los Angeles (WeHo) is astounding and special.  The staff working here are so nice and so clearly happy and in love with the stand and their work that no matter what you are doing and no matter how much you love or hate your job, you can’t help but feel that your job is not nearly as rewarding as theirs.

This is the kind of place that is truly worthy to be preserved.  We so often get bogged down in counting the years of a place as a qualifier for preservation.  But what we should not forget is that preservation is not simply to remind us of what we once had but to help us feel good about where we are going.  I don’t know about you, but I felt really good about myself after having a burger at Irv’s.  Only thing that could have made it better was if I was given a little gin and vermouth.

I, Roobs, hereby declare Irv’s the BEST hamburger stand EVER!  Irv’s, for the win!

Posted in Food, Pop Culture | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Welcome to West Hollywood

Posted by Roobs on September 7, 2010

As you all are no doubt aware, I have packed up bags and moved shop from the Bay Area to Southern California.  I will be attending graduate school at UCLA for my Masters in Urban & Regional Planning.  I’m really looking forward for classes to start and, in the interim, have been settling in my new apartment in West Hollywood.

Los Angeles never comes up as a city that is easily walkable.  And for good reason.  It’s not just the “car culture” of LA that influences this, though it does exist.  The physical layout and urban design of much of the nations second largest city requires a car to get around.  What other cities call neighborhoods, to Los Angeles, these geographic areas are sometimes the size of cities themselves.

Just The Facts

West Hollywood is a young city, both literally and metaphorically.  Once a neighborhood of the vast City of Los Angeles, “WeHo” as it is now referred, was incorporated in 1984 and had a population of 36,500 back in 2006 (US Census, 2006).  This 26 year old city also boasts a very young population, with the median age of residents around 40 years old with around 32% of residents between the ages of 20 and 34 years old (US Census, 2000).

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Posted in Urban Planning | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Roobs Does LA

Posted by Roobs on September 1, 2010

Hello all!  I appologize again for not writing anything new.  Over the weekend I moved out of the Bay Area and have now set up shop in Los Angeles as I attend graduate school at UCLA!  I will try to come back with more interesting posts, including a follow up on the Melanie Shelby-Equality California relationship.

Posted in Economic Development, Law, LGBT, Politics, Pop Culture, Race & Identity, TV & Movies, Urban Planning | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »