By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
"We have built this endless concrete landscape that is not people-friendly, child-friendly or green-friendly," says Gloria Ohland of the Surface Transportation Policy Project, an environmental transit group. "I don’t think we ever consciously decided to build an environment that only works for automobiles."
But Fletcher Square doesn’t even work for cars, tenants say. The sole entrance and exit is a skinny driveway emptying near a major four-way intersection. At rush hour, the route turns into a virtual bumper-car ride. Thai Taste owner Isupakon Walleesubhan got in a traffic accident last year while trying to turn out of the square. "Today, people don’t have the patience to deal with things like an entrance/exit problem," says salon operator Karnikian.
So what’s to be done? A big, fat nothing, Woo says. "It would require the enforcement staff or regulators at the city to be more strict in the kind of controls they put on business," he says. "It is difficult to get property owners to be more responsive unless the mini-mall is a real slum or a public threat. I don’t think there is much anyone can do unless the property owners’ negligence is extreme."
"This business has made me say no more beauty business," says Karnikian. "We feel like orphans and are here just to give him [the owner] money."—Christine Pelisek
No more bombs, no more books
As the school year wound down to A June finale, L.A. Unified police called in the LAPD bomb squad to evaluate a suspicious device found in front of Castelar Elementary in downtown L.A. After interviewing witnesses and conducting their own ginger examination, officers sheepishly canceled the bomb-squad call. Reason: The object was a dropped flute.
Welcome to the Kafkaesque world of school security, after the Columbine shootings. Since the April 20 student massacre that left 15 dead at a Colorado high school, the LAPD’s explosives unit, the nation’s busiest, has been called to L.A. Unified campuses 13 times during a record two-month spree of 34 bomb scares (the usual tally is 33 in an entire year).
As evidenced by the lost-flute caper, normally a matter for the lost-and-found box, official paranoia is responsible for jacking up the bomb-report statistics. Although you’d never know it by reading the Daily News’ scaremongering coverage, only one real explosive was found at an L.A. school after Columbine — a pipe bomb, fuse unlit, left at San Pedro High the weekend of May 1. LAPD Lieutenant Mike DeCouders says authorities believe a parent found the bomb in his Anarchist’s Cookbook–reading child’s bedroom. The parent then tipped off police so the bomb could be deactivated safely without incriminating little Johnny or Jane, DeCouders suggests.
The other bomb scares turned out to be rumors, pranks or student-engineered hoaxes. Like the fake dynamite discovered on June 21 outside the dean’s office at Reseda’s Cleveland High. Or the red-blinking "transmitter," cobbled together from Radio Shack parts and left outside the Narbonne High cafeteria in Harbor City. That prank resulted in the arrest of one student and the absurd beatification of another by Superintendent Ruben Zacarias, who lauded the little informer for "moral courage" in averting a disaster that never was.
The most serious consequence of L.A.’s Season of Unease has been for the students swept up in the dragnet atmosphere. Two kids who arranged a dry-ice explosion in an empty dumpster area at El Camino High in Woodland Hills were expelled in late May, even though an L.A. Unified lawyer acknowledged that the incident was nothing more than "a practical joke in very bad taste." Sixteen students were arrested for making terrorist threats, a possible felony charge that could mean prison time. Let’s hope summer break cools the hysteria.—Jennifer Smith
Get me central casting
In case the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is wondering why potential tenants aren’t clambering to rent space in the old Louis B. Mayer–constructed Central Casting building at the corner of Hollywood and Western — which is being renovated at a cost of $2.8 million — OffBeat has a tip. The agency might try calling the number on a banner strung up on the side of the building (213-307-2382). OffBeat did, repeatedly, over the course of several weeks, and discovered that the number is out of service. Your tax dollars at work!