Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Revitalizing West Hollywood After the Pandemic

I've been doing a lot of walking around West Hollywood to get my 10,000 steps in daily and I am distressed by the number of closed and vacant storefronts I see on my routes.  Not just stores, but bars and other entertainment venues are shutting down.  This is causing great concern among people who love this city.



"And the Band Played On" in the Micky's photo s an ominous reference to the last pandemic which is not over, by the way.  HIV/AIDS is still a thing.  (Please check out Randy Shilt's amazing book and the Emmy-winning TV movie if you have never read or seen either.)

When this new pandemic hit it was unknown if we were going to be able to bounceback rapidly from shutting down as we hoped.  It is now clear that this is not the case.  Much of this has been beyond the City of West Hollywood's control.  We have a incompetent and corrupt President who treated Coronavirus like a "hoax" and failed to take the necessary actions to control the virus, which meant the economy could not recover quickly.  Re-opening a country too soon that did not shut down properly, not only did not spur the economy, it spurred the virus.  We also have a giant chunk of seemingly delusional people who treat COVID-19 as if it were simply overblown media hype or think that mask-wearing and social distancing shouldn't apply to them because they are special or infringes on their "freedumb" to infect other people.

So, lacking the leadership and social solidarity of countries like New Zealand, South Korea, Germany, and Japan, America is in for a long slog where over 200,000 will likely perish from COVID-19 by November and the American economy continues its spiral into its worst downturn since the Great Depression.


Many people who live in or love West Hollywood are asking themselves, 'What kind of city will we come back to when we finally emerge out of this pandemic and the resulting economic catastrophe?"  In particular, there is concern that West Hollywood's two great entertainment zones, the Rainbow District and the Sunset Trip, will lose their unique characters and become generic and no longer representative of their respective histories.  

Some businesses are making the best of this situation.

At Block Party WeHo, it is "Pride All Year Long", and they have begun setting up shop outdoors.


Even Yogurt Stop is getting into the act.  


I am all for this adaptation.  Hopefully, businesses like these will be able to survive and that indoor shopping will return before the rain starts.

Many restaurants who are lucky enough to have outside seating are able to use that to serve customers.  Some which have not had outside seating before have converted parking lots seating.  Hamburger Mary's has recreated its fun atmosphere outside.  It was fun enjoying the music at atmosphere.  Hey, I'm open to drag bingo outdoors at night.


The Sunset Strip has been quiet during the shutdown, but Carney's is still serving a great chili dog.


However, if it is going to be several months or a couple of years before a vaccine, and even longer before the economy bounces back, what is going to happen to the Rainbow District and Sunset Strip, particularly to its empty storefronts and shuttered nightlife?  Will it be generic chains that slap a rainbow flag or guitar sticker on the door that come in and we simply call it a day?  What about the small businesses that made this city great?   What can the City of West Hollywood do about this?

Of course, the Federal government has certain powers, our state governments have certain powers, and local governments are given certain powers by our states in our federal system in America.  The City of West Hollywood cannot control the overall national economy, nor can we tell a private property or business owner what to do with their asset, but we can try to encourage and influence how we want our entertainment districts to revive with how we design our public spaces and approve planning and permits.

I don't have all the answers for revitalizing our entertainment districts, nor should any one person determine how this is to happen.  But here are my suggestions for moving forward and at least getting the process started:

(1) I suggest the City establish an official Rainbow District Task Force and a Sunset Strip Task Force asked to coming up with a series of recommendations and action items on how to economically revitalize while still maintaining the historical character of these two entertainment zones.  These Task Forces are not about creating new administrative layers, but about engaging the community.  The revitalization of the Sunset Strip and Rainbow District after the pandemic should include input from all its stakeholders. Excite the community by involving the community.  An excited community leads to prosperous local businesses too.  

(2) I suggest expanding the mandate of the Arts & Cultural Affairs Commission to the "Arts, Cultural and Entertainment Affairs Commission" so there is a standing body in the City to review fun, creative public nightlife events for the City to help things along.  Perhaps we could allow street buskers on Sunset Strip and drag queens to perform for the public in the Rainbow District, as examples.

(3) I suggest the City establish an Affordable Housing Task Force that will be asked to recommend methods of creating more affordable housing for artistic and creative people who are currently priced out of living in West Hollywood.  For example, there may be non-traditional types of housing such as loft spaces, communal spaces, converted empty commercial spaces, SRO's, that we designate for people in the arts and entertainment industry. 

(4) I suggest establishing a Public Banking Commission.  California passed a new law authorizing municipalities to establish public banks which can use their funds to reinvest in their communities.  West Hollywood should jump on this new opportunity.

(5) I recommend The Pick Up Line entertainment shuttle be rerouted so the western turnaround takes people up to the Sunset Strip as seen below, and perhaps join with the City of Los Angeles for a "Super Entertainment Shuttle" (see previous blog post) that includes Hollywood and Theatre Row.

Proposed new Pickup Line alignment
 
Proposed Entertainment Supershuttle alignment

Revitalizing the Sunset Strip and Rainbow District isn't only about preserving the character and culture of West Hollywood, as important as that is in itself.  It's also about preserving the tax base that pays for our quality services.  At my last glance, the city's hotel tax is its largest revenue source, and if we want people to lodge in our hotels, we need to give them incentive to spend the night in our fun, creative city.

Here is some good news.  There will always be change.  Businesses and people come and go in life.  Here is one that opened in mid-city area.  I can recommend the coffee at gget ("Go Get 'Em Tiger").  Don't lose heart.  Happy Days will someday be here again.


There is an election in November.  I'm not running for anything, but I invite all the candidates who are running to share with us their ideas for revitalizing the Rainbow District and Sunset Strip when we finally emerge from this horrible pandemic and resulting economic devestation.

What do you think?

Sunday, August 2, 2020

A Proposal for a New Entertainment Shuttle for Hollywood & West Hollywood

In West Hollywood, pre-pandemic, West Hollywood had two free entertainment shuttles which ran Friday and Saturday nights, the Pick Up Line and the Sunset Trip.  (The Pick Up line also ran on "Sunday fundays" and certain holidays.).

The advantages of a free shuttle service serving nightlife are obvious.  It reduces the amount of traffic in the area, reduces drunk driving, reduces the demands on parking, and provides more customers to businesses in these districts.  These free shuttles ran old trolley cars and played hip music and have a fun atmosphere too them.  You can see their respective routes below:



Eventually, whenever things re-open again at some point in the future, and nightlife returns again, West Hollywood can bring back entertainment shuttle service.  Unfortunately, post-pandemic, there are not funds to operate both shuttles.  The Pick Up Line will return first when things re-open again in the future.  

A proposal I have is to modify the Pick Up route, so the western turn around also serves a part of Sunset Blvd.  This will take people up the hill to part of the western Sunset Strip and provide shuttle service to places like the Roxy, the Whisky-a-Go-Go, the Rainbow Room, and the Viper Room, among others, as seen below;


For future planning, I want to propose something bigger and grander involving both Hollywood and West Hollywood.  A "Super Entertainment Shuttle" if you will.  It would serve the Rainbow District, the Sunset Trip, and currently unserved "Theatre Row", as well as taking people to clubs in Hollywood and the "B Line" ("Red Line") Subway.  I envision both a clockwise and a counterclockwise loop.  Please see below.


Two notes:  (1)  I'm currently envisioning the entertainment shuttle heading north from Sunset to Highland rather than LaBrea, because Hollywood Blvd. is often a standstill between Highland and LaBrea on Friday/Saturday nights;  (2) Also, those numbered blue dots are mileage markers, not proposed stops.  The whole loop is slightly under ten miles.   

Granted, this shuttle would require cooperation between both the Cities of Los Angeles and West Hollywood, and it will be months before all of these types of businesses re-open.  But we plan for the future today.  

Imagine someone taking the Red Line to Hollywood, to then catch the shuttle to see a play on Theatre Row or a set at The Comedy Store; and then heading for a drink at The Rainbow Room, or Mickey's; and then head back to the subway, having left the car at home.

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Revisions to Metro's NextGen Bus Plan

Here is the good news.  After community outreach, Metro has made some revisions to its NextGen Bus Plan, and Line 218 has been saved, albeit in truncated form between Ventura Blvd. and Santa Monica Blvd.  Personally, I'd extend it from the Orange Line to Wilshire Blvd. (Purple Line), but I am grateful to see it survive it at all.


To review, the NextGen Bus Plan essentially takes the Rapid and Limited bus lines and combines them with their respective Local bus lines to create a more frequent overall service.  This approach has worked in improving ridership in other regions.  Here are the lines most relevant to West Hollywood:

Rapid 704 and Local 4 are combined into new frequent Line 4


Limited 302 and Locals 2 and 200 are combined to form frequent Line 2.


Rapid 705 is combined with Local 105 into new frequent Line 105.


Limited 312 is combined with Local 212 to create new frequent Line 212.


The change I find most fascinating is the merging of Rapid 780 with Locals 217, 180, and 181 into one new powerhouse frequent Line 180.


"In my opinion, this new frequent Line 180 is really going to need bus lanes on Hollywood Blvd. between La Brea and Vermont to work operationally."  Hollywood Blvd. is being considered for a makeover anyway, so now is the time.  So many bus lines start and finish on Hollywood, coming and going from all directions, that bus lanes on it make practical sense to me.

Here is one for my friends in Malibu.  Line 534 turns into Line 134 and has more frequent service.



I look forward to seeing the NextGen Bus Plan put into operation so that we can enjoy a more frequent service.  I've shown the major plans affecting West Hollywood, but you can see all of the NextGen Plan Updates by clicking here.

Monday, January 13, 2020

How Metro's Proposed Frequent Bus "NextGen Transit First Service Plan" Could Affect West Hollywood

Metro is undergoing a redesign of its bus network called the NextGen Bus Study.  After a series of community meetings, a draft frequency-enhanced "Transit First Service Plan" has been released.







The basic strategy as I understand it is to fold all but three rapid lines into corresponding local service, but increase the stop spacing on these new combined lines to create a core network where "83% of Metro's riders" will be walking distance from a bus that has 5, 7, or 10 minute frequency all day.  This sort of transformation to bus service has proven successful in other regions.


There are tradeoffs to any overhaul of course.  Metro is trading losing speed on individual rapid trips for the gain of frequency of service on many lines.  However, when one includes the time spent waiting for a bus as part of overall travel time, this may be a trade off that balances out for many people.  Check out all of the proposed changes by clicking here.





Here is how West Hollywood is likely to affected by the bus service changes according to the draft:

Santa Monica Blvd:  The Rapid 704 would fold into the a more frequent Local 4, with unproductive stops removed.  (Note: this may end West Hollywood's one-seat ride to Union Station.)

Sunset Blvd:  The Limited 302 would fold into the Local 2, with unproductive stops removed.  At Alvarado, the 2 would run north-south.  (Note: this would create a one-seat ride between UCLA and USC.)

Fairfax Avenue:  The Rapid 780 would be combined with the Local 180 and Local 217, for one new 180 line that runs from Pasadena City College to Hollywood Blvd., and then down Fairfax to the La Cienega "E (Expo) Line" Station.

La Cienega Blvd:   The Rapid 705 would fold into the Local 105, with unproductive stops removed.

San VicenteLine 30 would no longer run up San Vicente to West Hollywood, but Line 14 would.

La BreaThe Limited 312 would be folded into the Local 212, with unproductive stops removed.

Crescent Heights:  Once proposed change I do not agree with is the elimination of Line 218 which currently runs over-the-hill between Laurel Canyon & Ventura Blvd. and Cedar Sinai Hospital via Laurel Canyon, Crescent Heights, Fairfax, and 3rd Street.  Elimination of this service would require new time consuming forced transfers for current Line 218 passengers on both sides of the mountain.  I suggest that Metro try redesigning the service first.  One proposal would cut out the 3rd Street portion, but extend the line north to the Orange Line, and run Line 218 between the Laurel Canyon Orange Line Station and The Grove, and see if feeding to/from the Orange Line improves overall performance.  Another possibility would be to extend the 230 south over the hill to Santa Monica Blvd.  I hope Metro considers these alternatives before scrapping a valuable, direct over-the-hill service entirely.



One thing that will be needed to make this bus network overhaul work:  BUS LANES!  Southern California needs a comprehensive network of color-painted and enforced bus lanes to compliment our (thankfully) growing and expanding Metrorail and Metrolink networks.

There are another series of upcoming community workshops on this frequent "NextGen Transit First Service Plan" all over the County over the next several weeks, including one in West Hollywood, on Wednesday, February 12, 2020, 4 – 7 PM, at Plummer Park, 7377 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90046 (Accessible via Metro Lines 4/704; and Weho Cityline).

Click here to find an upcoming community workshop near you.  You may send in your comments and suggestions about this plan to Metro at nextgen@metro.net. 



Thursday, October 10, 2019

Why I like the "Hybrid" Option for the Crenshaw Northern Extension Project

As we get closer to Metro selecting a "Locally Preferred Alternative" for the Crenshaw Northern Extension Project, a new round of community meetings is about to take place.  On the menu for discussion will be a new "hybrid" option (seen below).



The more I study the "hybrid" alignment (A2 plus A/A1 above) for the Crenshaw Northern Extension Project the more I like it. At first the geometry of the line threw me, but this option hits all the major job/entertainment/retail generators north of Wilshire.


Going to where people actually want to go is what will make this line the tremendous success it is destined to be.  People don't just travel through this area, they travel TO this area and within this area.

Let's just remember why we need this line.  It intersects so many other Metro lines (Green, Expo, Purple, Red) and major bus corridors (Santa Monica, La Cienega, Fairfax,,etc.) that it will increase ridership on the whole system.  Plus, this extension will vastly increase mobility for disadvantaged communities with direct connections to job and entertainment centers like Cedars-Sinai, Beverly Center, The Grove, and West Hollywood.

There is a minority of people out there that prefer La Brea for this alignment. They look at La Brea on the map, see a "straighter" line, and say, "We want speed, speed, speed!  They don't seem to care about direct access to any of the ridership generators between Wilshire Blvd. and Hollywood Blvd. further west (like Cedar Sinai, the Beverly Center, the Grove, West Hollywood, etc.).  This is why I do not agree with them:

As a daily user of the transit system I think to myself, "If the options are: (A) riding a few more minutes underground to go directly to the location I actually want to go (West Hollywood, Cedar Sinai, Beverly Center, The Grove, etc.), or, (B) getting off the train at La Brea and THEN waiting above ground to transfer to a bus and THEN riding through heavy surface traffic to finally get where I actually want to go, well (B) really does not seem like the "speed" option after all, does it?

I'm sure a nurse riding from Leimert Park to her job at Cedar Sinai would rather take a quick one-seat ride underground rather than ride to Beverly/LaBrea, wait for a bus at LaBrea for however long, and then ride stop and go in heavy traffic to finally get to her job.  When you conceive the whole trip, the notion of the "speediest" option changes.

I say build this line and put the alignment directly stopping where people actually want to go.  And make its northern terminus at the Hollywood Bowl to help relieve nighttime Hollywood Bowl traffic there.

I believe the few extra minutes of curves required to make these stops, which no one will notice or care about underground, will still be MUCH quicker than sitting in heavy surface traffic above ground, and will not at all be a deterrent to its success.

I also reject talk of breaking this project up separately into “two-lines” as there is only going to be one line built in this area for decades.  By the time all of the current Measure R and Measure M projects are finished it will be decades for a second line is even proposed.  So don't be fooled or distracted by those people advocating a  so-called "speed" line on La Brea today while leaving second "access" line to be proposed and built at some vague date decades later (or never).

There are also those who will wonder, "what about the people traveling from the San Fernando Valley to LAX?"  Good question! I think most of them will likely use the coming Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project (seen below), but will still find this hybrid underground alignment MUCH quicker than sitting in surface traffic.


The next round of Metro Community Meetings for this project are soon.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019, 6 – 8 p.m.
Plummer Park, 7377 Santa Monica Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90046.
Accessible via: West Hollywood Cityline and Metro bus lines 2, 4, 212, and 704.

Thursday, October 24, 2019, 6 - 8 p.m.
Wilshire Crest Elementary School, 5241 W. Olympic Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036.
Accessible via: Metro bus lines 20, 28, 212, 312, 720 and 728.

Saturday, October 26, 2019, 10 a.m.  – 12 p.m.
Virginia Road Elementary School, 2925 Virginia Road, Los Angeles, CA 90016.
Accessible via: DASH, Metro Bus lines 37, 38, 210, 710 and 740.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019, 6 – 8 p.m.
Rosewood Avenue Elementary School, 503 N. Croft Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90048.
Accessible via: DASH, West Hollywood Cityline and Metro bus lines 10, 14, 105 and 705

I will see you there!  You can also submit your feedback about this line to crenshawnorth@metro.net.

Although I very proudly sit on the City of West Hollywood's Transportation Commission, this blog post is my own opinion.  I am not claiming to speak for the Commission, the City Council, or our hardworking city staff.  

Thursday, July 25, 2019

What is Metro's NextGen Bus Study's Regional Service Concept

Metro has set out to design a new bus network that is more relevant, reflective of, and attractive to the residents of LA County, which it has branded as the NextGen Bus Study. This type of overhaul and updating of the bus system happens about every few decades. It's important to keep the bus network relevant and upgraded to represent current demand and travel patters.  Hopefully this will help with increasing Metro bus ridership as a similar redesign recently helped ridership in Austin, Texas.

Metro has completed Phase 1, its "Research and Analysis" phase.  Based on the data collected and a vast amount of outreach, Phase 2 is now presentation of Metro's "Regional Service Concept".  Phase 3, after the approval of the "Regional Service Concept", will be development of the "NextGen Service Plan", expected in early 2020. Phase 4 will be "Implementation" of the plan once approved.

So what is this Regional Service Concept that Metro is proposing to base design of its new service plan?

According to Metro, "Together with your comments, the Regional Service Concept is guiding the NextGen bus service planners as they examine every Metro bus line and bus stop to determine the best system redesign possible."  This phase will defines the goals and objectives of the new bus network, and will include measurements of for success of the new network, route and network design concepts based on public input and data analysis, a framework for balancing the inevitable tradeoffs that this new plan will require, and, of course, Metro’s Equity Platform considerations.

In 2018, the Board adopted Metro Vision 2028 as the agency’s strategic plan. Metro sees the NextGen Bus Study as addressing one of the plan's top goals: "Provide high quality mobility options that enable people to spend less time traveling."

The Concept lists three key factors to developing the new transit network:
  1.  Transit Propensity - Identity the areas where the propensity to use transit is the greatest, by examining the market segments of transit customers (transit reliant riders, commuters, and discretionary riders) and the intensity of demand by population and place (prospective ridership generators);
  2.  Existing Service Performance -  identify and optimize the most productive segments of the existing bus network which matches current transit demand (what's already working well);
  3.  Service Environment - Removing land use barriers to successful service, and implementing transit supportive infrastructure (such as transit-only lanes).
In particular, check out "Attachment E" (pages 151-157) of the Concept for signs of what bus lines Metro scores as performing well in the current network, and what lines it scores as underperforming.

I expect people will be very interested about any proposed changes to their current transit lines, for many people their transit access and reliability can determine their mobility, their economic prosperity, and social/cultural opportunity.

It will be months before we see the new proposed NextGen Service Plan.  While we are waiting, check out the NextGen Bus Study Data Center where Metro has granted access to an amazing ocean of transit data analysis, more than enough to keep any transit fan occupied until the NextGen Service Plan comes out by early 2020.

For a Ridership Data Tool that "allows you to explore monthly ridership stats, line level trends, and historical information for every line in Metro's system," please click here.

For a Trip Density Per Census Tract Map that displays volumes of daily trip origins per census tract, including both transit trips (recorded by TAP data) and overall trips (car, transit, etc.), please click here and zoom in/out.

For a Corridor Segment Performance Map that "displays which segments have the most ridership and are the most productive," please click here and zoom in/out.

For a Frequency Map that "displays how often buses are arriving at stops for segments of each route, with the red lines showing they most frequent segments," please click here and zoom in/out.

For a Trip Length Distribution Map that "displays how far riders typically travel along the corridor based on their starting point, with darker red dots indicating longer trip lengths," please click here and zoom in/out to click on a starting point to display the average length.

For an Origin-Destination Patterns Sliding Map that "displays the pattern of where current transit riders are starting and ending their trips," please click here and zoom in/out and slide back and forth to compare origins versus destinations.

For a Seated Capacity Map that "displays how full, on average, the buses are on segments of each route. The darker the color represents segments of a route where buses are fuller". please click here and zoom in/out..

For a Stop Level Ridership Map that "displays the level of activity at each of Metro’s bus stops, with the red dots representing high activity, with detailed information on the number of boardings, on and off, by simply clicking each dot/stop," please click here and zoom/in out.

For a Transit Propensity Map that "shows you the areas where the propensity to use transit is the greatest," please click here and add the layers of demand data you want while zooming in/out.

Phew!  That is a lot of data.  I cannot wait to see the new proposed service plan.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Please Give Us Shade... (No, Really.)

Last night I was waiting for a bus at Wilshire Blvd. and 26th Street at a major bus stop that serves local and rapid buses, and here is what I saw:


Notice something interesting?  Here is another view.


People are not sitting in the hot sun in the pretty, artistic seating.  They are standing in the shadows of poles and trees.  This is how too many people wait for the bus in Southern California.  If you are a big and tall guy like me, the pole may not be big enough.


My question is. why isn't there a bus shelter?  Why isn't there shade?  It makes for a very uncomfortable wait.  When it rains, and we know from this year that it actually does rain in Southern California, we basically get wet.

Here is an example of a London bus shelter design  I love -- that has shade, seating, a map, a digital screen, and is ADA compliant -- that I would like to see all through Southern California.


Isn't this pretty?  Why don't we have adequate bus shelters throughout much of Southern California?   Don't blame Metro for this.  The quality (or lack thereof) of bus shelters and bus stops is largely the responsibility of  the cities in which they are located.

Also, are bus stops designed based on how aesthetically pleasing they look or for the benefit of the transit user?  Ideally both, but functionality is essential.

By pointing out this stop, I am not ragging on the transit-supportive city of Santa Monica here, or its terrific Big Blue Bus system.  This one stop is just an indicator of a county-wide deficiency.  I should also add that my city of West Hollywood is currently upgrading its bus stops and shelters, which is terrific.  But, if you don't have adequate bus stop shade where you live, work, and play, then go to your city's Transportation Commission meeting, or even its City Council meeting, and insist on quality bus shelters that offer real shade from the sun and rain during public comment. 

As I stated in my last blog, there are two basic views of public transit and its components that I run across:

(A)  "Public transit is method of moving masses of people of all classes and demographics conveniently from place to place, increasing mobility, cultural opportunity, and economic prosperity, while helping the environment and quality of life for all by providing an reliable alternative for people who would otherwise exacerbate traffic problems by driving more cars on our already clogged roads."

(B)  "Public transit is a form of "transportation welfare" meant to provide a subsistence level of mobility to poor people who would, of course, get their own automobile as soon as they have the means and opportunity."

Too many people think of transit in Southern California solely as (B) and therefore don't see the problem here.  If you only think of transit as just transportation welfare for poor people who would rather be driving a car, then you probably don't care about investing in or improving the system, or the experience of the transit rider. 

Having lived in New York, and other Metropolitan cities, I envision transit as (A), and that is why I seek to improve it for everyone in the Southern California region, because I see everyone as a potential user.  I absolutely reject the limited, outdated idea that "this is Southern California and we have a car culture, so mass transit will never work here."  Millions of people already use the system we have and voters passed Measures R (2008) and M (2016) to improve and expand our system.

One person has told me dismissively, "if we build transit shelters, the homeless will simply camp out in them".  Not if we adequately address the issue of homelessness, which is a whole other blog topic.  I also reject the idea that the severe issue of homelessness in Southern California should limit or be dumped on our transit system and its components.  Let's solve BOTH issues.

I don't write this blog post to complain.  I truly believe in mass transit as a public good, and a public good right here in Southern California.  If there is an amazing bus shelter in London, we here deserve no less.  If there is any amazing transit feature (signage, maps, technology) in any other city around the world, Los Angeles County deserves it too.  This a world class metropolitan capital of culture and commerce and we should have a transit system that is top of the line, and in the front of innovation -- not as an afterthought because, of course, we'd all rather be driving an automobile.  Let's have a world class transit system for everyone worthy of a City and County of Angels.

In order to have the robust, user-friendly rail and bus transit system we all want, please give sunny (and sometimes rainy) Southern California adequate shade at all its transit stops.

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Edited to Add:  Please read this excellent Places Journal essay on "Shade", which explains who in Southern California gets shade (and who doesn't) and why.  Please click here to read.