East Village Expands

April 11, 2011 1 comment

Back in December, I blogged about Phantom Galleries Long Beach and a couple of businesses coming to the East Village. Since then, The East Village Arts District has filled a few more storefronts and continues to live up to the “Arts District” reputation.  With the 4th Street opening of Portfolio Coffeehouse’s  newest endeavor, Berlin by Portfolio and it’s next-door neighbor, the newly relocated Fingerprints Music, the area is becoming a more fun and interesting place to hang out and shop. Just around the corner on 3rd Street at Elm Ave., Durty Mick Records has found a new home for its label and store, as well as The Hallway Spectacle, a new vintage/unique find shop, and Downtown Darling Salon & Boutique. New art galleries have opened on Linden Ave. and The Promenade, and the new Vons on Atlantic and Broadway finally opened.

The New Berlin Portfolio and Fingerprints Music

The area is already looking more attractive and fun, and is playing host to a newly-launched Downtown Long Beach Art Walk. The famous Fingerprints will be bringing a slew of in-store performances to the East Village, including an upcoming Foo Fighters show. Durty Mick has also welcomed a few bands since it moved in. New so-called “pedestrian-friendly” street lights were installed a couple of months ago on 4th Street, giving the area a cleaner, more updated look.

Durty Mick Records and Hallway Spectacle

Unfortunately, East Village has also seen the loss of it’s weekly farmers’ market on 1st Street. On the couple of occasions I walked through, there were few vendors selling actual food, and even fewer customers.

I love seeing street art in Long Beach.

In the future, we only have more to look forward to. Groundbreaking on the Art Exchange is planned for this year. When I first moved to Long Beach, I was a little disappointed to see so many closed shops and boarded windows, but it looks like things are turning around. East Village in particular is slowly becoming a unique place to hang out.

Categories: Art, Downtown, East Village

Signal Hill Din-Din a Big Success!

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment

After a rain delay pushed it back a week, the first ever Signal Hill Din-Din-A-Go-Go took place this past Monday. The lineup was comprised of industry favorites Lomo Arigato, Grill ‘Em All, Mandoline Grill, and Tropical Shave Ice, who catered to dozens (hundreds?) of hungry customers form the Long Beach/Signal Hill area.

Since the line for the Great Food Truck Race winner Grill ‘Em All was so long and constant, I saw a lot of people, myself included grabbing some delicious Hawaiian shave ice or Vietnamese tacos to eat while waiting. There were a few lawn chair circles,  plenty of conversations with new friends, and a few unfortunate parking tickets. It’s hard to gauge the attendance of this kind of event, as patrons come and go freely, but the long steady line for burgers and small crowds in front of every truck were an indication that the night was a success.
I’m definitely looking forward to next week’s lineup, as well as more food truck events in the Long Beach area. (Stay tuned!!)

Thanks to everyone involved in making this happen- it was a lot of fun and will hopefully show Long Beach that their municipal code regarding food trucks could use some tweaking.
A big thanks to Sarah for the pictures! Check out her work at sarahsbecker.com!


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Signal Hill Din-Din on Twitter: @SHDinDinAGoGo

Metro Prepares for Cuts / My Thoughts

March 27, 2011 Leave a comment

“These are cuts, upon cuts, upon cuts,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who cast one of six dissenting votes on the measure; seven board members voted yes. “The only way this system is going to work is with a first-class bus system and a first-class rail system.” – Los Angeles Times

The above quote comes from an article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on March 25, discussing what it calls “deep cuts to service” at a time when boosting the profile and service of public transit is needed most. Long Beach will only be directly affected by the discontinuation of a section of the 577X’s route to the Transit Mall, but changes elsewhere could make getting around the area more difficult.

With the price of gasoline on the rise again, it’s only natural that people will look toward alternative methods of transportation. In the United States, we have enjoyed relatively low fuel costs when compared to other countries, especially in Europe. Now that the LA area is again seeing $4.00+ per gallon prices, it’s clear why putting all over our “transportation eggs in one basket” isn’t going to work. In the same way that financial experts will suggest a diverse investment portfolio, we need to invest in a diverse transportation portfolio to make sure the public is served in the best way possible.

One startling aspect of public transit I’ve noticed since moving here is that there are too many municipal providers operating for normal people to make sense of it all. Metro alone operates Merto Local & Limited, Express, Rapid, Shuttles & Circulators, and Liner buses, in addition to the 45 other municipal providers that operate in LA County. I have made the comment before, as well as read multiple times on the blog St. Louis / Elsewhere, that one of the best ways to make public transit more convenient and reliable is to use one system. The common example is the Red and Gold line buses in St. Louis, serving Washington University. These lines used to be separate from the Metro fleet, and used as shuttles for Wash U students. But now they’ve been incorporated into the greater Metro St. Louis system and are available for use to all Metrobus riders. Since Wash U students get a Metro pass included with tuition, they have not lost out on service, and the surrounding community now benefits from increased convenience and availability. In Chicago, one Regional Transit Authority oversees three agencies. Compare that to the 45 agencies in LA County and it’s easy to see why Chicago is constantly seen as a leader in public and commuter transit.

This example is just a very small move that Los Angeles’ Metro could take into consideration in a much bigger way. Many of the 45 municipal bus operators could be folded into Metro with ease. The same routes could be kept with Metro branding, the local tax code could be simplified, riders wouldn’t have to worry about fumbling with a handful of Metro-to-Muni transfers, trip planning would become considerably easier, and the TAP card would see wider use. This would also make getting around much simpler for visitors and tourists, an important source of revenue for LA County.  Obviously, some of the larger providers like Long Beach Transit and Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus might be opposed to this idea, but whittling down the enormous list of 45 different agencies to just a few would be a major improvement for the cost and convenience to riders.

In a recent interview on the Patt Morrison show, MTA CEO Art Leahy seemed to express agreement with the use of “one system” in LA. However, he also noted some major problems with the system, such as an 80% on-time rate, and the poor security.

I have been the holder of St. Louis’s Student Semester Pass, Chicago’s 7- and 5-Day passes, London’s Oyster Card, and now LA’s TAP Card. I have seen multiple agencies forced to make cuts as they search for a long-term solution to fixing transit needs. LA actually enjoys relatively cheap fares compared to other big cities, yet lags behind most others in convenience and efficiency. In a recent message to the public, Leahy expressed his commitment to a quality transit system. I’m interested to see what happens next after the upcoming service changes.


LA Times Article
Art Leahy on the Patt Morrison Show
Upcoming Metro Service Changes
Art Leahy’s Message to Customers & Taxpayers

Food Trucks coming to Signal Hill!

March 12, 2011 5 comments

Tuesday night, it was announced via Twitter (thanks to @thetruckchaser) that Signal Hill will soon be seeing a weekly gathering of a rotating lineup of gourmet food trucks. The Long Beach area’s “independent donut hole” is the latest town to host a Din-Din A Go-Go, a series of mobile food courts that meet weekly in established locations in the South Bay, West LA, Los Alamitos, Anaheim, and Highland Park. Each location has a few “anchor” trucks that come out every week, and the group is rounded out by different trucks every week.


Signal Hill Din-Din A Go-Go is coming!

Signal Hill Din-Din A Go-Go is coming!


I’ve been going to the South Bay Din-din on Thursdays as often as I can to sample the different trucks that make the lineup each week. When I first heard about the event, it was held in the KMart parking lot in Carson, and since has moved to 19600 S. Vermont in the Harbor Gateway. I have seen this event grow each week, as word spreads through social media and word of mouth, into an event much bigger than I expected.

Typically, the Long Beach/Signal Hill area sees very few food trucks set up shop, even from those who visit both Los Angeles and Orange County. In future posts, I hope to look into the reasons for this and find what kinds of laws and regulations are preventing food truck fun in Long Beach. I can’t seem to find much online. For now, I’m just looking forward to a Din-Din that I can take the bus to!

Signal Hill Din-Din A Go-Go on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/SHDinDinAGoGo

City of Long Beach Press Releases Invite Public Input on Restaurants, Bikes

March 4, 2011 2 comments

Two recent press releases from The City of Long Beach invite public opinion on development projects. Yesterday, March 3, the city invited North Long Beach residents to a public forum to be held this Saturday March 5, at Jordan High School, concerning the planning and design of a new restaurant project at Atlantic Ave. and Artesia Blvd.

Today, the city issued another press release detling four upcoming workshops on Long Beach’s Bicycle Master Plan.

Both have been reprinted below.


Subject : Public Invited to Attend Bicycle Master Plan Update Community Workshops and Bike Rides
Contact : Sumire Gant, Transportation Programs Officer    562.570.6618
Want to help make Long Beach more livable and bike-friendly?  Participate in one of the four final Bicycle Master Plan Update community workshops being hosted during March. The Department of Public Works is completing an update of the City’s Bicycle Master Plan (BMP). Since the adoption of the current BMP in 2001, the City has been successful in completing and/or funding virtually all of the short-term projects identified within the BMP, including:

  • Bicycle Signage Program;
  • Bicycle Parking Program;
  • Bike Safety Awareness Program; and
  • Nine of ten identified priority bike lanes and routes.

Through Bicycle Master Plan workshops, community members will have the opportunity to both learn about and experience innovative bicycle facility treatments, including bike boulevards and sharrows, while participating in the planning of an innovative alternative transportation system that serves users of all ages and skill levels.

The Saturday workshops will feature optional neighborhood bike ride designed for cyclists of all skill levels. They will also include a bicycle rodeo for children to learn bike safety skills, and bike valet services.

For more information, please contact Courtney Aguirre at 562.570.6667 or courtney.aguirre@longbeach.gov.

Workshop Schedule

Saturday, March 5
El Dorado Park West Senior Center
2800 Studebaker Road
Bike Ride
1:00 – 2:30 pm
Community Workshop
2:30 – 4:00pm

Saturday, March 12
Expo Center (Bixby Knolls)
4321 Atlantic Ave.
Bike Ride
10:00 – 11:30 am
Community Workshop
11:30 am – 1:00 pm

Saturday, March 19
Bixby Park
130 Cherry Ave.
Bike Ride
10:00 – 11:30am
Community Workshop
11:30 am – 1:00 pm

Wednesday, March 23
Mark Twain Library
1401 E. Anaheim St.
6:00 – 8:00 pm




Subject : Residents Invited to Provide Input on Atlantic & Artesia Restaurant Project, March 5
Contact : Jacqueline Medina, Communications, Department of Development Services    562.570.3827
The City has developed a vision for North Long Beach that includes the transformation of the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Artesia Boulevard into an important commercial gateway. To further this vision, The Long Beach Redevelopment Agency acquired a 2.2-acre site located at the northeast corner of Atlantic Avenue and Artesia Boulevard for the development of a full-service, sit-down restaurant, as preferred by the community.On Saturday, March 5, Councilmember Steven Neal, 9th District and the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency, together with Primestor Development, Inc. will host a community discussion on the site planning and design of a full-service restaurant. The discussion will be held from 10:00 am to 11:30 am at the Jordan High School Cafeteria, 6500 Atlantic Ave. Free parking is available in the Jordan High School staff parking lot off Atlantic Avenue. Light breakfast will be served.

“This is an opportunity for residents to provide input on the selection and design of their new neighborhood restaurant,” said Councilmember Steven Neal. “With improvement projects of all types and sizes being planned and implemented in North Long Beach, we are making sure everyone plays a part in shaping this corridor to help stimulate economic development and build a more vibrant neighborhood for all of us.”

Close to $5.5 million in extensive streetscape and façade improvements have already taken place along Atlantic Avenue, and just south of the restaurant site is the North Village Center, a mixed-used development that will include a new state-of-the-art public library and community center.

For more information, please contact Tony Foster, North Redevelopment Project Officer, at tony.foster@longbeach.gov or at 562.570.6393.


The original press releases can be found here: http://longbeach.gov/news/default.asp

Both events should be interesting, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it to either. I’d like to see what other residents are saying about the Bicycle Master Plan’s progress thus far. I don’t make it up to North Long Beach very often, but the new restaurant project, as well as the coming North Village Center, might bring more people into the area.

Expo Line Video Highlights New Line Coming to Culver City

February 28, 2011 Leave a comment

I haven’t really been following anything on the new Expo Line that Metro is currently building, so this video they posted today was pretty interesting to me. I like the new line because I’ll be able to get to all of the fun stuff in Exposition park without using the awful Silver Line.
I’m excited for the new line to open later this year, and the expansion to Santa Monica that will come later. Hopefully, this means quicker, easier bus connections in the area. Los Angeles could use more light rail, especially on the Westside.

Follow Expo Line progress on their Facebook Page.

Bike Lane Construction Makes Progress Despite Weather Delays

February 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Here’s a couple of pictures I’ve taken of the construction of the new protected bike lanes being added to 3rd Street and Broadway in downtown Long Beach.


The new curbs will reduce both streets to two lanes of vehicle traffic instead of three, and only take away a couple of parking spaces per block. Traffic signals for bikes were installed a while ago. The construction is expected to last until the second week of March.

Drivers living in areas affected by the construction can still obtain a free parking permit for a city parking lot while construction is taking place here: https://www.thepermitstore.com/lb/event/

More info can be found at: http://www.dlba.org/downtownprojects