February 10, 2013 on 7:14 pm | In Green, Historic Properties, Of Local Importance, Santa Monica Landmarks, The City of Santa Monica says, Uncategorized | No Comments

by Jodi Summers

Old meets new. The century-old Santa Monica Pier has new millennium lighting. The City of Santa Monica recently updated all bulbs that light the Pier to LED versions, which are  heralded as being more energy efficient, last longer and provide more focused beams than their counterparts.

Nearly 1,600 fixtures on the carousel, “necklace” lights that surround the structure, flood lights, street lamps and globe lights will get the upgrade, saving 216,000 kilowatt hours per year compared to the traditional bulbs. A portion of the new LED lights will be replacing incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs that burned out some time ago, bringing new life to the pier.

“We will be making this jewel of the city brighter and more sustainable,” praised pier manager Rod Merl.

City Hall received $114,370 for the Pier Lighting Retrofit project and another $554,000 for the wider LED Street lighting project, which served to replace streetlights throughout the city with new bulbs. Savings on the Pier project work out to roughly $39,466 saved per year in energy costs, according to the Office of Sustainability and the Environment. In addition to saving electricity, the new fixtures are expected pier staff a lot of time….particularly when it comes to maintaining the necklace lights that loop around the pier deck, where the globe lights would burn out regularly.

LED lights are more expensive by the piece, but according to the U.S. Department of Energy, a high-powered white LED light can last between 35,000 and 50,000 hours. By comparison, the average incandescent light lasts between 720 and 2,000 hours, a compact fluorescent usually runs between 8,000 and 10,000 hours.

If the new LED lights were on 24 hours a day, they would last 5.7 years, calculated Carlos Rosales, an engineer with the public works department. “Since they only turn on at night, they should last 10 years,”

And they should all need to be replaced at about the same time.

Another benefit to the lights in the eyes of City Hall is how they project their beams.

Unlike incandescent bulbs which scatter light, LEDs are more focused, meaning they do not have the fuzzy “glowing” quality that many are used to.

“The old-fashioned kind of lights tends to cast a wide area,” Merl observed. “One of the things with the new lighting heads, the light pools where you want it to rather than dispersing in all directions.”

Shine on you crazy pearl necklace….



January 27, 2013 on 10:37 pm | In Fascinating Information, Historic Properties, Problem Solving, Recycling, Uncategorized | No Comments

Edited by Jodi Summers

The National Trust for Historic Preservation defines rehabilitate as: “To repair a structure and make it usable again while preserving those portions or features of the property that are historically and culturally significant.”

To successfully rehabilitate a historic building, they are offering us 10 basic principles to keep in mind when undertaking a rehabilitation project.

Of course, every project is different and will have different needs and solutions. But this handy reference guide is a great way to get you started.





December 9, 2012 on 2:34 pm | In Fascinating Information, Federal Government, Historic Properties, Legal, Of Local Importance, Uncategorized, WOW | 3 Comments

by Jodi Summers

Proposition 13 limits annual tax increases on both commercial and residential properties at 2% each year after a sale takes place. The landmark 1978 California tax change was passed, in part, so that older Californians are not priced out of their homes through high taxes. Proposition 13 has been called the “third rail” (meaning “untouchable subject”) of California politics, and it is not popular politically for lawmakers to attempt to change it.

Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) wants voters to alter Proposition 13 to make it easier to pass local taxes for schools. Leno is introducing a constitutional amendment that would allow local parcel taxes for schools to pass with 55% of the vote, instead of the two-thirds currently required.

Proposition 13 (officially named the People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation) was an amendment of the Constitution of California enacted during 1978, by means of the initiative process. It was approved by California voters on June 6, 1978. It was declared constitutional by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Nordlinger v. Hahn, 505 U.S. 1 (1992). Proposition 13 is embodied in Article 13A of the Constitution of the State of California.

The proposition states:

Section 1. (a) The maximum amount of any ad valorem tax on real property shall not exceed one percent (1%) of the full cash value of such property. The one percent (1%) tax to be collected by the counties and apportioned according to law to the districts within the counties.

The proposition decreased property taxes by assessing property values at their 1975 value and restricted annual increases of assessed value of real property to an inflation factor, not to exceed 2% per year. It also prohibited reassessment of a new base year value except for (a) change in ownership or (b) completion of new construction.

In addition to decreasing property taxes, the initiative also contained language requiring a two-thirds majority in both legislative houses for future increases of any state tax rates or amounts of revenue collected, including income tax rates. It also requires a two-thirds vote majority in local elections for local governments wishing to increase special taxes. Proposition 13 received an enormous amount of publicity, not only in California, but throughout the United States.

The two-thirds majority is what Congressmen Leno wants to change, dropping the majority 11% to 55% of the vote.

“This change in law would give voters the power to make decisions about public education at the local level, allowing schools much-needed flexibility to improve instruction, fund libraries, music, the arts or other programs, or hire more teachers to reduce student-to-teacher ratios,” Leno justifies.

With new supermajorities in both legislative houses, Democrats now also have the power to place measures such as Leno’s on the ballot without GOP backing. In 2000, voters passed a measure changing the vote threshold for local school bonds from two-thirds to 55%.



October 15, 2012 on 12:11 pm | In Historic Properties, Of Local Importance, Problem Solving, Santa Monica Landmarks, The City of Santa Monica says, Uncategorized, WOW | 2 Comments

By Jodi Summers

A toast to Santa Monica the City has won another lawsuit in the efforts to keep its water supply clean. Recently, City Hall took on the responsibility to treat the water it pumps from the Olympic Well Field, cleaning contaminants left behind by the former Douglas Aircraft Co. They will be  the beneficiaries of a $39.5 million settlement with the Boeing Corporation. The monies will be paid out over the next 10 years.

Locations included in the cleanup are 2902 Exposition Blvd., 1909 Centinela Ave. and 2341 to 2425 Michigan Ave. Additionally, Boeing will have to do any other clean up required by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board at additional sites.

The City of Santa Monica is not unaccustomed to going to court to clean the water supply. The City-owned Charnock Well Field, has been used for drinking water production and treatment since 1924  In 1996, the Charnock Well was shut down due to the detection of gasoline compounds (specifically methyl tertiary-butyl ether {MTBE}), in the water supply from nearby gasoline stations.

Litigation followed. Santa Monica won. City Hall opened the state-of-the-art Arcadia water treatment facility in 2011. Once again, the spring for which Santa Monica is named, began pumping fresh water to Santa Monica for the first time in 15 years. Huge!

The chain of title for the Olympic Well Field contamination can be traced back to the

Douglas Aircraft Co., a major player in the aircraft industry during World War II. Local historians note that World War II affected Santa Monica more than most places, as the Federal Government (for national security reasons) leased the Airport from the City to provide protection for Douglas Aircraft – then a major defense contractor located in Sunset Park. The government also participated in the expansion of the facility to accommodate the ever-growing production of military aircraft by Douglas Aircraft. At its peak, Douglas Aircraft, and Santa Monica Airport grew in size to its present 227 acres, employing 40,000 individuals.

Douglas Aircraft Co., used industrial solvents called PCE and TCE for degreasing, chemicals which were later discovered in the Olympic basin, observes Gil Borboa, the water resources manager with City Hall.

“That was back in the time where chemical handling processes were not as careful as they are today,” Borboa notes.

Douglas Aircraft was eventually bought by a company that came to be known as McDonnell Douglas. That company was bought by Boeing in 1997.  The settlement notes that contamination Boeing will not admit liability or responsibility for any claims.

Santa Monicans are already using water out of the contaminated well, which is treated using an “old school” process where the water is aerated, similar to running it through sprinklers, which turns the chemicals into vapor. That air is then sent through carbon scrubbers which removes the contaminants.

City Hall’s aim is to construct a water treatment facility that would not only take the solvents out of the water, but contaminants that might cause problems in the future…such as identified another solvent called 1,4-dioxane that is currently within acceptable levels, but may not be in the future.

The settlement is closely modeled after a 2010 settlement with the Gillette Corporation, the company that paid out for contamination of the Olympic Well Field caused by industrial processes at the former Papermate site. That deal involved similar chemicals and helped create the framework for the Boeing deal.



April 21, 2012 on 12:02 am | In Fascinating Information, Green, Historic Properties, Recycling, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

edited by Jodi Summers

Recent research concludes that, when comparing buildings of equivalent size and function, building reuse almost always offers environmental savings over demolition and new…or as we’ve come to term it, the greenest building is the one already built

A recent report produced by the Preservation Green Lab of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and called “The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse,” offers statistical validation. The report, offers policy-makers, building owners, developers, architects and engineers compelling evidence of the merits of reusing existing buildings as opposed to tearing them down and building new.

Highlights include:

•           Reuse Matters. The study finds that the majority of building types in different climates will take between 20-30 years to compensate for the initial carbon impacts from construction. Energy Efficient new construction can take between 10 to 80 years to overcome the climate change impacts created by its construction.

•           Scale Matters. Collectively, building reuse and retrofits substantially reduce climate change impacts. Retrofitting, rather than demolishing and replacing, just 1% of the city of Portland’s office buildings and single family homes over the next ten years would help to meet 15% of their county’s total CO2 reduction targets over the next decade.

•           Design Matters. The environmental benefits of reuse are maximized by minimizing the input of new construction materials. Renovation projects that require many new materials can reduce or even negate the benefits of reuse.

Historic rehabilitation has a thirty-two year track record of creating 2 million jobs and generating $90 billion in private investment. Studies show residential rehabilitation creates 50% more jobs than new construction. Rah! Rah! Adaptive reuse.




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