February 25, 2013 § Leave a comment
When someone proposed commandeering a chunk of “unused” reservoir property to use as parkland, I was aghast. “It’s not unused space,” I said. “It belongs to the coyotes.”
True enough: Everyone had their stories about seeing coyote kits gamboling in the field or coyotes slipping underneath the fence or coyotes sitting placidly inside the fence watching us watching them.
I liked having fallow, open space unsullied by humans. I worried about increased human-coyote contact if coyote habitat were curtailed. I didn’t relish more traffic and parking hassles. I envisioned pedestrians attempting to cross Silverlake Boulevard and being mowed down by cars.
The community split: You were either “Open the Meadow!” or “Save the Meadow!” The issue became so contentious that a Saturday morning public meeting held on the contested property drew more than 150 people.
The “open” folks claimed that the park would be a quiet place, “you know, where people come to sit and read poetry” (actual quote). Traffic? No problem: Visitors will come from the neighborhood; they’ll walk, not drive.
Nonresidents told us that if we didn’t open the land, we were being selfish. They said just because you have backyards for your kids to play in ( I don’t), doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t have more space.
The openers won. Existing fence was torn down and moved closer to the reservoir itself. The walking path was relocated. Non-native plants were excised, trees planted, and sod laid.
After more than a year of work, the Meadow (it now required capitalization) was opened with great fanfare. I did not attend the ceremonies.
I couldn’t boycott the place forever, though. Several weeks following the opening, I walked through the Meadow; young parents with a toddler sat on the grass as their child ran free. Then, I “got it”: A vast expanse of open lawn safely enclosed by a low fence where no dogs were allowed was just what city kids needed.
Where else could you fly a kite? Where else could you lie back and watch clouds sailing by? Where else could you call up a few friends and hold an impromptu picnic? Maybe some folks even go there to read poetry.
The Meadow is not problem free. Traffic has increased and parking is at a premium. A strategically-placed crosswalk cuts down on—though does not eliminate—jaywalking, but the crosswalk’s traffic light ruins the view of Richard Neutra’s VDL House.
Even so, I don’t mind being wrong when the outcome is so right.
January 12, 2013 § 1 Comment
Somehow I missed seeing the car that careened onto a neighbor’s sidewalk, scoured off a patch of stucco retaining wall, bounced off tree, then came to rest—judging by the skid marks—somewhere down the block.
Cars usually go out of control at the curve around the reservoir meadow. We’ll be awakened by the crash, wander out in our pajamas to see if anyone is hurt–mostly not due to the relaxing effect of an alcoholic stupor–and help the driver call a tow truck or their unlucky parents.
But this crash happened on a straightaway further down Silverlake Boulevard, though I can’t imagine how. I came upon the evidence a day or two later, marveling at how a driver who could not negotiate a straight path managed to steer a car between the Charybdis and Scylla of wall and verdure.
Someone recently added a graffiti side note to the damaged wall. Whether commentary or decoration I can’t tell, but it adds a certain je ne sais quoi.