Three Civic Oddities Outside Parthenia Street

I stumbled upon this DWP EV charging station, in the slightly-but-not-quite hoody enclave of North Hills East, mounted to a pole like a payphone, while bending down to pick up dog poop.

You just park and plug in.

Except you can’t right now because…the pump lurks below eye level, tucked demurely behind cars.  You’d never know it was there, unless….you already knew it was there, or were walking by.

But not for long. The City is going to re-designate the spaces EV only. Which would be lovely if the neighborhood, thick with apartment complexes operating at 150% of capacity, were a hotbed of Tesla ownership, which it isn’t.

The charging station is not for the locals, rather one in a network of 350 distributed around the city “so EV drivers can travel seamlessly across… service areas.”   If you’re returning to Encino in your Model S, and your battery is dying in North Hills, you’ll have a place to recharge once they repaint the curb and start ticketing the little people.

The very next pole sticking out of the ground has a sign banning overnight parking for a certain type of vehicle.

This type.  The kind which people live out of, but aren’t suppose to in Los Angeles, even though they were designed for expressly this purpose.

You can own an RV, but you can’t park it on the street. You can live in it, but only if its parked in your driveway.   You definitely can’t live in your RV on the street. But you can camp on the sidewalk indefinitely under a blue tarp or cardboard box or improvised pallet cabin, because…there is nothing to which the City of LA can affix a ticket.  You are outside the social contract, and in a small yet crucial way, free of obligations.

By carrots and sticks City Hall manipulates the transportation infrastructure, hoping to influence human behavior.   It moves the needle modestly while raising enormous sums from the public.

At the corner, we reached the graceful, sweeping curve of the Pacific Electric Red Car San Fernando line, orphaned 60 years ago.  Nothing has been done with it in that time. Not a dog park, not housing, not bike lanes, not retail.  Not even parking. People dump their old couches here.

Alternately, you could put in a trolley route, through the thickets of apartment buildings, seeing as how light rail is back in vogue. The rails are probably buried just beneath the asphalt, awaiting excavation.

If you’re keeping score at home, the civic hierarchy runs like this:
1. Tesla drivers
2. Valley landlords
3. Homeless people
4. Working class public transportation riders
5. RV people

5 thoughts on “Three Civic Oddities Outside Parthenia Street”

  1. As I’m so fond of saying, failure fixes itself.

    I once had the great pleasure of meeting Enrique Penalosa at a conference. He was the mayor of Bogota, Columbia. He pointed out that 80% of the transportation budget was being spent on highway expansion projects, but only 20% of the population could afford to own a car. He diverted that funding stream to schools, libraries, public parks, and a highly efficient BRT system (fully lane segregated buses that function like trains at one tenth the cost.)

    From my understanding Bogota didn’t change because of a shift in transportation or education policy. It had simply hit bottom after decades of violence, disorder, and poverty. Even organized gangs of criminals needed the place to improve because the host was no longer strong enough to support parasites.

    Perhaps LA is still too successful to lower itself to structural reform?

  2. The charging station maybe something to do with LADWP’s EV infrastructure goal of 10,000 publicly-accessible EV chargers throughout the city over the next five years. The chargers are available to motorists, free of charge. They are also offering a $450 rebate to LADWP customers who purchase a used electric vehicle; peanuts really as I had a bigger rebate for tearing-up my turf.
    There’s also a car sharing program that was introduced to enable low income residents who are not car owners to get around the city in electric vehicles; BlueLA. You have to be 18 years or older and possess a valid drivers license (many low income residents don’t have one). $.20c per minute for usage, or .15c if you can prove your income is below a certain threshold. Will probably cost more than a metered yellow cab when stuck in rush hour traffic.

  3. FWIW, that curve of the former Pacific Electric line in the Parthenia median covers a large box flood control channel, built sometime in the 1960s if I recall, that empties into the Pacoima Wash between Noble and Kester. I’m surprised there’s even enough dirt for the tree to root into.

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