2020 has been a momentous year in our community, our city, our state, our nation and our planet. It’s safe to say, without too much hyperbole, that events have challenged all us in ways we had never considered. As we look back, we’er bth thankful and relieved to have made it through…and thought it might be interesting to share a summary of how the Buzz spent year among years covering the events in our community.
The proliferation of unhoused people living in tents on city sidewalks fueled frustration and propelled the crisis to the top of the public policy agenda (at least until it was eclipsed by the pandemic).
From the city’s annual homeless count in January, with challenges added by a global pandeminc starting in March, homelessness was one of the greatest concerns this year, locally and beyond. In August, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority published revised data showing a 15% increase in unhoused people in CD 4, compared to the previous year. In both the March primary and November general elections, homeless and the city’s response to it was a major factor (more about that below). And earlier this month, coming full circle, the city announced that because of the ongoing pandemic, the annual street census of unhoused individuals will not be held in January 2021.
Miracle Mile Museums and Development
Miracle Mile has been a hotbed of activity this year. In February, we were treated to a sneak preview of the facility, which was then scheduled to open this month (December, 2020). But since then the opening date has been delayed twice, most recently until next September.
At the same time the Academy was rising, however, most of LACMA’s buildings, next door, were coming down for its big redevelopment project. But opposition to the project continued as well, with one group launching a ballot measure effort in protest and another holding an alternative design competition.
Meanwhile, the Mirabel – a 42-story development proposed at 5411 Wilshire Blvd. – stirred much debate…though it has now been on hold for several months, as developers revise the project application.
Of course, the story of the year reached us in March, when the world – including Larchmont and almost everything else – shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. California Governor Gavin Newsom, LA County, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti all issued “Safer at Home” orders and, for at least a couple of weeks, the news was all about what was closed (including stores, schools, restaurants, and more).
But then things shifted, and the news started to be about what would be able to re-open: the Larchmont Farmers’ Market, local restaurants (with al fresco dining), nail and hair salons and more. Not to mention testing and where to get it. And whether kids would ever be able to go back to school.
But just when we started to get back into a bit of a carefully-masked COVID groove by early fall, people didn’t stay masked or at home quite enough, so huge new surges happened, hospitals were overwhelmed as never before, and many things shut down again.
Late in May, following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, protests broke out all over the country, and LA was no exception. On the weekend of May 30, following a peaceful protest at Pan Pacific Park, violence broke out in the Fairfax district, and looting spread on neighborhood commercial streets, including Larchmont, which resulted in National Guard troops stationed there for several days.
But there was also a huge outpouring of support for local businesses that were damaged, and many re-opened as quickly as possible.
And many discussions were started about how the community can move forward, especially on the topics of racial equity and relationships with the police.
Also, the protest spirit continued throughout the year, and Black Lives Matter gatherings also gave way to lobbying on other topics, with Getty House seeing frequent groups arguing for rent forgiveness during the pandemic, re-opening schools, and more.
On Larchmont, The year began with controversy over whether or not to build a children’s playground on part of the city parking lot on Larchmont Blvd., but after community protests and pandemic shutdowns, the project was suspended by City Council District 4.
Also, the pandemic hit Larchmont hard, and although the Farmers Market rebounded by starting a Wednesday market to supplement the continuing Sunday edition, the street lost several longtime businesses earlier this year.
And the closures multiplied as Christina Development, new owner of the former Lipson Building on Larchmont Blvd., told longtime tenants they would have to be out of their storefronts by the end of the year, to make way for the building’s renovation into the new Larchmont Mercantile.
Some of the merchants – such as Trina Turk (see above) – closed early and for good… but others – such as the Larchmont Barbers, Chevalier’s Books and Landis Gifts and Stationery – hung on as long as they could before finally packing up and moving out this week. (Happily, all three of those are planning to re-open in new locations in the new year.)
Redevelopment was a hot topic in residential areas, too, with residents and neighbors speaking out about a major re-do of the apartment building at 410 N. Rossmore, where the new owner, Domos Coliving, has proposed moving out long-term tenants, adding new stories to the building, and creating a mix of studio, 1 bedroom and co-living units (individually rented bedrooms clustered around common kitchens and living areas).
And, of course, as they often do, celebrity-related real estate projects also captured our readers’ attention, especially when the Property Brothers renovated the house at 100 N. Irving Blvd.
Preservation of neighborhood peace and quiet was also on residents’ minds as a party house in the Larchmont neighborhood roused neighbors’ ire for several months before finally being cited this month by the city.
Meanwhile, when everything shut down in March, so did our local Neighborhood Councils (and much of the rest of city government). But by May they were all back up and runnning – like many other things – on Zoom. (“You’re on mute” just might be the catch-phrase of the year.)
One big issue for local government this summer was a proposal to seek grant funding to reimagine the streetscape along Melrose Ave., between Highland and Fairfax. But when residents protested the potential narrowing of the street and loss of traffic lanes, parking and emergency access, City Council Member Paul Koretz declined to support the proposal and it died.
Another project along the same stretch of the street, however, has already been funded and will bring improvements to bus stops, lighting and signage in the pedestrian spaces there.
But of course, the big government news this year was the elections, with the March primary bringing a closer-than-expected result in CD 4, and pushing incumbent David Ryu and challenger Nithya Raman, who focused her campaign largnely on issues relating to homelessness and the city’s response to it, into a fall runoff.
And then, in that fall election, after a tough and often acrimonious campaign, along with record turnout due to the presidential election at the same time, Raman beat Ryu, becoming the first person in many years to unseat a local city council incumbent.
Finally, our readers were also touched by a number of stories about notable individuals in our area this year, including Mira Kwon, a Marlborough High School student who used her spring break to start a grocery delivery service for homebound seniors.
Then there was the passing of King Swami, a beloved musician familiar on Larchmont Boulevard…
…and, most recently, the passing of longtime Chevalier’s Books manager Liz Newstat, whose influence was felt throughout the community.
So 2020 was the year that…well…was.
But somehow we made it through, and while we are thankful so far to be healthy, housed, and hopeful for the future, our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to those who may have lost a loved one, a job, a business, or a home.
As we now look forward (in many ways) to the new year, we’ll leave you with this list of our top stories in each month of 2020. Many of them illustrate the events above, but some also reflect items that rose just briefly to prominence during the rest of the maelstrom that was this year.
Happy New Year to everyone…and we’ll see you on the other side in 2021.
Top Buzz Stories by Month
January – The Larchmont playground proposal and its potential effects on the Larchmont Farmers Market
February – City Council Member Paul Koretz sought to overturn an HPOZ ruling regarding a home in the South Carthay neighborhood
March – COVID-19 closures and cancellations
April – Larchmont Farmers Market Approved to Open
May – Vandalism on Larchmont
June – Andy Goodman protest comments go viral
July – Highland Park Teen Missing
August – Uplift Melrose meeting
September – Property Brothers renovation at 100 N. Irving Blvd.
October – CD 10 Candidate Forum
November – Street takeovers
December – Liz Newstat passes
3 thoughts on “2020 – The Year We Won’t Miss!”
From an x-resident (45 years), I am so grateful for you keeping me up to date on my old and dearly missed neighborhood.
Thank you for a thoughtful and extensive “round up” of this past year. The work the Buzz does for our community is invaluable.
Happy New Year to you all!
Congratulations on 10 years of wonderful reporting!