Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

A Look Back at 2021…from Inside the Hive

Buzz co-publishers Liz Fuller and Patty Lombard, at the new Buzz-themed bus bench at the SE corner of Beverly and Larchmont, next to Noah’s Bagels — celebrating the Buzz’s 10th anniversary and bringing publicity for the virtual Buzz into physical space for the very first time.


2021 was definitely…a year.  A year of loss (Larchmont Blvd. businesses, beloved people, and at times our own sense of well-being amid the ongoing pandemic).  But also a year of hope (new businesses opening, older businesses re-opening, and positive advances in fighting COVID-19).  And, as always, it was a year full of hundreds of fascinating stories in our local communities, which the Buzz has tried hard to illuminate for our readers.  

2021 also marked the 10th anniversary of the Larchmont Buzz (which we barely had time to celebrate)…and it was a time in which both of us co-publishers – Patty Lombard and Liz Fuller – increasingly found ourselves focusing on certain aspects of our community through series of stories that turned out to be pretty accurate descriptors of the year as a whole.   For Patty, it was the rapid comings and goings of businesses on Larchmont Blvd., and the larger community conversation about the future of the street that grew out of that business activity…and for Liz it was both the rather monolithic issues of City Council (and other) redistricting, the COVID-19 pandemic itself, and a few smaller, more people-focused stories that provided moments of beauty and relief amid the larger maelstrom.

For both of us, always, one of the best parts of this job is meeting people, learning their stories, and sharing them with you. So we thank you for reading them on the Buzz. There is so much great writing and reporting out there, we really appreciate that you value our local new and find the time to read us too!

Now here are some of our more personal views of what we wrote about in the past year, and what it’s meant to us.


Patty’s 2021 Buzz


Larchmont loomed large in our coverage in 2021.

True to our mission of delivering accurate, timely local news, we spent much of the year following the comings and goings of businesses on our beloved community main street. We got to welcome some news businesses to the street, including Tailwaggers pet store, Rothy’s shoes, Corridor NYC, The Center for Yoga (re-opend by dedicated neighbors), Larchmont Lane, and Majestic Time Piece. We also marked some important milestones for local businesses too. Village Heights celebrated 15 years on Larchmont. Malin + Goetz marked 8 years. And Silver Lining frame shop celebrated 25 years!

Sadly, we said goodbye to some long time friends like Pickett Fences, which closed after 27 years on the street.  But while 2020 set a record for business closings on Larchmont,  2021 was an improvement for those that made it through the first year of the pandemic. As champions of the ‘shop local’ message, we were pleased to see that taking hold, and local businesses reported that your patronage was key to their ability to survive.  We even reported that 2022 will bring some new businesses, such as Fedex, Clark Street Bakery, Holey Grail Donuts and Bacio di Latte Gelato.

The struggles of the business on the street stimulated a lot of discussion about the future of Larchmont as we marked its founding 100 years ago. In the late spring, we joined the effort to organize a community conversation process that would engage all the various local stakeholders and look at how we could chart the future of the street, making sure it will continue to be a thriving, community-serving street. We hosted and reported on three community conversations that, first, examined the future of retail…second, explored how successful streets operate and create a sense of place…and, third, served as a brainstorming and listening session with residents and business owners. Dubbed Larchmont 2021, the sessions were recorded and extensively reported in the Buzz. Nearly 300 people participated in all three sessions.

As a follow up to the conversations, the Larchmont 2021 organizing committee, including me in my role as Buzz co-publisher and author of a history of Larchmont Boulevard,  John Kaliski, a Windsor Village resident, urban planner, and architect with extensive expertise in the area, Heather Boylston, representing the property owner members of the Larchmont Village Business Improvement District, and Gary Gilbert, appointed by the Windsor Square Association, developed a public survey to quantify comments and suggestions raised at the virtual conversations.  (Recently, we were saddened to see some people trying to discredit the survey and the community conversation process that we believe has been open, transparent and much needed…but contrary to their assertions, the survey is, in fact, still open!)

If you haven’t already taken the survey, you can click here and share your thoughts about the future of Larchmont Blvd. The survey has been open since early December. Since then, more than 720 people have taken the survey, each spending about 9 minutes reviewing the series of questions. Clearly Larchmont means a lot to all of us!

Perhaps the only bright side to the pandemic is we learned that we can do things differently. Like take our streets back from cars and traffic and really build a walkable community. Larchmont is the perfect place to make that happen and the pandemic proved that its ability to thrive depends on us.

Sadly, we also lost some wonderful neighborhood leaders this past year, who helped create and sustain our community. I had the honor to interview Virginia “Ginny” Ernst Kazor, a true preservationist, learning first hand how she saved her neighborhood with the creation of the Wilton Historic District. Her efforts also helped to preserve the adjacent neighborhoods of Windsor Square and Larchmont Village, and catalyzed the city’s preservation movement. Hancock Park resident Marguerite “Chickie” Byrne was also a tireless advocate for her neighborhood and community, and a mentor to the next generation of neighborhood leaders.

Local writers also helped us pay tribute in 2021 to Chevalier’s Books manager Liz Newstat, who passed away in late 2020. Chef Mark Peel’s passing was a great loss to the entire culinary, world as well as to our neighborhoods. And we were honored to report on the unveiling of The Original Farmers Market’s special table memorializing former Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge’s service and leadership to the city. We were also lucky enough to have been a student of tennis legend Bruce Foxworth, who was recently memorialized in the New Yorker as well the Buzz. And, finally, though not a human, Max the Tortoise, was very much a part of the neighborhood and we were glad to have known him.


Liz’s 2021 Buzz


This was a big year for big issues in the Buzz, with a few topics that really seemed to shape and define almost everything else that happened around them. Patty has written about the issues with our namesake street, but my own coverage focused more on the larger community of which the street is a part. And for me, two of these stories (or, actually, types of stories) really stood out to frame the year.

First, and by far the biggest locally, was the once-per-decade political redistricting process, playing out at the city, county, state and national levels. And it turned out (even to our surprise) to be not just one story in the Buzz, but nearly 40 stories over the course of the year as three separate redistricting commissions (city, county and state) worked their ways through the arduous and often thankless task of redrawing the boundaries that determine who we vote for, the communities we vote with to elect our various political representatives, and the representatives we elect and then work with to manage various important facets of life for the next ten years.

The Buzz covered the redistricting process 10 years ago, but because meetings were held in person and spread across the city in 2012, we focused only on the city council process, attended only a couple of the in-person meetings, and simply wrote a few stories when major announcements were made.

But this time around, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic (more about that in a moment), a growing movement toward a more transparent, more democratic, and less political redistricting process, and some significant technical advances in the last 10 years, all the meetings for all the redistricting commissions were held online for the very first time, and as much of the actual mapping process as possible was done live and in public. And stakeholders were even invited to use a simple online tool to create and submit maps of their own. All of which meant the process was much more accessible this time, much easier to follow…and provided a pretty incredible window into the whole, often messy, and – at least to me – utterly fascinating sausage-making process.

It also allowed us to follow the city council redistricting process most closely, but also to catch up with the last month or so of the county commission’s work, and even keep slightly looser tabs on the state-level process. And the contrasts among those processes were also illuminating, most especially because two of them (the county and state processes) are now run by truly independent commissions that actually have the final say in drawing their maps…while the city process is still handled more traditionally, with commissioners appointed by the elected officials whose districts they’re drawing, who check in with those officials throughout the process and vigorously fight to protect their representatives’ territory, and who then hand over their map recommendations to the elected officials, who have both a free hand in redrawing any boundaries they don’t like, and get the final say with their own approval vote before the new districts are adopted. It was loud, messy, and often dramatic…and I admit to finding it all as addictive as a classic TV soap opera, complete with indelible feuds, reversals of fortune, and classic divas, heroes, villains, and more.

At the same time, however, one of the true surprises for me in covering redistricting this year was to discover just how many of our Buzz readers did care passionately about the process, and how many both read our stories and jumped right in with public comments, letters, suggested maps and more. It was just one more reminder of how strong, involved, and aware the residents of this community (and the city at large) really are. Bravo to all who participated.

Next, the second biggest story of the year, for me, was the one that started in 2020, and will also likely be one of the biggest of 2022 – the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic never left us in 2021, the news definitely shifted from 2020’s reports of Larchmont business shutdowns and the unknown characteristics of the mysterious new virus to things like vaccine rollouts, neighborhood business and school re-openings, and more…all of which, looking back, were a great deal more positive than the pandemic stories of 2020.

And even as Delta, and now Omicron, appeared on the horizon, causing yet more surges in case numbers and some course corrections along the way, we’ve also been able to report with increasing surety about the effectiveness of masks and vaccinations, and our increasing confidence that we will continue to develop effective new ways to fight the pandemic over the coming months and year.

Also reassuring was the fact that, during COVID’s relatively calm summer and fall months, it was overshadowed in our coverage for a while by something as supposedly mundane as city council redistricting. So here’s to a quick peak to the current Omicron surge, as well as LA County’s continued efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible, the continued benefits of masking and social distancing…and the hope that newly announced treatments will add to these developments in 2022, so more and more other stories can once again eclipse COVID coverage for even longer stretches of time this year.

Finally, while my particular fascination does tend to lie in these larger kinds of community issues and their effects on our local life, there have also been a number of smaller, more “people”-focused stories that resonated with me in 2021. On the smaller end (in more ways than one), one of my favorites was a profile of Wilshire Park resident Felice Pappas’ gnome garden and miniature free art gallery (which I learned about through my local Buy Nothing group, which prompted another of my favorite stories this year). The gnome garden is simple and whimsical, and an all-around lovely antidote to the bigger, more serious issues currently swirling around us (and it’s also still there and thriving, if you’re interested in seeing it).

Meanwhile, on the larger end of my favorite “people” stories in 2021 were a pair of stories we did remembering iconic former city council member Tom La Bonge after his sudden passing last winter. The first of the two reports was a collection of remembrances from a wide swath of community members describing La Bonge’s many kinds of participation in our neighborhoods over the years, and the personal connections he made with each resident through his passionate involvement. The second of the two stories presented similar remembrances from La Bonge’s City Council colleagues, including some very personal recollections from Herb Wesson, one of La Bonge’s closest friends throughout his many decades of civic life.

At first, when working on this story, although I knew Wesson would have some great stories to tell, I was a bit reluctant to try to contact him for an interview, because I knew La Bonge’s death had probably hit him pretty hard. And although I’ve met and spoken to Wesson a few times, I doubted he’d remember me or be particularly motivated to talk to a small news outlet like the Buzz, especially so soon after the shocking news of La Bonge’s death. But Wesson and I do have a mutual friend, so I called her and asked if she thought Wesson would agree to talk to me. She said she’d find out, and called back just a minute later with his cell phone number: “Call right now; he’s waiting for you.”

I did, and although our conversation was fairly brief, it turned out to be one of my all-time favorite interviews with a city official – real, raw, and utterly heartfelt, as Wesson described his grief and told a number of stories about La Bonge and how they needled and pranked each other throughout their days together in city government. Wesson’s recollections were completely without pretense, just pure memories of a beloved friend…and one more reminder of how, in this year of huge and often tragic events, moments of true gold can still be found and shared.

So thank you, Herb, thank you Tom, and thanks to the Buzz itself (founded in 2011 by Julie Grist and Mary Hawley), which allows us every day to find, consider, and describe these events and issues, and – we hope – to add to the sense of community they create.

And now it’s onward to 2022. We love our jobs and our readers, and we hope you’ll keep Buzzing with us in the new year.


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  1. You both are the BEST! I so enjoy the daily updates about our community.
    Stay well and safe and I look forward to better things in 2022.

  2. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years! I met with Mary and Julie in the beginning, and have been a big fan since the launch. Thanks for keeping our amazing neighborhood informed and connected. Happy New Year!


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