Sunday, May 31, 2009

Downtown Pomona Owner's Association: Good for the City?

Pomona, the Roman goddess
Originally uploaded by ai pohaku
Short answer? Yes.

First step go here, there are some great points made to the benefit of keeping the DPOA and the city's involvement(and here). For example, certain funds for the land owned by the city in Downtown by Pomona cannot be relined for general funds, so it would not save on cost.

The Downtown Pomona Owner's Association (DPOA). Essentially is exactly what it says it is. But what they do is provide funding for extra patrolling by police, keeping the streets clean and coordinating events. It essentially unifies the folks in downtown and helps to organize efforts and really push the downtown into becoming a haven in Pomona.

With a population of around 149,000 (about a third are under 18) and the number of jobs in Pomona being only about 58,000. Pomona probably cannot sustain itself without money coming in from outside. What that means is that we here in Pomona need to bring people into Pomona to spend money. But before we ask other people to spend time and money in Pomona we have to be able to do it ourselves. That means shopping and buying locally within city limits. And hopefully from locally owned businesses, instead of large chains with headquarters outside of Pomona (at the very least not outside southern california).

That also means that the city needs to invest and spend money locally with some of the goal to draw business in from outside. To bring people that aren't from Pomona to experience what's best about Pomona and essentially spend some money here.

The biggest draw to Pomona is without a doubt Downtown Pomona. With neighboring Claremont quickly expanding their downtown, and even drawing Pomona residents out that way, Pomona has a lot of catching up to do. Fortunately, we have the Fox Theater, The Glass House, a Great Arts Colony, DBA 256 etc... and we also fortunately have the DPOA so that the owners in Downtown can make decisions as a unit and draw people into Pomona to help support our economy. If Pomona had a face it'd be the Downtown.

With the exception of Flame Broiler, Starbucks, Chase, and UPS, the businesses in the downtown are not large chains. Each of the business owners has a connection to Pomona. This is also what makes the DPOA successful and it is also something that slows gentrification. (by having local business owners being the primary makeup of the downtown, small timers have a better chance of making it)

People that I know that have lived in Pomona for over 20 years, have all said things like "Pomona takes one step forward and then two steps back" or "Pomona is always on the edge of cleaning itself up and becoming a great city, but over and over some bad decisions are made."

I just hope Pomona doesn't take two steps back when voting on Monday. They took a step forward by their efforts in recent years and they should be commended for it. But withdrawing participation, will indeed be a big mistake for the future of the city.

Someday if I ever own a business in Downtown, I'd like to be part of the DPOA, and I'd be able to voice my opinion on improving economics and the environment with the association. Sounds like a pretty sweet association to me.

So if you happen to live in Pomona, and you have an opinion one way or another, write your council person BY TOMORROW and better yet, try to go to the council meeting tomorrow. I probably won't be there but I'm going to write to my council person.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tomato Tasting at The Garden Nursery, Aug. (date unconfirmed)

Dawn over at The Garden Nursery on Holt will be hosting a tomato tasting event at her nursery sometimes in August. Lisa is a big fan of her nursery and we purchased a couple of tomato plants from Dawn earlier this spring.

Unfortunately I will be in Peru at that time but Lisa will be going to the event (she says she's going to help out at 7am, but I doubt she'll wake up in time, she's a night owl.) The event begins at 10:00 am and ends at 2:00 pm. She is expecting around 99 varieties of tomatoes. I wish I could go, but what I'll do instead while I'm in Peru, I'll try to sample as many Potatoes as possible (I'll even try to beat 99 varieties).

Also my dear friend Olympia who now works there should be there. She's the infamous Goddess of Garey Ave.

The best tomatoes will be voted on and you could win a prize. So remove that lawn, plant some food and bring your best Big Boys.

For more information on the event click here

Monday, May 25, 2009

Forgotten Fruits: Nungu Fruit, Borassus flabellifer

(yes I've changed it from Lost to Forgotten)

The British call it Ice-Apple, in Southeast Asia it has names that cary from Nungu to Tal. The palm itself is called different names from the Asian Palmyra, to Sugar Palm and also Toddy Palm (the last two for it's sugary sap)

The unpopularity of this fruit probably has more to do with sociocultural reasons than it does with shipping. Because this palm is a tropical palm from Southeast Asia, it was probably difficult to grow in Europe, so it never made it to the Americas. Most fruits available in supermarkets are generally from East Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. This one is from Southeast Asia, (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and the south east tip of India) and surrounding regions. Because those countries are not major world powers influence in new fruits is relatively slow in America.

The palm can get up to 100' high (like the Mexican Fan Palms that are common in southern California). It is the official Tree of Tamil Nandu (a state in southeast India) and is the palm most associated with the Angkor Temple in Cambodia. It could be a great replacement for the MFP's that line the streets of Garey Ave. in south Pomona. (it only makes sense, considering what "Pomona" means)

This description is from Wikipedia "The fruit measures 4 to 7 inches in diameter, has a black husk, and is borne in clusters. The top portion of the fruit must be cut off to reveal the three sweet jelly seed sockets, translucent pale-white, similar to that of the lychee but the flavor is milder and there is no pit. The jelly part of the fruit is covered with a thin yellowish brown skin."

The tree itself also contains a sap known as Toddy, it is sometimes used to make sugars and fermented drinks. This is also one of the few genii of palms that are actually used for timber.

I found a Nursery in San Diego called J.D. Anderson Nursery that lists it as a palm that they sometimes carry, they are however out of stock. I haven't called them yet to see when they might get some more, but when school gets out I'll be doing more nursery visits to find some more forgotten fruits.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pomona Checkpoints: Saving Lives or Ruining Lives

Tuesday, May 26, 2009
7:00pm - 10:00pm
Bronco Student Center-Ursa Major Suite
3801 W. Temple Ave
Pomona, CA

A Panel discussion on checkpoints in P-Town

Guests will be:
Mayor Elliot Rothman
Pomona Habla Coalition
Dr. Jose Calderon of Pitzer College
Chris Rodriguez of Cal Pulli Sound System/Community activist
Shawn Fago, President of the Young Republication Party of Orange County

Should be Interesting!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Urbanism vs. Landscape Urbanism

A reader asked what my bias is between these two schools of thought in regards to city design. Simply put, I find both of them useful but both of them also do not answer certain concerns about life in the city. I'll also discuss New Pedestrianism.

New Pedestrianism and New Urbanism both tend to focus on the walkability of the town or development. They tend to keep parking lots away from the streets instead making buildings and building entrances on the street. Walking to the center of town would take 5 minutes or less(in which there is usually a transit station) and all children should be within walking distance of schools. New Pedestrianism goes further to almost entirely abolish automobiles based on the way cities are designed. Allowing for more walking bicycling and public transportation. Both schools of thought exemplify mixed use and mixed housing types allowing for young people, older people and families to all cohabit with each other.

This allows people to remain in their town. With everything being walkable, money remains in the city, more jobs are placed in the city and pollution is reduced (as cars are gross polluters)

For those things, New Urbanism and New Pedestrianism is powerful and works. Downtown Pomona seems to be on the path of New Urbanist values. It isn't quite there yet especially with the large parking lots, and a lack of investors but it's definitely on it's way and I think it's great. A lack of investors is a blessing in disguise. it keeps investors that come into downtown coming FROM locals. Chains and corporations would suck the life and charm out of the city. For this I think the DPOA can be powerful as well.

View Untitled in a larger map
If you look at the map you can see the tight grids and the downtown is in the center of the city which is good. the transit system is however a tad weak and along major arteries such as Garey and Holt parking lots are in the way and there aren't many businesses that I can personally use.

Landscape Urbanism seems to be a bit more theoretical. It is a much newer school of thought and accepts suburban has and is happened and may be difficult to alter. This school of thought focuses more on landscape as organizing a city rather than buildings. Adaptability and change are utilized and expected and instead of a city being static it is understood to be dynamic and ever changing. The city becomes a series of of adaptable systems rather than a series of structures.

What this does, is it allows for ecological habitation. If the landscape organizes the city instead of buildings, the landscape is exemplified. The landscape can then provide for ecological habitats and green space. Phillips Ranch is the closest to this in Pomona but it is not nearly to the scale it should be, but even more so but on much smaller scale the Lyle center for Regenerative Studies at Cal Poly. The Lyle Center is designed according to the forms of the landscape, keeps space open and provides space for ecological habitats. Phillips Ranch provides a fairly long greenway, though somewhat narrow, it is the ravine for the Phillips Ranch area to carry water away. It is also however mostly lawn and the plant palette had very little variety.

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So while New Urbanism and New Pedestrianism provides great solutions for walkability of cities reducing dependence on automobiles and keeping money circulating. That's all it really does.

Landscape Urbanism provides opportunities for change in situations as big as global warming and as small as wildflowers in a park.

One of the most important things that they both don't do is to solve problems with food. Food has not been self contained for a long time. Food grown in public spaces like the Lyle Center and around the Regen Co-ops becomes a problem because it is often harvested prematurely and not shared publicly. It is fine do so and grow food publicly, but one cannot depend on it.

I think a hybrid of New Urbanism and New Pedestrianism with Landscape Urbanism could provide the adaptability needed for cities and ecological habitat (food can even be planted in the public spaces) and reduce dependence on driving as well.

What is missing is private food production. One cannot grow their own food in a highly densified city without land. Vertical green walls could work, but try growing a fruit tree on a wall.

I think a solution could be placing a large center like Downtown Pomona in the middle of the city, with major arteries like Garey, Towne, White and Mission & Holt should be lined with mixed use retail, living, dining and office space (with no parking lots!). Each Corner of the city (NE, NW, SW & SE) should also have smaller centers. The landscape could demarcate where "green" corridors could be placed. IF the land is entirely flat like Chino and In the Midwest, Diagonal axes of large greenbelts could be created going from the NorthEast corner to the SouthWest corner and the SouthEast corner to the NorthWest. Since that diagonal is the longest it would take to walk, a large park that can be walked through to get to the center of the city could be helpful. Yards can remain large for food growth and as residences get closer to city centers they can become smaller and smaller, that would provide different types of housing for a variety of people. That could be the most basic infrastructural framework and nuances could be developed as needed. I don't know that's just my thought. Phillips Ranch could be great if there were more retail space(minus the parking in front), dining and variety of housing types. The retail could be on the opposite of the long phillips ranch park all along village loop and it'd be perfect. (forget the fact that the house designs are basic tracts and have no character that reflect the landscape and the region.)

I wonder if this comes off as a rant but anyone with ideas and input is ALWAYS welcome. I've just grown more and more concerned with the problem of growing food and I see that as a problem with the existing popular schools' of thought.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Forgotten Fruits: The Thimbleberry

This one isn't so lost as it is uncommon. The Thimbleberry is another one of those fruits that no one eats because it cannot be found in the market. The reason this isn't grown commercially (as with most unavailable fruits) is that it does not ship well. When ripe it is softer than a raspberry but also larger.

As with the Raspberry and Blackberry the Thimbleberry is part of the Rubus genus. In fact there are hundreds if not thousands of plants in the Rubus genus and most of them have edible berries.

This Rubus, the Rubus parviflora is unique to most others in that it has NO THORNS! It is native to North America mostly in northern and western regions so it probably isn't as hard to find. The leaves resemble maple leaves which is different from the blackberry. It grows more similarly to the raspberry than the blackberry, which, means that it is more upright than bramble-like.

This shrub isn't as hard to find as the medlar tree, It can be ordered from most Northwestern native nurseries

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Economic Sufferance vs. Environmental Guilt

day 287 - money tree
Originally uploaded by Amadika
So, I was writing a paper on Nietzsche and contemporary problems. When Nietzsche's existentialist philosophies and that "exercise" led me to discover that it is Personal or Individual Economics that is the root issue with Environmental issues.

It goes like this. I figured that herd mentality is a problem with environmentalism and "going green." See this previous post for more information. I basically say that the fad and popularity of environmentalism leads to the labeling of something as environmentally friendly or sustainable when it is actually harmful to the environment.

It is not conducive for humans to constantly tell someone that what they are doing is bad. I doubt that most people are intentionally bad, so when one tries to make someone feel bad for what they are doing, what ultimately happens is that that person is filled with guilt or becomes highly defensive. When we feel guilty we often try to find the easiest way out of that guilt and end up buying the first thing we see that is labeled green(herd mentality). Or by being defensive one grows an aversion to the issues at hand. I'm sure we all know how annoying it is when someone tells you that you are doing something bad.

Besides, aren't people part of the earth and thus really a result of the earth's dynamic changes? We could really just be the opposite of Blue-Green algae which, was the earliest organism to convert our highly CO2 filled environment into a highly O2 filled environment. We very well could be a tool of the Earth (but that is an entirely different philosophical debate altogether, and I'm kind of digressing.)

Here's where I'm going with this. If we were instead to concern ourselves with putting in some extra effort into saving a buck those actions would ultimately supersede all environmental concerns and make them non existent.

Let me explain with a few examples. Driving: Cars cost money. Even hybrid cars. Well, what if the hybrid car is a gift? Then you must ultimately refill that car with fuel. Besides, are hybrid cars "environmentally friendly?" Not really, you're still using petroleum. So instead, save some cash and ride your bike. It takes 2 hours to ride 25 miles and you won't need to spend an extra 2 hours at the gym. Talk about killing two birds with one stone. Of course, this solution should be entirely subjective.

Food. All modern food production techniques are not "green" by any means, even with labeled organic food pesticides are still utilized. What if one were to grow his/her own food? It would cost a ton less AND there would be tons more variety! As we all know monocultures are bad for soils and growing food at home would inevitably provide polycultures.

So instead of feeling guilty about harming the environment, one should instead try to avoid economic sufferance. Not by going to Wal-Mart because crap is cheaper, but by avoiding the desire to go to Wal-Mart in the first place.

By avoiding the sufferance that comes with a culture of consumerism instead of self sufficiency, the ultimate result ends up being environmental friendliness.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Landscape Phenomenon: Phillips Ranch Linear Park

Originally uploaded by andrewkanzler
Hurry and see this before it disappears! This is a photo of some great landscape phenomenon occurring right now in Phillips Ranch.

What is happening is the Poplars in the park have seeded the surrounding area and saplings are beginning to come out of the ground. They are all over the place!

Unfortunately on my way to school today I saw a maintenance guy with a weed whacker hacking away at these saplings.

This phenomenon is a bit of what happens in Landscape Urbanism. Plants are set in and a growth in density naturally occurs. Unfortunately our infrastructure is built around the control and stasis of parks rather than encouraging growth and development.

I hope that this occurs again next year and some of the saplings are left to grow into trees. Maybe it'd be a good idea to bring this to the city council and see what they think about letting it grow. I think the problem with maintenance like this is that there is this constant need to control nature. We should let these poplars grow and see what the earth systems engineer on its own.

There are a lot of benefits for this. For example Poplars don't require as much water as turf and so when a Poplar takes over the space of the turf less water is required. When trees get old a new tree will need to take place, there are quite a few places where some poplars were obviously cut down for one reason or another. Since the poplars are columnar trees they'll provide enough shade for people and water conservation but not too much to choke out the sun, so more won't hurt. Not to mention the carbon intake and the provision of wildlife to the surrounding area (which should be obvious).

It may be too late for people to see what was happening but it was pretty cool while it lasted. Hopefully we'll see it again next year and maybe even the city will choose to save funds on maintenance and let them grow. (one can only dream)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Downtown Design Guidelines: Should Pomona Follow this Model?

Today at school Emily Gabel from the Urban Design Studio for the City of Los Angeles came to speak to us about the City of Los Angeles' new Downtown Design Guidelines. Now I have to say that this model could greatly be used by Pomona. There is a lot of emphasis on the walkability of the downtown area and it sets guidelines for Planners, Building Architects and Landscape Architects. If Downtown Pomona is to become a vibrant area these guidelines provide a strong framework for doing so.

An example of a building I can think of that could use some of these methods is the Chase (formerly WAMU) building. The entrance is facing the parking lot, but if we were to change the entrance to the street sides on both Garey and 2nd it would provide welcoming sidewalks. Think of a person facing you or having their back towards you. What is more welcoming? There is a reason why not a whole lot of people walk from the west side of Garey to the east: The massive Chase parking lot and the building being oriented towards the parking lot. (I would suggest getting rid of their parking lot altogether)

These methods could probably be considered "New Urbanism" I am rather partial to "Landscape Urbanism" which takes into consideration the ever shifting dynamism of the landscape of a city and includes the extension of ecological systems. This method does include the walkability methods of this guideline but it also includes more "green" space. However this is a great start, and in retrofitting an existing city, "New Urbanism" is much easier to deal with.

With the Pomona Planning Commission still trying to catch up to modern methods of urbanism, the downtown area provides a great framework for these methods to be implemented in. It would retain it's historic charm and also improve pedestrian traffic which is great for the business owners and also good for the environment. It is conducive to business and will help bring dollars to our city.

Should Pomona Adopt This Model? (by no means is it flawless, but...) HELL YEAH!