Miracle Mile Residential Association Newsletter • February 2014

Miracle Mile
Residential Association

Newsletter • February 2014 • Los Angeles, California                                                                                                    

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Sleepless in the Miracle Mile
Band-Aids and Bulldozers • A Message from James O'Sullivan
New Helicopter Legislation Doesn't Promise Much Relief
Miracle Mile Buildings on Earthquake List of at Risk Structures
Miracle Mile Real Estate • January 2014 Sales

(...below the fold...)


MMRA Launches Petition Campaign to Stop
Nighttime, Sunday, and Holiday
Subway Construction
at the Fairfax and La Brea Stations

On January 10, 2014, Metro submitted formal requests to the Los Angeles Police Commission seeking exemptions from work hours restrictions in order to allow contractors at the Fairfax and La Brea subway stations to work around the clock, seven days a week. Demolition of the existing buildings at the construction staging sites will begin in August 2014 and installation of solder piles in preparation for "cut and cover" excavation of Wilshire Boulevard to build the underground subway stations is scheduled to start in January 2015.
Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 41.40 prohibits construction activities between the hours of 9 PM to 7 AM, “in a manner as to disturb the peace and quiet of neighboring residents or any reasonable person of normal sensitiveness residing in the area.” The code further limits the hours of allowable operations from 8 AM to 6 PM on Saturday. Construction work is not permitted on Sundays or holidays.


La Brea and Wilshire Station. Shaded areas are the construction staging sites. 


Exemptions from construction “work hours” codes are granted on a six-month basis by the Los Angeles Police Commission. Metro intends to continually apply for these exemptions for the projected nine years it will take to complete the Purple Line subway extension from Western Avenue to La Cienega Boulevard.
The Miracle Mile will be the location of two subway stations: La Brea/Wilshire and Fairfax/Wilshire. The Miracle Mile Residential Association [MMRA] supports the Purple Line subway extension, but it is unfair and unreasonable for Metro to subject thousands of residents to nine years of noise disturbances and other disruptions from nighttime, Sunday, and holiday construction.


 Fairfax and Wilshire Station. Shaded areas are the construction staging sites.
Note that the station entrance has been moved to the southwest corner
of Orange Grove and Wilshire since this map was originally published.


It is difficult to fully convey the vast scale and immense complexity of constructing the subway extension through a densely populated urban corridor like the Miracle Mile. The MMRA has created a Subway Construction page on our website [] with links to various documents that provide details on the construction process. There are also links to YouTube videos on tunneling techniques. We encourage residents to examine this material so that they can better grasp the enormity of this project.
Construction of the subway extension through the Miracle Mile faces many daunting challenges: from high ground water to the removal of pre-historic fossils to high concentrations of methane. Entire blocks of the Miracle Mile will be demolished to facilitate construction. Traffic lanes on Wilshire, La Brea, and Fairfax will be eliminated or restricted for lengthy periods and these thoroughfares will also bear the wear and tear of hundreds of trucks per day. Even if subway construction work was limited to normal daytime hours the disruption to residents and local businesses will be profound.
The impact of subway construction on the Miracle Mile is exacerbated by other impending major construction projects in the area: the Academy Museum at the former May Company, the new 13-story Museum Square office building, extensive interior and exterior renovations at the Petersen Automotive Museum, and construction of the new Shalhevet high school and adjoining mixed use apartment development. The volume of all this construction traffic will significantly increase congestion on Wilshire, Fairfax, and La Brea.
Metro touts that any nighttime construction work would not exceed five decibels over normal ambient sound levels – the maximum increase allowed at night [when such work is allowed by exemption from municipal ordinances]. But a five-decibel change represents a clearly noticeable increase in the perceived volume [an increase of ten decibels is perceived as doubling the sound level]. People are much more sensitive to noise at night, a noticeable increase in ambient levels will disturb thousands of residents living in the areas surrounding these construction staging sites.
We are highly skeptical that Metro contractors can operate pavement breaking equipment along Wilshire at night without keeping residents awake. Not to mention the constant rumble of trucks hauling away dirt all night long – a source of noise and vibration that will also impact residents south of the Miracle Mile.
On January 28, 2014, MMRA President Jim O'Sullivan and Vice President Ken Hixon attended a meeting between Metro and Windsor Square residents that was called by the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council Transportation Committee because of nighttime noise and other disturbances at the Crenshaw/Wilshire construction staging site – which is being used as a base for subway related utility relocations along Wilshire. The residents had a long list of complaints over issues that were keeping them up at night: the glare of work lights, the beeping of back-up buzzers on vehicles, the clanging of equipment being moved in and out of trucks, idling engines, and the like.
At the meeting a Metro engineer maintained that Metro was in "technical compliance" because the disturbances did not exceed the five-decibel threshold. That may be the scientific case, but – whatever the decibel level – noise from nighttime construction activities at Crenshaw/Wilshire was sufficient to mobilize the community to protest and demand mitigations from Metro.
The construction staging sites for the Fairfax and La Brea stations extend well into densely populated areas and will directly abut multiple-family buildings. To ask thousands of residents to go without sleep for nearly a decade of construction is preposterous. Work hours ordinances were devised to balance the need of contractors with the fundamental right of residents to enjoy the peace and quiet of their own apartments and homes.
Representatives of Metro frequently dismiss the adverse impacts of subway construction by remarking, "You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs." But the Miracle Mile is a residential neighborhood, not a frying pan.
In their request to the Police Commission, Metro stated that: "An exemption will also minimize construction impacts on the surrounding community by accelerating the completion of the work." The MMRA believes that nighttime, Sunday, and holiday construction would have just the opposite effect by maximizing the impact on the residents by depriving them of any respite from nine years of constant noise and disruption.
On Saturday, February 15, 2014 the MMRA will begin canvassing the entire Miracle Mile to distribute petitions opposing nighttime, Sunday, and holiday subway construction. The petition is also available online. The canvassing of the area will continue over subsequent weekends and then expand to areas north, east, and west of the Miracle Mile.
If you would like to help with this petition drive – or host a yard sign [see photo at top] – please contact us at: Your support will help insure that you and your neighbors will not be sleepless in the Miracle Mile.




Band-Aids and Bulldozers
• A Message from James O'Sullivan

Band-Aids and Bulldozers

A Message from
James O’Sullivan,
President of the MMRA

We always knew that the Miracle Mile would be severely impacted by the construction of the Purple Line extension. You’d have to be living on Mars not to know that – which is why the MMRA has closely followed the subway plans throughout the process. From the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Report – to arguing against the last minute move of the Fairfax portal from beside Johnnie’s Coffee Shop to Orange Grove – we have been monitoring and reporting on this project.
We have attended meetings at the two Neighborhood Councils covering the extension area, and numerous meeting with surrounding homeowner and residential groups, where Metro sought support for work hours exemptions. One by one, each group voiced concerns about granting Metro blanket exemptions to allow nighttime construction. There was some willingness at every group to consider exemptions permitting weekend and/or certain holiday exemptions, but nothing was ever approved by any of these groups because no one from Metro could answer questions about how the construction would actually proceed. Metro would always dodge reasonable inquiries by replying that the “contractor” would have to answer those questions – and they hadn’t hired a contractor yet. Which raised the biggest question of all: why not wait for the contractor to come onboard, answer these questions, and then seek specific exemptions from work hours ordinances?
Despite this Catch-22 situation – and speaking for myself ­– I always thought that at some point all parties involved would arrive at a compromise between the construction plans of Metro and the needs of the neighbors not to have their peace and quiet disturbed on a continual basis. After all, the subway extension is not going to be a short-term project – not by any reckoning. It’s slated to go on for a decade and no reasonable person would ever, not for a moment, think that Metro would contemplate running heavy equipment day-and-night for ten years.
So, we waited for Metro to come back to the community with the contractor so we could get real answers about noise mitigation, dump truck haul routes, and what they wanted to do and when – and then come up with a plan that would work for everyone. But this hasn’t happened.
Unfortunately, what we didn’t know until recently is that Metro was always intent on a 24/7 schedule. That their so-called outreach to the community was just for show.
In January we were notified by the Los Angeles Police Commission that Metro has applied for work hours exemptions for the Western, La Brea and Fairfax construction staging areas that would allow them to work all day and night, seven days a week, including holidays. After all the effort we put in on this project, I must admit this announcement was disappointing. Clearly, everything the community has been telling Metro has just gone in one ear and out the other.
So what do we do about it? What we always do: inform the public about what is being proposed, organize the neighborhood to make sure our voice is officially heard, and get our message out any way we can.
The subway is finally here – we get it – and we want it. We’ve been waiting for it like everyone else since the 1980s – so what’s the damn hurry? Why can’t people be allowed to sleep at night? As far as we can tell, this is all about money – or perhaps the lack of it, that is. It’s like the high speed train Governor Brown wants to build out in the desert – just start the work, then figure out where the money will ever come from to finish it. It appears that Metro wants to get as far as they can with the subway – as fast as they can – before they run out of money. Experts tell us that Metro’s budget won’t accommodate the construction delays and cost overruns that are inevitable in a project of this scale – with or without work hours exemptions.
We all have a right to have a bit of peace and quiet in our lives. Metro likens the construction process as a choice between pulling a Band-Aid off slowly or just ripping it off all at once. Somehow, I am missing the analogy between no sleep for nine years and a skinned knee. What Metro is planning cannot be compared to a minor wound; it is major surgery without anesthesia.
So, stay tuned. We will be at every meeting trying to get answers from Metro and their contractors on what their plans are for the Miracle Mile. But, meanwhile, we will fight blanket exemptions allowing Metro to work all night long and on Sundays and holidays, too. We will never accept a vague plan that is arbitrary and capricious. We want a rational and orderly plan for construction of the Purple Line extension – one that doesn’t bulldoze through our neighborhood and the rights of our residents to a night’s sleep.

For additional information:


MMRA Newsletter; October 2013 Edition:
MMRA Position on Subway Construction Work Hours Supported by Mid City West Community Council

MMRA Newsletter; August 2013 Edition:
MMRA Opposes Subway Work Hours Exemptions


New Helicopter Legislation Doesn't
Promise Much Relief to the Miracle Mile


New Helicopter Legislation Doesn't
Promise Much Relief to the Miracle Mile

According to the MMRA 2013 Annual Resident Poll, the number one source of nighttime noise disturbance is helicopters. But you don't need a poll to know that; helicopter noise is a common complaint all over Los Angeles. In January new legislation was passed by Congress requiring the Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] to create new helicopter flight regulations for Los Angeles, unless the FAA can demonstrate that voluntary measures are working to reduce noise complaints.
The FAA will evaluate whether helicopters can fly safely at higher altitudes and consider changing flight paths over residential neighborhoods and sensitive locations, like the Hollywood Bowl. Many neighborhood organizations on the Westside are hoping for relief from news-gathering helicopters – particularly those hovering over celebrity homes. But these new regulations will not apply to public safety agencies – and the overwhelming majority of helicopters hovering over the Miracle Mile are police helicopters. The Los Angeles Police Department Air Support Division, with a fleet of 19 helicopters, is the largest municipal airborne law enforcement operation in the world.
Rep. Adam Schiff [D-Calif.] wants the FAA to apply the law to all helicopters. He maintains that police and fire helicopters are not exempt. In an interview he said that public safety helicopters sometimes fly over noise sensitive areas to "save fuel."
For additional information:
Los Angeles Times:
Congress OKs Measure to Cut Helicopter Noise in LA County
Los Angeles Daily News:
New Helicopter Noise Legislation Draws Complaints
LAAHNC – Los Angeles Area Helicopter Noise Coalition
Will a New Helicopter Noise Law Make Anyone Happy?

Nine Miracle Mile Buildings on List
of Older Concrete Buildings at Risk in Major Earthquake

Nine Miracle Mile Buildings
on List of Older Concrete Structures
at Risk in Major Earthquake


The University of California released data on approximately 1,500 older concrete buildings in Los Angeles that might be especially vulnerable to structural failure in the event of a major earthquake. The operative word is might – the list was compiled from city building records that are often incomplete or inaccurate. Determining which of these buildings actually present a risk will take additional research and individual inspections from experts. Concrete buildings constructed prior to 1972, when seismic building codes were revised, lack the amount of steel reinforcement found in more recent structures.
The Los Angeles Times has created an interactive map of older concrete buildings. There are nine buildings in the Miracle Mile of the list, which also includes all of the tower apartment buildings at Park La Brea:
•Petersen Automotive Museum; 6060 Wilshire Blvd.
•Academy Museum (former May Company); 6067 Wilshire Blvd.
•Desmond's Building; 5500 Wilshire Blvd.
•El Rey Theatre; 5515 Wilshire Blvd.
•Wilshire-Dominguez Building; 5400 Wilshire Blvd.
•E. Clem Wilson Building; 5217 Wilshire Blvd. [See photo above.]
•Deco Building (former Security National Bank); 5209 Wilshire Blvd.
•Cathedral Chapel School; 755 S. Cochran Ave.
•Olympia Medical Center; 5925 San Vicente Blvd.
For additional information:
Los Angeles Times:
UC Releases List of 1,500 Buildings; Big Step for L.A. Quake Safety.


Miracle Mile Real Estate • January 2014 Sales

Miracle Mile Real Estate
January 2014 Sales

1046 South Ridgeley Dr.
3 bdrm, 2 bath; 1,612 sq. ft.
lot: 6,461 sq. ft.
listing price: $1,099,000
sale price: $1,115,000
sale date: 1-24-2014

809 South Detroit St.
duplex; 3,442 sq. ft.
3 brdm, 2 bath (both units)
lot: 6,707 sq. ft.
listing price: $1,249,000
sale price: $1,291,875
sale date: 1-17-2014

5355 West Olympic Blvd.
3-units; 4,445 sq. ft.
2–2 bdrm, 2 bath/1–1 
bdrm, 1 bath
lot: 9,365 sq. ft.
listing price: $1,195,000
sale price: $1,195,000
sale date: 1-14-2014


(...below the fold...)


MMRA Board Meeting
March 6, 2014
@ 7 PM

Board meetings
are held at
the Berch Lounge
Westside Jewish
Community Center

5870 Olympic Blvd.
on the first Thursday
of each month.

All are welcome.

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Miracle Mile
History Quiz

At what popular Miracle Mile nightclub did the new comedy team of Martin & Lewis make their West Coast debut in the summer of 1948?
(Click on the image to find out.)

The MMRA Channel

Miracle Mile Farmers' Market
Every Wednesday 11 AM ~ 3 PM

Wilshire Courtyard

Miracle Mile
Residential Association

James O’Sullivan, President

Alice S. Cassidy, Vice President

Joseph Steins, Treasurer

Ken Hixon, Vice President/
Director of Communication
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Copyright © 2014 Miracle Mile Residential Association.  All rights reserved.

Miracle Mile Residential Association
P.O. Box 361295
Los Angles, CA 90036-9495


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