Earlez Grille relocates to make way for Crenshaw/LAX line

Earlez sign | Ela Bernal

Earlez Grille sign at Crenshaw and Exposition. | Ela Bernal

There’s something special about a place that adapts to changing times while remaining true to its origins. For more than 25 years, Earlez Grille in the Crenshaw district has done just that.

Earlez owner Duane Earl said his secret recipes for hot dogs, burgers and chili have less to do with ingredients than simply “paying attention to how you cook” and using “common sense.” Oh, and one more thing: “People can tell when you don’t put love into food.”

Hear the sizzle of the Earlez grill in an audio piece from Annenberg Radio News:

[Read more…]

Leimert Park’s World Stage fights eviction

The World Stage in Leimert Park -- co-founded by poet Kamau Daàood and legendary jazz drummer Billy Higgins -- faces an uncertain future.

The World Stage, co-founded by poet Kamau Daàood and legendary jazz drummer Billy Higgins, faces an uncertain future. | Brianna Sacks

Founded in 1989, The World Stage has become the cornerstone for Leimert Park, L.A.’s historic hub for African-American arts and culture.

The World Stage’s jam sessions, jazz performances, youth groups and writing workshop have been a model for countless other nonprofit literary arts groups around Southern California and the nation, according to KCET. It has also churned out some of the nation’s most famous jazz musicians and poets over its 25 years.

Last May, Leimert Park found out that its two-year fight for a metro stop on the incoming Crenshaw/LAX line would become a reality.

Shortly after, the World Stage’s owners and their neighbors learned that the building had been sold and eviction notices were handed out to the stage and many other businesses.

[Read more…]

The Expo Line: Making South LA more accessible

imageThe Expo Line is Los Angeles’ newest addition to its light rail and subway system. Following an old rail line, it runs from downtown’s transit hub at 7th Street and currently ends at La Cienega and Jefferson. (The final stop of this phase of construction will be in Culver City, but that extension isn’t finished yet.)

This route takes the rail line through some of L.A.’s most underserved and poor neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are also some of L.A.’s most diverse and densely populated.

The Expo Line increases access to and from these neighborhoods. It will bring change to them – more business coming in, easier access to jobs and services for residents. This is hopefully for the better, but change can bring unintended consequences.

To give a better sense of what the Expo line will mean to South LA communities, we’ve created a slideshow featuring the intersections at the four westernmost stops on the line currently — La Cienega/Jefferson, Expo/La Brea, Expo/Crenshaw, and Expo/Western.

The obejctive of the slideshow is to create a brief record of what these neighborhoods look like at the beginning of these changes.

[Note: Click on each box to view the slideshow. It does not play automatically; you need to keep clicking on the images to move through the slideshow.]

A stop at La Cienaga and Jefferson shows the neighborhood has a mix of residential, commercial and industrial property. Those who don’t know the area will be surprised to know that some manufacturing still exists in South LA.

You won’t find a grocery store, but when you exit the Expo/La Brea stop, you’ll find a mini-mall and a West Adams landmark: Music Man Murray’s.

The Expo/Crenshaw stop is the home of two of the area’s most recognizable landmarks: the West Angeles Cathedral and Earlez Grille. The Expo/Western stop is bustling with activity and lots of businesses highlighting the area’s population diversity, which is 56 percent Latino and 38 percent African American.

Expo Line grand opening

Listen to an audio story from Annenberg Radio News:

imageSaturday marked the grand opening of the Metro Expo Rail Line.

This train runs from the 7th Street Metro Station Downtown out west to La Cienega & Jefferson, running right through USC’s station at Exposition Park; where one of four grand opening celebrations was held on Saturday.

“We are trying to get to all of our community.” Jacqueline Martinez is a community relations officer for the Metro. And joined by her many co-workers; they handed out information pamphlets to garner interest in the new train line. “We just want the community to come out and support the system, get out and ride the system. A lot of people have never been on a train before, so this is our way of saying come have fun, use the system, and it is a great thing to do,” she said.

imageGerri Williams is from Pasadena and plans on taking the Expo line often. She also decided to take part in the festivities of opening weekend. “I am enjoying it very good. The music is good and it is nice to be outside and seeing all the venders that are here, and being out in the sun!”

And Martinez is convinced that this is a smart and necessary move by the city of Los Angeles.

“I think it is a great step forward for LA. It is connecting us to the Westside, one day Santa Monica. People can get to the museums, to USC. Students, they can get here to campus and explore museums. It is just going to get us closer to things that a lot of Angelenos don’t even know exist.” image

This weekend is the time to try out the train. Passengers can ride for free over the weekend.

Check out this video from Leimert Park Beat.

Expo Line critic Damien Goodmon sounds off

More than 700 Dorsey High School students have to cross the Expo Line train tracks at the intersection of Farmdale and Exposition in South L.A every day — a major concern of local residents.

Standing at the intersection this Monday afternoon, Damien Goodmon of the Citizen’s Campaign to Fix the Expo Line, Damien Newton of Los Angeles Streetsblog and Molly Gray of Intersections South L.A. watched the students cross in a mostly orderly fashion. The system of bells, lights and gates kept the students separate from the train when it slow-rolled into and out of the station.

As Metro prepares its weekend-long Expo party, reporters are highlighting the efforts of transit advocates to push the line forward for the last quarter of a century. Absent from the accolades is Goodmon, who has as much to do with the look of the Expo Line, especially at stations and crossings in South L.A. Where Fix Expo regularly lambasted elected officials, Metro, the Expo Construction Authority and anyone else that they felt dismissed their concerns about safety.

Goodmon isn’t looking for accolades — he doesn’t believe his work is done.

When asked about the station, and whether he was happy with it, Goodmon gave a complicated answer, “Absolutely not. But it’s hard not to claim victory when you see what they were going to do at this intersection and others … I want to believe the kids are safer than they would have been. Safe would have been grade separating it.”

Goodmon and Newton talked for almost an hour on Monday, but here are the highlights.

Metro begins tests for Expo Line, a controversial topic in South Los Angeles

Listen to an audio story by Annenberg Radio News story:


On Monday, Metro began testing its Expo Line tracks. A high-rail truck pulled an empty light-rail train to test side clearance and overhead.

image “This is just a slow walking speed type test,” said Jim Jasmin, Metro’s start-up manager. “When we get to an object, if it looks iffy, we’ll stop. We’ll move up slowly until we get to it and then check the measurements and go on.”

Jasmin and other safety officials wearing bright yellow vests with orange reflectors followed alongside the train.

“It’s a very long process,” Jasmin said. “It’s going to be a couple of days before we get this all done just in this short, start up section of the line.”

There are 10 new stations included in Phase 1. The stops include the University of Southern California, Exposition and Crenshaw, Farmdale and Culver City. The estimated travel time between downtown and Culver City will be 30 minutes, according to Metro officials.

But the Expo Line construction came with controversy. South Los Angeles community members and activists expressed concern over unsafe railroad crossings in low-income and minority neighborhoods, especially at the Farmdale station near Dorsey High School.

Damien Goodmon, coordinator of the Fix Expo citizens’ campaign, called for every intersection of the Expo Line to have a grade-separated crossing.

“We needed to do this for a variety of reasons,” Goodmon said. “There was injustice and injustice anywhere is a threat to injustice everywhere. Dr King. And two, we had to establish that you can’t just assume that since you’re coming through a black and brown community that you’ll be able to build any kind of way.”

The California Public Utilities Commission Board voted in 2010 to support a plan that called for safety improvements. The improvements included station platforms and speed restrictions.

But the Federal Transit Administration’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating whether or not Metro complied with the Civil Rights Act. Title 6 states that any program receiving federal funding cannot discriminate in any way.

“And so that is one long fought for victory you can say,” Goodmon said. “From that standpoint, getting them to look at that project and maybe imposing sanctions upon Metro for violations, we would hope would lead to corrective actions that will prevent this type of disparity in future projects.”

The $862 million Expo light rail line is entirely funded by Metro. Metro has not yet set an official date for the start of passenger service. But they hope to be done with most of Phase 1 by November 15, 2011. Completion all the way to Culver City might not happen until early next year, according to Metro.