Las Vegas growing pains examined

Architect Robert Fielden. Photo: Steve Marcus / Las Vegas Sun. Click on the portrait to be taken to "Boom-bust era leaves architectural scars across valley" in the Las Vegas Sun.

All but a den of developers accept that the runaway building across the Las Vegas valley during the last twenty years was wrong. Yesterday in the Las Vegas Sun, staff writer Patrick Coolican and photographer Steve Marcus recounted a tour with Southern Nevadan architect Robert Fielden of the still ravishingly beautiful Mojave basin. Assessing the architecture of the boom, Fielden likened damage done by home builders to that of mining camps. The upshot is a slice of Western history as full of mistakes as it is of potential to learn from them.

If Coolican’s name sounds familiar, it may be because he was briefly lured from Southern Nevada to California to write on city news for the LA Weekly,

A shortcut around damp writing

Rain is good for most things in Southern California, except the news, where it wreaks havoc with language. For those who simply want to find out how much rain fell without being subjected to a feverish boob’s deployment of “lash,” “dump,” “slam” etc, a link to the Los Angeles/Oxnard online weather data page. According to this, as of yesterday, downtown Los Angeles has received 4.61 inches of rain in December alone, 4.29 of it in the last four days. This is a lot, roughly a quarter of what a good rain year might give us in 12 months. More is expected today and in the coming week. To check your forecast, click here.

This drenching, known among weathermen as the “Pineapple Express” because of the tropical system enticed into our Mediterranean climate zone, is rare, but not as rare as tomorrow’s lunar eclipse coinciding with winter solstice. Click here

The week that was, 12/12-18/2010

Pineapple Express rains hit Southern California. Map: National Weather Service. Click on the image for your forecast.

“I call La Niña the diva of drought for Southern California. But the rainfall looks like El Niño.” — Jet Propulsion Laboratory oceanographer Bill Patzert, Rainstorms to keep drenching Southern California, Los Angeles Times, December 19, 2010

The Pineapple Express’ arrival not only signals the start of [Southern California’s] annual rainy season, but also threatens to unleash huge low-elevation downpours, which by Christmas Eve (next Friday) could amount to 8 to 12 inches adjacent to southern California’s mountains outside Los Angeles and San Diego–enough rain to provoke flooding and mudslides, particularly along westward facing slopes. — Pineapple Express to bring flooding rains, Chicago Weather Center, December 17, 2010

As rain fell outside City Hall on Friday morning, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved the proposed Low Impact Development ordinance.

The weatherman’s sure

December 18, 2010 National Weather Service icons for Altadena sum up forecasts for heavy rains across Greater Los Angeles and Southern California this weekend. Click on the image to be taken to the National Weather Service and latest flood advisories.

The Dry Garden: color me Western

It takes a hard heart not to swoon when the liquidambars that line so many streets in greater Los Angeles conduct their flaming descent into dormancy. As if entire city blocks drawn together in a season finale weren’t an eloquent enough elegy for a calendar year, the scarlet confetti of crape myrtle trees and the golden last gasp of ginkgos join the orchestra in a way that makes November and December the Southern Californian equivalent of fall back East.

There is, of course, a “but” coming, and it’s a big one. We’re not back East. Although the yearly curtain call of these exotic trees is undeniably glorious, they have a timing problem. It’s barely fall. Winter solstice is just four days away. How bothered you are by this lag depends on how you feel about leaf blowers working on Christmas Day.

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