Tag Archives: South Bay

Restaurant Crossover

How about a cup of joe?

Though their signature drink is a mean Flat White, Two Guns Espresso in Manhattan Beach has the perfect mocha: just the right balance of coffee and chocolate and not too sweet. If they were open in the evenings, I’d stop on the way home from work waaay too often.

For the past few weekends, Two Guns has also been hosting pop-up dinners by Doma Kitchen, a local restaurant that’s in the process of relocating. It keeps them in the public eye, gives regulars a chance to visit, and I’m sure it helps to bring in some money while the restaurant is closed. The fixed menu is a bit more expensive than what we usually buy there, but it’s a three-course meal including appetizer and dessert (and coffee), so it actually worked out about the same.

Considering that we all like both the coffee shop and the restaurant, it seemed like a perfect match, and we went last night. They added extra seating using folding tables in the area usually reserved for the line and milling around. I was worried when we were the only ones there at 6:30, but it filled up quickly.

The food was great, though I forgot to mention when I made the reservation that I couldn’t eat seafood. (I don’t remember seeing seafood on their menu before, but I guess I just ignored it.) Fortunately it was a three-course meal, and my seafood allergy is less severe than others I have, so we rebalanced things a bit and it worked out.

The funny thing is, from what we overheard of the greeting conversations (we were seated right by the door), most of the people there last night had never been to Two Guns before. We may have been the only overlap!

California Drought Sim, Water Use, and Preserving Open Space

Researchers simulated a 70-year mega-drought and came up with ways that California could survive without the economy collapsing, emptying out the state, or even abandoning agriculture. We’d have to change the way we store and distribute water, recycle more wastewater, do groundwater replenishment, prioritize different (and less thirsty) crops, and of course cut down on our water use. It would hurt, and smaller, rural towns would be worse hit than cities (which is already happening — there are places out in Tulare county, for instance, where wells are drying up and homes no longer have running water). But the simulation suggests it could be done — and it’s a good idea to plan for this, just in case, rather than relying on the drought to end in a year or two. Geologic evidence suggests that decades-long droughts used to be the norm, and of course who knows what “normal” is going to be over the next century.

Another article details how Southern Californians have been changing water use this summer: letting lawns die, using more reclaimed water, draining fountains and converting commercial landscaping. The average Los Angeles resident has cut back to 89 gallons per day.

I can’t say I’ve seen much change in my area since I started noticing the occasional lawn replaced with native plants back at the start of the year. Maybe a few more native gardens or scraggly lawns, but not a sea change. Katie does a lot more walking, though, and she’s noticed that a lot of houses just have dirt. Apartments mostly still have lawns, but at least that’s more people per square foot of grass. Unfortunately nobody wants to wash the smears of dog poop off of the sidewalk.

Swimming Pool Under Construction.Meanwhile, the office building to hotel conversion next door to my workplace has embarked on what they’re replacing that giant lawn with: a swimming pool. A sign out front proclaims an early 2015 opening. Someone’s optimistic about water for next year.

On a related note, the Irvine Company is planning to donate what’s left of the Irvine Ranch to the county as open space. Good!

I’ve lamented the loss of both open space and local farmland over the past twenty years or so as more and more of Orange County has been paved over with houses and shopping malls. Since moving to the South Bay, I’ve seen the potential endgame. “Open space” out here consists of the occasional empty block that’s been set aside, or a hillside that’s too steep to build on conveniently. Palos Verdes has a bit more, but it’s filling in. At least the Portuguese Bend area is likely to stay clear, since the ground isn’t stable enough to build on.

The Phantom City

Years ago, when I’d drive along the 405 freeway late at night, I’d catch glimpses in the distance of what looked like a cluster of tall buildings in a city center. Not knowing the area well, I’d wonder whether I was seeing glimpses of Long Beach, or some other city in the area that I didn’t know. And then the freeway would curve, and I’d never quite figure out where those buildings were, and I’d mean to look it up on a map, but by the time I got home I’d be so tired I’d go straight to bed, and I’d forget all about it in the morning.

It always made me think of the kind of fantasy story inspired by mirages, where someone sees something from a distance, but when they get close it turns out not to be there, or to be far less grand than expected.

Somewhere along the line I realized that those lights I was seeing in the distance weren’t a city far off from the freeway. They were the lights on the oil refinery right next to the freeway a few miles down in Carson. I’d just catch glimpses of it between trees and closer buildings. With no reference points and no sense of scale, it wasn’t clear that I was looking at a compact cluster of small towers, not a larger cluster of taller buildings. By the time I got close enough to see the actual refinery towers, they looked different enough that my sleepy and driving-focused brain didn’t make the connection to those distant lights.

The South Bay is dotted with oil refineries, built here in the days when it was a major oil producing region, and I assume kept here because it’s so close to the Port of Los Angeles. [Edit: Actually, the area still produces quite a bit of oil, but the remaining wells are much better hidden.] Every once in a while I’ll be driving or walking over a hill and catch a glimpse of a too-regular “skyline” where all the lights are yellow, and I’ll think back to the time when I wondered about a vanishing city.

Photo: Exxon/Mobil Torrance Refinery, seen from a hill up on 190th St.