Micro-news for CT 4601, Altadena, CA

Big improvement at Eaton Canyon falls

posted by Jeremiah 9/24/2009 08:36:00 AM

Okay, this picture may not be the most inspiring, but for anyone who may have felt a bit depressed by my June post with photos and video of the extreme defacement of Eaton Canyon, north of the Mt Wilson Toll Road bridge, I have some good news.

Last weekend I hiked the trail, and was pleasantly surprised. First, while the creek was dry about 1/3 of the way up, the water was running over the falls, and was still creating enough of a pool that there were people swimming and enjoying themselves in it.

But more importantly, all the June graffiti was painted out. As you can see from the photo above, some tags have reappeared, and some of the abatement paint jobs are not the most artful, but before you gasp in horror at the thought of painting over rocks to "remove" graffiti, it really is a gigantic improvement, and the ham-handed cover-up paint job shown in the photo in only obvious because it's on a smooth surface. On rocks, the texture forces the paint-over to be more mottled and blend much better than this. I didn't get any photos of the cover-up of the "murals" at the falls (there were some women swimming and I didn't want to be creepy), but they're far less noticeable, and a major improvement.

On the Stonehill News email group, there was some discussion about the pros and cons of painting over vs removal. I was concerned that removal might actually be worse because of the difficulty in containing any solvents or waste that would result. So in my view, painting over is not ideal, but the only thing better would be a magic wand that prevented the graffiti in the first place.

Graffiti has been will continue to be a constant problem along that trail, and as such, the rocks are were already coated with layers of abatement paint long before the major defacement I photographed in June. If you're a geologist or naturalist looking for pristine nature, you will might want to pick a different trail for hiking, but in a general sense, seeing the graffiti kept at bay so efficiently makes me feel like we live in a civil society.

The somewhat grim news I have is that while coming out of the wash I encountered a large family group staging at the bottom of the Toll Road, preparing to hike in. There were several children and adults. They were carrying folding chairs, back-packs, a cooler, etc. The grim part is that they were all dressed in kind of "gang-ie" looking clothes, consisting of tight straight braids and bald heads, black baseball hats, black baggy t-shirts or white tank tops, thin gold chains, baggy shorts, etc., and there was a large new can of Krylon industrial marking paint sitting on the ground amidst their supplies. As I approached them and spotted the paint, I commented (with a wink and a smile) something like, "you're going to use that to cover up graffiti, right?" They looked a bit surprised for a moment and then laughed it off, and went on to admire my dog (she's a pit-bull, and they liked the breed).

In any case, despite it having been notably better in terms of the level of graffiti, there were already a few tags here and there, and I assume there's a good chance that the group I encountered added their own markings when they went in.

As such, I waited until today, but I did call for abatement:

LACO Graffiti Hotline 800-675-4357 option 2

The man who answered told me they should have it cleaned up in about 3 days. (confirmation #118162)

Every time I've used this hotline, the problem has gotten cleaned up very quickly, so please do use it if you see graffiti yourself.

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At 9/24/2009 1:11 PM, Blogger Dita said...

Jeremiah, Remember the graffiti on the stone wall near Ridley Creek Park? Someone kept painting it over in white, and soon after, more graffiti would appear. Then,after years of this, someone painted it white again, and put a huge mural of a dove with the words PEACE ON EARTH over it. Never again has there been graffiti on that wall and this happened around 18 years ago. The dove mural is still there. It makes my heart glad every time I drive past. Ma

At 9/24/2009 5:59 PM, Blogger Greg Sweet said...

Forest Service (mostly volunteer labor, by the way) is using a prduct called "Taginator" that melts away the spray paint and is reportedly inert once it hits the soil or water.


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Selected Station Fire Time Lapse Videos

posted by Jeremiah 9/11/2009 06:40:00 PM

These are both worth watching full screen (they are embedded as HD already)

View from Mt Wilson Sept 4th - 7th

View from across town, Aug 29

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At 9/24/2009 12:24 PM, Blogger Above the City said...

Amazing Mt. Wilson timelapse!! Thanks.


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Dodging the Station Fire

posted by Jeremiah 9/06/2009 06:04:00 PM

Our family's two-week summer vacation started the weekend before the Station Fire. We came home for two nights (Thursday 8/27 and Friday 8/28) before it was seriously threatening our neighborhood in northeast Altadena. The breeze delivered two days of clear skies and two nights of choking smoke.

Thank goodness the wind never presented the seasonal Santa Ana pattern that can happen at this time of year, with the characteristic hot gusting winds out of the north that fanned the local fires of 1993. The Station Fire has only been fanned by the gentle Foothills breathing rhythm that residents rely on to draw the day's hot air out to sea every night. The Stonehill anemometer chronicles this pattern of gentle south breeze all day and gentle north breeze all night. A look at the current 5-day readings illustrates the breath-like regularity of this pattern.

With our windows closed all night, we contemplated our vacation plans and decided that they were in some ways a blessing. So we voluntarily evacuated to escape the smoke and enjoy the second half of our vacation on Saturday 8/29, and monitored the email lists, web cams and blogs from afar all week. The steady flow of information made it possible for us to enjoy our vacation with one eye on how things were progressing online. At one point early in the week, we contemplated flying me back home to help defend the neighborhood should it come to that, but decided against it. Amidst the bounty of near-real-time information, these photos were among some of the most reassuring to me personally. They were emailed by Dan Gollnick, showing professional Hot Shot crews fortifying the perimeter defenses along the Altadena Crest Trail.

After having seen literally dozens of ominous photos like the brief selection posted below, the photos of the hotshot crews fortifying our defenses was a welcome sight.

Station Fire flaring up above JPL on 8/28/09 at about 8pm
Photo by Dan Finnerty

Station Fire as seen from the top of Lake on 8/29/09 at about 6am
Photo by Bill Westphal

DC-10 water bomber on 8/29/09 at about 5:30pm
Photo by Bill Westphal

P-3C Orion water bomber over Mount Wilson Observatory on 8/30/09 at about 6:00pm
Photo by Greg Garner

Martin Mars water bomber over Mount Wilson Observatory on 9/1/09 at about 4:00pm
Photo by Greg Garner

Martin Mars water bomber flying over on 9/1/09 at about 4:00pm
Photo by Greg Garner

In the local lore about the 1993 Santa-Ana-whipped blazes that destroyed many homes in our neighborhood, one of the biggest aspects of the stories is the near complete lack of professional support in the defense. Seeing these pictures, I imagined that the Gollnicks, who are the beachhead of Stonehill, must have found some level of satisfaction seeing professionals digging literally miles of "scratch lines" with 1.5 inch feeder hose laid the entire length.

We returned from vacation late last night. I took a hike this morning along part of the "scratch-line" that the Hot Shots had built. Not to over-dramatize things, but I couldn't help looking at the coils of 1 inch hose as unmanned foxholes in hastily-build fortifications somewhere in the Ardennes, facing an anticipated German onslaught, which by some stroke of fate passed over and raged to the east. A staged Forest Service bulldozer at the ready and sky cranes ferrying supplies from the rear to the eastern front filled out the sense of walking a fortification prepared for a battle that never came.

Living in a land without war or knights-of-old, wild-land hot shots are the knights-of-new, defending our kingdom against the flames of hell.

A "knight-of-new" Grayback Forestry Hot Shots of Grants Pass, OR on 9/4/09
SGVN/Staff photo by Eric Reed

For posterity, here is a list of the best wildfire links collected during the week:
Non-government sites:
  • Mashup map of MODIS satellite thermal data and the GeoMAC perimeter data
  • Industry-watch blog
  • Time-Life-quality photos of the Station Fire
National wildfire aggregate information:

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