Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, May 22, 2021

MVNews this week:  Page 11


Mountain View News Saturday, May 22, 2021 



[Nyerges is a teacher and author. He has written “Self-Sufficient Home,” “Extreme Simplicity: 
Homesteading in the City,” “Urban Wilderness,” and other books on self-reliance and survival. He 
posts blogs at] 

As populations inevitably increase, and urban centers grow more crowded, 
how should we think about the public spaces that everyone uses? 

The public spaces in our cities can define how we feel, and what we do. It can 
define the very nature of our existence, much in the way that geography nearly always defines 
the character and the activities of the people who live there. While it is probably not possible 
to create public spaces for large numbers of people which please all the people all the time, we 
can still attempt to define the ideal public spaces in terms of human scale, sustainability, ecologic 
principles, healthful, and even enjoyable. 

As Los Angeles Count continues to evolve and experience many changes in demographics and 
businesses, it is inevitable that those who use these areas desire to see, and to create, city spaces 
that are livable, pleasant, and uplifting. 

I decided to live in Mexico some years ago for the express purpose of learning Spanish. 

Like the town square of every American small town, every Mexican town had at least one zocalo. 
The Zocalo is the large square where there is typically a raised platform for speakers and 
music. There are large paved areas for walking, or dancing. The zocalo is often arranged with 
rows of trees throughout, and nearly always with a perimeter of trees. Many of the Mexican 
zocalos had rows of stores on all four sides. The zocalo is the place to meet people. You felt safe 
and comfortable there. 

I realized that the zocalo was not so much the product of a city engineer as it was the organic 
manifestation of a society that likes to meet together, and insists on having that place to do so. 
Every town and city needs its zocalo – perhaps with some tweaks – as the most ecological way 
to let our building practices support a healthy population. 

When urban planners examine great public spaces, certain aspects are most commonly cited 
for that “greatness” which we all want to experience. As the Los Angeles County continues to 
evolve, it might be worthwhile to examine some of these basic principles. 

The space need not be prohibitively large. A good public space feels good, and looks good, and 
smells good (food and flowering trees) People want to be there. 

Lawns are not essential, but “green spaces” are necessary. If absolutely not possible to have 
pockets or lines of fragrant and beautiful vegetation, there should at least be as many trees as 

CHAIRS/BENCHESPeople stand and people walk, and in the places where we gather, we sit. A great public 

space really needs chairs and tables, ideally built locally of cement so it lasts forever, or built 
from local wood by local craftspeople. 


 An art work is not essential to a public space, though the buildings and infrastructure can so 
easily contain art in the form of sculpture or murals. Planners of public spaces should always 
think long-term, and avoid current fads or movements. Avoid political or religious themes in 
public art, and avoid extreme abstracts which invites derision or confusion. 

 Remember, “public space” is not simply the public square. Public space is any space that is 
not privately owned, and which the local jurisdiction can exercise some control. In some cases, 
what we call “public space” can also be applied to the private space that we see, referring to such 
cases where billboards on private land can still mar an otherwise beautiful view that you experience 
while walking or driving on public land. In our case, local citizens and councilmen reacted 
when a developer wanted to buy the land under the Eagle Rock several years ago. He wanted to 
build a tall apartment building that would block the view of the famous landmark. We all said 
“no,” and the land was purchased and is now a mini-park.

 It is also worth looking at the Japanese model. 

What is loosely called the “design code” in Manazuru, Kanagawa, Japan gradually developed 
because the residents loved the quality of their city. Because those special qualities attracted 
ever-more people to want to reside there, business interests were also attracted. The local people 
created a series of concepts to maintain the character of the city, the character that attracted 
everyone there in the first place.

 The Design Code is not like the Building and Safety codes of major cities, but rather a series of 
overall guidelines. Builders would meet with local legislators and other citizens to make sure 
their project can meet the Design Code. In some cases, the project is disallowed. In some cases, 
the project will be modified so that the spirit of the Design Code is maintained. 

In many cities, such as Los Angeles, land rights are regarded as vertical, and land owners are 
often allowed whatever meets building guidelines and height guidelines. But blocking your 
neighbor’s view is typically not regarded. However, in Manazuru, everyone’s view is regarded 
as important. The view of the ocean is so special to everyone that new buildings and additions 
must not obscure your neighbors’ view. 

PASSAGEWAYS / ALLEYS BETWEEN HOUSESOne of the quaint features of Manazuru and surrounding areas is the alleyways that run between 
the houses. These are narrow paths, not full streets, and they allow walkers to get around, and 
often meet their neighbors. Maintaining these walkways is an integral part of the Design Code. 
It also means that houses can not be built right atop each other, as you see done in parts of San 
Francisco, and other big cities in the U.S. 

Citrus trees were once widely planted throughout Kanagawa and they are regarded as a local 
treasure. Thus, residents are urged to not cut any of them down, and even to plant more. They 
are regarded not just as a source of food for the body, but as a source of food for the soul as well. 
Just think if fruit trees were widely planted as street trees in the Northeast. 

Where possible, the Design Code encourages builders and home owners to use local timber and 
stone and other local building materials. Not only does this provide somewhat of a consistent 
appearance, but it is also beneficial in that it seeks to continually support local craftspeople. 


 One of the key elements of the Design Code is that it requires builders to not hide what they 
are planning, but to openly discuss it with those whom the project may affect. This takes time, 
and is not always easy. However, when both “sides” meet together, face to face, and share their 
concerns, most of the obstacles and challenges can be resolved equitably.

 Of course, the Design Code is not a panacea, and may not be as easy to institute in countries 
that do not have the group ethic that you find in Japan. Still, I think that forward-thinking 
engineers and architects who care about the future could lessons from Manazuru, and begin 
building for the health and sanity of the people who reside here. 

Sweet Boys—
Cody & Reggie! 

These boys should 
be adopted together. 
Cody is the smaller, 
light gray, short hair 
tabby. The larger, 
fluffier fellow with 

white paws is Reggie. Both are very handsome 
chaps. Born April, 2021.

We think Cody may be a few days younger than Reggie. See more pictures at, the Babies page. Kittens go fast, so please apply early. 

Pet of the Week

 Eight-year-old Gabriel is friendly,
calm, relaxed, and looking for a humanto chill with! Gabriel loves people andespecially loves being scratched on thehead. If you’re not paying attention tohim, he might give you a polite meow tolet you know he’d like some company.
When he’s not spending time with 
you, Gabriel might watch some birds 
out the window. He’d be a great work-
from-home coworker or movie night 

The adoption fee for cats is $100. Allcat adoptions include spay or neuter, microchip, and age-appropriate vaccines. 
New adopters will receive a complimentary health-and-wellness exam from VCA AnimalHospitals, as well as a goody bag filled with information about how to care for your pet.

 View photos of adoptable pets and schedule a virtual adoption appointment Adoptions are by appointment only, and new adoptionappointments are available every day at 5:00 p.m. for the following day. 

Pets may not be available for adoption and cannot be held for potential adopters byphone calls or email. 


HeyO' Sierra Madre! How ya'll doing? 

Your lovely local 501c3 non-profit, Free Animal Doctor, could use some stuff if you have it 
and don't need it! Plus a volunteer! Here are the deets (as the kids say, the kids from 20 years 

1) Towels. When we do Spay/Neuter clinics we put towels in every metal cage to make it more 
comfy. We also clean up with them. So if you have used towels you don't need, we need 'em!
They can be stained, frayed, even a small hole here or there, just as long as they are clean. Put 
them in a plastic trash bag, and drop them under the mailboxes at 70 E. Montecito Ave... we 
cannot get enough towels! Love 'em!! 
2) Portable canopies. Our big canopy got destroyed in the windstorm. We have a small one, 
but we could use one or two more. It's to shade our staff and clients when they come to the 
Spay/Neuter clinic and have to stand outside. Got one you don't use? We'll use it every weekend! 
Comment here and we'll connect. 
3) Wanna volunteer? We need help checking pets in on Sundays and Mondays. We have about 
20-25 people show up at about the same time, and we need to quickly process paperwork and 
get their pets safely into the clinic for surgery. 
It's 730am until about 930am on Sundays and Mondays at Gate 7 of Santa Anita, right off 
Baldwin before you get down to the mall. You don't have to volunteer every day, but a couple 
times a month minimum would be good. There is a minor bit of training involved, and you 
get much better at it with experience, so we are looking for a bit of a commitment if you wanna 
help. Let me know, again, comment and I will arrange for us to get in touch. THANKS!! 

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285Email: Website: