PHOTOS: Los Angeles Kings’ Stanley Cup Victory Parade

A few pictures from today’s L.A. Kings victory celebration.

MR. LONG BEACH: ‘My Daddy is a Photographer…”

Since today is Father’s Day, Mr. Long Beach’s kids – the Little Beachers – gave their dad the day off. They are writing this week’s column. Here it is, exactly as the words came out of their mouths.

Eight-year-old Little Beacher, Alex:

“My daddy is a photographer and writes a lot of stories and takes a lot of pictures. I think my dad’s favorite part about work is taking pictures. My dad has been working at this newspaper for about a year. Before he worked here, he worked at a different newspaper in Long Beach.

“My dad is a great dad because he is really nice. My dad has taught me a lot of things like how to use the TV remote and how to fly his drone.

“Once, I went to work with him to take pictures. He gave me a camera and let me take pictures, too. It wasn’t really too exciting. He barely had to do anything. Once, Daddy put his camera on a timer and took pictures of us.

“Daddy has a drone. He can put his GoPro camera on it and then he can take pictures in the sky. He takes pictures of lots of different things.

“I am proud of how smart my dad is. He is really smart.

“My favorite part about my daddy is that he plays with me.

“A perfect Father’s Day would be to go to Legoland and buy Daddy a bunch of Lego sets he likes. I would get him a pick-a-brick and Dipping Dots ice cream and lots of other things. I think he likes Legoland and it would be fun for both of us.

“When I’m a dad I’m going to be really smart and have kids and buy a lot of really cool stuff.”

Five-year-old Little Beacher, Emily:

“My dad takes pictures and puts them in the newspaper. He pushes a button on his camera to take the pictures. I really like my daddy because he be’s really really nice to me and he takes lots and lots and lots of pictures of me and my brother.

“He is not the boss of anyone at work. I don’t know what his bosses are like, I am just guessing they just be nice.

“The hardest thing Daddy does at work is have meetings and the easiest thing is take pictures. I think the funnest thing my Dad does at work is take pictures of doggies and catties.

“The best thing my daddy does is be nice to me.

“A perfect Father’s Day would be the best hug ever or bears, a bear hug. We would go to Disneyland. Then, I would tell him to take pictures at places, maybe at the park.

“At work, my daddy takes pictures. On Fridays, he takes pictures of football.”

PHOTOS: Going Solar in North Long Beach

Volunteers from L.A. Trade Tech College join employees of GRID Alternatives as they install solar panels on a house in North Long Beach Friday. GRID Alternatives, which is behind the solar panel project, is a nonprofit that seeks to install solar in low income neighborhoods.

PHOTOS: Long Beach Jordan High Graduation

Commencement ceremonies for Jordan High School at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Long Beach on Wednesday.

MR. LONG BEACH: Two Homes on the Hill Causing Headaches for Cities

Hill Street is steep, and at an incline of almost 30 degrees, it’s fun.

The Signal Hill roadway borders Long Beach and, according to calculations I did on my iPhone, rises about 135 feet in just over a quarter mile.

Years ago it was the spot to see Model Ts climb the steepest hill in the area. Crowds came to watch famous racers prove their cars had the muscle to reach the top.

The incline, informally know as Shell Hill early last century, has not only served as an impromptu proving ground for cars, but also a street luge track and jogging path for runners looking for a steep challenge.

Halfway up the hill sit two houses, or rather, two headaches for the cities of Signal Hill and Long Beach.

The twin homes were built about 10 years ago but never occupied. They are now boarded up and one shows signs of fire damage. The buildings are in Long Beach, although their sidewalk and street are in Signal Hill.

Trying to piece together what happened, Signal Hill Deputy City Manager Charlie Honeycutt thinks that the builder was issued permits from the city of Long Beach but never contacted Signal Hill.

He said the two cities usually talk to each other about issues on the border, but in this case, that didn’t happen. In fact, Signal Hill discovered the buildings when the city manager saw the foundations being framed.

“There is a series of issues with those homes,” Honeycutt said. “Essentially, they were built without inspections and there is still no water and sewer or natural gas utilities.”

Honeycutt’s first concern was that driveway access from Hill Street would be a safety issue. In fact, he said the developer did two traffic studies, but neither engineer would agree to sign off on access. He said the traffic study showed that an SUV couldn’t turn out of a driveway without turning over the street’s center median island.

The next solution was to get access to the back of the homes. But, for that to happen, the developer had to purchase more land.

Long Beach City Councilman Patrick O’Donnell said the builder got construction approval from Long Beach, but never got utility approval from Signal Hill.

O’Donnell explained that over the past couple of years the city has been to court several times over these homes. He said every time it goes to court there is a new owner who makes a promises to do a specified action within a certain amount of time but then never completes that action.

The councilman, seemingly frustrated, said, “We’ve been too nice, for too long, and we’re done with being nice.”

The latest court documents show that the city of Long Beach filed a complaint against 6 Angels LLC and B.D.R. Inc. for continuing violations of the Long Beach Municipal Code.

According to an agreement finalized in April, 6 Angels needs to complete a number of things, including extending Orizaba Street to the back of the homes for vehicle access and extending all utilities to the property.

“We’ve gone to court now for what should be the final time,” O’Donnell said, and if all the actions that have been specified by the judge are not completed, “The homes will be torn down.”

PHOTOS: Frida Kahlo and Her Photos have left MoLAA

Visitors to the Museum of Latin America Art check out the exhibit “Frida Kahlo: Her Photos” in Long Beach on Friday. The exhibit closed June 8th.

PHOTO: Jay’s Hearing Aid Center

Anjan “Jay” Muhury, owner of Jay’s Hearing Aid Center, looks in to a sound booth at his Long Beach office.  Muhury runs the tiny hearing aid business battling larger corporate chains that offer hearing aids.

PHOTOS: Mercedes Benz Starts work on Long Beach Campus

Workers prep holes in the cement for pilings at the new Mercedes Benz Long Beach Campus on Wednesday. Mercedes Benz is moving their West Coast regional facility to a building near Long Beach Airport. The historic location was opened in 1941 as home to the Douglas Aircraft Company and later was home to the Boeing 717.

PHOTO: Pink the Pelican is Free!

Pink the Pelican takes of after being released in San Pedro. The pelican was found with a mutilated throat pouch in Long Beach earlier this year.  After two surgeries and several weeks in care at International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center, the adult Brown Pelican has made a “record time” recovery.

PHOTOS: Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific hosting daily march of the penguins in June

Three Magellanic penguins waddled through an exhibit at Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific on Friday, in preparation for a new morning ritual.

During the preview, bird handlers chased the penguins as they ran past giggling children and sea otters. The South American birds then doubled back and stared at the giant tank full of fish and otters.

Starting Sunday, the penguins will make a daily public trek across the Northern Pacific Gallery every morning at 10. The birds begin their walk by the sea otter exhibit and end it by the giant Pacific octopus.

The daily penguin walk is part of the aquarium’s “Summer of Wonder” program and is included with regular admission.

The summer program includes an opportunity to make and drive a mini underwater submarine and features new exhibits about the Southern California steelhead and the Guam kingfisher, as well as touch tanks with horseshoe crabs, corals and sponges.

MR. LONG BEACH: What’s in a Name? Ask Dolly Varden.

Earlier this week the owners of downtown Long Beach’s The Varden re-installed their historic “Bath in every room” sign atop the early 20th century boutique hotel.

Co-owners Larry Black and Charles Knowlton ended eight months of restoration with a media event that included food, the vice mayor and a big crane lifting the landmark sign into place on the building long known as the Dolly Varden.

I’ve seen the sign for years and always wondered – who was Dolly Varden?

According to, Long Beach’s Dolly Varden was “an eccentric circus performer” who had a wealthy admirer.

“Supposedly, he built the building for her,” Black said, and she lived on the top floor of the hotel in a number of the rooms.

Long Beach doesn’t have the only Dolly Varden around, however.

All the iterations of Dolly Varden seem to stem from Charles Dickens’ historical novel, “Barnaby Rudge.” It features the Varden family – Gabriel, a locksmith with a manipulative wife named Martha and their daughter Dolly.

In 1867, the first baseball team to get paid to play was the Dolly Vardens – a female African-American team who started playing professional baseball two years before the first men’s team. The ladies played in long skirts and corsets.

Why name a team the Dolly Vardens? At the time a fashion craze was sweeping Britain and the United States – the Dolly Varden costume. The clothing featured brightly patterned dresses with flowers and a skirt. The outfit was finished off with a Dolly Varden hat, usually flat and trimmed with flowers or ribbons. It was an 1870s version of the fashions in Dickens’ novel.

If all this seems a bit fishy, it gets even fishier. There is a trout common to cold-water tributaries of the Pacific Ocean named after Dolly Varden. The first recorded uses of the name was in Northern California.

In an account by David Starr Jordan, yes, the same Jordan who’s name is on a Long Beach high school, a landlady in Soda Springs saw the brightly colored, spotted trout in the 1870s and said, “Why, that is a regular Dolly Varden.” The name stuck.

A Midwest-based folk/rock band shares the name, too. The Chicago quintet Dolly Varden took its name from what they call “a rare and beautiful species of trout.” The songwriters in the band both had fathers who were avid fisherman and “dreamt of one day catching the elusive Dolly Varden in an icy Alaskan lake.”

Ten hours north of Long Beach is the city of Dolly Varden, Nev., a desolate place sitting in the Dolly Varden Mountains near Utah. The area consists of 16 mineral claims and not much else. The Dolly Varden mine was opened in 1872 and was one of the richest copper mines in Elko County.

Going even farther north, a Canadian silver company of the same name focuses its energy on the development of the historic Dolly Varden Silver Mines in British Columbia.

Whether you like the Dickens, trout, minerals, baseball, folk rock or Long Beach boutique hotel version, there seems to be a Dolly Varden for everyone.

PHOTOS: Demolishing Freeway Connectors

Workers dismantle the southbound connector from the Long Beach (710) Freeway to westbound Ocean Boulevard in the port of Long Beach on Saturday. The ramp, along with the northbound connector, are being demolished and rebuilt as part of the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project.

PHOTOS: Long Beach City College Freedom Fair

Long Beach City College Veterans hold their first Freedom Fair at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

PHOTOS: Capturing Moments of Graduates Capturing Moments of Themselves – The Selfie

Graduate Selfies at Cal State Long Beach.

PHOTOS: Cal State Long Beach Graduation

Graduates at the first of nine ceremonies at Cal State Long Beach on Tuesday, May 20, 2014.

PHOTOS: Hello (again), Dolly Varden!

After eight months of restoration the Dolly Varden sign is back where it had been since the 1930s — atop The Varden Hotel in downtown Long Beach.

The sign, which advertises “A bath in every room,” was restored by co-owners Larry Black and Charles Knowlton with a grant from the Long Beach Navy Memorial Heritage Foundation.

When asked about the cost of the restoration, Black wasn’t comfortable revealing the numbers, only saying, “It cost a lot — more then I expected … in the tens of thousands.”

Black explained the challenges of restoring the sign.

“It was more deteriorated then we had thought,” he said. “At certain points you could push your finger into 80 years of deterioration.”

The landmark sign is now its original black with off-white lettering and will glow blue and red when lit.

The Dolly Varden at Fourth Street and Pacific Avenue was constructed in 1929. The now-famous sign was added in the early 1930s, and it was recognized as a vintage historical object and granted landmark status by the City of Long Beach in 1995.

Dolly Varden was “an eccentric circus performer” who had a wealthy admirer, according to

“Supposedly, he built the building for her,” Black said, and she lived in the top floor of the hotel in a number of the rooms.

Black and Knowlton have owned the hotel since 2006 and have been refurbishing it since. The sign was the last piece of the puzzle.

“Once this is up, the building is totally done … the building is fully restored,” Black said.

PHOTOS: Women Converge in Long Beach

The 29th. California Women’s Conference in Long Beach.

MR. LONG BEACH: Bloom, Love, Hate: Life Under the Purple Canopy

“Don’t even talk to me about these trees … I hate them!”

That was the greeting I received a few years ago while photographing jacaranda trees on Petaluma Avenue.

The woman, who refused to be identified, continued: “If you live on this street you hate ’em because all they do is track in mud and dirt and everything else.”

That’s when I realized the jacaranda trees aren’t just pretty. They create real angst for Long Beachers that have to live under the purple canopy.

There are certain annual rituals when you’re a photojournalist in Long Beach. Every April, it’s fast cars; in June, it’s graduations; and in May, it’s the jacaranda trees.

This year, I wanted a different view of the blooming trees, so I sent my drone high above the 3600 block of Petaluma Avenue in East Long Beach.

The jacaranda is a native to tropical and subtropical regions of Central America, South America, Cuba, Hispaniola and the Bahamas. The ones in Long Beach were planted when developers built homes in the middle of the last century.

The residents of Petaluma Avenue have a love-hate relationship with the trees.

Jarred Gienapp has lived under the trees his whole life. He says they’re messy, but they’re pretty when they’re blooming. About the purple blooms he said, “Fifty-fifty – they’re nice and they give you a headache at the same time.”

Steve and Pamela Colucci have lived under the purple trees for 12 years.

As the words, “What do you think about these trees” were coming out of my mouth, Steve emphatically said, “We hate ’em.” He said he had to buy a blower to keep the blooms under control.

His wife, Pamela, added: “They’re pretty to the visitors that drive down the street, but they’re really stinky.” And, “You can’t have carpet if you live on this street,” she said.

Steve Colucci laughed as he recalled what the street looked like when they bought their home: “It was beautiful. It was green. It was October.”

During their first spring in the home when the rain of purple blossoms started, Steve recalls thinking, “Are you kidding me?”

PHOTOS: Long Beach State Softball loses to Notre Dame, 8-0

Long Beach State softball takes on Norte Dame during the NCAA Regionals at UCLA on Friday. The 49ers lost to the Fighting Irish, 8 to 0.

PHOTOS: Long Beach Fire leaves Scar on Wetlands

Charred grass and palm trees are what remains on Thursday after a fire in the Los Cerritos in Long Beach on Wednesday.

PHOTOS: Kentucky Derby winner Victor Espinoza Visits City of Hope

Kentucky Derby winner Victor Espinoza, center, jockey for California Chrome, shares a laugh with pediatric patients Carolina Ayala, 10, left, and Abner Ruano, 13, at City of Hope in Duarte Tuesday. He has been donating 10 percent of his earnings to City of Hope, which meant giving them around $14,000 for the Kentucky Derby victory.

PHOTOS: Body Found in Burning Long Beach Home.

The body of a woman was found in a burning home in North Long Beach on Tuesday. The fire ignited in a single-story home at 340 Del Amo Blvd. at about 10:15 a.m. and was extinguished within minutes. Long Beach Fire Department spokesman Matt Dobberpuhl said firefighters found a body inside the home. The woman’s identity was not released. Read the story>>

PHOTO: Nothing Happened on the way to the Gerald Desmond Bridge

A bottleneck of traffic was expected, but never appeared, Monday morning when the southbound Long Beach (710) Freeway to westbound Ocean Boulevard connector ramp was shut down for two year.  A piece of construction of equipment sits atop the ramp in the port of Long Beach. The ramp will be demolished. The northbound ramp, left, will be closed later this year.

MR. LONG BEACH: Willow Springs Park is Open… Parts of it.

The hilltop plaza at Willow Springs Park is an area map made from decomposed granite and tumbled glass. The map was made by local artist Steve Elicker.  This view is looking north, Orange Avenue is on the right.

The hilltop plaza at Willow Springs Park is an area map made from decomposed granite and tumbled glass. The map was made by local artist Steve Elicker. This view is looking north, Orange Avenue is on the right.

Q. I see a bunch of tattered signs on Spring Street advertising “Willow Springs Park.” What’s going on with that? – Jody Collins

A. Willow Springs Park is a 47-acre site bounded by Orange and California avenues on its sides, Spring Street to the north and Willow Street to the south – excluding the cemeteries and a small private lot.

According to District 7 Councilman James Johnson, when Willow Springs Park is completed, it will be the largest park to open in Long Beach since El Dorado Park. And, it will be the largest park on the west side of the city.

The park shares its name with the streets that bound it, named for the numerous willow trees and natural springs in the area.

Parts of the park – Longview Point and Farm Stand 59 – are already open, but the majority is yet to come.

Longview Point is, as Johnson put it, “The highest point accessible in the entire city of Long Beach, with gorgeous vistas of Catalina Island, the Pacific Ocean, downtown Long Beach and the Hollywood sign – on a very clear day.” Of course, there’s a giant hill to the east that’s pretty big, but who looks that way? The high point is covered by an area map made by local artist Steve Elicker. It’s an aerial view of Southern California made from decomposed granite and tumbled glass. A parking lot on Orange Avenue gives you access to a trail that leads to Longview Point.

Farm Lot 59 is a 1-acre farm at 2714 California Ave. run by Long Beach Local. According to, they “grow food and flowers the old-fashioned way using our hands, without pesticides and chemicals.” Produce grown at the farm is available after June. They also sell to local restaurants, caterers and bartenders.

What’s next?

Johnson told me two things are on the horizon – a visitor center and a community garden education center.

The city set aside $1 million for the park, along with several grants, to fulfill the master plan. One of the things the plan calls for is a visitor center.

An old train station in the 1400 block of San Francisco Avenue will be moved to the park, most likely off California Avenue, and used as a visitor center. The station was built downtown in 1907 and moved to its current location in 1936.

The community garden education center will be one-acre area to teach young people about agriculture next to Farm Lot 59.

Johnson added, “It’s not a pie-in-the-sky project. When you have the money, you have the land, you have environmental approvals and you have a plan, all you need is the time to get it done … and that’s where we’re at.”

El Dorado Park filming update

A month ago I wrote about a single-family home being built in Area II of El Dorado Park for a movie.

The building is gone now, but at the time rumors were swirling that it was for a remake of “The Amityville Horror.” The production company refused to give me any information but, when the house was finished it was a clear, dead ringer for the house in the 1979 classic.

This version, simply titled “Amityville,” will star Jennifer Jason Leigh as a single mother who moves in to the spooky house with her three kids.

It’s set to be released in January.

MR. LONG BEACH: There’s an App for That

Where is this old sign with the old-timey phone number? Send your answer to First person to answer correctly wins a prize.

Where is this old sign with the old-timey phone number? Send your answer to and win a prize.

I’m a geek. So this week I thought I’d put my geekdom and love of Long Beach together.

Here’s a look at some useful Long Beach area iPhone apps:

The City of Long Beach has been getting “techie” in the last few years releasing a bevy of GO apps. The only one I’ve used is GO Long Beach. I reported a damaged street sign and a damaged parking sign near my house a few years ago. Both items were fixed in a few days. I even got an email updating me on the status of the work.

GO Long Beach: This app basically allows you to rant to the city. Click “new issue” and complain away. It also has a handy list of city phone numbers and a link to code enforcement. What I’d like to see in this app is construction updates. When will Redondo Avenue be finished? How long until I can walk along the bluffs again?

GO LB Pets: This app includes Pictures and info about pets available for adoption from Long Beach Animal Care Services. Also there’s info about city dogs parks and emergency vets.

GO LBPL: The cool feature in this app is the search. You can look for books by name, author or publisher. The results will tell you what library has the book, if it’s checked out and when it’s due to be returned.

GO LGB: This app inclides basic airport information with airline phone numbers and parking rates. It also has flight tracking. What this app is missing is maps to parking lots and a link to WebTrak, the cool feature on their desktop site that allows you to see a real-time map of the aircraft over Long Beach.

Vote LB 2014: The app shows voter information for the City Clerk’s Office. This app has a moving countdown akin to a bomb in an action thriller. You can also find your voting place and track results on election night.

Lakewood and Signal Hill won’t be left out; they have city apps, too.

Lakewood’s app is simply called “Lakewood,” and Signal Hill’s is “mySignalHill.” Both apps’ main purpose is to report problems, from abandoned shopping carts to graffiti to high tall weeds and dead vegetation.

As far as local attractions go, The Aquarium of the Pacific’s app is a nice guide to have with you when visiting the fish. The only problem: Cell service is horrible inside most of the exhibits.

The Port of Long Beach has the LB Bridge app, which keeps tabs on the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project. You can check road closures and view live construction cameras.

Cal State Long Beach’s radio station K-Beach has a live streaming app – no frills – that just lets you listen to the school’s station.

And lastly, the hospitals. If you need to get to the ER, but somehow have the time to shop around for the best wait times, Lakewood and Los Alamitos Medical Centers have apps for you. Both hospital apps are exactly the same and both let you check the ER wait times and even start the check-in process.

What’s missing? What apps would make life better in Long Beach? Let me know what you’d like to have on your phone and I’ll share it with our readers.

PHOTOS: Long Beach / Los Angeles Port Truck Drivers on 48-hour Strike

Los Angeles and Long Beach truck drivers are conducting a 48-hour strike for fair and lawful treatment against the Ports of LA/Long Beach terminals. Read the story>>

PHOTOS: Long Beach Bluffs getting New Look

Workers install shotcrete along the bluffs in Long Beach on Monday. The shotcrete, meant to stop erosion along the bluffs near Bluff Park, is a solution some community members think is heavy handed. They’re calling a special city council meeting Tuesday at 4 p.m. to get the project halted, at least temporarily. Shotcrete is concrete that is sent through a hose at high velocity onto a surface.

MR. LONG BEACH: Horses Hiding behind Homes

Q. In the Wrigley area near Birney Elementary School, Spring Street dead ends at the river. Right before its end, there is Deforest Avenue on the left, and then an entrance to what looks like some horse property on the right. There’s like a dirt road that goes along behind the properties. Does anyone know if these are horse easements as regarded under the city law and if the road that goes along behind them is public? I’d like to see the horses and their people, but don’t want to trespass. – Becky Cook

A. The area is actually the back of the 3000 block of San Francisco Avenue near the Los Angeles River. It’s an easement owned by the County of Los Angeles’ Flood Control District currently being used by homeowners – mostly for horses.

I went out to the area and ran into Jackson Shaw. He owns a home and a big red barn on the street. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, because he just happens to be chock-full of history.

First, a bit about Shaw; He works for the FAA inspecting small aircraft before they are shipped out of the country. He is also a helicopter pilot. Shaw said he saw the distinctive red barn during approaches to Long Beach airport and decided he wanted to live there.

After a year of persuading the owner to sell, Shaw, his wife and five horses moved in. He gathered neighbors and started the Wrigley Heights Equestrian Association.

In 1975, the city of Long Beach granted a Horse Overlay District for two blocks of homes on the west side of San Francisco Avenue between Spring and 32nd streets. The ordinance allows single-family residences to keep up to five horses on at least 8,000 square feet.

Here’s where it gets confusing. The area behind the homes, where the horses are kept, is L.A. County property – it’s not owned by the residents. Even though it’s county land, it’s still subject to Long Beach city zoning.

Kerjon Lee, public affairs manager with L.A. County Public Works, told me that for the the county, city and equestrian association have been working to figure out a way for the homeowners to buy the property.

According to Shaw, for five years L.A. County Public Works met with the association for five years trying to figure out a way for the residents to purchase the land, then one day they told him they decided not to sell. Then about three years ago, the county recontacted them and said, “Now we’re ready to sell,” Shaw said.

They have been in talks ever since, but Shaw said about 12 months ago, the county told him about 12 months ago that in 2002 the city of Long Beach had zoned the area for public use in 2002, so and that designation would be a problem in allowing them to buy the property. He said that has brought “everything to a scratching halt.”

In the late 1980s, the 3100 block lost its horse zone when Kirk Hankla purchased the whole block with the intent to raze the structures and build new homes. His company, International City Mortgage wasn’t able to complete the project.

In the 1990s, Gensemer Construction bought the lots and built and built 18 two-story homes constructed around two cul-de-sacs. The design, which limited lots to 5,000 square feet, no lounger meet the 8,000 square foot requirement for horses.

Shaw no longer has horses, but he still loves his barn.

“It’s really just a different world back here,” he said. “From the front nobody knows, nobody complains.”

So, to get back to Becky’s question. It appears you can walk back there and look at the horses. You won’t be trespassing any more than the people keeping the horses on the property.


A car sits on the Metro Blue Line track after being struck by a train in Long Beach on Friday. A police spokesman said the car was attempting to turn left on the Long Beach Blvd. from 14th. Street. There were no life-threatening injuries.

MR. LONG BEACH: Drink Up, The Water’s Fine… Officials Say.

The City of Long Beach's groundwater treatment plant. Water from ground wells is treated and filtered, then mixed with imported water and sent to storage facilities.

The City of Long Beach’s groundwater treatment plant. Water from ground wells is treated and filtered, then mixed with imported water and sent to storage facilities.

Q. Is the city water safe? I’ve been drinking it since I moved here almost seven years ago, with no apparent ill effects, but recently several people have expressed shock that I fill my glass straight from the tap. One was certain it’s unsafe. Are they right? – Nancy Hall

A. According to local water officials, it’s safe to drink up.

“We consistently meet or exceed all federal and state requirements. There are no problems or issues (with our water),” said Matthew Veeh, director of government and public affairs for the Long Beach Water Department.

On the surface, water seems like it would be a simple thing – get it from a source, send it though pipes to a house and you’re done. Well, it’s not that easy. In fact, it took two officials at the Long Beach Water Department to explain to me how it works in the city.

Veeh explained that Long Beach residents get a blend of water out of their taps – 60 percent groundwater and 40 percent imported. The foreign water is a mixture from the Colorado River and the state water project. The groundwater comes from under our feet.

The groundwater is pumped to the water department’s facility on Redondo Avenue near the airport where it’s treated. It’s then mixed with the imported water and sent to tanks on a hill near the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Redondo Avenue. After that it goes to customers.

But where did the reputation of bad water in Long Beach get started?

To explain this I needed a second water man – Tai Tseng, director of operations for the Water Department.

Tseng told me about an ancient redwood forest deep under Long Beach. He said the trees are about 800 to 1,000 feet under the city – unfortunately, that’s right where our groundwater is located. He explained that the trees sit in a portion of the aquifer, and when water soaks in the trees it leeches out the tannins and gives the water a yellowish color, like tea.

Before 1984, the Water Department removed the color with bleach. This gave the water a chlorine-like smell similar to pool water.

Today, the Water Department removes the tint with coagulants that absorb the color. Tseng stressed that no matter how the color is removed, it only affects aesthetics, not water quality.

“People have preferences,” Tseng said. “Maybe the water is not what they prefer when it’s compared to bottled water and some may translate that to not being safe.”

As far as safety, Veeh assured me the department tests the water for contaminants regularly – “weekly, sometimes daily,” he said.

Considering that Long Beach water costs about half a penny ($.0047) per gallon and Arrowhead spring water sells for about $1.30 a gallon, I’ll stick with the tap.

Train station update: A few weeks ago I wrote about an old train station in the 1400 block of San Francisco Avenue. The station was built downtown in 1907 and moved to its current location in 1936. Art Cox, the city’s superintendent of street maintenance, has confirmed plans are in the works to move the station to Willow Springs Park at Longview Point. They hope to move the building sometime in the next year.

PHOTOS: Bisons Need Help Preventing Unwanted Pregnancies

Bison on the interior of Catalina Island between Haypress and Patrick reservoirs. Wildlife biologists Calvin Duncan and Julie King were looking for specific female bisons to shoot with a dart that will deliver contraceptive to the animal. The conservancy is working to keep the bison population around 150.

PHOTOS: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Day 3

PHOTOS: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Day 2

PHOTOS: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Day 1

Day one of the Long Beach Grand Prix is in the books – here’s what I saw.