A resource for residents of Encino, California—find out how you can contribute.

Metro Vanpool Program and Rideshare Program

January 01, 2015

Vanpools are similar to car pools, except a vanpool is a group of 5 to 15 people who regularly travel together to work 30 miles or more (roundtrip) in a comfortable van at least 13 days out of the month. Typically, riders pay a monthly fare and maintenance fee, while drivers ride at a discounted rate in exchange for driving and maintaining the van. Details here. Currently there are 1,375 vanpools in operation around LA, with more on the way.

On that link you can click on either Vanpool Seat Finder or Start a Vanpool. With the Seat Finder you type in your zip code and your destination zip code and it finds available vanpools for you. I had trouble with this link so if you have trouble, this link may be more effective. If you want to start a vanpool, it involves leasing a van from one of the approved companies and the costs are partially offset by a Metro subsidy.

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It’s legal to grow veggies at rental and homeowner properties

December 26, 2014

California law was amended in 2014 to allow renters to grow veggies in the backyards of their rental units. The same goes for owners living in residential homeowner associations. Certain restrictions do apply. The LA Times has a summary here.

Or you can read the legal summary here - Assembly Bill 2561, which added sections 1940.10 and 4750 to the Civil Code, relating to land use.  The specific language says that a tenant can “participate in personal agriculture in portable containers approved by the landlord in the tenant’s private area, as defined, if certain conditions are met,” and it ensures that homeowner associations cannot prohibit or unreasonably restrict the use of a homeowner’s backyard for personal agriculture.

These changes became necessary because of persistent opposition from homeowner associations and landlords, and the latter can still make life difficult for those who want personal gardens. Perseverance and citing the law may be required in order to push back.

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Natural gas cars?

November 04, 2014

The Honda Civic Natural Gas has long been the only sedan available in the U.S. powered by CNG. There are several pick-up trucks available with CNG (Chrysler, GM, Ford), but the Civic is the only single-fuel sedan. There are new arrivals coming, however, and the first - available possibly before the end of the year – is GM’s Chevrolet Impala, which is much larger and racier than a Civic.

This new Impala is dual–fuel (or “bi-fuel”): once its CNG is depleted, it switches to gasoline. In fact, technically this Impala can run on renewable natural gas made from food scraps and sewage!

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Tattling on water-wasting neighbors

October 03, 2014

I don’t believe in tattling on neighbors, but there are now apps whereby you can protest their water wasting activities if you want. The most popular is by VizSAFE. Others include H2O Tracker and EveryDrop.LA. All are free for iOS and Android.

In other words, take a photo of a house that is wasting water, upload the photo anonymously via one of these apps to a public online forum. At the moment this is all new but it may soon start seeing results. The VizSAFE map for Encino so far only shows people grumbling about the sprinklers at Balboa Park and those use recycled water!

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About Encino411

Encino411 is a website for residents of Encino, California, with information on recycling, edible gardening, environmentally friendly housekeeping, tips on volunteering in the community, disaster preparedness, elder care, markets and other green products.

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