LAX Parking… free no more… March 1st, 2013…

Thanks to fellow Active E Electronut Dr. Bob on the ActiveE forum, it looks like LAX will no longer be allowing parking and charging for free in Lot 6 and Lot 1 beginning March 1, 2013.  Also, looks like Helen Chiu (@yesthisishelen on Twitter) posted the following, which looks like a scan of the notice.

Needless to say, this was a nice benefit that was provided to EV and Plug-in Hybrid drivers that has been running at LAX for quite a while (especially since it was not until April last year that the chargers were upgraded to J1772).  So, this leads me to believe that this benefit was at least around for when most people charged with the old SPI chargers (and therefore GM EV1 or the older Toyota RAV4 Electric (not the re-launched based on a Tesla platform).

It was great to have this benefit out there, but seeing how California public facilities really need to be upgraded, I suppose it is to be expected that the LAX folks would be counting on increasing their revenue from ALL users of LAX Parking facilities.  This just means that I’ll have to plan my trips in and out of LAX with off-site parking in mind and ensure that I have enough charge to get home before I park.

LAX Onsite parking is pretty expensive.  Though the charging will more than likely remain “free”, the charge for parking would mean that one will need to consider OTHER charging stations near LAX.  I would suggest the Blink Network ones at Loyola Marymount University.  There are about fifteen that show up and cost between $1-$2 an hour to charge depending on the plan that you have.  The address to LMU is 1 LMU Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90045.

For those that want to appeal the decision – is the email address for the folks at LAX Parking.

Charge It! – Great food near public chargers #6 in an ongoing series – Valley Road, Montclair, New Jersey – Nauna’s Bella Casa and ActiveE #1

I still owe you guys my first National Plug In Day experience.  However, to be a little more timely, I figure to update my Charge It! series.

As many of my readers know, I’ve been writing on a series of great restaurants to go to while you charge. Today’s post is a little different. It’s nowhere to be found in the Los Angeles area. It’s in Northern New Jersey, approximately 30 minutes (with no real traffic) from New York city – Nauna’s Bella Casa. No, I didn’t take several weeks to go from Los Angeles to New Jersey to go to lunch with my ActiveE. For this trip, I rented a Nissan Leaf from Hertz on Demand. Hertz car sharing subsidiary which allows members the opportunity to rent either a Nissan Leaf or SmartEV in the New York city area.

Nauna’s Bella Casa can be found at 148 Valley Road, Montclair, New Jersey, 07042.  (973) 744-3232.

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So, what takes me from New York City to Montclair, New Jersey. Frankly, I wanted to meet this guy, Tom Moloughney, aka Mini-E #250 and more importantly to me, Mr. ActiveE #1 and the top mileage leader that I foolishly challenged to try to “catch up” on top mileage use for all of the other ActiveE Electronuts.  As of the writing of this posting (in-flight from JFK to LAX) my ActiveE is waiting for me at LAX Lot 6 with 17,902 and Tom’s listed mileage on is 27,795…  Needless to say, this is a TOUGH challenge.

Here’s a picture of Tom Moloughney and me in front of Tom’s New Jersey EF-OPEC (AKA Active E #1).

Had a good lunch and great company with fellow @BMWi evangelist @tommolog Nauna's Bella Casa in Montclair NJ

So, how’s the food. It was good, home-style Italian food at a great value. I had the lunch special which was Soup, Entree, soft drink, coffee (or tea, I believe) and dessert for $9.99. As opposed to other posts in this series, I have NO picture of the food. I was too busy enjoying the discussions between Tom and myself on the Active E, EVs, new BMWs, Teslas, Energy Independence, etc.

For my choice of soup, I picked the Pasta Fagioli. There were other choices, but I really like Pasta Fagioli so I had that. For my entree, I went with the Fusilli e Pollo which is the spiral pasta with grilled chicken & spinach. I really enjoyed the Fusilli e Pollo, but since I went out to Nauna’s in Day two of my trip to the East Coast, the meal was biologically breakfast for me, so the portion size was a little larger than I could finish, so I brought the rest to go. I skipped coffee and had ice cream for dessert (chocolate).  The meal was very good and felt home-cooked.

How about the chargers?  Nauna’s has two J1772 chargers, one on Chargepoint and the other on the Blink Network.  If you’re eating here, the charging is gratis, otherwise, the network fees would apply, I believe that the Chargepoint is free, but the Blink is based on your membership plan, so to get that charging at no cost, check in with the restaurant before you plug in.

How did I do getting to Nauna’s.  Well, I picked up the Nissan Leaf (was hoping for a SmartEV, but that will have to be a different post) from Hertz On Demand’s location at 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.   This drive was approximately 20 miles away, but my consumption is closer to 35 miles from the range.  This was my first time driving a Leaf for ANY extended period and I must say that it was not as fun as my Active E, at least it seemed to perform better than the Coda that I test drove a few months ago.

So, if you find yourself anywhere near Montclair, NJ.  Even if it isn’t that near, give Tom a call and see if he’s available and you can enjoy a tasty lunch and have some fun “talking EV and stuff”.  I’ll probably get around to plug in day 2012 (Part 1, Part 2 to follow) and my Hertz on Demand SmartEV rental fiasco.

Charge It! – Great food near public chargers #5 in an ongoing series – Mateo Street – East side of Downtown Los Angeles, CA (Arts District)

This update on Charge It! is a case of great food and Leaf/MiEV – CHAdeMO – Level 3 (L3) envy…


Well, I love my ActiveE.  It gets me almost everywhere.  However, since the J1772 Level 3 standard is yet to be published, BMW released the car with Level 1 and Level 2 charging capability.  Level 3 gets most L3 capable cars to 80% state of charge (SOC) in 30 minutes.  Yes, you read correctly, you get up to 80% of your range in 30 minutes.  Mitsubishi and Nissan support a Japanese standard called CHAdeMO.  BMW, GM and others all decided to go with extending the J1772 format for L3 and that is not quite done yet.

Lucky for you that the food at Church and State is SO great and the wine selection is SO good that you want to stick around for several hours ANYWAY to wait for the L2 charger to finish.

So, what makes it Great! It’s definitely the food in one of the best French Bistro’s in Los Angeles.

We started our meal with the Beef Marrow and Bread. It was AWESOME.

Moelle de Bœuf - Marrow

Moelle de Bœuf - Bread

You get some of the marrow and spread it on your bread and munch. No need for the butter, also as you can tell, it’s definitely carnivore food for that course!

To go with the Moelle de Boeuf, I went with the Tarte Flambee and it was a very good flat bread.

Tarte Flambée 2

Since we were dining in the summer and it was a nice, hot day, figured a Riesling was in order and the one recommended by the Sommelier was very refreshing.

A nice summer Riesling

For our Mains we went with Scallops and Pork, the other white meat. Both were exquisite! I ordered the Pork, but swapped meals with the better half!…

Scallops, Potato Strings and Asparagus

Roasted Pork and Figs

The scallop was tender and plump. It went well with the wine that we chose as well the asparagus on the plate. The Better half let me take a bite of her, formerly my, pork dish and that was great! The Figs and Pork made great accompaniment with each other.

The dessert was scrumptious. We chose a nice, sweet chocolate tarte and paired it with a glass of the 2005 Prieure D’Arche Pugneau Sauternes that was on the menu.

Tarte for Dessert 2

I would say that Church and State rivals another of my favorite French Bistros in Southern California and gives Bouchon in Beverly Hills a run for its money.

Now the negatives, the Sommelier was very good and helpful, however, our server was not as interested in taking care of us.  The restaurant had a lot of people, however, the restaurant also had adequate staff to cover all tables. Our server had a disinterested demeanor about her when she did get around to following up with us. Luckily, it’s a French bistro, so such behavior makes me think of other bistros I have been to in Paris…  Wait, that’s not right, I’ve had better, attentive service in Paris.

However, the biggest negative for me is really the location. It’s on the scary Arts District on the way East side of Downtown Los Angeles. Fine in the summer, really dark in the Fall/Winter. The neighborhood directly between the restaurant and charging station parking lot is well lit, but the rest is really dodgy.

Here is the Google Map to the restaurant

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Here is the Google Map to the Parking Lot, it’s across the street from the restaurant.

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That being said, Church and State does have great food, well-lit blocks between it and the parking spot and charging stations. The parking spot is $5 to park, lots of ample parking on the street for free. Blink Network chargers and this was free to charge at the time that I used it, however, a lot of these have gone to whatever plan you’ve signed up for with Blink!

Coming up next on the blog will be my post on Real Goods Solar and how they won my business from Solar City with the partnership with BMW and good timing on the deal announcement as it related to my Solar City installation.  I’m figuring out my math (and getting a whole new napkin to do that calculations with.)

Charge It! – Great food near public chargers #4 in an ongoing series – Abbot Kinney Blvd – Venice, CA

I’ve been too busy enjoying the driving and eating to have updated the Charge It! series, but here’s a place that I went to a month ago in the Abbot Kinney section of Venice Beach.

The chargers are located in the aptly named Electric Lodge which has five Blink chargers on the wall located on 1416 Electric Avenue, between Milwood Avenue and California Avenue.


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However, after 7 pm, they CAN be ICEd by folks going to the Electric Lodge. The electric only restricted parking is only enforced during the day, 7am-7pm daily.


Since it’s after 7pm, THIS guy IS allowed to park there:


This area of town has been a “hip” part of Los Angeles for quite a while and two of the restaurants in the area have been in’s Top 38.  I liked both Tasting Kitchen and Gjelina, but today’s post is about Gjelina.

A bottle of "dry" Tokaji.  A lot like a dry Riesling, but slightly sweeter

We started our dinner with a nice bottle of a dry furmint Tokaji from Bottpince Winery.  This was the perfect summer wine to complement our meal.  It’s akin to a dry Riesling, but slightly sweeter.

The plates on the menu were categorized between smaller and larger plates and we opted to dine Tapas style and enjoyed two starters, the Copper River Salmon Crudo with lemon Aioli, Horseradishe, and Chive AND Grilled Monterey Bay Squid w/ Melon, Celery, Chili & Salsa Verde.

Copper River Salmon Crudo with lemon Aioli, Horseradishe, and Chive

The Copper River Salmon Crudo was excellent.  The fish was fresh and very refreshing.  It was melt in your mouth good.  The dish went well with the wine and would’ve been excellent without it.

Grilled Monterey Bay Squid w/ Melon, Celery, chili & Salsa Verde 2

The grilled squid salad and melon’s only flaw was the fact that I wanted a bigger dish.  However, as a single starter it would have been better, but having to share it with the better half left me hanging for more of the dish.

Luckily, I had other dishes that were still to come as this is Tapas style, after all people and we ordered more dishes.

Anchovy & Burrata Toasts with Pepperonata, Capers, & Sherry 1

The anchovy burrata toast was yummy!  Nope, not a loss for words, just required ONE WORD – Yummy!

The next several dishes were our warmer ones AND the the restaurant was getting darker, so I have to apologize for the photos having to be touched up to be seen, but such is the challenge of photographs with iOs devices with no flash.

Our next two dishes were both Pork dishes.  Luckily, I’m not restricted from eating pork as both dishes were awesome.  The Pork Meatballs were nicely sauced and very flavorful.  The meatballs were a great contrast to the light seafood that we had to start our meal.

Braised Pork Meatballs with Tomato, Red Wine, Parmesan, & Grilled Bread (Retouched)

After the meatballs, the Crispy Niman Ranch Pork Belly was the piece de resistance.  The pork belly presented the same protein in a different yet delicious way.  The pork meatballs is comfort food with a nice solid bite.  The pork belly was both crispy (as the name implied) and ideally marbled underneath the sauce and chili.

If it had been an Asian restaurant, the pork belly would’ve come with rice, and I suppose that would’ve made the rice that much better, but it would not have gone with the flow of the meal.  So, no fault of the restaurant, but this dish would’ve been great with white rice.  But that’s a matter of personal taste, and the dish was excellent without is.

Crispy Niman Ranch Pork Belly w/ Watermelon-Fresno Chili & Lime Salad (Retouched)

The culmination to this meal was the Banana and Chocolate Bread Pudding with Fresh Cream and Caramel.  The dessert was great.  It doesn’t look great, but it sure tasted that way.  As plain as it looked, the dessert spared no expense in taste.  What it lacked in looks, it made up for in the packed flavor in each bite.Banana & Chocolate Bread Pudding with Fresh Cream & Caramel (retouched)

Oh and Tasting Kitchen was great too…  But I’ll have to write about that at another time.  Just too stuffed after this one.

Public Charging stations and being mindful of the parking situation

Currently, the biggest challenge with public charging stations is when an internal combustion engine car is taking up a charging spot so that an EV can not use it.  This is what is meant when an EV driver mentions that a spot is ICEd.

Most public charging locations try to solve this problem by properly marking up their spots AND in some locations actually ticketing violators of their signage.

See this BMW X5 at the Americana at Brand –

Americana at Brand - Level 2A - BMW X5 ICE spot (ticketed) - 1

and a close up of the ticket issued to the driver –

Americana at Brand - Level 2A - BMW X5 ICE spot (ticketed) - 3

I really appreciate centers and police departments that enforce these EV only spots as it hopefully actively deters the practice of ICEd locations.

This is an easy violation to spot.

The thing that I believe we need to come up with a solution for is the fellow EV driver that picks a charger that blocks out others from being able to use either the parking spots or other EV chargers at the location.  Let me attempt to explain this.  If you have a charging port on the opposite side of the car where the charging station is and a charging station that is on the same side of the car, some drivers will pick the one closest to their charging port, EVEN IF doing so will effectively make a spot or another charger unavailable for the next car to use.  I don’t know what to call this violation, but here are a few pictures:

At L.A. Live, Lot W (West Lot), I’ve seen this Plug-in Prius park in spot 2 while using the charger from spot 3 to charge with.


I made this crude diagram to demonstrate the point.  The Os are the Blink EVSEs.

By using the charger in Spot 3 while parking in Spot 2, the plug in Prius effectively blocked out use of Spot 3 for MOST cars.

Here’s the same Prius doing the same thing at this location at another day –


To solve this, and to allow others, should they arrive I moved from Spot 1 and parked in Spot 3 and used Spot 2’s EVSE to charge to allow Spot 1 and Spot 4 to charge, should some other EVs need to take the spot.



However our cords were crossed during this time, and would’ve been a hazard. Mr. or Ms. Plug-In-Prius could’ve solved this by just taking Spot 4, and this is exactly the point I am trying to make.  Pay attention to how the spots are configured and ensure that the charger and spot you are taking will allow the maximum number of fellow EV drivers to park in the location.

I don’t know what we should call this sort of EV violation.  It’s not ICEing the spot, since the car IS an EV (yes, even Plug-ins with Range Extenders (gas engine backups are such), however, the person needs to be more mindful of what they’re doing.

Another example can be seen at the Americana at Brand on Thursday, July 12.  The same day that the BMW X5 above was ticketed for ICEing the spot.

Americana at Brand - Level 2A - Volt using wrong charger 1

This Volt was charging while parked in Spot 2 using the charger on Spot 1. I understand that their charging port is on the driver’s side, but if the other spots had been taken, another car MAY not have been able to park in Spot 1 to use the charger in Spot 2 without possibly crossing Spot 2. The driver of the Volt should have used the charger assigned to Spot 2 and left the charger in Spot 1 available for someone else to use.

Americana at Brand - Level 2A - Volt using wrong charger 2

The charger was available AND long enough to reach the Volt’s front Driver’s side charging port.

Americana at Brand - Level 2A - Volt using wrong charger 3

I don’t know if we have a word for this fellow EV driver erroneously using the wrong charger, but if all indications are correct and there will be more of us on the road, we really need to be more mindful of what EVSEs are appropriate for whatever parking spot we decided to take.

Currently, there are still not that many of us on the road sharing these public stations, but there are definitely more EV drivers than in the past.  And the projected sales figures show a little over 3x as many this year as last year.  So, the EV community needs to be more mindful of how to approach this inadvertent blocking of the precious few charging spots and locations to charge.

Long Range Test… planned but not implemented… (or Long Beach to Santa Barbara, but chickened out).

Ok, so I live in Long Beach, the southernmost city in Los Angeles County (and the county’s second largest city).

According to Google Maps, about 135 Mile Trip between home and some of the Chargepoint Public Chargers on Anacapa Street in Santa Barbara.

So, to make it from home to Santa Barbara and back in the same day, I would have to seriously plan this out AND have the time to execute.

Under ideal circumstances I MAY make it there, but after 4 months of driving the ActiveE I know that this is near impossible for the way that I drive, so I needed to PLAN my trip between the two locations AND have the time to charge each way AND midway.

So, what was my plan…

I’ve always attested that the range on the ActiveE is UNLIMITED…  You just have to make sure that you have enough time to charge in between stops.  My destination was 135 miles away, there are chargers about 60 miles away and another around 90 miles away, so I had identified two locations.  Additionally, to charge for the difference, I figured that I would need at least two hours before my appointment to ensure that I feel confident that I would have enough charge to make it to my destination.

So, I identified two possible charging stations.

1) Thousand Oaks – Janss Marketplace, 275 N. Moorpark Rd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360.  These chargers are on the Blink Network, and showed up as available on the application.  (About 60 miles from home)


2) Ventura, CA – Pacific View Mall, between Sears and Red Robin. These are some non-networked Clipper Creek chargers that I would not have known the status of, until I got there (there are several pay Chargepoint chargers in the City of Ventura (another 5 or so miles further, if I had been more daring).


At the start of the day, I just couldn’t get up early enough to charge for a few hours mid-route, so we ended up ICEing it up to Santa Barbara.  The weather was nice and we at least went convertible, so there was something that the ICE did that the ActiveE did not to minimize my “guilt” over ignoring the ActiveE for the day.

After my lunch in Santa Barbara, I decided to do a survey of a few of the city of Santa Barbara charging stations.  The stations themselves are free, but parking will cost money.  The first 75 minutes are complimentary, and every hour (or fraction thereof is $1.50.  Parking is limited to 72 hours continuously and the lots are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Pictures of the two Chargepoints at 1221 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, California 93101


Down the street from there are a couple of other Chargepoint stations at 1115 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, California 93101.


So, having surveyed a few spots to charge along the way to Santa Barbara.  With enough time to wait in between, a weekend drive to Santa Barbara may well be in the plans for the future…  I just have to get my car back from BMW Service since they’re taken it for its 10,000 mile checkup (and now replacing the e machine…).

Is it just me, or does it look like Blink is expanding in Southern California.

As much as I love using the Chargepoint network from Coulomb and the feedback that their well designed IOS app (as well as the very good BlackBerry App), I find myself thankful that Blink also exists.  It seems to me that the Blink Network is growing in Southern California.  Aside from the chargers in my long drive test to Northern San Diego and the chargers that popped up in L.A. Live that I previously wrote about, it seems that the network just added six more chargers at the Americana at Brand.


and on the other view:


As of today, June 20, 2012.  The spots are not yet complete, but according to the Blink Network App, all six chargers are online. All that seems to be missing is signage on the parking spots to mark them as EV parking spots. Something that the management company on the Grove did not initially do to their chargers (at least according to Recargo/Plugshare) pics that I have looked at before (it does look like the signage at the Grove is now up) Which means that the owners of the Americana are learning from their mistakes from the Grove (same ownership.)  They have 12 spots blocked off and 6 chargers, so it may be ideal for plug-sharing. [Update June 21st, actually parked and charged my ActiveE here today. They shrank down the spots from 12 to six to match the number of chargers.] Works great.


Anyway Bravo to the owner of the Americana and the Grove in installing such a high concentration of EV chargers at their two premiere shopping destinations.  The parking at the Americana is free for the first hour, then $3 for 61 minutes to 90 minutes hours, then $1 for every 30 minutes to a $9 maximum.  So, it costs money to park, but not to charge.  Some restaurants add 2 more hours of free parking to the 1 hour for a total of 3 hours of free parking (and charging.)