Saturday, June 27, 2009

Another "Living in L.A." Update

First of all, I should clarify: I don't live in L.A. Not even in L.A. county. I live in Thousand Oaks, which is about 45 minutes north of L.A., in Ventura County. The only reason I use “L.A.” when describing where I've moved is that usually I'm talking to someone from the Bay Area, and most of them have no idea where Thousand Oaks is, but can roughly approximate the location of Los Angeles.

I think I've been fair in my descriptions of my new habitat so far. Critical of its insanely fast drivers and its relentless promotion of 80s music, but appreciative of its superior customer service and fashion sense.

Today I add two items to the “Living in L.A.” plus column: Low prices and large parking spaces.

Oh, sure you know about the low real estate prices (at least compared to SF), but did you know that pretty much any service you can think of is cheaper here? Example: My gym membership in the Bay Area (YMCA) ran $70/month. Here my gym membership costs $33/month. I didn't join the Y, but if I had (we've got one right up the street), it still would only have been $42. And it's just as nice as the one I belonged to up north. Same thing for highlights. Partial highlight + tip at Aveda salon in Mountain View: $150. Here (also at Aveda salon): $75. Bay Area pedicure: $20. Here: $12. And on it goes. It's like living in a half-price sale, and it rocks.

As for the parking spaces...

I alluded to this in an earlier post, but never said it outright, so let's call out the elephant in the room: people in southern California love their SUVs. In Thousand Oaks in particular, the giant black Escalade seems to rule the road. Most of our neighbors have at least one, and some have two. Oh they're not all Escalades, but a lot are, and those that aren't are at least close cousins from the GMC family: Tahoes, Yukons, Suburbans, you name it. If it's giant and black and you can put 22-inch chrome wheels on it, someone in our neighborhood is driving it.

The happy side effect of all this large vehicle driving (for those of us driving smaller vehicles anyway) is that the parking spaces at the malls and supermarkets around here are enormous. Not only can I sling my Prius into any space I want as carelessly as I please, I can open the doors all the way without the slightest fear that I will ding the car next to me. I can push my shopping cart right up next to my passenger door and put my groceries in there instead of in the trunk. I can even let Zeke open his own door, which he was never ever allowed to do in the Bay Area. I know that giant parking spaces are a poor use of open space and another step on the path to us paving over the entire world, and I do feel guilty about that, but right now I have to admit that I am enjoying them immensely.

P.S. Shanti and I were thinking maybe the City of Thousand Oaks should consider replacing the oak tree on the city seal (because really, how many of those are left?), with a big ol' shiny Escalade; replacing the silhouette of Ventura county with the VanHalen logo; and replacing the bear (how totally non-creative were the people that cooked this seal up? “I know—we're in California—let's use the bear. You know, because it's on the state flag. No one else will think of that!”) with an elephant—because although I haven't touched on this yet in this blog, the place is loaded to the gills with conservatives. We'll talk about that another day (or not...if I know what's good for me).

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