Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Final Project- March 16, 2011


A locavore is defined as one who only eats food grown within a 100-mile radius of their location. Living in the urban sprawl of Los Angeles, I was curious to know if it is possible for me, or any resident of Los Angeles County, to eat entirely locally by shopping at farmer’s markets in the area. I would like to find out if it is feasible to be a locavore in a place as large and as dense as Los Angeles. The farmer’s market that is closest to my residence is the one on Main Street in Santa Monica, so I decided to use this market as my research base. I believe that it will be incredibly difficult to be a locavore in Los Angeles, because there are so few agricultural lands nearby. Santa Monica is a dense urban city, while most of Los Angeles County is either urban or suburban. I do not think that there are enough farms within 100 miles to be able to subsist on entirely local produce year round.


For this project, I first researched all of the vendors at the Sunday Santa Monica Farmer’s Market on Main Street, and created an Excel Spreadsheet with their addresses. One of the limitations of this study was that I was unable to locate all of the addresses for the vendors at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. There are over 40 vendors at the Sunday Farmer’s Market, but I was only able to locate 30 vendor addresses. This means that my results are incomplete, as I do not have the locations of some of the vendors. Once I compiled all of the data, I used geocoding to add all of the address points to a shapefile of California counties in ArcMap. I located Santa Monica within Los Angeles County on the map, and created a 100-mile buffer around the city. At this point, I realized that while I do not live in Santa Monica I do shop at the Farmer’s Market every weekend, and that there are surely many other Los Angeles residents who do the same. I created a layer on the map of just Los Angeles County, and then created a 100-mile buffer around LA County. I identified all farms within 100 miles of Santa Monica, all farms within 100 miles of Los Angeles County (which include the farms in the Santa Monica 100-mile radius), and all farms more than 100 miles from Los Angeles County (which includes Santa Monica). To separate the farms, I used the Editor tool to create 3 different layers of the geocoded addresses. I then chose only the farms that fell within each buffer to produce the farms that are within a 100-mile radius of Santa Monica and Los Angeles County.


At the Sunday Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, eight of the thirty vendors are more than 100 miles from Los Angeles County. These eight farms are Spring Hill Cheese in Petaluma, Munak Ranch in Paso Robles, Bautista Family Organic Date Ranch in Mecca, Avila & Sons Farm in Hanford, Fair Hills Apple Farm in Paso Robles, Olson Farms in Kingsburg, Zuckerman’s Farm in Stockton, and Organic Pastures Dairy Co in Fresno. The graph on my map shows the distance from Santa Monica for each farm. Spring Hill Cheese is the furthest away, with a distance of nearly 400 miles, but most of the farms are around 200 miles from Santa Monica. The other 22 vendors at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market are within the 100-mile radius for Los Angeles County, but only 16 of these vendors are within 100 miles of Santa Monica. The 16 vendors within 100 miles of Santa Monica sell an assortment of goods, making it entirely plausible to only eat food derived from these local sources.


I found that being a locavore in Los Angeles is not impossible, which is what I had initially thought. There are more vendors within a 100-mile radius of Santa Monica than I expected. This shows that it is not unattainable to be a locavore in a large city. Of course, one would be limited by choice of produce and seasonality, but in Southern California with year round warm weather this is not such a terrible prospect. I found that only 8 of the 30 vendors are more than 100 miles from Los Angeles, leaving 22 vendors that fall into the local food category. This shows that being a locavore is possible anywhere, even in the densest of cities. I was surprised by the amount of rural land still surrounding Los Angeles County; I thought that there would be fewer farms.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lab #7- March 2, 2011

Most gauging stations in LA County showed that there is not much difference between the normal rainfall and the current total rainfall in a season. The majority of the gauging stations had a difference of about 2 or 3 inches; the gauging station with the largest difference was the Tanbark station, which usually has about 28 inches in a normal season, has a total of about 44 inches this season. This makes a difference of approximately 16 inches, which is a large difference. Overall, however, the total and normal rainfalls are not too dissimilar.

The current rainfall in Los Angeles seems to be higher than normal for this time of year. Many of the gauging stations already had current totals that are higher than the normal totals for the entire rainfall season, and the season is not over yet. A fair number of gauging stations already have 3 about 3 inches more rainfall than in a normal season.The high total probably has to do with the heavy rainfall that happened in December, January and February in Los Angeles.

I think that Spline is the best interpolation technique for the data, because it creates a smooth surface that passes exactly through the input points. IDW seems to be better when interpolating a smaller distance, as greater distances give the cell less influence on the output value. I did not use Kriging, because the tutorial said that it was best used for geology and that it assumes there is no trend for the data. Spline seems to give the most accurate data for rainfall, because the set of points was not dense enough for IDW to be super accurate, and Spline gives a better estimation.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lab #6- February 23, 2011

To create this map of the Station Fires in Los Angeles County, I downloaded a DEM from the USGS website and got the landcover/vegetation data and the perimeter data from The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Fire and Resource Assessment Program (FRAP) website. I also downloaded the LA county polygon from the UCLA GIS website. It was not difficult to download the correct DEM or the LA county polygon, but I had some difficulty finding the correct vegetation data. The perimeter data was easy enough to find on the FRAP website, as was the fuel data, but I had a friend help me with the vegetation data.

This map was pretty difficult to make, as there were no exact steps in this lab as there have been in others. I had some trouble with the hillshade, and was not able to manipulate it to be the same size as LA county. I merged all of the Station Fires together to create one large perimeter that encompassed all of the perimeters. I then overlaid the slope and hillshade data that I created with the Spatial Analyst tool. I then added the fuel and vegetation data.

There were many difficult parts to this lab, and I feel that we have not had enough practice to be able to create a very good map with minimal instruction. Spatial Analysis is very challenging, and I feel that I was not able to do as much with this lab as I have with others. However, I did feel that this was a very good learning experience, and taught me a lot about ArcGIS and my own GIS skills.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lab #5- February 16, 2011

This Suitability Analysis exercise showed me the many different factors one must take into account when planning to put a landfill, dump, or other controversial type of property in a county. To find suitable locations in this fictional Montana county, elevation, soils, streams, landcover type and slope distance all had to be analyzed. All of this separate data then had to be combined to create the ultimate site for the new landfill. Using Spatial Analyst allows one to convert raster layers into grid layers and then input them into an analysis model. You can then compare and contrast each grid layer and determine potential sites.

The site must be chosen based on the water, land, and soils in the surrounding areas. Furthermore, as this LA Times article highlights, the site must be met with approval by the local populace. If a landfill is placed too close to a city or town, it may cause birth defects due to its high level of radiation. Though this has not been proven yet, the California government and the EPA are taking these charges very seriously, with an investigation underway.

These suitability analysis techniques will help this Central Valley city determine how to expand the landfill, if allowed. They will want to move it further away from the local population if possible, expanding it in such a way that would not bring it closer to residences. In order to prove that the site is not causing the harmful radiation and birth defects, the city should use suitability analysis to prove that the current location of the landfill is the best fit for that city.

When I reclassified each data layer on a scale of 1 to 5, it was purely subjective, based entirely on my own criteria. However, in the real world, public input as well as other criteria such as economic implications would also have been taken into account. This means that the California landfill now under investigation most likely had taken public input into account at the time of the landfill being built. However, perhaps the town was much smaller at that time or there were not such stringent laws at the time of its approval.

The landfill debate in the Central Valley shows that sometimes, this suitability analysis is not enough. I did not take the local population into account when creating this data, instead looking only at the environmental aspects of the county. In order to avoid serious health problems as well as costly legal battles, the county should also include local population as a factor. This California landfill is coming under fire due to its proximity to the citizens, which could have possibly been avoided had further analysis taken place.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Quiz #1- February 2, 2011

The recent approval of a medical marijuana ordinance by the LA City Council was the right decision and should be applauded. The City Council voted to adopt an ordinance that requires medical marijuana dispensaries to be at least 1,000 feet from places where children congregate, which includes schools and parks. This decision will help reduce the influence of marijuana on school children, and will ensure that there are no dispensaries where children often convene.

This map shows all parks and major institutions in the city of Los Angeles, with the 1,000 foot buffers in place. Los Angeles is a densely populated city, and much of the land is covered by parks, schools, and other institutions. As is shown on the map, there are few areas without markers. I took a small subsect of the medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles, marking all dispensaries within walking distance of UCLA in Westwood. Of the four dispensaries in Westwood, three of them are within 1,000 feet of a park or institution. This small sample proves that many dispensaries are within the buffer zone, and will need to be moved to comply with the new ordinance.

This ordinance will bring money to the city of Los Angeles, as medical marijuana dispensaries will be required to pay a fee. The city will not have to move the dispensaries, so this is at no cost to the tax payers. This ordinance is wholly beneficial to the people of Los Angeles. Children will not be exposed to medical marijuana dispensaries and the city will profit from the dispensaries that must pay a fee. The only participants at a disadvantage are the dispensaries themselves, with some dispensaries claiming that this ordinance is unfair. However, there are already far too many dispensaries in Los Angeles, and this ordinance will help relocate those near schools and parks to better areas.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lab #3- January 26, 2011

My data:

I geocoded the locations of all of the farmer's markets in Los Angeles County, and then created 2 kilometer buffers around the markets
to determine their proximity to the major highways of Los
Angeles. I found that only 9 of the farmer's markets were located more than 2
kilometers from a highway, which makes them very accessible and convenient. There are many farmer's markets in LA County with
overlapping buffers, especially those in the city of Los Angeles. This close proximity makes it possible for people all throughout the county
to buy local and seasonal produce any day of the week.
I think that geocoding was very useful for my topic. I wanted to find out how accessible Los Angeles farmer's markets are. The buffers were
very helpful, and allowed me to fully answer my question. Geocoding allowed me to enter an Excel sheet of raw data into ArcGIS and find points
with the help of Address Locator. This is an incredibly useful tool, and it would have been much more difficult to do my project without geocoding.
Geocoding is an excellent tool, and is especially useful when you have a large number of addresses to locate and geocode on a map. Geocoding
let me ask a more complex question, and helped me to solve it as well. My map is entirely based on geocoding, and would not have been possible
without it. I did not find any flaws with Geocoding, though I did have to finesse my data a bit for the Address Locator. I think this is an entirely
positive tool, and is very useful in the GIS world.