Help us budget for scouting L.A.
March 16, 2014 7:12 AM   Subscribe

My wife is working on a grant application for a research trip to Los Angeles centered around getting a feel for old Hollywood and the western part of L.A. (this is working towards a novel taking place from the 50s to roughly the early 90s, FWIW). We're trying to put together a budget for the proposal, and were hoping to get some guidance.

So we're trying to figure out where in the city she should try to stay- both in terms of region and specific places - so that we can look up rates. Trying to find places that aren't crazy expensive or cheap, scuzzy hovels.

We'd also appreciate any other suggestions for stuff that should be kept in mind for the budget- we're planning on airfare, accommodation, and car rental, but not sure if there are other LA necessities.
posted by COBRA! to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (12 answers total)
Plan on paying for parking, everywhere you go. Hotel, too.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:54 AM on March 16, 2014

Talk to these folks:
posted by judith at 8:00 AM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sales tax might be something she'd want to factor in. It varies depending on which city you are in within western L.A. (for example: City of L.A. vs. Santa Monica), but round up to 9% and you'll be safe.
posted by nacho fries at 8:19 AM on March 16, 2014

Mefi's own scram runs esotouric.
posted by brujita at 8:31 AM on March 16, 2014

If you stay in a place that has good local historical research rescources, like Beverly Hills or Pasadena or Westwood near UCLA, you'll spend less time on the road and more time doing the work.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:33 AM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

If she's planning to say more than 1-2 nights, you might price room rentals on airbnb or vrbo (or many others - I just found listings for things like this little apartment on Tripadvisor just now). The last time I did this (looking for a hotel alternative for work-weeks in LA) I found rooms in historic buildings/neighborhoods, art collectives, pool houses of fancy homes, etc, often in areas where there isn't much in the way of hotels. And having kitchen access and maybe even included parking will reduce her housing costs, plus it's just putting her in the middle of locals, which is what you want. (That particular link is to a place close to public transportation, which in some situations is going to be cheaper than parking at your destination).
posted by Lyn Never at 10:32 AM on March 16, 2014

While I highly encourage visiting LA, I don't really know that she'll be able to achieve her stated goals of doing research - LA changes so quickly the only reason I'd physically visit for research would be for a contemporary work. In your description of what you don't want, you've pretty much described exactly Old Hollywood as it now exists(cheap, scuzzy) and the west side (crazy expensive).
posted by mzurer at 11:38 AM on March 16, 2014

Is she looking to research by hanging out at the (few) places that are still around from Old Hollywood days, or is she going to be visiting studio archives, the AMPAS and various guild archives, the Paley Center, and the like?

If the latter, I'd probably stay in Culver City, which is vaguely convenient to some studios, the AMPAS archives and the Paley Center in Beverly Hills (but you avoid the expense/inconvenience/annoyance of actually staying in BH, ugh).

If the former, I don't know that I'd come all the way out here unless she wants to visit some very specific places that she knows are still around. Like maybe if she has a research connection to particular studios, which really are time capsules in ways that Hollywood as a part of town is not. If this is the case (she knows someone who works for the Warner Bros. museum or the Universal archives or something) I would probably opt to stay close enough to that place to mostly get around on foot. Burbank has plenty of Motel 6 type places that would be fine for this, if she wants to do research at WB or Disney, or a short drive from Universal.

Plan on paying for parking, everywhere you go.

This is not necessarily the case. I'm a hardcore Ugh No Way Am I Paying For Parking person, and, well, I very rarely pay for parking. I'll feed a meter on occasion, but no, really, the vast majority of the places you go, you can street park for free. For the various places she is going to do her research, she should find out if they validate parking in any particular nearby garage before she goes there -- the thing that burns me is when I drive somewhere, street park, feed the meter, and it turns out the place I was going validates if you park in a particular garage.

Just don't stay in West Hollywood and you're probably fine for parking (just street park on a side street instead of the hotel garage).
posted by Sara C. at 12:43 PM on March 16, 2014

One thing to keep in mind, more than paying for parking: fuel prices.

Los Angeles is really spread out, and gas prices are relatively high here compared to some other parts of the US. Right now fuel is over $4/gallon in some neighborhoods.

She should rent an economy car that gets good gas mileage, and be prepared to spend ~$40 per week that she's in town on fuel. Possibly more if she's really packing on the miles (trip up to Santa Clarita to visit one of the old movie ranches, schlepping to Century City from Burbank, etc.).
posted by Sara C. at 12:50 PM on March 16, 2014

If you rent a car you can actually parallel park, your parking options go up dramatically.

/hangs head in shame, considers buying a Smart.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:13 PM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

THe BH Library has a great historical history section, but you can't search it online, and need to make an appointment. Natural History Museum has a permanent exhibit, Becoming LA, and it's close to USC (where the Warner archives are held), but I wouldn't stay near there.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:33 PM on March 16, 2014

LA changes so much, so quickly. The Brown Derby isn't there any more. Neither is Chasen's.

Then if you think about Melrose Ave in the late seventies, early eighties, my favorite place was Flip---too long gone, and the whole scene has changed since then.

The problem with LA had to have been there. I have VERY vivid memories of stomping around on Melrose back in the day (My Aunt and Uncle lived in a duplex on Harper).

NONE of the places I used to go is still there.

So you can go to LA, drive around and look at old homes and buildings, but the hot spots that used to be there are just echos, they were there, they thrived, they died.

If you still want to go, stay in Hollywood, Studio City, Culver City, Westwood if you can. Rent a car. Can't stress this enough.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:58 AM on March 17, 2014

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