Nature in the City—An Urban Adventure

Stephanie Pincetl, Los Angeles. 
11 January 2019

Many voices. Greener cities. Better cities.
Los Angeles harbors many urban savvy coyotes who find hiding spaces in parks and other vegetated places.
My husband went on his bicycle to get our Christmas standing rib roast (an extravagance of every few years) at the local artisanal butcher. The butcher is in the legendary Farmer’s Market in Los Angeles, corner of 3rdand Fairfax. It remains relatively authentic despite the immense Disneyesque mall just adjacent to it: “The Grove”, a fantastically successful enterprise by Rick Caruso. People come from far and wide to enjoy its artificial family-oriented atmosphere, replete with canned music, fountains, fabulous bouquets in the parking garage (as well as a nicely appointed lounge), polite uniformed service people all over.

The place is very well policed.

Coyotes in Los Angeles. Photo: Stuart Palley (National Park Service

Farmer’s Market is a bit less glitzy, it has lots of small food venues from the ersatz French restaurant to the Mexican, Polynesian, American restaurants, ice cream makers and vendors, spice mart and vegetable purveyors.  There are two superb butchers and fowl vendors too. So, back to the standing rib roast.

He puts it in his functional bicycle basket—the packaging is slightly leaky, some drips of bloody water ooze out. Negotiating the way back, avoiding the narrow spot on 3rd that parallels Pan Pacific Park, he takes the windy path that dips through Pan Pacific at the far southern end, a place where the homeless have found relatively safe shelter.

As he pedals up the last little incline, out of the bushes appear coyotes…Los Angeles harbors many urban savvy coyotes who find hiding spaces in parks and other vegetated places. Smelling the meat, the small pack of four start to trail him, sniffing and emitting soft yelps of probability for food. He gets to the first street he needs to cross to use the much safer alleyway behind the convenience store and local hotel. He stops to check for cars.

So do the coyotes. They know about traffic and getting hit by cars. He zips across, quickly followed by the animals on the hunt. Getting closer one dares a quick try at a heel nip. My husband speeds up, there is no one around in the alley. He pedals strongly. Coyotes still a bit unsure, hover trotting beside him, vocalizing softly (they are conscious of being in a city).

The next street comes, much busier. The coyotes are unsure. Should they continue the pursuit? They are visible, very visible, and there is still a lot of day light. Gradually they drop back, disappointed, and fade into the neighborhood bushes.

The roast makes its way home safely. No one is hurt.

Stephanie Pincetl
Los Angeles

On The Nature of Cities

Stephanie Pincetl

About the Writer:
Stephanie Pincetl

Pincetl has written extensively about land use in California, environmental justice, habitat conservation efforts, urban ecology, water and energy policy.

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Stephanie Pincetl

Stephanie Pincetl

Director UCLA Center for Sustainable Urban Systems Los Angeles, CA Dr. Stephanie Pincetl is Adjunct professor and Director of the U.C. campus-wide Center for Sustainable Communities at the UCLA Institute of the Environment. Pincetl conducts research on environmental policies and governance and enjoys bringing together interdisciplinary teams of researchers across the biophysical and engineering sciences with the social sciences to address problems of complex urban systems and environmental management. Pincetl has written extensively about land use in California, environmental justice, habitat conservation efforts, urban ecology, water and energy policy. You can find more about her academic work at: http://www.environment.ucla.edu/ucpe/pincetl.asp. She is an avid gardener, a devotee of the Sunday Hollywood Farmer’s Market, and loves to cook and have friends over for dinner.

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