GPW: Self-Tempered Anarchy since 2009


Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
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stories along The Way

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Finally! New Illegal Vendors code for parks passed by Commission

Nine very long years after lawsuits at Venice Beach caused it to be suspended, on Wednesday the Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners passed a new version of the Illegal Vendors code within LAMC 63.44 sections governing City parks.

And...

It's damn well time they did!

The reticence on the part of the City Attorney to deal with this issue in a reasonably timely fashion is unconscionable. For nine years, the City itself was left wide open to a variety of potentially costly liability lawsuits. After all, if someone falls off a horse they paid to ride in a City park  or someone gets sick from food purchased in a City park, who are they going to sue? How about the equestrian riding on a legal park trail whose horse spooks and throws them when a vendor wagon or vendor with flowers rushes out in front of them - who are they going to sue?

The physical impact to the facilities itself has been pretty bad. City parks are looking like street parties on weekends, with vendors just about everywhere including pushing their carts deep into sensitive wildlife areas of some parks to sell food, toys, beer, cigarettes, and so on.

Concessionaire agreements for the parks dept. were significantly impacted, too. Vendors paying for exclusive contracts in City parks were often inundated with unregulated competition, making such contracts undesirable. This financially impacts the Dept. of Recreation and Parks because they are semi-proprietary and should therefore be able to control any financial undertaking on their properties. Without the suspended code, the Dept. had no control essentially of their own properties.

Meanwhile, Park Rangers and law enforcement were left with no authority to cite on the basis of the illegal vending - period.

Pure anarchy.

With the vote on Wednesday, the Board of Commissioners took the first official step to stopping the anarchy by passing the new ordinance content. It didn't happen quickly, though. This particular issue caused some consternation on the part of the Board  who took their time with it over the course of two meetings with special committees. Their approach to this issue is entirely unlike how they handled the two Tom LaBonge boutique items that failed to have proper CEQA work done on them and rightfully drew lawsuits. The Board passed those easily. I'm trying to decide if the board's new found caution is is a good thing (they're learning), or they were just following someone's (Mayoral?) orders again.

Let's hope this is a good thing and they're learning.

I should note that it was Rocky Delgadillo and Carmen Trutanich's office who let this crap slide. These two really were a complete waste of taxpayer dollars, weren't they? Thank you to Mike Feuer's office for handling this.

The code update also includes a tightened definition of Camping in Parks, which should help with transient management issues. Next stop is a vote at City Council. Hopefully these past nine years of park impacts have not been lost on councilmembers, and they pass this without changes.

Link to the new code is here. 

Or read on Scribd -

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Jon Mukri back to Rec and Parks, and other park notes

For the past ten months, RAP GM Jon Kirk Mukri has been doing Mayor Garcetti a solid by managing Los Angeles's beleaguered  Dept. of Transportation while the Mayor searched for a new GM for that department.  Approved last week, Ms. Seleta Reynolds starts as the new DOT GM in mid-August.

At the time Mukri began babysitting DOT, he was still the General Manager of Recreation and Parks. Ostensibly, that has not changed. Mukri is still the General Manager of the Dept. of Recreation and Parks. Come August, will the Mayor return Mukri - arguably the most talented  manager in Los Angeles - to Recreation and Parks? Or come August, will the Mayor's wife (Amy Wakeland) be allowed to continue filling key Recreation and Parks positions with more of her girlfriends.


Speaking of Mrs. Garcetti's friends, Kafi Blumenfield - aka Mrs. Bob Blumenfield - seems to have gone missing from the Recreation and Parks Commissioners' coffee klatch.  Given the hideous conflict of interest her appointment represented, it's good to see that someone finally came to their senses on this. The Recreation and Parks Commission has a great deal more legal and fiscal power than most of the other figurehead commissions in Los Angeles. Recreation and Parks is semi-proprietary, and pretty much every major department activity must be approved by the Commission.

Given the poor legal performance by Mrs. Garcetti's friends on the Crystal Springs Baseball Fields project and the "Old Zoo Performance Stage" ... or whatever new name the Bandshell has this week, one can only hope that a new commissioner without baggage but with enough technical knowledge and actual talent will be appointed to replace Blumenfield.

We've previously noted another key poor legal performance in the same hearing by Acting Rec and Parks GM Mike Shull. Shull stated for the record that neighborhood children will walk to the new ballfields from surrounding neighborhoods. Honestly? The proposed fields are more than a mile from just the the park entrance. The walk through the park is along a public and sometimes secluded jogging trail. Any parent would think twice about before letting their child walk alone or even with friends on it. 

Thinking we've had enough of the bullshit pretend leadership being appointed over our City parks. Seriously. One way or another, it's time for a real manager to take back the managerial reins of Recreation and Parks.


Griffith Park is getting a Park Advisory Board. Yes, you heard that correctly. The current councilmember vociferously opposed this idea when the Griffith Park Master Plan Working Group originally proposed it a few years back, but now it is happening. Unfortunately, the surprising acquiescence on said councilmember's part is likely due to a plan to fill the board with their chosen people.

From all appearances, at this point in time there is an actual process in place for the selection to the new Griffith (Park?) Park Advisory Board. Personally, I actually believe in the Park Advisory Board system in principle. I hope the establishment of Griffith Park's first PAB is completed with due diligence and foresight, not politics. Fingers crossed.


Still empty.
Finally...properly staffing and supporting Park Rangers remains a thinly veiled joke in Los Angeles. No new hires, no proper Chief as required by POST, and no action on the Mitch O'Farrell motion to resurrect a real Ranger program. That motion was supposed to be heard in April. To date? Crickets...  Meanwhile, the Ranger Division struggles to have one single full peace officer Park Ranger available a couple times a week for the new Hansen Dam Ranger Station. That station needs twelve Rangers plus Park Patrol officers for full coverage.

A token four new Rangers and a supervisor is included in the FY15 budget, but no action on that either. Four new Rangers doesn't even cover attrition, folks.  I'd laugh, but honestly as a dedicated parks volunteer, I find the hypocrisy -- "Los Angeles cares about our parks, parks resources, and park safety" blah blah -- utterly nauseating. Cities that have nice things take good care of their nice things. To look at our parks right now, Los Angeles must not give even the slimmest of shits about them.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Want to bid on Griffith Park's annual(sic) Halloween event?

This is interesting. The story goes that Ten-Thirty-One created this event and, with support from the council office, "convinced" Recreation and Parks to let them have the Old Zoo for the Disneyland-worthy spectacle.  For 2014, Recreation and Parks is originating this event as if it were a longstanding thing.

Legally, Recreation and Parks probably has to put the event out to bid. But we all know just how recent a thing this amusement park attraction really is.

Well, some other event company could conceivably win this contract. That would be fascinating.

Interested? If you are interested in bidding on the annual (sic) Halloween event in Griffith Park, follow this link to the opportunity.

Good luck bidder ... erm, bidders!


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

“Great Horror Campout” - vulgar sanctioned abuse of a park system's gem

Is Griffith Park a emerging"Disneyland", or is it an Urban Wilderness Park? 

Lame duck Councilmember Tom LaBonge eats away at remaining habitat with this childish self-indulgence by loading it onto a fragile ecosystem of Griffith Park - a park that, to quote Labonge himself, is "the heart and lungs of Los Angeles."

Originally published by the Sierra Club.
 --------------------------------------

THE “GREAT HORROR CAMPOUT” IS A HORROR INDEED
by Carol Henning

Classy stuff.
The perpetrators of commercial exploitation simply cannot leave Griffith Park alone. Are you weary of reading articles about the ongoing campaign to use the park as a venue for tawdry spectacles that rake in profits for private business while inconveniencing the public? Then tell them to stop!

The Great Horror Campout is the latest money-making scheme of Ten-Thirty-one productions, the company that brought Haunted Hayride to the park. The Campout seems to be a longer, nastier version of the Hayride. It debuts at the Old Zoo June 6th and 7th and then goes nationwide this summer. “Only the dawning sun will save you,” cackles the Campout website. “CAMP AT YOUR OWN RISK,” it warns. “This camps [sic] only desire is to ruin you!” It lasts all night, during which time you will be chased by scary clowns (Last year they rode motorcycles.), ax-wielding rednecks, and the chupacabra (whatever they are). Campout patrons must agree to be “forcibly handled, moved, bound, hooded, chained and subjected to simulated torture” by the Campout cast of monsters. Writing about her fun experience at last year’s Campout, a young woman told Yelp that she got hooded and put in the van, put in a cage, locked in a trunk, trapped by a mothman, forced to get on her knees multiple times and made to break off a man’s finger. Gosh, can you think of a jollier way to spend a night? Another positive review praised the event for being “bloody, gross and loud.”

Some negative reviews called the Campout a “total ripoff; no scares.” Much of the criticism was aimed at the food served (The price included dinner and a sort of breakfast). It turns out the food was “all vegan and very gross.” One of last year’s patrons huffed: “This is why the rest of the country thinks L.A. is full of new age hippy freaks.” Not to worry. This year’s buffet dinner is being catered by Susan Feniger and Kajsa Alger of Street and Mud Hen Tavern. Mark Cuban’s $2 million dollar investment will make this year’s event a bit more up-market than the one last year, which was held near Chinatown. Campers complained about the dirt lot with few trees and about downtown lights, which made total darkness impossible.

Eager for an opportunity to better please patrons and to raise prices, Ten-Thirty-one Productions cast covetous eyes on Griffith Park’s Old Zoo area, the site of their yearly Haunted Hayride. As usual, the L.A. Parks Foundation, the City’s Department of Recreation and Parks Commissioners, and probably a certain City Councilmember, rolled out the (blood) red carpet of welcome to Ten-Thirty-one Productions. Thus, another event celebrating the violent, the bloody and the gross gets inflicted on Griffith Park. If the Hell Hunt, which involves some bathing in blood, a sacrificial voodoo ritual, and digging through road kill, along with being hooded and chained, appeals to someone you know, potential patrons can rent a two-person tent for $223 per person or a four-person tent for $159 per person. Organizers expect 400-500 attendees. There are special “Chicken Zones” for timid folks who want to camp at the Old Zoo but do not want to be dragged about by monsters. The Campout website promises that, if wimps cannot take anymore, they can shout “I WANT MY MOMMY,” and “the nightmare will end.”

And so realistic.
It is fun to write about bad taste, but the point of the story is this: The Great Horror Campout will occupy the Old Zoo, which has been designated a “wilderness area” within a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. Aren’t such landmarks supposed to be shown some respect? In 2008, The Griffith Family Trust proposed Historic-Cultural Monument status for the whole park. This was supported by the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter as well as other environmental and community groups. What do the wilderness designation and monument status mean to Ten-Thirty-one Productions and to people willing to pay more than $200 for a “bloody, gross, loud” night? Probably nothing.

In April, an Earth Day event was held in Griffith Park to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. L.A. City Councilmember Tom LaBonge gave a speech. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti gave a speech about the value of wilderness. Griffith Park is an urban wilderness. In spite of its location in the middle of L.A.’s highly urbanized landscape, the park is home to large mammals, including mule deer, fox, coyotes, bobcats and one mountain lion. That is the thing about wilderness; it is not empty. It provides habitat for plants and animals. The hills above the Old Zoo are full of birds, bats and bunnies. They are one of only a couple places in the park where gray fox can be found. How will the resident animals be affected by strobe lights and sudden loud noises? At last year’s Campout, patrons who had dozed off in their tents were awakened at 4:30 a.m. by blasting music. Imagine having your rest or your night hunting and foraging interrupted by shrieking humans, “sudden loud noises” and “flashing lights.” But, who cares about traumatized wildlife when there is money to be made? Shame on the public officials who sell out Griffith Park so readily.

A quick look at the Big Picture should remind us that human beings are only a strand in the web of life on this planet. We depend on other animals, on plants, on air, on water. Until we value these more than we value a fist full of dollars, we will continue to destroy the world that sustains us.

...

If you would like to remind public officials of the consequences of their venal behavior, here are some names and addresses: 


Mayor Eric Garcetti
Room 303, Los Angeles City Hall
200 North Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
mayor@lacity.org

Councilmember Tom LaBonge
Room 480, Los Angeles City Hall
200 North Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
councilmember.labonge@lacity.org

Lynn Alvarez, President
Los Angeles City Recreation and Parks Department
Board of Commissioners
221 N. Figueroa St., Suite 1510
Los Angeles, CA 90012
rap.commissioners@lacity.org

Friday, May 9, 2014

CEQA Appeals filed on EIR approvals for Crystal Springs, Old Zoo projects

Finally! 

No press releases yet that we know of, but the Griffith Family Trust, Friends of Griffith Park, and the Sierra Club Griffith Park Chapter have filed CEQA appeals on two EIRs  - one for more Crystal Springs baseball fields, and on the Old Zoo Performance Stage. Both were naively approved by the Mayor's new Recreation and Parks Commission last month.

You can read the appeals here (Crystal Springs) and here (Old Zoo).

Will Arts Parks Health Aging and River Committee chair Mitch O' Farrell even hear these appeals?

If, and when may depend upon just how dedicated he is to his great friend, Tom LaBonge. Should be interesting.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Encino wants more Park Rangers!

....yet City Hall still doesn't get the message. Four new full-time Rangers and one Supervisor  (who are replacing three retirees), and still no Chief for FY15 doesn't constitute any kind of investment in the Park Ranger Division.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Upcoming Rec & Parks Budget Hearing -- don't waste your time.

For the past decade or so, a number of parks advocates including myself have braved the annual May Day labor protests downtown to go to City Hall in person and express our support for City parks and recreation in Los Angeles.

This Thursday the May Day cycle continues - City Hall's Budget & Finance Committee will be holding their public hearing on this Mayor's proposed budget for the Department of Recreation and Parks.

This year, however, I won't be wasting my time on this sorid farce.


The farce:

Since 2007, our electeds have happily stripped more than $155 million and almost half the workforce from the Dept. of Recreation and Parks via "chargebacks" - the almost-certainly illegal act of taking City Charter-mandated money designated specifically for this department. Until Mayor Villaraigosa,  City Hall rightfully recognized these monies as untouchable. They were granted to the Department of Recreation and Parks by The Citizens of Los Angeles in the 1920s and continued to be so in every update of the City Charter to date.

Mayor Villaraigosa, his Chief of Staff, Jeff Carr, and his CAO, Miguel Santana, came up with "chargebacks" as a way to effectively steal these funds. We've discussed ad nauseum the perversion of the public will that are "chargebacks" here on this blog over the years.

 $155 million in taken Charter-mandated monies later, Santana is still CAO. His budget continues to balance the City's budget on the backs of the Children of Los Angeles. Our new Mayor apparently sees no reason to stop this shameful theft. 

Neither does Recreation and Park's (Interim) General Manager, Mike Shull, apparently. His response to the Mayor's budget? An apothetic, simple letter that nit-picking a couple of things and essentially fails to discuss the big picture in context.

And then there's the Budget and Finance Committee's handling of last year's Recreation and Parks hearing. The only thing the shameless members of the Budget and Finance Committee actually accomplished was to make sure the individual parks and recreation facilities in their own districts received special treatment.  Paul Koretz was the worst offender in this area. Finally, CAO Santana actually taunted Rec and Parks' Regina Adams after her impassioned plea to correct the City's path.

Expect the same shameless behavior this year; the Budget and Finance Committee membership is essentially unchanged from last year, and, amazingly, Santana is still CAO.

Taken in totality, there is absolutely no reason to go Downtown this week. There is no swaying this much groupthink. Who wants to waste their time trying to talk ethics, logic, and priorities to these people?

I won't be bothering. You probably shouldn't be bothering, either.

Monday, March 31, 2014

RAP Commission vote on Crystal Springs ball fields is Wednesday

Update 4/2/14:

Long meeting, but easily passed by the Commission, unanimously.
Interesting that someone pointed out that putting active recreation for children within 500' of a freeway is against recommendations by the LA County Dept of Health. "No problem there", says the Commission with their vote. Personally, as someone who was once a child with asthma, I have to side with the LA County Dept. of Health. Enjoy deep-breathing those PM-2.5s, baseball kids.

Overall, it is worth noting that the comments and questions by the new Commissioners were not very legally, morally, or politically sophisticated, which is extremely disappointing.
 

Meanwhile, three four! of Tom LaBonge's current employees spoke in Public Comment in favor of the project, making a complete mockery of the process. Can you say 'conflict of interest'? I bet you can.

Looking forward to the lawsuit(s) about the weak EIR -- IF the community hasn't given up yet.

---



This Wednesday, the Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners will be voting on whether to approve additional baseball fields into the heavily used Crystal Springs picnic area. The specifics of this issue have been discussed in a number of articles on this site - read here.

If you haven't yet weighed in on the Crystal Springs Picnic Area ball fields proposal yet, please email your comments to: 

RAP.Commissioners@LACity.org


You may use this header template to help direct your comments to this issue:

PUBLIC COMMENT

Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners meeting April 2, 2014

Board Report # 14-061 – proposed new baseball fields at Crystal Springs Picnic Area

Position: (AGAINST or FOR the project - state which you are)

Commission President Alvarez and honorable Recreation and Parks Commissioners,

Please......
.......your comments .....

Sincerely,

Monday, March 24, 2014

Grand-opening Thursday: First new LA Park Ranger Station in 35 years

The first new Park Ranger Station in Los Angeles in more than three decades opens this Thursday.

Now it would be nice if Los Angeles would actually allow Recreation and Parks to hire some full Park Rangers to man the station. Twelve Rangers are needed for reasonable coverage - they're allowing only 4 to be hired as of today.


Come on by for the grand opening and let the City know we want more Park Rangers!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

If the Public gives up

"The only way LaBonge gets to gut the picnic area is if the public gives up."

I hope the part of "the Public" who has the resources to file lawsuits on the EIR for this project understands this.

Screen shot of Mr. Abram's learned commentary to a CityWatch article regarding Tom LaBonge's proposed gutting of the Crystal Springs picnic area for more baseball fields:

Friends of Griffith Park baseball fields presser lacks

New press release from the Friends of Griffith Park opposing yet more ballfields in Crystal Springs is below.

It's pretty lightweight, quite honestly.  The loud, pro-Crystal Springs nuts claim incorrectly that those opposed to the project in Crystal Springs are NIMBYs who don't want ballfields anywhere in Griffith Park, period. 

A stronger, more strategic statement from the Friends -- themselves constant targets of the nuts in question -- would have included likely support for this project if it were located at Ferraro Fields which is in Griffith Park and far better suited to the use.

The Mayor's newly-appointed Recreation and Parks Commission appointees don't dare challenge this project and will easily pass Councilmember LaBonge's legacy project at their April 2nd meeting. Then, hopefully, come the lawsuits against an unresponsive and very weak EIR.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Yet more problems with new ballfields if built in Crystal Springs

This is from a public comment letter to Recreation and Parks Commissioners by a recently retired Park Ranger with nearly 3 decades on the job. Someone who spent almost every day on the job in Crystal Springs, where the Ranger Station is located.

Their concerns are not addressed in the EIR, and their concerns evaporate if this project is built in Ferraro.

These are those concerns:
The Crystal Springs Picnic areas are among the most heavily used areas in Griffith Park and are already filled to capacity on many weekends.

The ball field project would remove a large portion of the picnic grounds from public use. The circular road system that is there now replaced a cul de sac system which was abandoned in the 1970s because of severe traffic impacts. The ball field project would recreate the cul de sac system - it didn't work then and it won't work now due to severe traffic impacts.

The destruction of so many mature heritage trees is unthinkable.

In addition, the (Park) Ranger fire station is located in this area and this project will certainly impact emergency response times if it does not cause relocation of the facility. ...

But go ahead, Councilmember LaBonge - shove your legacy project into Crystal Springs anyway.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Van Griffith's opposition to locating new ballfields in Crystal Springs

As it stands now, Councilmember Tom LaBonge and his supporters are determined to go against much of the park-going public and displace hundreds of predominantly Latino families because he is unwilling to change the location of his own legacy project.

Worse yet,  LaBonge is willing to go against the wishes of the very family that gave Los Angeles both Griffith Park and the Griffith Observatory for the same reason.

How ugly is that?

Councilmember, put your project in Ferraro, where most people - including the Griffith Family - agree it should be.



Monday, March 3, 2014

Ballfields, Bandshell projects impacting Griffith Park to be voted on Wednesday

Update: these items are continued to the April 2nd Commission meeting. Keep sending in your public comment on these items. Link is below. 
---

On Wednesday March 5th April 2nd, the newly appointed Recreation and Parks Commission will be voting on two boutique projects from Councilmember Tom LaBonge to potentially be constructed in Griffith Park:
1. More ballfields at Crystal Springs picnic area, and

2. New Performing Arts Center (aka the Bandshell) in the Old Zoo picnic area.
If you haven't recently weighed in to the Recreation and Parks Commission on your opinion about these projects, you can do so by emailing the commission with your public comment here.


New Performing Arts Center:

This project is the baby of close LaBonge supporter and Symphony in the Glen director, Barbara Ferris. Ms. Ferris ran for the board of the Neighborhood Council Formerly Called Greater Griffith Park primarily to see this through, among other things.

The Old Zoo area is an active wildlife corridor. Per the Cultural Heritage designation for Griffith Park, this project is located within the Urban Wilderness boundary, where, ostensibly, construction is to be done only if absolutely necessary. Is this project necessary?


New Baseball fields:

Since we last discussed this project,  a number of things have become clear in recent weeks:
Pote Field on a normal day.
  • The Atwater alternative was never a serious alternative location.
  • The current predominant stakeholder group at Crystal Springs - the group who will be displaced by this project - is predominantly Latino families who are essentially picnicking, holding birthday parties, and other passive uses. Recently, the propaganda machine around this project has been at work claiming that this is not true.

    The propaganda machine is absolutely incorrect: ask anyone without a dog in the fight who actually visits Crystal Springs regularly on a nice day. I've been at Crystal Springs a couple hundred times over the past ten years for various reasons, and the consistent user group is definitely predominantly Latino families picnicking.  Most weekends, because it is so popular, Crystal Springs is completely impacted - finding any parking for anything in the area is insanely difficult.This project displaces a majority of these users, plain and simple.
  • A couple of weeks ago, LaBonge aide Carolyn Ramsay popped in to a Rec and Parks Commission subcommittee to discuss her boss's project, opening with (paraphrase): 'The Councilman has wanted this his whole life'.  And that right there constitutes the entire needs assessment on this project.
  • Finally, would the councilmember still want the project if it were at Ferraro Fields rather than Crystal Springs? Ferraro is also used by a predominantly Latino user group, but there is plenty of room to add ball fields without displacing anyone.

So why weren't the Ferraro Fields part of the EIR as an alternative site for this project? Why is Ferraro Fields verboten?

Two possible reasons flow out of all of the information and disinformation surrounding this project. One is that the area is already named for the late, great John Ferraro, so the "Tom LaBonge Ballfields at Ferraro Fields" ain't gonna cut it.

The other is much more unfortunate: Who is being displaced at Crystal Springs? Who is the dominant stakeholder group at Ferraro Fields - a stakeholder group that would not be displaced but would remain if the project was moved there?  The potential implication is ugly, but cannot be ignored.


The new Recreation and Parks Commission will likely pass both these boutique projects through for the outgoing Councilmember LaBonge and his close supporter, but the public record - and the questions - will remain.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Tell City Hall: "Optimum Investment" Park Ranger option is the only reasonable option

Update 2/10/14:  At the APHAR Committee meeting, Recreation and Parks reported that they are putting just four new Rangers into the 2014-15 budget and no mention of a Chief Ranger.  Three positions are already open due to retirements so Rec and Parks is in reality adding just one new Park Ranger in their 2014-15 budget if nothing changes.

Meanwhile, the preponderance of the public comment both sent in via email and in person requested that the APHAR Committee choose the Optimum Investment option. The APHAR Committee made no recommendation but asked for a report-back from the CAO (who just loves Rec and Parks) on the cost of each option in 60 days, which is only a week or so before Recreation and Parks submits their budget for 2014-15.
---


The Dept of Recreation and Parks has released their final report on the current status of the Park Ranger Division.  The City Council's Arts Parks Health Aging and River Committee will be discussing this report Monday at 2pm in Room 1060 at City Hall.  (agenda item 7)
If you've kept up with any of the information about our City of Los Angeles Park Rangers published here and at Mayor Sam over the years, you won't be surprised that the situation is bleak.  Citywide, just twenty-one Park Rangers are left in the City, and more than half of them are grandfathered-in as non-peace officers -- an artifact left over from a crippling union agreement more than a decade ago.  There is no Chief Ranger in spite of the position being required by California POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training), who oversees peace officer agencies and training in this state.

The final Park Ranger status report being presented on Monday provides three different tiers of investment that City Council could select that would bring the Park Ranger Division back to a level of health and effectiveness:  
  • Optimum Investment
  • Modest Investment
  • Minimum Investment
Only the Optimum Investment will cover all of our larger Regional parks including Hansen Dam Recreational Area, which has a new Ranger Station and no Rangers. The cost of the Optimum Investment is just four times the current barely-breathing cost of the Park Ranger Division.


Is the Optimum Investment Option worth it?

When initially created in 2005, the Office of Public Safety had a budget of $21-$25 million, the vast majority of which (they often whined) was devoted directly to parks.  Meaning - as Park Ranger replacements.

Hansen Dam Ranger Station - nobody home.
Creating OPS saved the City $200,000 - $900,000, said the CAO. Within a few years, OPS had already added $7 million more to their budget, and I wrote about in my first article for the Mayor Sam blog. More additional funding demands followed and were granted.

Again, OPS's budget was mostly for patrolling parks, as they constantly reminded anyone listening. 

The Park Ranger position historically grew directly from the day-to-day needs in our parks. Park Rangers do 80% more job duties than Office of Public Safety officers.

Park Rangers are professional peace officers, fire fighters, wildlife managers, naturalists, and environmental managers. There is a reason that LA Park Rangers are often hired out of the department to become Emergency Management coordinators all across the City:  Rangers are professional multi-disciplinarians, giving them a broad world view other single-disciplined professionals do not have.

So in comparison, OPS at it's peak (optimum?) had a budget of over $34 million* , most of which was for parks.  Their officers did only 20% of the job duties Parks Rangers do for our parks.  Our City Council and Mayor felt this was worth investing in.

Park Rangers do 80% more for parks and the Optimum Investment option is $17 million** -- half the cost of OPS.

The analysis is pretty clear.

City Council should do the right thing: choose the Optimum Investment option.



Make your voice heard!

You can demand the Optimum Investment option by attending the Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River Committee meeting this Monday at 2pm in Room 1060, or by emailing the City Clerk with your public comment before Monday.

Be certain you write on your comment that it is for two different files:

1. APHAR Committee meeting 2/10/14 - Agenda Item 7, and
2. Council File 12-0899-S1


* = not including indirect costs. Indirect costs are roughly an additional 45%
** = including indirect costs.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Final EIR on Crystal Springs project is out

... and page 23 says it all:  NO PROJECT has by far the least amount of impact to the area.  But that's not an option since the intent is to create an impact, of course.

I would like to see the same score sheet with Ferraro Soccer Fields as an alternative. Ferraro - the best solution to this project - was intentionally left out.

Meanwhile, the newly-seated Recreation and Parks Commission will have the final say sometime in March. Lynn Alvarez is the new President of the commission. Although easily confirmed to the commission, Mrs. Blumenfield was not selected president right away as was rumored to be imminent around the water cooler.

Link to full EIR is here. 


Friday, January 10, 2014

Hearing Monday on Blumenfield, 2 others for Rec & Parks Commission

Update 1/13/14: After talking up partnerships, all three were easily moved forward. City Council hearing is tomorrow.

Interesting part of the conversation was that there was major discussion about safety in parks. Griffith and Runyon are such jewels in the city, why is that? The answer wasn't said, but it is easy: Park Rangers patrol Griffith and respond to Runyon regularly. 

----

The City Council's Arts Parks Health Aging and River Committee will hold a hearing on the appointment of three new Recreation and Parks Commissioners this Monday.

The three are:
  • Ms. Misty M. Sanford
  • Ms. Iris Zuniga
  • Ms. Kafi D. Blumenfield
Blumenfield is the wife of current City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield.  Garcetti's office states that they do not see a conflict of interest here. If that is actually true, then why is this fact not included in the bio they presented for Blumenfield?

Link to the Mayor's bio for Sanford is here.
Link to an Ethic Commission letter regarding Sanford is here.

Link to the Mayor's bio for Zuniga is here.

Link to the Mayor's bio for Blumenfield is here.
There is no Ethics Commission letter for Blumenfield.

Compare the Mayor's bio to the .pdf from the Liberty Hill Foundation below. (Bob Blumenfield was elected to City Council last July and left the State Assembly for the job.)


Arts Parks chair Mitch O'Farrell was Garcetti's chief of staff before being elected to City Council last July, so expect Blumenfield and the other two appointments to pass through this hearing easily. Nonetheless, public comment is always a good thing so send in yours.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sunland-Tujunga NC wants more Park Rangers








































Items 6 & 7 passed unanimously last night.

CF #12-0899-S1 should be going back to Arts, Parks sometime this month.

Hansen Dam Ranger Station
Nobody home


It's reassuring to see that the Park Ranger program is not just a single park phenomenon, and that a single council office can no longer control this Citywide conversation.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Full circle: Griffith Vision Plan loaded with pet projects

UPDATE 1-8-14:

The Commission passed the document as a "Vision" for Griffith Park after a very long discussion as to whether LaBonge's last-minute pet project capital additions now force the document to undergo full CEQA before a vote by the Commission. The Commission reiterated the vote was on a "Vision" and that they were not declaring this a Specific plan or General plan or any other kind of plan.

The Commission also instructed Rec and Parks to return the image of P-22 to the cover of the document.

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Tomorrow, at the final meeting of the majority of the board, the Recreation and Parks Commission will vote to approve a new Griffith Park Vision Plan.

This process was originally initiated by an angry public fighting commercialization of the park. Unfortunately, it is painfully clear that the process has again been entirely co-opted by the exact same City Councilmember and is filled with his pet projects.

The very first published article here on Wayist was a July 2009 story about this issue :
According to a letter sent to Master Plan Working Group (GPMPWG) members, the new draft Griffith Park Master Plan is being downgraded to a simple "vision" for the park. Insiders know that this is not a move by the Department of Recreation and Parks (DRP), but is clearly at the behest of Councilman Tom LaBonge. The GPMPWG is expected to review the major edits by the department and LaBonge, and provide a final edit in just two weeks.

Since the document is a vision of a broad based group of community members and developed through a lengthy and very public process, the document certainly qualifies as a true Master Plan. It's a good guess that the attack on the process is being driven by the councilmember since the document does not represent the vision of Tom LaBonge and his developer friends. LaBonge tried to force destination restaurants, pleasure piers, and cable cars into the previous version of the Master Plan. LaBonge's version was resoundingly hated and panned by the public at large.

After nearly 7 8 years, the almost comical reality is that you don't have to read past page 5 of the new version to see that things have sadly come full circle: the very same man has inserted more of his controversial pet legacy projects into this Vision Plan at the 11th hour. Some are as ridiculous as a permanent "Griffith Park Movie Night", some as illegal as building new, unnecessary construction in the Urban Wilderness area (per the historic monument designation.)

The document's cover was also recently changed by someone, adding to the ironic amusement. P-22, the famous Griffith park Mountain Lion, was recently removed from the images.

Now, although the plan boldly proclaims itself as "VISION PLAN FOR GRIFFITH PARK -- AN URBAN WILDERNESS IDENTITY", all of the pictures are of carnival-like rides and the built sections of the park, mocking the overall vision itself.

The Commission will easily pass this nonsense tomorrow as their going-away present to LaBonge.


The one saving grace, if you can believe it, is that this is a Vision Plan and not a Master Plan. The difference?  Supposedly, there are no capital projects in a Vision Plan.

So what happens to the pet capital projects inserted into the Vision Plan by LaBonge? Hopefully, they simply rot.