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The Trust for Public Lands' latest ParkScore ranking of the parks systems in major US cities was just released. While New York ranks #2, Los Angeles ranks ... 34th. Detroit for all of its problems ranks considerably higher than Los Angeles.
“You can’t have a great city without great parks,” said Mr. Benepe, who, under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, oversaw 1,700 parks and beaches during a period of expansion and major capital investment.
|Black on the bar graph shows the|
funding taken from LA's parks since 2007.
(click image to enlarge)
You will hear LA politicos brag about Mayor Villaraigosa's 50-parks initiative... an initiative with funding for the acquisition of 50 postage stamp-sized parks, but no funding -- zero -- for maintenance, programming, or security going forward. Hardly a significant investment in LA's parks, particularly when compared to New York.
Meanwhile it only gets worse for LA's parks this next fiscal year. Although Mayor-elect Garcetti is a signatory on ParksSave's pledge to restore parks funding, Garcetti as councilmember, the Mayor, and City Council unanimously approved taking another $70 million in chargebacks ($64 million) and hidden indirect charges ($7 million) from the Department of Recreation and Parks during the upcoming year alone. Another $70 million in one year!
The compounded result of the Mayor and City Council's policy is that today, the Department of Recreation and Parks is at risk of losing its recreation function completely. Let me repeat that: Los Angeles is at risk of losing all public recreation programming. Now that's dedication.
Garcetti as Mayor does have the opportunity to change all of this destruction come July 1 when he takes the oath of office, however, and one hopes he realizes what is at stake.
“You can’t have a great city without great parks” is one of those universal knowns, whether here in the states or anywhere else on Planet Earth. Yet the City of Los Angeles actively steals millions from its parks, dishonoring the foresight Angelenos had when they tried to protect LA's parks by mandating special funding specifically for parks in the City Charter.
Stay tuned for the deflecting, marginalizing, and scapegoating of managers that is sure to follow.
(Update: the MOU between GLAZA and the LA Zoo states that GLAZA will be operating the LA Zoo as an event venue. So much for the Zoo's "mission" (see below).
That said, since this is a different use that the LA Zoo's mission, an EIR may be required.)
GLAZA, the non-profit support group for the Los Angeles Zoo, has announced it is spending some of it's own bank on Zoo publicity. A lot of bank, actually:
In an effort to introduce more people to the mission, exhibits and wildlife conservation programs of the L.A. Zoo, GLAZA — the organization's longtime non-profit partner — announced Monday it will spend $2 million in marketing and public relations money, beginning in July.Marketing and public relations... In practice, marketing and public relations seems to be LA City code-speak for become an event venue, which is why this article caught my attention.
The Los Angeles Zoo is an entity that is using Griffith Park property. The land is zoned Open Space, and used to be under the purview of the Dept of Recreation and Parks until it was spun off as it's own department.
Myself and the many visitors to Amir's Garden have all had a better view than most of the recent major construction projects across the canyon at the LA Zoo. As well as the expansion lights, noise, and clearing of park land, park users in this area have already had to endure live band music pounding throughout Mineral Wells canyon from a new summer concert series.
Commercialization might be a good thing for the Zoo financially, but one has to question the impact to the urban wilderness areas of the park. When the concerts are in full swing , the racket they make is like your bad neighbor who plays music way too loud keeping the entire neighborhood up all night.
Honestly, do you hike through the urban wilderness of the Griffith Park interior expecting an onslaught of loud band music? No one goes hiking or riding in Griffith Park to experience that. It probably goes without saying that this cannot be good for the Zoo animals, too. Beyond that, parks themselves have sound ordinances that should prohibit this kind of noise.
Prohibited unless the LA Zoo is designated an event venue, that is.
Revenue generation by any means possible is always OK as far as City Hall is concerned, so I guess we're bad neighbors for even suggesting that parties and concerts at the LA Zoo isn't the best use of the facility. So be it - we're bad neighbors.
What we can hope for is that GLAZA doesn't subscribe to City code-speak and their $2 million worth of publicity will really be all about the Zoo's purported mission:
The L.A. Zoo is an important component of the greater Los Angeles region’s quality of life. Citizens need safe places to recreate and decompress from their daily chores. The corporate responsibility of the Zoo to save wildlife and wild places manifests itself in good educational programming, conservation support, and academic research—all of which enhances the Los Angeles community.
- John R. Lewis, LA Zoo Director (LA Zoo Annual Report 2011-12)
Just some of the services we no longer receive in Los Angeles parks are listed below. These losses are a direct result of the City's "chargeback" policy against the Dept. of Recreation and Parks.
Note: Text in italics and choice of image is ours. Typos are probably ours.
DEPARTMENT OF RECREATION AND PARKS (RAP)
LIST OF SERVICE REDUCTIONS & IMPACTS DUE TO BUDGET REDUCTIONS AND INCREASED PAYMENT OF INDIRECT COSTS
FISCAL YEAR (FY) 2008-09 TO 2013-14
(RAP has) Paid $151 million to City General Fund in support costs (refuse collection, utility, pension, health care and fleet costs). These funds were previously used to provide RAP services to City of Los Angeles residents.
- Elimination of all City Public Building Landscape Services (proposed for FY 2013-14).
- Elimination of Landscape Services provided to the Police Administration Building (proposed for FY 2013-14).
- Functional Transfer of recreational and maintenance services provided by RAP at seven (7) Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) sites to non-profit or others (RAP proposed the functional transfer of three (3) sites for FY 2013-14).
- Reduction of Clean and Safe Spaces (CLASS) Parks, recreational programming and maintenance services at seven (7) HACLA sites.
- Reduction of CLASS Parks programming at all sites (proposed for FY 2013-14).
- Eliminated Pedal Boat service at Balboa, Echo Park, and MacArthur Lakes.
- Eliminated Licensed Child Care services at 24 sites.
- Eliminated Therapeutic specialized services at three (3) sites.
- Eliminated all Citywide Sports Tournaments.
- Closed Observatory two (2) days per week.
- Closed recreation centers & EXPO on Sundays and Holidays.
- Closed year round pools on Mondays and shortened the summer aquatic season from 10 weeks to eight (8) weeks.
- Closed 15 year round pools for three weeks during the winter break.
- Reduced seasonal pool operations by two (2) hours on weekends and by one (l) hour on weekdays.
- Closed Central Pool.
- Converted Peck Park, Hubert Humphrey and Glassell Pools from year round to seasonal.
- Reduced CLASS parks program from 47 to 37.
- Eliminated special event co-sponsorship (i.e. Salute to Recreation, Lotus Festival, etc).
- Eliminated staffing at all skate parks except one.
- Reduced summer bus trips for economically disadvantaged youth and eliminated senior citizen bus trips.
- Implemented fee increases for recreation programs, facility use, and staff support.
- Reduced Ranger services to assignment at Griffith Park only.
- Reduced dedicated staff at Senior Centers (programming conducted by part-time staff).
- Consolidated and clustered recreational staff at centers (less full-time recreational staff dedicated to each site) which lessens the hours and types of programming offered.
- Reduced equity programs such as Girls Play LA, and other low cost opportunities for disadvantaged areas.
- Eliminated RAP Senior Nutrition Program and some social services.
- Eliminated the Retired Senior Volunteer Program.
- Routed maintenance staff which reduces the "presence" of RAP staff at the park which leads to "dead park" situations.
- Reduced maintenance cleaning services provided at recreation centers! parks including: cleaning of restrooms from three (3) times per day to one-time per day, less frequent detailing of restrooms and buildings, removal of debris and trash, cleaning of gym floors, walls and other areas.
- Reduced land maintenance activities at parks including: routine maintenance, cleaning of children's play areas, refurbishment of play fields; and closure of other heavily used areas until they can be made safe and sanitary.
- Reduced facility repairs including: roofing, lighting, electrical, graffiti removal, broken windows, etc.
- Reduced hours of operation at region headquarters by one hour.
- Eliminated Wonderful Outdoor World (WOW) camping program.
- Reduced residential summer camp program and boys and girls camps by one day.
- Reduced hours of operation at Banning Museum and Civil War Drum Barracks by three (3) hours a week each.
- Reduced summer youth fishing program at Cabrillo Beach during the summer (last one was in 2008. This was offered to day camp youth from recreation centers throughout the City).
- Cut field supervision (recreation districts by a supervisor) from 13 to 11. Also eliminated the Recreation Supervisor positions that specifically oversaw the services for the Camping Division and the Senior Citizen Division. These responsibilities are now absorbed by field supervisors effective February 28, 2011.
- Eliminated Public Restroom Enhancement Program (PREP).
- Restrooms are being cleaned once a day instead of three (3) times a day and detailing of restrooms and buildings has become less frequent.
- Hiking and equestrian trails do not receive routine maintenance.
- Recreation facilities (interior) receive minimal maintenance (no detail cleaning).
- Hardscape stains remain much longer as we are unable to pressure wash on a regular basis.
- Sandbox maintenance is greatly impacted as sand is screened twice a week instead of three (3) times a week.
- Picnic areas receive minimal attention (unable to remove coals on a regular basis).
- Litter debris remain much longer on grounds, and trash cans overflow during the summer.
- Harvesting of aquatic vegetation at Machado Lake has not been performed in Fiscal Years 2008-09, 2009-10, or 2010-11.
- Motor sweeping of RAP parking lots has been reduced.
- List of athletic fields to be refurbished has been reduced by 25%.
- Line trimming and detailing of planter beds now occur on an as-needed basis instead of weekly.
- Grading of ball diamonds now takes place on an as-needed basis instead of monthly.
- Tree work is only being done on demand and on an emergency basis. The Forestry Division has been forced to abandon all preventative tree maintenance. This is exposing both our staff and patrons to an increased risk due to potential tree hazards. Additionally, due to reduced tree care staff, our backlog of tree-related emergencies has grown and our ability to respond in a timely manner has been compromised significantly.
- Loss of pest control staff has forced us to drastically reduce our preventative gopher and ground squirrel control operations as well as insect and rodent control services at our recreation centers. The result has been an increase in the number of County Health citations received by the Department.
- RAP's ability to meet its water conservation goals has been compromised due to the reduction in trained staff to make irrigation system repairs and adjustments in a timely manner. The delays result in a waste of water and/or loss of turf and plant material.
"...although (Recreation and Parks) is one of 30+ City Departments, (Recreation and Parks) alone has contributed $151 million (19%) (almost one-fifth) to reducing the City's projected budget deficit of $800 million over these last several fiscal years through paying the indirect/support costs."
What follows is the cover letter from the Department of Recreation and Parks' formal response to the Mayor's Budget for FY14. The new budget takes another $64 million in chargebacks and $8 million in other required payments away from Recreation and Parks programming.
(typos are probably our fault.)
April 23, 2013
Honorable Paul Krekorian, Chair
Budget and Finance Committee
City Clerk, City Hall Room 395
Los Angeles, CA 90012
ATTN: Erika Pulst, Legislative Assistant
Dear Councilmember Krekorian:
The Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP) respectfully submits this letter to assist your Committee in providing a deeper explanation of RAP's budget. In order to understand this budget, the Council and your Committee must look at the fundamental structural changes that have occurred to RAP's budget over the past seven years. During this time, a City policy shift occurred that affected both RAP and the Library Departmental budgets. It must be noted all RAP monies are "people dollars" used to enhance quality of life, resident programs helping to keep people active and healthy, and youth programs designed to build strong citizens and, thereby, encouraging youth against gang activities. The Department must be viewed as the most non-threatening public social service agency in the City of Los Angeles and a critical arm of public safety.
The Board of Recreation and Park Commissioners understands that the City has been in a dire financial crisis since Fiscal Year (FY) 2007-08 and the need exists to effect tactical solutions anually to address the City's structural deficit. While tactical decisions are critical in effecting immediate reductions, these decisions will most assuredly affect all future operations. It should be noted that I was one of the few General Managers that openly supported the Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERIP). I did this as I had extensive knowledge and practical experience with the Federal Government when the military was faced with drastic cuts in funding which necessitated the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program, Also, ERIP provided a more sensible program to reduce personnel costs while maintaining the dignity of the exceptional employees of our City. As an aside, the City benefitted from BRAC with the addition of a long term lease for land associated with the former Air Force Base at both Fort McArthur and Whites Point Nike Site. Over the past few budgets, there have been many questions directed at RAP as to why cuts have had to be made, such as a reduction in pool hours or elimination of year-round pools, program reduction/elimination or fee increases (such as community gardens). A complete list of programs that have been reduced or eliminated is provided as Attachment A. These reductions are a direct result of budget decisions necessitated by the worst recession in our country's history.
|Attachment B - click on image to enlarge|
|Attachment C - click to enlarge|
Again, referring to Attachment A, RAP has made efforts to focus on core functions and has been forced to make decisions to reduce or cancel those activities that although felt important and even critical to the community, had to be reduced or eliminated as they did not fall within the core functions of a Charter established department. These cuts were not made willingly nor would have been made had the Department not had to absorb support costs of operations never born by RAP in over 100 years of its history. This list is expected to grow over the next several years as RAP is forced to expend more funds on indirect costs. The increase this next fiscal year alone is $4.0 million dollars for a total of approximately $47.5 million. RAP simply does not have the long term ability to continue to finance this level of indirect cost reimbursement to the City's General Fund nor can we continue to self-fund a portion of our own budget each year.
There is some good news; the proposed FY 2013-14 budget provides RAP some one-time City capital funding to rehabilitate and rebuild Celes King III pool and Lincoln Park pool and to install automated locks in restrooms. Separately from the budget process, RAP was able to identify some one-time funding to perform deferred maintenance to improve safety and reduce liability claims, continue some unbudgeted programs such as aquatics at Hubert Humphrey, G1assell,and Peck pools (for FY 2012-13 only) and continue to develop new parks under the 50 Parks Initiative.
These last few years have been tough for both the residents and the employees. Reductions in costs have resulted in the ERIP, furloughs and layoffs. Fortunately, these tough reductions have kept our great City solvent. Unfortunately, these reductions have been accomplished without any ability to control the areas where employee reductions occurred. The ERIP took a whole level of experienced and critical managers with no ability to backfill through existing City forces. Currently, through both retirement and transfers to other City agencies, departments are losing another level of critical managers who in normal times would be groomed to take on increasing levels of management responsibilities. The City has also cut almost completely the influx in low cost new employees filling the roles of apprentice or low skilled trainable and valuable future leaders. This was a tactical decision to arrest the spiraling personnel and other employee costs but has had and will have severe detrimental costs in both service delivery and direct costs of doing a unit's work.
I will use only one work group in this discussion, our critical men and women who work as Gardener Caretakers. The Department employs over 370 men and women (from a high of 551) who fill the critical task of keeping our parks clean, green and safe for our patrons. The Department of Recreation and Parks has projected ahead some simple facts. The average age of a Gardener Caretaker is 52 years. Their tasks include but are not limited to: the cleaning of restrooms, children's play pits, bike path maintenance, maintenance of our parks, etc. Using a simple direct formula, the Department can expect to lose over 3-4% of these employees each of the next few years further depleting our workforce who are performing critical maintenance tasks. This not only effects RAP's operations but also has City wide implications. For example, RAP is provided funding ($2.0 million from the City General Fund) to perform landscape maintenance at City public buildings (non-RAP owned) but we can no longer shoulder this burden as we simply do not have the staff to complete this work. This is especially true given that RAP has continued to expand the number of parks, facilities and acreage which needs maintenance.
Additionally, cutting off the influx of new and low cost employees is driving our productive cost per unit of work. With the reduction in workforce and using more costly long term employees our cost per unit of work is up while our unit of work produced is down. More or increased cost per unit of work while decreasing work actually completed results in a productivity cost death spiral. Almost every workforce series and classification is affected by these facts. As we find our economy getting stronger, we need to take a more long term strategic vision on our City workforce and core functions.
Fleet Equipment Replacement and Maintenance
I would also like to bring to the attention of your Committee that RAP has been able to make productivity gains in our maintenance of parks and facilities by "routing" our gardeners. RAP established approximately 240 maintenance routes with assigned crews throughout the City. Instead of having stationary assignments, crews utilize large fleet equipment (trucks, large mowers, etc.) and small fleet equipment (small mowers, trimmers, etc.) to move from park/ facility to the next park/facility to perform critical maintenance tasks. These productivity gains are being threatened. Due to fleet reduction mandates, RAP has trimmed its fleet to extremely low levels and the large and small fleet equipment is aging. RAP has been informed that at least 62 pieces of equipment originally designated to be MICLA funded were pulled from the proposed FY 2013-2014 budget. Additionally, due to reductions in Department of General Services Fleet maintenance personnel, our equipment sits un repaired in shops. If this trend continues, eventually staff will not have the equipment it needs to adequately do their job.
Like other City Departments, RAP incurred budget reductions (positions cuts, layoffs, ERIP, etc.) over these last several fiscal years to help close the City's budget deficit. But RAP and the Library Department also incurred a new City policy of paying indirect/support costs which historically were paid from the City's General Fund on their behalf. The Library Department was somewhat assisted towards this effort with the passage of a voter approved ballot measure which allocated a larger percentage of the City's property tax dollars to them. However, RAP was not so fortunate and has had to absorb these costs from its operating budget at its same property tax allocation percentage. And although RAP is one of 30+ City Departments, RAP alone has contributed $151 million (19%) (almost one-fifth) to reducing the City's projected budget deficit of $800 million over these last several fiscal years through paying the indirect/support costs.
Another new City policy directed to RAP was to self-fund a portion of its own operating budget which is currently $3.8 million to a proposed $7.0 million in the next fiscal year. Our future ability to self-fund part of our own budget and pay $50+ million annually in indirect/support costs is not sustainable. We also have a large infrastructure of facilities that is continuing to age and the deferred maintenance list of items is continuing to grow. Something must be done to address these myriad of issues, or RAP could be facing tough decisions on whether to continue to provide highly subsidized community programs or to transition to a more passive park system dependent on for-profit or non-profit agencies to provide sports and community programming, which we don't believe any Angeleno wants to occur. We can turn this situation around but we must be treated more fairly in the future. Our budget dollars should be treated as service dollars to be used by our people to service the City's people. We are a critical arm of public safety and must work together to balance community needs against fiscal reality.
Thank you for your continued support of the Department of Recreation and Parks. Should you have any questions, please contact me or Regina Adams, Executive Officer, at (213) 202-2633.
JON KIRK MUKRI
“ETI’s Mission statement is “Dedicated to Equine Legislation, Good Horsemanship and the Acquisition and preservation of trails, open space and public lands.” For years, I have successfully worked with public agencies all over the State of California to produce equine legislation, acquisition and preservation of trails, open space and public lands for the benefit of preserving the equestrian lifestyle into the future.
After reading through this laundry list of Griffith Park action items, you just have to wonder about the priority of agencies who are ostensibly tasked with the environmental health, care and protection of this urban wilderness park.
- Work on the new foot/bike/horse bridge crossing the LA River from Atwater Village into the park cannot begin until migratory bird nesting season is over, which is anticipated to be the end of July.
- Traffic study was just completed at the Zoo entrance by the Autry. Traffic calming solutions may include a traffic light. Yes, a traffic light in an urban wilderness park. Something is really wrong here.
- LA Opera wants to simulcast its opener on big tv screens on the Wilson-Harding Golf Course. w-t-f?
- LaBonge is still talking about adding cell towers on water tanks throughout the park, same as he has been for the past four years or so.
- LAPD wants a 'public' horse arena on the Atwater Village side near the new bridge that they will have preferential use of... but the public can use it when they're done using it.
- The LA Zoo - which is on Griffith Park property - will be 'offering' preferential parking for $5. Looks like paying to park in our City parks now has a toe-hold.
- The Eco-Moron Award-winning LADWP Holiday Light Festival is finished as a vehicle event, but it may move entirely into the LA Zoo as a foot traffic event with all of the lights and noise. I'm sure the animals will love it.
- LADWP will be rebuilding the tree root-damaged sidewalks on Riverside Drive at LaBonge's behest. What do ratepayers think about this?
- the GP Senior Center in the Friendship Auditorium parking lot wants LaBonge to re purpose (? kick LA Shares out?) the building by Mulholland Fountain for an "Arts Center" that they will be using.
- LaBonge wants a trail from Lake Hollywood to Cahuenga Peak on LADWP right of away.
- After physical attacks upon both an LAPD officer and a peace officer Park Ranger by illegal flower vendors at the Forest Lawn entrance to the park, a public safety task force will be working on this issue.
- Related to the above issue, the Headworks plan calls for the removal of the fence that helps keep illegal flower vendors from completely impacting every inch of that section of roadway and park. This decision was called into question and may change.
In all honesty, Soboroff's push for commercialization as a cure to parks budget cuts completely missed the real issue. The truth of the matter is that recent parks budget cuts are actually a brazen and shameless violation of the Los Angeles City Charter, something Soboroff fails to acknowledge, much less address.
In 1925, realizing even then that parks are one of the first cuts made when funds become tight, the Citizens of Los Angeles saw fit to protect City parks outright from being decimated during times of economic hardship. They wrote directly into the City Charter that a percentage (.0325%) of City property assessed valuations would go directly to the Parks Department (the Parks & Playgrounds Dept at that time) for its exclusive use. The Charter-mandated parks funds are controlled by the Recreation and Parks Commissioners solely for use by the Dept. of Recreation and Parks.
When the City Charter was updated in 2000, this City Charter mandate was continued by the People of Los Angeles, reaffirming their protection of City parks. These dedicated parks funds still constitute the majority of the budget for the Department of Recreation and Parks and parks programming today.
And boy, did they pay! Last year a record $50 million was charged back from Charter-mandated parks funding, representing 36% of the entire fund. "Full Cost Recovery" is incremental, so the budget for FY14 will take even more of the dedicated parks funds from our parks.
The Charter mandate for City parks was enacted precisely to protect our parks from these hard times. Yet these chargebacks proffered by Mayor Villaraigosa and supported by the entire City Council completely violate this mandate of the people of Los Angeles.
Clearly the City knows they have no legal right to chargeback these Charter-Mandated funds from either the Department of Recreation and Parks, or Libraries. The Library Dept. had the same Charter allocation as Recreation and Parks. Unfortunately, when voters passed Prop L for Libraries in 2011, they had no idea that the City had covered their legal butts on chargebacks by adding a second part to Prop L forcing Libraries "to pay their bills" - effectively removing the Charter-mandate for Libraries. But not for Recreation and Parks.
The results of the City's City-Charter violation could be devastating. Recreation and Parks has outlined the consequences of chargebacks in recent budget process documents, warning that the pursuit of "Full Cost Recovery" may ultimately result in the complete loss of the recreation function of the department (pg. 215 of this document). Imagine no money for recreation in a city the size of Los Angeles! This is simply criminal. Yet our electeds continue to shamelessly ignore the damage from chargebacks. A lawsuit by the Citizens of Los Angeles against our own government is likely the only thing that will correct this willful violation of the City Charter and force our representatives to do the right thing.
We wrote up a full listing of the various chargebacks in FY12 with an analysis of each ( Mayor's Budget for Rec and Parks Target's LA's Most-Underprivileged ) for those interested in the detail.
You might think that, logically, the chargebacks would be equitable among the many City departments. But they aren't, hitting Recreation and Parks and Libraries by far the heaviest.
One of the chargebacks to the Dept. of Recreation and Parks (a City Department) forces them to pay the Dept. of Water and Power (a City-owned utility). Forcing the Recreation and Parks commission to "willingly" pay the Dept. of Water and Power is simply one way to launder the Charter-mandated parks funds for the General Fund through the Dept. of Water and Power. The City Council then withdraws those funds, now clean and free of the Charter-mandate and lost within lump sums in the hundreds of millions of dollars from LADWP allocated for the City's General Fund each year.
If the Dept. of Recreation and Parks must pay LADWP, then there is one burning question that demands a public response from City officials before any new budget is signed:
If, as the City Attorney repeatedly claims, Dept. of Recreation and Parks must pay their LADWP bill the same as any other rate payer, then why doesn't the Dept. of Recreation and Parks receive franchise fees from LADWP for the thousands of acres of park land and park resources they use -- just like LADWP would have to pay to any other ratepayer whose land and resources they use?Sadly, the answer is that the exchange would probably be an equal exchange, and losing those General Fund dollars nicely laundered through the Bank of LADWP is not on our electeds' agenda. That said, Eric Garcetti is a signatory to Parks Save and if elected, he must be made to keep his pledge and correct this ongoing crime against the will of the People of Los Angeles.
Wouldn't this be both playing fair and helping our parks as one would hope our electeds would want to do?
Earlier this week LAFD, after a third helicopter rescue above Veterans’ Park, broadcast this:
*UPDATE: Veterans Memorial Park Trailhead* LAFD helicopter hoisting uninjured boys from precarious location (2 trips w/ 3 victims each) to awaiting Fire Engine transporting to parking lot. LAFD had similar incidents last 2 weekends in nearly same location. LAFD reminds hikers to REMAIN ON TRAILS. – Erik Scott###
Calling our Mayor, CAO, City Council, Budget Chair Paul Krekorian, and Mayoral Candidates Eric Garcetti (a Parks Save signatory) and Wendy Greuel:
If there was ever a clear argument for more Park Rangers this budget cycle, this is it. When Park Rangers are in the field and interacting with hikers, educating hikers, and are on-site managing the sensitive resources that contain trails, the number of these types of incidents decreases. With respect to City parks in particular like Griffith, there are such few Park Rangers left right now that these parks are essentially not patrolled and are a veritable free-for all. No one is “home”, so anything goes, and this doesn’t just enable unprepared hikers but it allows vandals to damage these resources at-will.
I personally can vouch for people reaching out to resources like Rangers when they are on-site. On busy days, park neophytes who make their way into Amir’s Garden keep me from getting any work done at all with the questions about trails, preparation, distances, difficulty, wildlife, etc. And that’s A Good Thing. I answer everything and direct them to additional resources. Exactly what Park Rangers should be doing as part of their vital job duties – if we actually had any Rangers.
The bottom line is that we need a more reasonable management standard for our urban wilderness areas that is primarily proactive (Rangers, volunteers on-site) as opposed to reactive (expensive and dangerous Search & Rescue).
Time to correct this and hire more Park Rangers and a Chief Park Ranger this budget cycle.
Thinking of taking a hike in a City park that is too difficult for your fitness level?
LAFD's helicopter transport service is available 24/7 at no out-of-pocket cost to you.
City taxpayers will pick up your hiking tab!
Hundreds of spontaneous outdoorsmen just like you have already taken advantage of this great offer in the past year.
(yet another) Distressed Hiker Hoisted to Safety in Griffith Park
Zara McDonald, founder/director of the Felidae Conservancy Fund gives an information packed and fascinating presentation on the relationship between and challenges faced by mountain lions and humans as our worlds increasingly overlap (guess who loses?). This event took place on Monday May 14th in Tujunga, CA. The community arranged this presentation after a young male puma was tragically and needlessly slain by a Fish & Game Ranger a few weeks ago in the Sunland area.
This is just too good not to share. Trutanich is such a disappointment.
From the BOE:
Mt. Lee Drive is closed -- and will remain closed through March -- from Deronda Drive to the Mulholland Fork, due to an upslope water-pipe leak that undermined the road-bed. Councilman LaBonge introduced an emergency motion earlier this month to make sure restoring this critical public safety route got top priority. Since then, plans have been approved and a contractor retained to do the work, which is underway now and will continue through the end of March. You can still hike up to Mt. Lee Drive, above the closure, from the Griffith Observatory. The following is from the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering, describing the road-repair project.
On the evening of January 27, 2012, a washout of the Mulholland Highway developed approximately 1/5 of a mile northeast of the intersection of the Mulholland Highway and Deronda Drive in the Hollywood Hills. The Bureau of Street Services closed the road to vehicular traffic. Since this section of the Mulholland Highway is essential in providing access to the Mt. Lee Communications Center (one of the City's major emergency communication facilities), the roadway is being repaired on as a matter of urgent necessity.
On Friday, February 10, 2012 the City Council adopted a Motion (CF 12-0210) which directed the Bureau of Engineer to immediately begin design and construction to repair the road. On February 10, 2012 the Bureau of Engineering issued a construction order to an emergency on-call contractor to start repairs, and work began Saturday morning, February 11, 2012. The repair will realign the road by removing the hard bedrock along the slope above the road, and filling the washout with angular rock. A storm water catch basin and dispersal pipe is also included as part of the final repair.
Construction is proceeding on an expedited basis. The construction is scheduled to be substantially completed by end of March 2012, provided no unforeseen conditions are uncovered that may prolong the grading operations. Gene Edwards of the Bureau of Engineering is the Project Manager (213) 847-0463.
View toward Bee Rock on Saturday morning.
The temporary closure of Griffith Park on Thursday due to damage from high winds and fire danger will continue today.
Park officials are planning on opening Griffith on Saturday.
Tags: Griffith Park
Update on the park trails mess comes from Lynn Brown - National Trails Coordinator for ETI National:
GRIFITH PARK TRAILS UPDATE
The restoration work of replacing one old water pipeline in Griffith Park between the L.A. Zoo and Los Feliz Blvd is now finished. Currently, DWP is working on street restoration to be able to open it to normal traffic. As soon as the street is restored, DWP will follow with the restoration of the hiking and equestrian trail that has been closed to equestrians for nearly two years. Bikers will return to riding on the street, and the bridle trail will be open only for hikers and horses. The restoration plan, as agreed upon before the work was started, is to remove the pavement, and restore the trail surface with decomposed granite. Improvements to the existing trail includes installing woodcrete fencing between the street and the trail to run from the Ranger Station to the northern end of the golf course on Crystal Springs Drive.
Unfortunately trees were lost during the pipe construction, but new trees are to be planted along the trail. There is a plan to reestablish a formal tree canopy along the trail. DWP hopes to finish this section of the project in December 2011 or early January, 2012.
The next phase of pipe construction will begin possibly in early January, 2012, with digging the pipeline trenches on Zoo Drive. The process is open trench installation, digging deep trenches to house the pipes to be laid. All of this is to replace aging water pipelines for the City of Los Angeles.
The good news is that during the first phase some of this work will take place at night. Later, work may be done around the clock also, as necessary. Vehicle traffic along Zoo Drive will be impacted and flagmen are to be helping with those potential problems.
Work will begin east of the Victory Bridge and continue east past Pecan Grove. The hiking and equestrian trails will not be impacted directly, but there will be considerable noise and disruption along the street which may affect trail users.
The parking lot at Pecan Grove will remain accessible during construction. However, this work will not disturb the access through Patterson Tunnels and the trails that lead past the Condor cages along Skyline.
At Live Steamers, the trail known as Rattlesnake which accesses the park will remain open. Horses and hikers can come through the dirt parking lot across the street from the Live Steamers, cross the street as usual and continue on to favorite trails. The parking lot is next to the Griffith Park Service yard, currently filled with mountains of dirt, across the street from the Live Steamers. It will become a “laydown” area for DWP. DWP will use this area as a base to store materials, dirt, some pipe, machinery and to also house office trailers on site. The area will be enclosed with a fence about 40 feet west of the bridle trail crossing.
Warning signs will be posted for equestrians and hikers on affected trails.
DWP has been responsive to the idea that the office trailers will be parked closest to the dirt trail that leads from Tunnel 6 to Martinez. Since trailers are stationary and facing outward, they should not cause spooks to horses. Moving machinery and other activities will take place closer to Zoo Drive. Entrance to this laydown area will be on the western most point of the triangle shaped lot. Trucks, and other heavy machinery will drive in at the farthest point from the bridle trail.
This dirt parking lot across from Live Steamers has historically been the parking area for equestrians trailering in to ride in the Park. It will now be used by DWP as their laydown area for the next 2 ½ years. There will still be a small area in the laydown lot where trailers may park. However, as announced previously, horse trailer parking for out of town trailers will be in a designated area across from Martinez Arena.
To follow the construction progress the public can go to the DWP Webpage (link here) … Look at Unit 1B which will refer to this current construction work. There are different designations for various phases of this construction project. The Webpage of Unit 1B should be up for viewing by the end of November.
As the volunteer caretaker and steward of this special place since Amir passed away in 2003, I'd like to thank the Weekly for the award and write-up. The recognition for Amir's beautiful rest stop and ornamental garden in Griffith Park is very much appreciated!
Author Reuben E. Reynoso's write-up on the garden does bring up an issue that needs discussion. In it, he not-so-subtly suggests that visitors may want to bring wine to the garden and toast Amir (and then not to blame him or the Weekly for doing so). This likely comes from the garden's and its founder's history. Amir's weekly potluck through the 1980s and early '90s often included wine. After all, when not caring for the garden, Amir Dialameh worked as a wine expert at Greenblatt's Deli on Sunset for years. A glass of red wine before bed was a part of his heart-healthy daily routine.
At the end of November, I will now have been caring for the garden as Amir did for a full 1/4 of the time he put in. That's 8 years at some 900 volunteer hours per year spent in the garden. In these past 8 years, the appearance of alcohol in the park - and in the garden itself - has definitely increased. And not in a positive way.
So I ask: when you toast Amir for his beautiful gift and you want to use alcohol of some variety, please respect the garden, the park, and everyone who enjoys the park by raising your toast outside the park.
|Amir Dialameh in another lovely garden.|
Credit: Farrokh A. Ashtiani
Over the summer, the amount of alcohol party trashings of the garden went from annoying-but-occasional to every weekend with one or more of these inappropriate uses of Amir's beautiful gift taking place. Just two weeks ago, I spotted four kids off-trail near Amir's with a telltale blue box in hand. When Park Rangers found them, these park patrons had 36 cans of beer prepped for a big afternoon.
It is illegal to bring alcohol into the park, and the law is for everyone: you cannot have one set of laws for some and not for others. Please don't bring alcohol to Amir's Garden, even for a simple toast.
If you are compelled to toast Amir in his fantastic garden, as anyone might be, many non-alcoholic drinks are out there for you to choose from. Sparkling grape juice is my personal fave. Good stuff!
Read Farrokh Ashtiani's wonderful tribute to Amir at the time of his passing here.
In 2009, this grandmomma rattlesnake, looking very pregnant, scared quite a few visitors around Amir's Garden for a couple months. At the time, Park Rangers were patrolling for her so that they could relocate her safely to a less-traveled part of the park.
But Grandmomma suddenly dropped off the map. No sightings! As the garden caretaker, I seriously had eyes peeled for this gal. When she disappeared, I was worried something or someone had gotten to this beautiful creature before she could be safely moved. That said, rattlesnakes are territorial, and big ones maintain big territories. She could be anywhere in her territory.
Meanwhile, as we wondered where she might be, this photo kind of went viral throughout the park community. People kept asking me if I'd seen the big snake they saw in their email. I had to say 'no'.
At the end of August this year, Grandmomma suddenly reappeared in Amir's Garden. Terrified calls from garden visitors again went to the Park Rangers and this time they got up to the location just as she was leaving the area. They carefully placed her in a travel container and moved her to her new home in the park.
Here is Grandmomma circa early September 2011 - 15+ rattles strong but not so pregnant, cruising into her new low-density home where she won't terrify too many humans. What a gorgeous girl!
John F John Jr
NC System Throws a 10th Year Birthday Party
From every corner
From every background
From every walk of life
They gather in peace with a common hope for a better future
The City of Angels shines down upon this day ~1913
Mayor Atnonio Villaraigosa proclaimed that Neighborhood Councils are here to stay and proceeded with a series of softball remarks that made solid commitments to nothing. BH Kim, the General Manager of DONE gave what could be labeled his most inspiring speech to date. He comfortably addresses the room of savvy community activists many he knows on a first name basis. Mr. Kim pointed out specific projects that different NCs had accomplished to engage stakeholders, like The East Hollywood NC ArtCycle he attended the prior weekend. When each NC was mentioned a variety of shouts and clapping could be heard from the different camps throughout the room. Then he offered a call to action and encouraged further regional organization and for NCs to take positions on the Krekorian motions that will be up for Council vote later in the year.
The day then broke into a series of workshops and panel discussions. From broken side walk to pension reform, and from conflict of interest to social media, Los Angels neighbors talked, listened and exchanged ideas.
Throughout the event GGPNC Public Safety Chair Andrea Laderosa mingled with fellow community leaders and spoke of how important it is for Los Feliz residents to be represented. It is clear that she is serious about this philosophy as she can be seen volunteering for nearly every community event in and around Los Feliz and now making her presence city wide. She easily exemplifies the best of Los Feliz and the type of positive change one person can bring to a neighborhood.
The event was a huge success not because it solved any of the problems facing Los Angeles, clearly it did not. What it did do was give credence to the ten year old Neighborhood Council system. There was a sense that BH Kim was addressing an emerging giant. The mechanism for regional collaboration on united causes is now in place. And at long last the voice of the common citizen may become louder than whoever has the fattest wallet on any given day