(Article courtesy Friends of the Southwest Museum who have partnered with Griffith Park advocates to protect the park's interest in the Autry's desired expansion: a proposed tripling of the Autry building size plus up to 100 additional signs and billboards, a 100' tower, new liquor license, etc. on Griffith Park land for only $1.00 per month in rent.
At this point in time, it is very disconcerting that no one is officially representing Griffith Park and the public who uses this important park land in these negotiations. Tom LaBonge, the councilman in whose district this project lies, is 100% for handing the Autry everything they want.
The Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council is the most obvious choice for a place at this negotiation table to speak for the park. It remains to be seen if a "table" even materializes as the posturing of the Autry continues.)
City Hearing Postponed as Autry Rebukes Any Negotiation for Southwest Museum
Yesterday, July 28, 2009, Board of Referred Powers Chair Janice Hahn accepted a request from Councilmember José Huizar for additional time to work on getting the Autry National Center’s Board of Directors to agree to a legally binding commitment for the Southwest Museum and Casa de Adobe in its proposed lease amendment with the City. (Tony Cardenas is the new chair of the Board of Referred Powers for 2009-10 - ed.)
Councilmember Huizar seeks such a condition to assure Autry will not simply take the Southwest Museum’s Collection to an expanded Autry museum building in Griffith Park and abandon or sell the Southwest Museum site. For this reason, Huizar has requested a continuance of the further hearing of the Autry’s expansion plan in Griffith Park until after August 31, 2009.
The reason given from his letter of request: “I have been acting in good faith to bring agreement and/or compromise to the issue at hand. However, I do not believe that the Autry has taken seriously the Board of Referred Power’s instructions to work out with me options for a legally binding document. The Autry Center has essentially threatened to abandon its expansion project at Griffith Park altogether if I continue to pursue with them any document which legally binds them to its commitments made to me and to the City of Los Angeles.”
Councilmember Huizar is to be applauded for his leadership as he has been working diligently these past 4 weeks. As the first elected official to be publicly granted a meeting directly with the Board of Directors in regards to this issue, he now has first hand knowledge of the Autry decision-maker’s position.
Our Coalition was asked by his staff to select just two people to represent the entire 70 organizations and many individuals to meet with the Councilmember. Mark Kenyon and I participated in two meetings with the Councilmember to discuss the longstanding position of the Coalition: a legally binding agreement and a fully functional Southwest Museum. (And submitted to him supporting documents.)
At the second meeting on Thursday, July 23rd, we agreed with the Councilmember that the three key items needed were:
1) legally binding commitment that could be accomplished in various forms
2) 12,500 sq ft. of exhibition space for the Southwest Collection at the historic museum facility (or Option B from the Brenda Levin study)
3) a timeline for re-opening
Just last evening, CM Huizar invited 11 organizational representatives from Council District 14 to a meeting in which he shared this information and a newly adopted resolution from the Autry Board that opposes any negotiation with the City that would address the issues for the Southwest Museum and Casa de Adobe.
We strongly urge you to read these documents, available at our website: http://www.friendsofthesouthwestmuseum.com/AutryBoardResoLtrBoRP072409.pdf
There was overwhelming agreement and support at this meeting for the Councilmember to continue to pursue a legally binding commitment and the exhibition space allocation of Option B. And, everyone one was willing to support him in this endeavor.
This is a fast moving train. I immediately requested that the Councilmember attend and talk with our entire Coalition as soon as possible to confirm with all of us that these are his goals too and to allow everyone concerned to be a part of the solution.
We are working with City staff as to what the necessary next action items will include. Please be ready to participate as you have already been doing in support of the Coalition’s position all these years. For our community, for the future of our children and for our own history and common heritage that is the Southwest Museum, I thank you for being devoted to community service.
Nicole Possert, Chair