GPW: Self-Tempered Anarchy since 2009

Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
Send us your stories, ideas, and information. Insiders welcome - confidentiality guaranteed.

stories along The Way

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Help select LA's new Police Chief

The Los Angeles Police Commission is holding a community meeting Wednesday Sept. 2nd at Friendship Auditorium in Griffith Park to hear from you what you want in a new police chief. This public meeting will be attended by two members of the Board of Police Commissioners and Richard Tefank,  Police Commission Executive Director who will chair the discussion.

For more information call the Police Commission at (213) 485-3531.

Police Chief Scoping meeting
September 2, 2009 at 6:30pm
Friendship Auditorium
3201 Riverside Drive
Los Angeles, California 90027

Saturday, August 29, 2009

What's Next for the Southwest Museum?

The Friends of the Southwest Museum will be holding a meeting to discuss the situation to date and what might be happening next with the SW Museum, the Autry, and the entire mess. The public is not only invited, but is a vital part of the process. 

Here are the details:

"With the flurry of recent activity and Autry's spin to cast a negative light upon our community and elected officials, we will host a meeting to synthesize these last two months.

The Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition will host the meeting for our members, both individuals and the many organizations that have come together around this issue. This meeting will help to portray the truth and implications of Autry's project withdrawal, and with you, set forth a game plan for the next chapter in this journey to Save the Southwest Museum.

After seven years of trying to work with the Autry to an equitable solution for all, we are in many ways, back at the starting point.

Please stay involved and attend Monday's meeting. Councilmember Jose Huizar has been invited to attend.

Meeting on Monday Aug. 31st
7:00 p.m.; 6:30 Chat and Light Refreshments
Highland Park Ebell Club

131 Avenue 57 in Highland Park 
(1/2 block from Figueroa Street, across from public parking lot)
Thank you!"

Friday, August 28, 2009

Canned (and slightly distorted) Ham

Greetings on a Friday!

For more information about any of the items below, please visit:

- Tom welcomed new Los Angeles Fire Chief Millage Peak, whose appointment was announced by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today.

- On Thursday, the Councilmember helped open the beautifully rehabilitated Alexandria House Apartments in Koreatown. The 16-unit building provides low-income housing, social services and child care to its tenants. The agency restored the building with $3.5 million in bond money and a $2.725 million loan from the Community Redevelopment Agency. Because of its high level of energy efficiency, Alexandria House Apartments also earned an additional $200,000 loan from a Los Angeles Housing Department/Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) program. Congratulations to everyone at Alexandria House!

- The fires continue to burn in the Angeles National Forest and other parts of Los Angeles County. The Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Jonathan Fielding urged residents who live in areas where they can see smoke or smell it to be cautious and to avoid unnecessary outdoor activities. For more information, please see the attached flier. The second flier attached here lists (on page 3) cooling centers for senior citizens in Los Angeles County.

- This is not great weather for gardening, but it may be just the right time to attend a free LADWP workshop on low-water-use landscaping. The workshop is designed to help people adapt their landscaping to the new city-wide water restrictions. The final workshop in this series is being held this weekend: Saturday, Aug. 29, 8a-12n at 1350 Sepulveda Blvd., West L.A. Parking is free. Space is limited, so please RSVP at (800) 544-4498. For more information, click here:

- If you're interested in embarking on a school or community improvement project, you'll want to attend the upcoming Community Beautification Grant Workshop in Council District 4. The workshop is 90 minutes long and answers any questions you might have about the City's wonderful Community Beautification Grant program. The workshops are free and do not require an RSVP. The workshop will be held on Thursday, Sept. 3 at 6 p.m. Los Feliz Library, 1874 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz 90027. The deadline for the 2009/2010 grant applications is Oct. 20, 2009. For more information call (213) 978-0226 or visit

- Got computer and electronic junk? Take it to the Household Hazardous Waste event tomorrow, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2009, 9a-3p. in the Ride-Aid Parking Lot, 3566 Rodeo Place (Off Crenshaw Blvd.), Los Angeles 90018. For information about what will be accepted, please click here:

- Mark your calendars for the City of Los Angeles' 228th birthday. This event is celebrated every year with Los Pobladores Walk from San Gabriel Mission to El Pueblo in Downtown Los Angeles. Walkers begin at 6 a.m. and are greeted with festivities at about 9 a.m. at El Pueblo. Fore more information, click here:

Have a safe weekend. Stay cool. And remember to enjoy and love Los Angeles.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin at Griffith Observatory today

Today is Buzz Aldrin Day in LA and to celebrate, the famed Apollo Astronaut will be at the Griffith Observatory to give a talk on the space program and sign copies of his many books.

The event starts at 6pm this evening and is free to the public. For more information, check out the Observatory's Web Site.

Tom LaBonge will of course be introducing Buzz Aldrin. We feel like we should make a joke here about "spam in a can" meeting "canned ham", but a lot of you are probably too young to get it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Presentation tonight on plants and animals of Griffith Park

Dan Cooper, of the Griffith Park Natural History Survey, will present an exciting, illustrated program on the survey's latest scientific findings on the indigenous animals, plants and ecosystems of Griffith Park. The Griffith Park Natural History Survey, a grass roots-funded initiative, has and continues to discover and document many species that heretofore were considered extinct within the park and its surroundings.

The program is hosted by the Sierra Club's Verdugo Hills section. Everyone is welcome!

Wednesday, August 26
7 p.m.
Citibank Bldg
2350 Honolulu Avenue
Montrose, CA

Enter the bank building from the rear and take the stairs to the lower level meeting room.

Dying parks & High-profile water scofflaws

Water restrictions are supposed to be implemented by everyone in Los Angeles with very few exceptions. Mayor Villaraigosa says everyone has to conserve water in LA, no matter who or what you are:

How are these mandated water restrictions and price increases affecting our parks? Recreation and Parks properties are City resources. Playing fields, golf courses, even trees that are on City park land are specific resources that the City is mandated to protect.

This fact seems to be entirely lost on the City Council and our Mayor who don't view park properties this way. Have you looked at Bette Davis Park lately? Bette Davis is part of Griffith Park and it is dead dead dead. Water restrictions are killing our parks, picnic areas, playing fields, golf courses, gardens, trees. If the living landscape isn't dead yet, it is severely compromised as drought stresses living things and makes them easier targets for both disease, pests, and fire. Costs to replace and repair these public resources is already in the millions and rising every day.

Not only is the Department of Recreation and Parks forced to adhere to all water restrictions, the department is now forced to pay for water from its own budget, something it never had to do in the past. For 2009-10, DRP is paying out almost $20 million that should have been earmarked for recreation and parks programming in Los Angeles. This is almost 12% of the entire Recreation and Parks budget. Meanwhile, DWP towers, power lines and water pipes occupy park land all over the City of Los Angeles rent-free.

Hopefully the irony, for want of a better word, in making DRP pay for water is not lost on you. L.A. City owns the Department of Water and Power. Money for recreation and parks programming for the citizens of Los Angeles is taken from the parks and handed to a City-owned utility. The Los Angeles City Council regularly withdraws funds from LADWP and returns them to the City's General Fund, where they are used for any purpose the City Council deems important.

Historically, we know that recreation and parks is not a City Council priority. When financial cuts are mandated from the 15 feudal lords at 200 N. Spring Street, the Department of Recreation and Parks is always the first to be cut.

While our parks die and our rates go up, believe it or not our Mayor and the City itself have been blatantly violating their own water restrictions. A KNBC investigation turned up a number of City properties -- none of them parks properties -- that water their yards pretty much at-will. Worse yet, the Mayor himself is watering his own lawn 5-6 nights a week!

So not only is your lawn dying and your water rates increasing thanks to our local politicians, but your park lands are being destroyed and you will soon be paying for their repair and restoration. Meanwhile, the same local politicians take money from your recreation and parks funding and funnel it through their own City utility to disguise the action, then use it for entirely different purposes while blatantly ignoring their own water restriction rules. Isn't that special.

Sounds bad? It is getting even worse, ladies and gentlemen. This reminder of what is coming at you next was sent by a DWP watchdog committee supported by most of the City's 80+ neighborhood councils:

DWP COMMITTEE .... August 25, 2009

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

If you don't mind the real possibility that your power bill will triple, then this message is not for you. If you do mind, you can do something about it. Here is how:

Save the date! September 1, 2009 at Energy and Environment Committee, Room 1010, at 9:00 AM.

Subject: ECAF and ELECTRIC TIERING and RESTRUCTURING for October onward.

Summary: If allowed to pass, triple increases will occur.

Neighborhood Council Reps and Stakeholders should object and offer Resolutions written or verbal that say: No quarterly increases, Yearly ECAF evaluation with NC and Stakeholder input subject to City Council review (refer to previous recommendations).

This may be sent to City Council Friday. Stay alert. It will be up to Council to approve or not or send back to DWP.

Again, the important action for NCs and Stakeholders is to be present in numbers. The best action would be to send the plan back to DWP to crunch the numbers. Without NCs or Stakeholders to oppose, Council could approve without prejudice. ...

Your Board will be talking to Wendy Greuel, August 28th on DWP Issues/Concerns. Your Board will be talking to David Nahai, September 2nd on MOU issues, ECAF and how we can improve relations. Neighborhood Councils can make changes and influence decisions, if you are there.

Sincerely, Soledad S. Garcia (chair)
Triple the power bill??!?  Fun in the Sun with Tony and his 15 Fiefs just goes on and on and on, doesn't it? Hope your pockets are deep enough, and our parks strong enough to survive the ride.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Griffith Park is Number .... 22?

The Trust for Public Land just released a current list of the largest parks that lie within city boundaries in the United States. Griffith Park is only number 22! If you look at just the municipal parks, Griffith is only number 10!  Wow! Where were we when the rest of the country was buying park land? (Developing the hell out of our vacant land, that's where.)
 #22 eh? Bet Tom LaBonge is totally pissed!

On the plus side, Los Angeles does have three in the top 100. And on the minus side, Los Angeles only has three in the top 100. Here's the list...
(M): Municipally Owned Park      (R): Regional Park       (S): State Park     
(NP): National Park     (C): County Park    (NWR): National Wildlife Refuge

    Rank ... Park Name ... Type ... Acres ... City
  1. Chugach State Park S 490,125 Anchorage, Alaska
  2. Franklin Mountains State Park S 23,909 El Paso, Tex.
  3. Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge NWR 22,770 New Orleans, La.
  4. South Mountain Preserve M 16,094 Phoenix, Ariz.
  5. Carvins Cove Natural Reserve M 12,700 Roanoke, Va.
  6. McDowell Sonoran Preserve M 11,250 Scottsdale, Ariz.
  7. Cullen Park M 9,270 Houston, Tex.
  8. Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve NP 7,870 Jacksonville, Fla.
  9. George Bush Park C 7,800 Houston, Tex.
  10. North Mountain Preserve M 7,500 Phoenix, Ariz.
  11. Gateway National Recreation Area (part) NP 7,138 New York, N.Y.
  12. Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge (part) NWR 6,800 San Jose, Calif.
  13. Jefferson Memorial Forest M 6,011 Louisville, Ky.
  14. Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge (part) NWR 6,000 Eufaula, Ala.
  15. Mission Trail M 5,840 San Diego, Calif.
  16. William B. Umstead State Park S 5,579 Raleigh, N.C.
  17. Ahupua'a O Kahana State Park S 5,229 Honolulu, Hawaii
  18. Forest Park M 5,157 Portland, Ore. 
  19. Longview Lake Park C 4,852 Kansas City, Mo.
  20. Far North Bicentennial Park M 4,500 Anchorage, Alaska
  21. Eagle Creek Park M 4,279 Indianapolis, Ind.
  22. Griffith Park M 4,217 Los Angeles, Calif.
  23. Fairmount Park - Wissahickon Valley M 4,167 Philadelphia, Pa.
  24. Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve S 3,896 Jacksonville, Fla.
  25. Walter E. Long Park M 3,715 Austin, Tex.
  26. Bidwell Park M 3,670 Chico, Calif.
  27. Fort Worth Nature Center/Wildlife Refuge S 3,662 Fort Worth, Tex.
  28. Mountain Creek Lake Park M 3,643 Dallas, Tex.
  29. Bays Mountain Park M 3,585 Kingsport, Tenn.
  30. False Cape State Park and Natural Area Preserve S 3,572 Virginia Beach, Va.
  31. Bonita Lakes Park M 3,462 Meridian, Miss.
  32. North Landing River State Natural Area Preserve S 3,440 Virginia Beach, Va.
  33. First Landing State Park S 3,410 Virginia Beach, Va.
  34. Shelby Farms Park C 3,200 Memphis, Tenn.
  35. Trinity River Park M 3,173 Dallas, Tex.
  36. Mohawk Park and Golf Course M 3,100 Tulsa, Okla.
  37. Brecksville Reservation (part) R 3,026 Brecksville, Ohio
  38. Cecil Field Greenway M 2,866 Jacksonville, Fla.
  39. Pelham Bay Park M 2,765 New York, N.Y.
  40. Newport News Park (part) M 2,688 Newport News, Va.
  41. Otter Creek Park M 2,600 Louisville, Ky.
  42. Los Penasquitos Canyon M 2,405 San Diego, Calif.
  43. Mill Stream Run Reservation (part) R 2,238 Strongsville, Ohio.
  44. Steele Creek Park M 2,224 Bristol, Tenn.
  45. Bear Creek Pioneers Park C 2,168 Houston, Tex.
  46. Tilden Park M 2,077 Berkeley, Calif.
  47. Percy Warner Park M 2,058 Nashville, Tenn.
  48. Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area M 2,031 Los Angeles, Calif.
  49. Galveston Island State Park S 2,013 Galveston, Tex.
  50. Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area R 1,973 Portland, Ore.
  51. White Rock Lake Park M 1,952 Dallas, Tex.
  52. Swope Park M 1,805 Kansas City, Mo.
  53. Torrey Pines State Reserve S 1,800 San Diego, Calif.
  54. Calero County Park C 1,782 San Jose, Calif.
  55. Greenbelt Park M 1,778 New York, N.Y.
  56. Barton Creek Greenway M 1,771 Austin, Tex.
  57. Little Talbot Island State Park S 1,768 Jacksonville, Fla.
  58. Mission Bay Park M 1,756 San Diego, Calif.
  59. Rock Creek Park (part) NP 1,754 Washington, D.C.
  60. Tijuana River Valley Regional Park C 1,710 San Diego, Calif.
  61. Big Talbot Island State Park S 1,708 Jacksonville, Fla.
  62. Fort Harrison State Park S 1,640 Lawrence, Ind.
  63. Lake Leatherwood Park M 1,620 Eureka Springs, Ark.
  64. Pennypack Park M 1,618 Philadelphia, Pa.
  65. Claremont Hills Wilderness Park M 1,589 Claremont, Calif.
  66. Burns Park M 1,575 North Little Rock, Ark.
  67. Adobe Dam Recreation Area C 1,526 Phoenix, Ariz.
  68. Hidden Valley Wildlife Area R 1,510 Riverside, Calif.
  69. Beaman Park M 1,493 Nashville, Tenn.
  70. The Presidio NP 1,491 San Francisco, Calif.
  71. Wilderness Park M 1,472 Lincoln, Neb.
  72. Mt. Airy Forest M 1,471 Cincinnati, Ohio
  73. Memorial Park M 1,466 Houston, Tex.
  74. Glenn Cunningham Lake M 1,439 Omaha, Neb.
  75. Hansen Dam Recreation Center M 1,437 Los Angeles, Calif.
  76. Stumpy Lake Park M 1,435 Virginia Beach, Va.
  77. Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park M 1,424 Riverside, Calif.
  78. Kincaid Park M 1,411 Anchorage, Alaska
  79. Rancho Diana M 1,392 San Antonio, Tex.
  80. Sacred Falls State Park S 1,374 Honolulu, Hawaii
  81. Latta Plantation Nature Preserve C 1,343 Huntersville, N.C.
  82. Garden of the Gods Park M 1,319 Colorado Springs, Colo.
  83. City Park M 1,300 New Orleans, La.
  84. Forest Park M 1,293 St. Louis, Mo.
  85. Black Mountain Park M 1,284 San Diego, Calif.
  86. North Cheyenne Canyon Park M 1,260 Colorado Springs, Colo.
  87. Flushing Meadows/Corona Park M 1,255 New York, N.Y.
  88. Martin Luther King, Jr. Shoreline Park R 1,220 Oakland, Calif.
  89. Lincoln Park M 1,216 Chicago, Ill.
  90. Anacostia Park NP 1,215 Washington, D.C.
  91. Cave Buttes Recreation Area I & II M 1,200 Phoenix, Ariz.
  92. Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park M 1,200 Baltimore, Md.
  93. Liberty State Park S 1,188 Jersey City, N.J.
  94. Thunderbird Conservation Park M 1,185 Glendale, Ariz.
  95. McClay Gardens State Park S 1,179 Tallahassee, Fla.
  96. Three Creeks Parks M 1,156 Columbus, Ohio.
  97. Van Cortlandt Park M 1,146 New York, N.Y.
  98. Red Mountain Park M 1,144 Mesa, Ariz.
  99. Pioneers Park M 1,139 Lincoln, Neb.
  100. T.O. Fuller State Park S 1,138 Memphis, Tenn.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Volunteer Opportunities at neighboring Debs Park

Upcoming Volunteer Training at the Audubon Center at Debs Park for youth programs

Be an inspiration. Give children the gift of loving nature and learning about our precious environment. Share your love of nature with elementary school children. The Audubon Center at Debs Park programs inspire students to become deeply interested in the natural world. Students learn to ask good questions about their lives and environment and to develop the skills necessary to answer those questions.  Our programs foster a relationship to our natural world that we all must seek to enrich our lives and become more attuned to our environment.

The Audubon Center at Debs Park (near Highland Park) is part of a national network of nature centers developed by National Audubon Society to reach under-served communities. The Center offers an opportunity to share your love of our natural world as a School Program Volunteer Naturalist (SPVN).  The Center will offer two training sessions about this natural treasure in the heart of Los Angeles and the school programs that have been developed to educate the youth of LA County. You will be a vital part of these groundbreaking programs and work with us to refine them. With renewed interest in introducing urban children to our natural environment, this is great experience to round out resumes.

In order to be a part of this exciting program, two half day training sessions must be completed. There is no charge and you will be taught about this oasis of nature and learning at the Center itself.

The dates for the training days are:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 – History of the Audubon Center, teaching methods
Tuesday, September 15, 2009 – Program delivery
Both days are from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Training will be ongoing, consisting of team teaching and shadowing existing programs.  Once volunteers are ready, they will lead program elements.

For more information and to sign up call Cate! 323-221-2255 ext. 13

Rec and Parks, City Unable to Care for Some Historic Properties

From today's LA Times comes a story that should serve as a warning to anyone who thinks that everything historic owned by the City will be cared for properly, including the City's largest Historic Cultural Landmark: Griffith Park.

City requirements hold up offer to restore and move old church in San Pedro

A cemetery in Rancho Palos Verdes wants to rescue the deteriorating St. Peter's Episcopal Church, which has been unoccupied for decades, by moving it onto its property and restoring it.
Donald Scott
By Gerrick D. Kennedy

Donald Scott spent much of his youth attending services at old St. Peter's Episcopal Church, which now sits in the Harbor View Memorial Cemetery in San Pedro. So it saddens him that the tiny, white wood-shingled building constructed 125 years ago and deemed a historical landmark would end up in the condition it is now. The church, which has been locked for more than 20 years, long ago fell into disrepair and has become a target for vandals.

"I hate to go into this church," said Scott, 78, whose two older sisters are buried on the cemetery grounds. "I spent the first 30 years of my life here. It's painful to go inside."

Scott and others are hoping the building can be saved. Green Hills Memorial Park in nearby Rancho Palos Verdes offered to rescue the deteriorating church more than a year ago, volunteering to spend $300,000 to move the building onto its property on Western Avenue. It would be restored and reopened as a chapel for funerals, weddings and other services. But the Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources has informed Green Hills that it must work with a city-appointed architect to refurbish the old church, and also submit to annual inspections to ensure the building is properly maintained. The city's demands have upset Green Hills officials, who have stalled the project amid concerns about increasing costs. They point out that the church has been the property of the city of Los Angeles for decades and that it has failed to keep up the building.

"We don't have a problem taking the church, but we don't want to be held to a different standard than the city," said John Resich, chairman of the Green Hills cemetery board. "We don't want someone telling us how to do it. That's our concern. We don't want to be in the position of being an open pocket."

The church is in desperate need of a makeover. Vandals have spray-painted graffiti on some of its walls and damaged four of the building's seven stained-glass windows, which are covered with metal grates and bulletproof glass. Resich said there are a number of missing artifacts from the church and that for more than a year a homeless man lived inside -- evidenced by an obscene carving on one of the neatly lined mahogany pews that identified the pew as his bed. "It's sad that no one is able to use it," Resich said of the building. "It's sad that a historical church is being deteriorated just out of neglect."

It wouldn't be the first time the church has moved. Mary Jo Walker of the San Pedro Bay Historical Society said the building was given to the city of Los Angeles in 1965 after St. Peter's built a new facility on 9th Street.
When it was moved to Harbor View Cemetery, the care of the church fell under the responsibility of the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks.

St. Peter's looks dramatically different today compared with the photos Walker and the Rev. Art Barlett show from more than 50 years ago. Barlett was a member of the governing body of the church at the time of its transfer of ownership. He points to where his signature appears on the document authorizing the city of Los Angeles to take possession of the church. He said he assumed it would be maintained.

"It's just been stripped," he said, noting that the cemetery also has gone largely ignored. Tombstones that have fallen over have been removed, never to be replaced. "It's such a shame."

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn said that she has worked with Resich to move the church, but that the process has been frustrating. Given the church's current state, she said, some of the city's demands are an insult to the generosity Green Hills has shown. "This was deeded to the city. I'm sure today the city would never accept it," Hahn said. "I don't know what made us think in the '50s that we would be able to take care of a church in the proper way." Hahn said she jumped at the chance for Green Hills to take over the church because she knew it would be well-maintained. She said the city is struggling with its own budget problems and doesn't have the money to restore it.

A meeting is scheduled Tuesday between Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and officials from Green Hills to try to work out a solution, Hahn said. "I want it to have a nice final resting spot where it will be taken care of," the councilwoman said of the old church. "I hope this gets solved before they walk away, and I think they are close."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cost of Feeding Griffith Park Wildlife Far Greater Than the Price of Food

Cruising isn't an activity reserved for humans in Griffith Park. Right now there are a number of coyotes that continually cruise picnic areas and specific points along park roads for one thing and one thing only: handouts.

These freeloaders know that if they sit there long enough, someone will throw them a goodie.

This activity - feeding the wildlife - is VERY ILLEGAL for a number of reasons. Coyotes are swift, skilled hunters when they are engaged in that activity. They serve an important place in the ecosystem, keeping check on the size of rabbit population and other small mammals that make up the typical coyote diet when humans don't disrupt their normal behavior.

Coyotes may look like pet dogs, but the reality is that these are wild animals. In fact, they will gladly devour your pet dog or cat without prejudice if the opportunity presents itself.

More importantly, coyotes are smart and highly opportunistic. If they know free food is forthcoming, they will wait for it.

If a predator-type wild animal bites a human for any reason, the California Department of Fish and Game takes this very seriously. The bite becomes an official "incident", and the life of the animal and perhaps the lives of its pack-mates are automatically forfeit. Once a predator-type wild animal has bitten a person, it becomes emboldened. Fish and Game removes the animal for the safety of the public.

Last year, a young girl was bitten in Griffith Park by a coyote who had become used to being hand-fed. Fish and Game 'removed' that animal and a number of its pack mates who were involved in the learned behavior.*

The death of these animals and the pain and suffering caused by their behavior is a direct result of the actions of those people who wilfully ignored the signs and fed the coyotes anyway.

Please get a clue, people. Don't feed the animals in the park! The price is simply too high.

(*before anyone complains to Rec and Parks, don't - the action is entirely under the purview of Fish and Game)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Craig's List Enables Lewd Conduct in Griffith Park, others

WARNING: some explicit discussion in the following article.

Look under Craig's List personals, specifically "men seeking men", and you'll find the dates, time, and locations of many a daily sexual rendezvous in Griffith Park.

(photos too, so reader beware.)

This activity is called 'lewd conduct' in police-speak, and it is totally illegal. And for some reason, no one really wants to talk about this pervasive negative impact to our parks. Yet the activity is both a mental health and physical health threat to children and families who come to LA's parks.

Lewd conduct has negatively impacted many city parks, especially Griffith Park, for decades. Speaking frankly now, the majority of the lewd conduct perpetrators are males who, for some unknown reason, find the thrill of anonymous sex in a city park simply too addictive to ignore. These males show up day after day in Griffith Park in picnic areas, near playgrounds, and in flammable brush engaging in sexual acts, prostitution, abusive or violent behavior, drug and alcohol use and sales, littering, and smoking. They leave behind dangerous bio hazards such as bodily fluids, used condoms, sex toys, and drug paraphernalia which any child at play, pet, animal, or - in the case of a wildfire - an unlucky firefighter may come into contact with.

In fact, the vast majority of fires in Griffith Park are caused by males lighting up a cigarette after this illegal activity.

The Department of Recreation and Parks has made attempts at controlling this problem for what seems like forever. They closed off the interior roads in Griffith Park for this reason in the late 1980s. Unfortunately, places like Fern Dell, Zoo Drive, and Mineral Wells are still completely infested by this behavior.

For all the department's claims to the contrary, the activity is alive and "well". When patrons complain about lewd conduct in a park, the City and Rec and Parks claim they do not have the resources to deal with this problem.

Seems to this blog that all they need to do is go to Craig's List, look up today's list of rendezvous, catch them in the act, and arrest these people. A few well-publicized arrests will go a long way to convincing people to keep this kind of activity out of public parks.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sad legacy of Rec and Parks' GM Jon Kirk Mukri

Hard working city employees are really starting to wonder what in the heck is going on with Rec and Parks' once-popular General Manager Jon Kirk Mukri.

The word on the street: Mukri's top guy -Assistant Gen. Manager Kevin Regan - has the entire department either hating him, terrified of him, or believing he is a complete lunatic. From multiple detailed reports, Regan apparently abuses employees to the point that most of the professional and skilled ones who are forced to work under his tyranny can't wait for those 'Golden Handshakes'** from the Mayor to materialize so they can bail out.

Regan supposedly terrorizes less educated employees and makes educated, motivated employees hate coming to work. He bad-mouths his own department's employees to other departments, and to other employees. Every management action is rumored to be punitive. Employees are either set up to fail, or they have every ounce of initiative beaten out them by Regan's pico-managing* actions. A possibly over-promoted arborist, Regan doesn't seem to really know what he wants, so he makes it up as he goes along while his false-starts and declarations keep workers wondering if their job will even exist the next time they come in. A number have confided to this blog that they don't want to even be in the same room with Regan because they know he's going to beat them up, no matter how good a job they're doing.

(*pico is even smaller than micro - look it up.)
In short - AGM Kevin Regan is the perfect example of everything any good manager should avoid at all costs.

Tellingly, Kevin Regan is also the epitome of old Recreation and Parks culture - exactly the culture Jon Kirk Mukri swore to eliminate when he left the General Services Department to head Recreation and Parks.

Unless Mukri gets control of the tyrant acting in his name, Mukri's tenure as General Manager will be forever linked with the largest loss of job knowledge that the Department -- and perhaps even the City -- will ever experience.

Rumor has it the Park Ranger Division will be the first large casualty, with 120 years of experience just waiting to jump on those retirement packages as soon as they're available. Similar losses for the exact same reason in the Forestry Division and Golf Division are right behind them.

What a sad legacy for Mukri to leave the children and people of Los Angeles with!

(**Golden Handshakes might be on hold as the City's entire budget process is collapsing even as we type this.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Canned Ham Redux

Greetings on a Friday!

On Monday, Tom and fellow Coliseum Commissioners honored Olympic medalist, Rafer Johnson, who lit the Torch to open the Los Angeles games in 1984. The Decathlon silver medalist in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and gold medalist in the 1960 Rome games can now add bronze to his “metals”; he received a bronze plaque in the Court of Honor at the entrance to the Coliseum.

On Tuesday, Tom joined the Postal Service in saluting the LAPD on its 140th anniversary with the unveiling of a Dragnet First-Class postage stamp. Cast members from the 1951 television series were on hand at the Elysian Park Police Academy, as well as LAPD Chief William Bratton.

The Councilmember declared Wednesday “Wizard of Oz” Day in honor of the 70th anniversary of the 1939 film. Jerry Maren, one of the original Lollipop Kids, and his wife Elizabeth, greeted fans gathered around the Munchkins’ star in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

On Thursday, Tom held a press conference with The Wende Museum of the Cold War, to introduce an upcoming commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The large scale installation will feature a symbolic Wall, spanning Wilshire Blvd. on Sunday, Nov. 8 in front of LACMA’s Urban Light exhibit. The Councilmember also introduced the new Consul General of Germany, Mr. Wolfgang Drautz.

To highlight the City’s 69th Annual Nisei Week, the Mayor of Nagoya, Japan arrived in Los Angeles on Friday. Tom, who chairs the Sister Cities Committee, introduced him and his delegation at Council and invited him to his office, where the Councilman was interviewed on a variety of issues.

The City Council will be in recess until September 1, 2009.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Remove Autry Board from Fiduciary Control of SWM

With the Autry supposedly pulling out of their planned Griffith Park expansion, the question now is about what they may try to do with the Southwest Museum site and collection. So far, all they have done is spin spin spin. But from what they have said so far regarding the Southwest, by the sound of John Gray's letter (see below) they plan on a basic dissociation of the Southwest as a unified entity.
Dissociating the Southwest would be a violation of the merger agreement between the two entities. Backing this assertion is a paper trail that can be followed in the Los Angeles City Clerk's council files archive from roughly 2001 through 2007. It remains to be seen whether the Los Angeles City Council, Jose Huizar, and the Friends of the Southwest Museum can muster enough to force the Autry to keep their word.
So the race is on. The Autry will be trying to make a buck on the Southwest before the City gets its act together. Given the typical speed at which the City does anything, the Autry stands to succeed. One way to stop this from happening is to force the Autry board to give up fiduciary control of the historic property and its inventory. It's been done before. From the NY Times....
April 30, 2008
Montana Museum Board Breached Duty, Court Says

The Montana Supreme Court dismissed on Tuesday the board of the Charles M. Bair Family Museum in Martinsdale, Mont., saying it breached its fiduciary duties by closing the museum from 2002 to 2005. The court said the board had not spent enough money to give a good start to the museum — home to an eclectic collection of fine European antiques, valuable art works and priceless Indian artifacts. It ordered U.S. Bank, the trustee, to create a new board that has to meet within six months.
“As a result of the board’s failure to spend ‘whatever principal and income of the Charles M. Bair Family Trust that is necessary to improve and maintain the museum,’ the museum never received a fair opportunity to succeed; the museum was destined for failure rather than success,” the court wrote in its opinion, quoting the trust document. “The board’s ensuing breaches emanated from this initial failure.”
U.S. Bank had not seen the ruling and had no comment, said a spokesman, Steve Dale. It controlled four of the five seats on the trust’s board of advisers, which oversaw the museum.
The case has been widely watched in the nonprofit world and among state regulators of charities. The regulators are often responsible for interpreting and defending donors’ intentions long after their deaths and in the face of strong opposition from powerful boards. Thirteen states filed amicus briefs in support of the Montana attorney general.
“It’s great news,” said the attorney general, Mike McGrath. “The Montana Supreme Court said the board does not have unfettered discretion.”
The case was brought by a community group, the Friends of the Bair Museum, whose members were overjoyed. “The little guy won,” said Jamie Doggett, chairwoman of the group. “The court realized that this was Alberta’s first and foremost desire to have the museum in her home in Martinsdale in memory of her father.”
Alberta is Alberta M. Bair, the strong-willed, quirky heiress who favored red hats and vodka and established the trust that had financed the museum. She died in 1993, leaving the fortune her father had amassed in minerals, finance and sheep. The trust created on her death stated that it was her “cherished aim and foremost desire” to establish a museum in the Bair family house, where she and her sister, Marguerite, had gathered their collection. She directed the board to spend whatever necessary from the trust’s principal and interest to maintain the museum and buy property, if needed.
She also gave the board the option of closing the museum after five years. The board members said that attendance had declined, that the house was ill suited to be a museum and that it lacked adequate security and protection against fire as the collection was increasing in value. From 2002 to 2005, the value of just the art collection increased 40 percent, to $6.7 million. Some of the most valuable pieces were moved to other institutions at the board’s discretion, reducing the attraction, and the court did not order their return. Mr. McGrath said he expected an accord with the new board.
Ms. Doggett said reopening the museum would be a boon to the Martindale economy. “People stop and look at a museum,” she said. “Not just a display on the wall, but to go into someone’s home and see how they lived.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Griffith Park is the Big Winner

In his interpretation of what happened today when the Autry Museum pulled out of their Griffith Park expansion plans, veteran Daily News editor Ron Kaye cast the move as having "no winner".

Griffith Park users should take serious umbrage with this assertion. In the tug of war that started at the June 30th Board of Referred Powers meeting, Griffith Park had absolutely no representation in the discussion. In fact, the man who should have been speaking up for the park and for the taxpayers, Tom LaBonge, didn't even show up for the hearing, choosing instead to send a staffer who intoned monotonously that 'Tom LaBonge supports the full Autry expansion in Griffith Park.' (the end)

Until this afternoon's revelation, it looked like the park land would be given over completely to the terribly inappropriate ballooning of an Autry Museum whose annual attendance barely hits 1% of the total who go to the park to enjoy it as open space each year.

Suddenly the Autry makes their move in the chess match, pulling out of the grossly self-indulgent expansion plan.

Time now for Councilman Jose Huizar and the Friends of the Southwest Museum to force the Autry to make good on their merger promises without Griffith Park in the picture. Go get'em!

Letter from John Gray to Autry Supporters

August 11, 2009

Because you are a valued member of the Autry National Center whose loyal support is vital to our institution, I want to make sure that you learn directly from us about a recent decision of our Trustees. Today, with great reluctance, we informed the City's Board of Referred Powers that we are withdrawing our proposal to build an expansion of the Autry's building in Griffith Park. It has become clear to us that if we were to go on seeking approval for our proposal, our plans would be subjected to expensive and virtually endless official delays, while the Autry itself would be under constant threat of costly litigation. Given these circumstances, we have concluded that any further attempt to proceed with the expansion would be an ill-advised diversion of our financial resources, and an insupportable distraction from our work in serving the community.

We want you to know that this difficult decision follows upon the latest delay in the political process for approving the expansion. We have been informed that the Board of Referred Powers has postponed ruling on our proposal indefinitely, until such time as we contract to operate our Mt. Washington campus solely as a freestanding facility for the Southwest Museum. No responsible Board of Trustees could agree to this commitment. If imposed on us, it would return the Mt. Washington campus to a model of operation that has been conclusively proved to be financially destructive and curatorially unviable. We cannot and must not go backward-and so, having made the only feasible decision, we will now move forward on two fronts.

On the first front, at Griffith Park, we will be developing fresh options for creating an inclusive and exciting experience within the existing facility. To some extent, this process has already begun through our ambitious schedule of exhibitions and programs. This fall, we will present The Art of Native American Basketry, revealing for the first time more than 250 baskets from the premier collection of the Southwest Museum. In spring 2010 we will present Home Lands: How Women Made the West, which will use historic artifacts, art, photographs, and biographies of individual women to show how women have been at the heart of the West across cultures and over time. We will continue to develop the Griffith Park building into a new treasure for Los Angeles, honoring all the diverse peoples of the American West.

Meanwhile, on the second front, we are working on an exciting and sustainable plan for our Mt. Washington campus. Since 2003, we have invested approximately $7.5 million in conserving the Southwest Museum collections that have been housed there and in repairing and stabilizing the landmark building. While this work continues, we are studying how to transform the Mt. Washington campus into a multi-use educational and cultural center, with publicly accessible exhibitions and collections from the Southwest Museum at its core. The center would also incorporate classes for all ages, conducted with partner institutions; an archaeology study center; research facilities; and space for cultural activities of Native American communities. An institution is more than its buildings. It is a shared vision.

We feel confident that we will realize our vision of a nationally recognized Autry National Center-one that will celebrate the American West and explore the interactions of all of its cultures and peoples. Should you be interested, a copy of the letter we sent to the Board of Referred Powers is posted on our website,

We are deeply grateful to you, as always, for your understanding and support. We look forward to sharing our plans with you as they evolve.

John L. Gray
President and CEO

Autry's Griffith Park Development Dream Collapses!

-GS for GPW

From the LA TIMES:

Autry drops plans for $175-million expansion at Griffith Park site
12:02 PM, August 11, 2009

The Autry National Center has bowed out of a protracted battle for a $175-million expansion of its facility in Griffith Park.

City approval of the plan hinged on a recent demand for the Autry to make a legally binding commitment to support the Southwest Museum as a fully functioning art institution in perpetuity. In a letter delivered to members of the Los Angeles City Council today, the Autry stated that such a commitment would be irresponsible and that it is withdrawing its proposal.

“Any further attempt to proceed with the proposed expansion project in Griffith Park would be an ill-advised diversion of our financial resources and an insupportable distraction from our work in serving the community,” Autry President John L.Gray stated in the letter. “We come to this decision with reluctance and deep regret — but the constant delays, the past and future costs, the unyielding insistence on financial and programmatic commitments which we cannot responsibly make, and the prospect of future expensive and debilitating litigation all demand that we fulfill the Autry’s vision under different circumstances.”

The Autry proposed a two-phase project that would have increased its Griffith Park building from 142,000 square feet to 271,000 square feet, including exhibition and visible storage space for the Southwest’s collection. Despite the setback, Autry leaders say they will carry out their vision by continuing to care for the Southwest’s Native American art collection and historic building, and converting Autry storage space into galleries.

Check back with Culture Monster later today for updates on this report.

-- Suzanne Muchnic

A Rivulet (actually, many of them) Runs Through It

A number of creeks still run underground in Griffith Park, including one under Toyon Canyon landfill. Discussion continues on how to restore these creeks to the surface where wildlife and plantlife alike would benefit. -GPW
From the Los Angeles Times
Despite our efforts to control, channel and divert water, small underground streams still flow beneath L.A., as they have for many centuries. They are a reminder of the region before it was tamed.
By Hector Tobar
Here in Los Angeles, we've paved over almost all of the coastal sagebrush, bulldozed hillsides, channeled our rivers and streams, and filled in our creek beds. Mother Nature has taken a real beating. But she hasn't given up the fight.In the middle of August, weeks after the last serious rain, she is sending pure, cool water flowing through the city of Los Angeles and environs. The fresh water runs in a handful of places as it has for centuries, in the perennial streams and riverbeds that soothed the thirst of Spanish explorers and settlers almost 300 years ago, and before them, the Tongva Indians.
Underneath the Westside traffic on Wilshire Boulevard, a small creek flows south. It's filled with groundwater that's percolated, very slowly, down from the Santa Monica Mountains. Near the corner of Wilshire and Barrington Avenue, the stream makes a right turn, then surges upward through an earthquake fault on the campus of University High School in Sawtelle. Last week, I watched the water bubble up at a spring next to a school science building. At the bottom of a pond about 12 inches deep, I could see the water pushing up through sand, oozing like some Hollywood special effect.
"Seeing this is like a religious experience," said Jessica Hall, who writes for the “L.A. Creek Freak” blog.
Indeed, there was something miraculous about reaching down into a pool of water in the middle of L.A.'s urban sprawl, and then cupping my hand to take a drink. I felt transported in time to the unspoiled Los Angeles that was a little village surrounded by rivers that ran rocky and free. I also got a taste, perhaps, of the Los Angeles of the future. Before it was developed in the 20th century, the western half of Los Angeles was covered with streams, most of them tributaries of Ballona Creek. Hall, 41, is one of a small band of activists who are documenting that old watershed and trying to bring stretches of it back to life.
She can tell you where streams like the Flower Garden River used to flow. Or the Sacatela, which ran south from Los Feliz -- underneath the current location of the famous Shakespeare Bridge -- all the way to the Mid-Wilshire district. Beneath the asphalt and concrete, Los Angeles is a city crisscrossed with dormant streams. Hall tracks their paths using old U.S. Geological Survey maps, aerial photographs and what she finds during long walks through the city.
"Los Angeles is a place that's been treated as if it were a blank slate, a place where you can build whatever you want," Hall said. But the landscape still retains much of its original topography. It is still a creation of nature. And when the rains come, the water still pretty much follows the old paths."
There's a beauty to accepting the place you live in and getting to know what makes it unique," Hall said. Bits of these old streams still carry water in summer. Last week, I watched a creek cut through the Wilshire Country Club in Hancock Park. Through the fence at the golf course's southern boundary, near the intersection of 3rd Street and Hudson Avenue, the water empties into a concrete culvert, moving southward. This is the old Río del Jardin de las Flores, a stream that still flows through backyards in Brookside Estates.
When Hall first learned about the stream a decade ago, she was stunned. She had grown up in a South Bay suburb seemingly devoid of rivers, creeks and other wild things.
"I thought I knew L.A.," she remembered. "I thought: 'There's no streams in L.A.' "
When she found the Río del Jardin de las Flores, it set her off on a quest in search of more rivers. Eventually, her explorations led her to people like Angie Behrns, who can still remember what it was like to live in a city of untamed streams. Behrns, 71, is from a family of Gabrielino Indians, another name for the Tongva people. The flowing water at the University High campus holds a special place in her memory.
"This is part of my history," she told me when I visited the springs. "Four generations of my family have come here.
"The Gabrielinos, she said, have always treasured the waters for their healing powers. She attended University High in the 1950s. And when she hurt her wrist playing volleyball there, her father told her: "Put your hand in those springs and you'll be cured."
The springs were once the site of a Gabrielino village. In August 1769, the Spanish explorers and missionaries led by Gaspar de Portola stopped there, finding "little houses roofed with grass," according to an expedition diary. Today a huge Mexican cypress tree looms over the springs, which feed a pond and a small waterfall overlooking a softball field. About 22,000 gallons flow through the springs every day. Spanish teacher Maria Lomeli says University High students often take sips from the waterfall after P.E. classes. The water then slips into a storm drain, working its way eventually into Ballona Creek and the Pacific. But for the storm drain, the waters would flood the campus and many acres more in the surrounding neighborhood. That's why the little creek was channeled in the first place -- to drain the marshlands and create dry land for development.
Most of L.A.'s old, perennial streams were channeled into the concrete flood-control system in the last century. But their waters still make up at least part of that narrow trickle we see year-round in all the major rivers in the Los Angeles Basin, including Ballona Creek and the Los Angeles River. These days a lot of people are hard at work restoring pieces of the Los Angeles River to their former natural glory. Hall showed me plans to "daylight" portions of Sacatela Creek, allowing it to run above ground through some of the most densely populated corners of the city.
"Daylighting" the Sacatela and a few streams more is an undeniably good idea. Let their waters flow and we will make Los Angeles a greener and more livable place. And we will be a step closer to the natural rhythms of that earthly paradise California once was, and might once again be.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Park(ing) Day LA: A Cry for Parks and Public Space

When you add up all the park land in town, Los Angeles turns out to be the most park-poor large city in the United States. If you remove Griffith Park from the total, you basically cut the total park acreage in Los Angeles by HALF.

Park(ing) Day LA is one way to draw attention to this issue. It should be pointed out, though, that simply adding park land is not the answer to Los Angeles's problems. With each new acre of park land added, there MUST be funding and positions added to the Department of Recreation and Parks' budget for maintenance, programming, and public safety/park rangers.

The addition of the means to care and service new park land should be required, and a City Charter amendment may be needed to see that the citizens of Los Angeles get the sustainable parks and the true social justice they deserve.

Park(ing) Day LA is September 18, 2009


By Stephen Box (SoapboxLA)

Park[ing] Day LA is underway and activists, artists, urban planners and neighborhood councils are preparing to step up to the curb, place a quarter in the meter and then transform curbside park[ing] space into temporary parks, all in an effort to stir a dialogue on public space. The East Hollywood Neighborhood Council, holding the title of park-poorest NC in the city, will be [re]claiming public space and building a Recreation Center on Heliotrope, installing a swimming pool, grilling up food on a bbq, entertaining guests with music and volleyball, creating live art and challenging the community to imagine a neighborhood with ... brace yourself...parks within walking distance of the people!

Organized by Alfredo "the Park Czar" Hernandez, the East Hollywood NC is planning a demonstration of Parkland Alchemy as the "temporary" park is transformed, the next day, into a permanent park within the NC boundaries.

LA Guerrilla Garden[ing] will be taking all of the drought resistant native plants used on Park[ing] Day and will build a small park for the community as a demonstration of the "leave things better than you found them" commitment of the Park[ing] Day LA grass roots movement.

LA's Greensters will be handling all the heavy-lifting needs for the East Hollywood transformation from temporary park to permanent park, utilizing Xtracycles, trailers and wagons in a pedal-powered display of sustainable transportation and as a demonstration of fact that LA is simply a great place to ride a bike!

Recycled Movie, the production company that turns kids into movie moguls, will have their recycling trailer on site throughout the event and will be documenting Park[ing] Day LA while fulfilling their mandate to make recycling a routine activity that puts kids to work and also funds their filmmaking endeavors.

Park[ing] Day originated in San Francisco in 2005 when (Re)Bar, a small group of artists, opened eyes worldwide by transforming a metered park[ing] spot into a park-for-a-day. That simple act served as a significant commentary on the lack of quality open space in American cities and resulted in Park[ing] Day celebrations around the world. This is the third annual Park[ing] Day LA and participants have engaged their communities with a wide variety of parks and public space perspectives, all of them challenging the status quo.

The EHNC Park[ing] Day LA activities are designed to engage the community, stir a dialogue, provide a venue for a celebration and to simply "change the world!" This ambitious and visionary project is a clear demonstration that the future of LA's open space requires us all to ...Step up to the curb, look at all of that public space and ask "Why not?"

For more information on Park[ing] Day LA visit

Friday, August 7, 2009

Autry Board Goes For Broke

At the most recent board of directors' meeting, the Autry voted to tell Councilman Jose Huizar (CD14), the Southwest Museum Society, the Friends of the Southwest Museum, and the citizens of Los Angeles to effectively 'go to hell', threatening the City with taking both their museum and the billion dollar collection of the Southwest Museum out of town. The exact quote from John Gray or one of their board muckie-mucks went something like... ' don't want to be responsible for losing both the Autry Museum AND the Southwest, do you?'

(read CM Huizar's response)

Oh my. Lose the Autry? That austere institute, quietly nestled on eleven acres of invaluable open space in Griffith Park for a mere $1 per year that taxpayers subsidize to the tune of $27.5 million? That bastion of academic fortitude? The keeper of all true history related to the American West?

What a huge loss to the upper eschelons of the academic community if the Autry were to leave LA! I mean, after all, just look at their most recent offering, absolutely steeped in the true essence of the American West.


From the Autry's web site:

On display starting July 28, 2009

The Autry National Center is proud to announce the installation of the two intertwined shirts worn by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in the Focus Features 2005 groundbreaking film Brokeback Mountain, also starring Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway.

The shirts will be displayed as part of a reinstallation of the Contemporary Westerns case in the Autry’s Imagination Gallery. Directed by Oscar winner Ang Lee, the film is adapted from the short story by Pulitzer Prize–winning author E. Annie Proulx in her Close Range: Wyoming Stories collection. The shirts are on loan from collector, producer, and socio political commentator Tom Gregory.

The Western genre is an American art form that has played a crucial role in the development of American popular culture. Putting the Western into a larger historical context, the Imagination Gallery shows how the genre has evolved over the last one hundred years in response to social and cultural changes taking place in America. The iconic shirts are at the center of the Contemporary Westerns case in order to highlight Brokeback Mountain’s significance in keeping the Western genre alive and thriving in the new millennium, and also to spotlight the LGBT community’s struggle for safety and inclusion in the rural, Western communities from where many originate yet often feel forced to abandon....

Canned Ham

Greetings on a Friday! For information on any of these items or to see photos from an event Tom attended this week, please visit the Council District 4 website at:
-On Tuesday, Tom visited all Los Angeles Police Divisions in Council District 4 for the 26th Annual National Night Out. There was a greatturnout, and the LAPD did a fantastic job of creating a street fair atmosphere, with food and live music. National Night Out is a unique crime/drug prevention event involving law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses and neighborhood organizations from over 15,000 communities nationwide.
-On Thursday morning Tom re-opened the east side of Lake Hollywood. An enthusiastic group of residents, media, and representatives of the LADWP joined Tom in a power-walk around the scenic route. They were treated to a view of one of the turtles that has made the Lake home. This was the first time the eastern side of the recreational path has been open since the record rainfall of 2005.
- On Thursday, Tom joined with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Police Chief William Bratton, Council President Eric Garcetti and Captain Bea Girmalato announce the new deployment plan of 40 additional foot patrol officers in Hollywood. This “Back to the Beat” program will continue the reduction of crime and increase the quality of life for those who work, live and visit the entertainment capital of the world.
-On Sunday, August 9th from noon to 4:30 p.m., the 24th Annual Children’s Festival of Arts will take place at Paramount Pictures Studio located at 5555 Melrose Avenue. This Free Children’s Festivalis a day-long celebration of the arts and culture in Hollywood. Formore information, please visit:
Have a great weekend and continue to enjoy and love Los Angeles!

Remembrance for Lily Burk this Sunday

This is not quite about Griffith Park, but close enough as it affects the entire community. The service for Lily Burk will be at Barnsdall Art Park on Sunday.

From Lily's parents:

A remembrance for Lily Burk, daughter of Greg Burk and Deborah Drooz, will be held Sunday, August 9, at 4:30pm. Location: The Great Lawn at Barnsdall Art Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., eastern Hollywood, California 90027. The park is on a steep hill with many stairs. However, shuttle vehicles will be available to assist. Parking is limited. But watch for signs and parking attendants; we may be procuring some space from nearby Kaiser.

We have been greatly moved by the outpouring of support. No more flowers or gifts, though, please; we are swamped. For any who wish to donate, Lily’s favorite charity was Homeless Health Care Los Angeles, at which she volunteered in the needle-exchange program.

Your friends,
Greg and Deborah

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Major Griffith Park Wildlife Corridor Threatened

According to Zach Behrens at via the Huffington Post, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy's private foundation (the MRCA) is roughly $150,000 short of being able to purchase 500 acres of open space at Laurel Canyon and Mulholland.

It cannot be overstated how important this wildlife corridor is to the health and welfare of the entire ecosystem in the greater Griffith Park area. August 17th is the deadline and the MRCA is hoping poverty-stricken Los Angeles City will come up with the funds. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking! Hey City Council - how about sending about 1/2 of one percent of that $30 million loan you're giving Cirque du Soleil so we can save our entire local wilderness ecosystem from collapse! What do you say?

In the meantime, open your wallets and send the MRCA some bank if you can.

The sad details, from LAist:

Paul Edelman, the Chief Ecologist for both the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, a state agency, and the Authority, has made a case for Los Angeles to put money behind saving this land on the Huffington Post:

As part of a contiguous 500-acre block of urban wilderness, this property is essential for wildlife to cross Laurel Canyon Boulevard to reach Nichols and Runyon Canyons and eventually the 5,000-acre Griffith Park. Scenic Mulholland Drive and the wildlife populations east of Laurel Canyon will never be the same if this land is further developed.
Please urge the community at large to spread the importance of this land acquisition effort and encourage those able to make donations to do so, in order to keep this campaign alive. As incentive, the largest donor will receive permanent park naming and signage rights (make that, tasteful signage rights) for this highly-trafficked area. All donations are fully tax-deductible.
The coming weeks will dictate whether the greater Los Angeles community will forever regret not raising the money necessary to keep the heart of the mountain range breathing, or if it will, as the most popular signs in canyon read, allow it to live in "peace."

Edelman emphasizes the traffic hell to be during construction, if that happens. Currently, the intersection is two points south of Hell.

Part of Hollywood Reservoir Trail Reopens Today

Half of the scenic Hollywood Reservoir trail reopens today for foot traffic.

The trail was closed in 2005 after being heavily damaged by major rain storm water runoff that year. the rest of the trail will reopen in 2011.

If you use the new trail in the next few days, please leave a review of your impressions in the comments here.

Yet Another Museum Has Eyes on 'Free Land' in Griffith

Did you know that someone in City Council District Four was quietly entertaining the idea of handing over Griffith Park land to a private entity yet again. In this case, maybe someone who absolutely idolizes Walt Disney? (Councilman Tom LaBonge) Isn't the Autry abomination enough, sir?

So what are we talking about: according to, the new (Walt) Disney Family Museum currently being constructed at the Presidio in San Francisco was slated to be built on.... Griffith Park land. According to a quote in the comments section of the article:

...but a source close to the Walt Disney Family Foundation ... writes that:

The Presidio site was chosen for its historic interest, proximity to the Millers’ homes in San Francisco and Napa, and the fact that their Family Foundation already occupies space in the Presidio near the Lucas Letterman campus. There was initially some talk of siting the museum in Griffith Park, but it was decided that there was potential confusion about the Museum’s ties to the Company by being located so close to the Studio and Corporate Headquarters. The cooperation and collaboration with the Company is unprecedented and quite friendly, and has the full support and enthusiasm of many Disney businesses from Bob Iger down. Disney is providing full access to their photo collection and film libraries, as well as the loan of several key objects...

As far as anyone can determine, it looks like the construction in SF puts an end to this idea. However, if some piece of land had been proffered to the Disney family, they may come back to it in the future with new plans for development.

It would be nice to hear from the council office exactly which parcel was on the table.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Unresolved Issues with City's "update" to Cultural Heritage Ordinance

After forcing the City machine to approve Griffth Park as a Cultural Historic Landmark, the City is exacting a revenge of sorts on the Cultural Heritage Commission by "updating" the ordinance that allowed Griffith to receive this protection.

From Jane Usher, ex-Planning Commission chair:

The City's updated Cultural Heritage Ordinance will be acted upon by the City Planning Commission on September 10. Mark your calendars for this important preservation measure. The unresolved issue concerning historic interiors is discussed by Ken Bernstein below. Jane

Message dated 7/10/2009 2:48:44 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time from Ken.Bernstein:

Dear Jane,

I'm sorry that you found my previous response to be disconcerting. As I'd indicated in my last message, our staff report to the City Planning Commission did represent our best professional planning recommendation. At the June 11 CPC hearing, staff was asked by the Commission to look at the issue of interior designation, and to continue discussions with the development community and property owners.

The issue of the designation of private interiors is a very difficult one for planners and preservationists across the country because it raises both legal and practical ambiguities. This issue did not come up in our initial public hearings on the ordinance, nor in the deliberations of a Cultural Heritage Ordinance Working Group that met last year, but was raised forcefully by property owners in recent months and at the CPC. Our response to the CPC was based upon a review of "best practices" in dozens of local ordinances, and we have consulted with the professional staff at the State Office of Historic Preservation.

As we looked more carefully at these practices, we found that the cities we most admire for historic preservation -- New York, Charleston, New Orleans, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Sacramento, Philadelphia, and many others -- either limit designations to exteriors only or allow designations of only publicly accessible interiors. Pasadena does allow for designation of interior fixtures at its handful of Greene and Greene homes, but otherwise limits its designations to exteriors.

The new proposed ordinance language allows property owners to agree to include their private interior spaces in designations and automatically includes private interiors that are under Mills Act Historical Property Contracts and Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credits. These provisions would provide more overall protection of historic interiors than is provided in the other major cities I've cited. I hope that this is helpful background in understanding why our staff recommendation evolved on this issue.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Body Found in Griffith Park

The body of an unknown woman was found in Western Canyon yesterday morning. According to KNX quoting LAPD, the remains were discovered by a hiker who had the unfortunate experience of 'smelling a very foul odor' around 11:40 a.m. about 100 yards off a path near the 2800 block of East Observatory Road.

Unofficially, most authorities are fairly sure the woman was killed somewhere else and simply dumped in the park, so there isn't any kind of patron warning going out at this time. Stay tuned. We'll report any changes - if any - to this situation as it related to the safety of park users.

It is interesting that Councilman Tom LaBonge didn't rush to hold a press conference showing himself in command on this one.

Image from KCAL 9.