GPW: Self-Tempered Anarchy since 2009

Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

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.