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

Monday, November 30, 2009

Guess who is running the park rangers*?

Go on, guess.

No, last I heard Chief Al Torres - a popular 30 veteran - is warming a desk somewhere where the phone never rings. Good stuff.

Guess again.

(bzzzzz) - wrong! It's the GSA Office of Public Safety gang! Our park rangers don't have a chief, and GSA OPS has kindly lent one of their own to play Chief. Isn't that convenient? Between some OPS lieutenant and beloved AGM Kevin Regan, Wrecks and Parks got it all covered even though what they're up to is, er... illegal. Yeah, illegal. But hey - it's Los Angeles! The law doesn't apply here. ("Li'bility? We don't care about no stinkin' li'bility....")

Bet all those community folks and folkettes who fought so hard to save park rangers are loving that GSA OPS is running their rangers now. Bet they love the idea that half the ranger staff are doing just interpretive tree-hugging stuff now too. Yet they get paid the same as the smokies doing all of the job!

I'd just love that, too. Where do I sign up?

I'm sure we all noticed how great Ranger service has been since Nov. 8th. After all, GSA OPS provides great service, don't they? Plus, they're just so darned efficient! Now that IS park progress for the people. Yee haw!

Well, kewl. Mebe with the new leadership we can finally get some of this wicked action in Griffith now too.

*facetiousness red-alert - you were warned.

Wanted: a CD 4 candidate who cares

I read the below this morning about a homeless woman killed at a dangerous railroad crossing near Glendale and about a certain councilman's dragging-of-the-feet to getting it fixed, and I wondered what Tom LaBonge would do if this crossing were just a teeny tiny bit closer to Griffith Park. Yes, it is all about money. But what if this incident somehow slightly inconvenienced LaBonge or one of his friends from their cherished morning hike? That railroad crossing would already be fixed as I type this!

Once again the inevitable conclusion is that we need a real representative in Council District Four, rather than the pretend "democrat" we have now. Honestly, have you ever seen such an elitest as LaBonge?  Don't LaBonge's actions basically scream antithesis of democrat?

Someone, anyone -  run against Tom LaBonge in 2011!  Stop the bourgeoisie bullcrap.

Railroad crossing safety call

Ara Najarian says Monday’s death at crossing means it’s time for it to be closed.

By Veronica Rocha       Published: Wednesday, November 25, 2009

GLENDALE — The death of a woman in her 60s who was struck and killed by an Amtrak train Monday has highlighted the need to make the city’s portion of the rail corridor safer, the Metropolitan Transit Authority chairman said. The woman was killed at the Doran Street and San Fernando Road railroad crossing, which Chairman Ara Najarian said has been a concern for years. “It’s a crossing that we feel is best closed rather than attempting to upgrade it because of the very short queuing space between the tracks and San Fernando Road,” said Najarian, who’s also a city councilman. The Metrolink board is working to close the Doran Street railroad crossing, which he said would be fenced off.

The woman was pushing a shopping cart and walked across the tracks about 11:30 a.m. Monday as the passenger train approached her, witnesses said. The engineer blew the horn several times, but the woman didn’t move. She stumbled on the tracks and was hit by the train.The woman’s identity has been withheld until her family is notified, said Ed Winter, assistant chief coroner for Los Angeles County. Coroners haven’t determined whether the woman was homeless, he said. The accident could not have been prevented, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said. “It think it’s apparent in this particular case the pedestrian was not aware of her surroundings, even though all the equipment was working properly,” he said. A state-of-the-art quad gate also wouldn’t have prevented the accident, Najarian said. Most of Glendale’s railroad crossings are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, except for Broadway and Doran Street, which he said is the worst.“We wanted very much to get rid of [the crossing], but the problem is that we are getting some push-back from Tom LaBonge in the city of [Los Angeles] that does not want to stop the access at that point,” Najarian said.

Los Angeles Councilman Tom LaBonge said he wants to work closely with Glendale to resolve issues in the southern portion of the San Fernando corridor. “It’s tragic that anyone is hit by a train,” he said. “Tragic for the person, their family, tragic for the operator of the train, tragic for anybody that witnessed it.” Officials have a plan to eliminate the Doran Street railroad crossing, but that’s still in the works, LaBonge said. “All of it is about money, too,” he said. “Railroad crossings are a very delicate thing because you can’t open up a street unless you close a street.”

The fatal accident will not cause city officials to add safety features or change the Doran Street railroad crossing, Mayor Frank Quintero said “That wouldn’t affect our decisions at all,” he said. “If it was an automotive or a trucking-type incident that might be a different story, but this particular case, not at all.” City Council officials haven’t taken actions to eliminate the railroad road crossing, which was part of a package to streamline the San Fernando corridor.

In May 2008, the City Council authorized an at-grade railroad crossing for an extension of Flower Street to San Fernando Road, which was estimated to cost $2.6-million. Other safety improvements were slated for rail crossings at Broadway and Chevy Chase Drive, which were paid for through a $2-million account controlled by Metrolink. The railroad crossing at Doran Street was scheduled to close as part of the rail corridor restructuring. The city of Los Angeles wants the railroad crossing to remain open because of the businesses near the rail corridor, he said. “It’s not just about us — we can’t just willy-nilly close it,” Quintero said. “You’ve got Los Angeles territory, the MTA, Amtrak and there is a federal commission. Overall, there is a trend to close these crossing across America . . .because things happen. Where this one will go is still up in the air.”

Sunday, November 29, 2009

GGPNC-Local events calendar

To kick off the Holiday season the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council's website's Coming Events Calendar has a rich mix of meetings and holiday events:

Sunday, November 29 - 5pm - Hollywood Remembers presents "Red Ribbon" a new musical about the early dark days of AIDS. Hollywood Lutheran Church, 1733 N. New Hampshire Ave. LA 90027.

Tuesday, December 1 - 7pm - GGPNC Transportation Committee meeting - Ranger House, 3201 Riverside Drive (across from Friendship Auditorium).

Wednesday, December 2 - 6:30pm - GGPNC Public Safety Committee meeting - Our Mother of Good Counsel Church, 2060 N. Vermont Ave. LA 90027.

Saturday, December 5 - 4-6pm - Los Feliz Branch Library free Open House to celebrate its 10th Anniversary. On Sunday 12/6/09 from 2pm-4pm there is a fund raising Gala Event  also at the Library on the corner of Franklin and Hillhurst Avenues.

Saturday, December 5 - 6-10pm - Los Feliz Village Holiday Festival begins with a tree lighting at the Library and has various events along Hillhurst, Vermont and Hollywood Blvd. Free trolley between locations.

Monday, December 7 - 6:30pm - GGPNC Parks River & Open Space Committee celebrates 2009's accomplishments with refreshments followed by a Light Festival walk at 7:40pm.

Wednesday, December 9 - 7pm - GGPNC Planning Zoning/Historic Preservation Committee - Los Feliz Police Community Center, 1965 Hillhurst (Citibank 2nd floor).

Tuesday, December 15 - 7pm - GGPNC Governing Board Meeting, preceded at 6pm by the GGPNC Executive Committee meeting. Both are at the Community Center above the Citibank at 1965 Hillhurst, LA 90027.

Agendas for GGPNC Meetings are posted about 3 days prior to meetings and everyone is encourage to attend and let us know how we can improve our community and the city.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How about this on your park trails?

This video was shot at a park near you (Canyonback Trail, Santa Monica Mountains).

Want this on your City park trails? If not, read this.

Because this actually highlights the real nature of hard core mountain biking, IMBA -- who has been far from forthright about what they do -- may pull this video. Check it out while you still can.

(GP Wayist says)   Before everyone gets their undies in an uproar, here is some up-to-date information on the process:

...City staff will take comments on the draft Bicycle Plan (which can be read on line at until January 8th, 2010.

After January 8th, staff will begin to prepare a revised Plan (including the maps) based on all of the input that has been received through the website, at workshops, in letters, e-mails, and on comment cards.  We anticipate releasing a staff report and a revised Draft Bicycle Plan in February 2010 and giving all interested parties two months to review the revised plan.  We will then hold 2 public hearings on behalf of the City Planning Commission (one in the Valley and one near downtown) to hear your comments on the revised Plan. 

Following the 2 hearings, the City Planning Commission will hold a public meeting in the spring to act on the revised plan.  Staff will provide the Commission with information about the comments made at the two public hearings and any additional proposed modifications based on input received. 

Following the City Planning Commission's action, two City Council committees will act on the City Planning Commission's recommendation for the Bicycle Plan:  the Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) and the Transportation Committee.  Their recommendations will then be considered by the full City Council.

Please contact Jordann Turner at 213 978-1379 if you have any questions.

Jane Blumenfeld
Acting Deputy Director
Los Angeles Department of City Planning
213 978-1272

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Station Fire area roads to reopen Nov. 30

Roads closed due to Station Fire to reopen Monday
Daily News Wire Services 
Updated: 11/24/2009 02:59:41 PM PST

Roads through wildfire-damaged sections of the Angeles National Forest will reopen Nov. 30, officials said Tuesday. Parts of the Angeles Forest Highway, Angeles Crest Highway and Big Tujunga Canyon and Upper Big Tujunga Canyon roads that were closed due to the Aug. 26 fire will be reopened about 5 a.m. Monday. Anything more than a light shower, however, may prompt a new round of closings. Denuded hillsides are likely to produce slides when saturated. Work being done by the county Department of Public Works and Caltrans may create intermittent traffic delays, but most of the work has been done, county officials said.

Notice of closings due to rain will be relayed via message boards, news radio alerts, news releases, and commuters will be able to get e-mail alerts via and

While the roads will reopen, all campsites and backcountry trails remain off limits.

(LA Times) Fear sets up camp on L.A. River

Fear sets up camp on a stretch of the L.A. River 

For residents along a grimy stretch of the waterway, the shooting of five people a year ago made a perilous place feel even more so.

By Christopher Goffard - LA Times - November 24, 2009

After the killings, the people on the river slept with their knives closer. They leashed guard dogs outside their tents and cardboard lean-tos. They listened for strangers' footsteps above the thrum of traffic on the bridges overhead. They got used to the sight of police stepping carefully along the big white rocks of the embankment. Below, in its concrete jacket, the dirty river crawled.

Violence is common and often unreported along the 51-mile Los Angeles River, daytime haunt of the occasional jogger and bird-watcher and in many parts a lawless no-man's-land populated by hard-core addicts, the mentally ill and uncountable others, broke or hiding. But what happened last November made an already fearful place feel more perilous still.

Someone gunned down three men and two women in a homeless encampment a few miles from the river's final southern curve into Long Beach Harbor. Hidden by bottlebrush trees along the Santa Fe Avenue off-ramp of the 405 Freeway, it was a cave-like spot with a single entrance -- a narrow footpath along a chain-like fence -- and a reputation as a drug den.

Police suspect the shooter came to punish a drug debtor and turned the gun on everyone to eliminate witnesses. Two things made it personal for river residents: One of the victims, 24-year-old Katherine Verdun, was a familiar face. And many understood how easily it could have been them.

For weeks, police who usually avoid the river were searching its banks, looking for witnesses, waiting for someone with information to claim a $20,000 reward. A year later, police are waiting still.

"You've got five people that were killed and no one came forward. That's unheard of," said Long Beach Police Det. Mark McGuire. "That community is terrified still. There's no way to get through to them yet, even with the reward."

continue reading "Fear sets up camp on a stretch of the L.A. River"
and see the slide show at the Los Angeles Times

USGS requests help to monitor Station Fire debris flows

Foothills residents awoke this morning to find a thick covering of ash, sand, and dust on everything in the wake of light Santa Ana winds. The unhealthful air and dust storm has continued all day today, an unpleasant reminder that an absolutely unprecedented amount of material is poised to flow into civilization when just the right amount of rain hits it.    -GPW

Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey are looking to the people most affected by the Station Fire to help them gather and track debris flows over the upcoming winter. Although the USGS has some monitoring stations already in place, clearly they cannot be everywhere at once. But residents are on site and available to report back with firsthand data. As long as everyone takes proper safety precautions, this is a very smart use of resources by going to the folks who have the first-hand encounters.

The details from Sue Perry at USGS:

Throughout the next few winters, those of us near the Station Fire burn area can provide a service to scientists studying the debris flow risk after wildfires. Scientists at the USGS use data from storm seasons to calibrate their debris flow understanding (and thus their warning systems). The more they know about actual flows, the better. Citizen reports can substantially improve the dataset, and thus the USGS is requesting your help.

If at any time you witness earth moving (landslide, debris flow, mudflow, mudslide), please send an email to, with as much of the following information as you are able to provide:
(* MUST HAVE items are asterisked)
  1. * Date of event
  2. * Location of event (street address or intersection, lat-long coordinates from phone/handheld GPS, or description with distinguishing features)
  3. * Description of event (is it moving or sitting? what sizes and kinds of materials can you see? how thick is it? anything else noteworthy?)
  4. * Time event was witnessed
  5. Time of actual occurrence of event, or estimate of when the event occurred
  6. Description of any damage
  7. Is clean-up underway?
  8. Can you provide photos, sketches, video? (please don't send them until requested)
  9. Witness' name and contact info 
Do not put yourself at risk in ANY way to obtain this information. If the event is recent, more may be on the way.

For more information, please contact:
Sue Perry, Staff Scientist
Multi-Hazard Demonstration Project for Southern California
United States Geological Survey
525 So. Wilson Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91106
office: 626.583.6748
mobile: 818.285.9350

Monday, November 23, 2009

New do-not-feed-wildlife signs are up

In spite of what you may hear at Tom LaBonge's press conference today, the new "do not feed the wildlife" signs have already been up in Griffith Park for almost a week, and the Department of Recreation and Parks was the lead agency in their development.*   Here's a pic we took on Saturday of a new sign on Zoo Drive near Travel Town.

This is a far better sign in communicating the serious nature of the illegal act. The old yellow signs that simply said "Please Do Not Feed Wildlife" made it sound as if it were a polite request rather than a law and an issue with serious ramifications.

It is illegal to feed wildlife with very good reason. A fed wild animal is a dead wild animal, and everyone encountering animals that are not someone's pet needs to remember this.  The feeding of wildlife, especially coyotes, has been almost an epidemic in Griffth Park for some time. People pull their cars off the road and throw handouts to begging coyotes. Some individuals have been caught carrying food and feed dishes into the park daily to feed coyotes.

This thoughtless action - illegally feeding wildlife - by just a few people has dire consequences for many other lives. Fed wild animals lose their fear of humans and can then start actively seeking humans as providers of food. When humans are bitten by hungry animals like coyotes, they can be seriously injured and require treatment and painful rabies injections. If a prey animal like a coyote or bear bites a human, their life and the life of their packmates can be forfeit, such as what happened a few months ago in Griffith Park when a man named Renualdo Pensicola**  was bitten on the foot by a coyote asking to be fed.

Coyotes are dangerous animals. They are not "dogs". They will eat your dogs, and some varieties of coyotes can and do kill people, as happened in Nova Scotia in October. Please remember to give all wildlife the proper respect and distance the next time you are enjoying the out of doors. By doing so, you are helping to keep wildlife wild.

*Not sure why we even care that the council office takes credit for stuff they didn't have much or anything, really, to do with, except that the behavior is a statement on the quality of the leadership. Good leadership credits the people who take the initiative and do the work. Insecure or ineffective leadership claims credit for others' initiative and work. 
**This is a phonetic spelling of the gentleman's name. KTLA reported the name this morning on air.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Drinking and drumming your weekend away

Welcome to the only place in Griffith Park where you can openly guzzle beer while violating every noise ordinance in town and no one will look twice.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hike in honor of Royce Neuschatz

If you go, go for Royce.

Royce Neuschatz was one hell of a  fighter for the wild parts of Griffith Park (see article below). Her family came out to loudly support the Historic Preservation of the park in her name. Royce would also want to protect the wild areas surrounding Royce Canyon - an area she saved from becoming an addition to the offense against nature next to it, the Toyon Canyon Landfill. Now closed, the published closure plan for the 1950s-era landfill is to return Toyon Canyon to the natural habitat is used to be.

Ironically, the land that constitutes Toyon Canyon today has the undivided attention of the councilman leading the hike on Sunday morning in honor of Royce, often stating off the record to friends and staff that he can't stand seeing that land '...just sitting there'.

From LaBonge's weekly email:   

Join Tom for a hike in honor of City Recreation & Parks Commissioner, environmental activist, recycling pioneer, and beloved friend of Griffith Park, Royce Neuschatz  
this Sunday, November 22, 2009, at 10:00 am. 
Meet in the Travel Town parking lot, 200 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027. 
Bring a sack lunch. For more information, e-mail

Activist Behind Royce Canyon Remembered

Ecology: Friends, family honor the late Royce Neuschatz, whose efforts to halt a dump expansion preserved recreation area that bears her name.

(LA Times -  November 7th,  1999)

Special to the Times

While frustrated Valley residents are nearing the end of their long and seemingly losing battle to block a city dump expansion in Granada Hills, joyful Griffith Park enthusiasts gathered Saturday to celebrate a decade-old victory in their own fierce dump battle. As word spread Saturday that Mayor Richard Riordan will support the expansion of Sunshine Canyon Landfill in Granada Hills despite vehement local protests, roughly three dozen hikers, naturalists and horseback riders gathered in Griffith Park to rededicate Royce Canyon- -a plunging swath of parkland that was once slated to be filled with city garbage. Winded slightly by a steep hike through parched chaparral and along dusty horse trails, the celebrants also recalled the memory of the woman who saved the canyon that now bears her name: Royce Neuschatz.

It was the late Neuschatz, a city recreation and parks commissioner and regional planner, who friends said led a determined campaign to quash the dump proposal roughly 10 years ago. Neuschatz, who died of cancer at age 57, was recalled by friends and co-workers as a driving force in L.A.'s environmental movement, as well as a lover of music, good food and diverse friendships. "Royce did so much to motivate people to support the environment," said Andy Lipkis, who, along with Neuschatz, started the environmental group TreePeople. "There was a time when people wrote off L.A. as the black hole of the environment. . . . Today, and partly through Royce's leadership, L.A. has built the largest curbside recycling program in the world." As hikers recalled Neuschatz's memory Saturday, guides pointed out the towering Toyon Canyon Landfill just a short distance from Royce Canyon. Today, the stepped landfill sits capped and covered by a carpeting of sere grasses and a network of white pipes that shunt underground methane to collection tanks.

In the early 1980s, city officials had hoped to expand the Toyon landfill into what is now Royce Canyon, dubbing it Toyon II. The canyon would have been filled with trash within about 18 months. Neuschatz's battle against the expansion was different from today's Granada Hills fight in one significant way, said Mary Nichols, secretary of the California Resources Agency and a longtime friend of Neuschatz: Royce Canyon was in a public park. "She was opposed to this idea that just because there's a hole in the ground, it should be filled with trash," said Nichols, who attended Saturday's event. "Royce saw that as the desecration of the idea of a public park. Indeed, other friends said that up until the late 1980s, public lands were often targeted as potential sites for unpopular uses such as prisons and dumps. "It sounds absurd today," said urban planner Arnie Sherwood. "People today have an appreciation now that we don't have enough parkland." At Sunshine Canyon, residents surrounding the dump expansion area have complained that the landfill may cause health problems. City officials, including the mayor, say that although the proposal is unpopular in the area, the expansion will benefit Los Angeles overall. The landfill proposal must still be approved by the City Council, which has favored the plan in preliminary votes.

Most of those who assembled for the Royce Canyon rededication said they were regular visitors to Griffith Park, but were introduced to it by Neuschatz. Although many were familiar with attractions in the southern part of the park--such as Griffith Observatory and the Greek Theatre--and the zoo and museums to the north, few knew much about the network of hiking and riding trails in between. Mark Pisano, executive director of the Southern California Assn. of Governments, a regional planning agency, said Neuschatz introduced him to the area through horseback riding. He grew to love the area so much that he moved to a house adjacent to the park. Another close friend and aide to the mayor, Tom LaBonge, said he, Neuschatz and the late Charlie Turner--the first honorary mayor of Griffith Park-- regularly hiked through the park.

On Saturday, LaBonge led the pack of hikers past thickets of scrub oak, darkened buckwheat and toyon trees. Sweating under the load of his 18-month-old son, Charles, who was strapped to his father's back, LaBonge said he would never forget those hikes. "We'd hike from the observatory to Mt. Hollywood and talk the whole time," LaBonge said. "It was amazing. By the time we got to the summit, we'd have all the world's problems solved. The trouble is, once we left the summit, it all got away from us."

Ilegal poachers in Station Fire area nabbed


(661) 723-2703

Sunland resident Elaine Brown reports the following excellent take down:

"....Due to the availability of a call-if-you-see-hunters phone number given to us by Mike McIntyre the Forestry person in charge of the Burned Area of the Station Fire, we were able to catch a couple of poachers who were hunting deer behind the Riverwood Ranch today. According to the (US Forest Service) rangers, they have been trying to catch these guys for a long time...

FYI that number to call is (661) 723-2703"

Riverwood Ranch:

View Larger Map

Hunting is illegal within Los Angeles City limits. I personally had a run-in while hiking within City limits with bow-hunters shooting all around me in the same area not too long ago. Hopefully these are the same irresponsible scumbags and they will be going away for some time.

Griffith Park has illegal poachers from time to time, as does Hansen Dam. As always, the numbers to call are:

(323) 644-6661 - Park Rangers
(323) 913-7390 - OPS

Make sure you call all of the numbers so that the call is officially logged by all these agencies.

Logs define need for service in Los Angeles' large parks, even if the agency cannot actually respond to the call for whatever reason. Make sure you are on record with the need by calling it in when you are in a safe location and can safely make the calls. Otherwise, no logs = no need. Unfortunately, that's how this City works.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hike to the Hollywood Sign over Thanksgiving weekend

Work off that Thankgiving dinner with a pair of free nature walks to the famed Hollywood sign in Griffith Park. Two hikes led by a park ranger, will be offered during the 2009 Thanksgiving holiday weekend on  Nov. 27 and 28, from 8 to 11 a.m.

Interpretive Park Ranger Ernie Ybarra will lead the treks, which will start at the Griffith Park Visitor Center adjacent to the Ranger Station. Those planning to participate should dress accordingly and bring drinking water and snacks.

These intermediate-level hike will be 4 to 6 miles and is designed for those who have some previous hiking experience.

Griffith Park Visitor Center
4730 Crystal Springs Drive, Los Angeles
Information: (323) 644-6661, ext. 1549

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Star party at the Observatory

The star-studded video release party for the most recent Star Trek redux took place at the Griffith Observatory this past Monday.

Cool photo, but we're wondering what the locals thought of the Hollywood invasion on the land Griffith J. Griffith donated as an "educational" institution.

Click for more pics of the wingding.

Below is a video clip of the Enterprise redux dropping in on the party (after the commercial).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

LaBonge promulgates slum conditions for everyone

Are you sure there is no one willing to step up and run against Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge in 2011?

After reading this and thinking about what this means for the perimeter of Griffith Park - much less the rest of the city - you may want to look a little harder for that ideal candidate.

Coming Soon to Your Neighborhood: 
Granny Flats, Converted Garages, Houses Turned into Tenements

By Ron Kaye   November 16, 2009

This may be the most desperate and despicable act yet by City Hall in its long war to eradicate the middle class from Los Angeles.

They call it a proposed Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance. That's a phrase intended to obscure its intent which is to give every owner of a single-family home property the "right by law" to turn their house into apartments, to convert garages into living units and to even put second houses, granny flats, on their property the size of the average bungalow.

It ought to be called the Tenement Law.

Every property owner is an overstatement. It's every property owner except those on hillsides, horse-keeping areas, scenic highways or live on narrow lanes.

In other words, the rich are exempt from seeing the quality of life in their neighborhoods ruined by families living in a 1,200 square foot house in your neighbor's back yard, of having hordes of renters living next door, of cars parks all over the place -- exempt from the policies of densification that are turning LA into Manhattan, subway to come.

And if that weren't bad enough, no less than Council President Eric Garcetti with support from Bill Rosendahl, Paul Koretz, Tom LaBonge and Richard Alarcon introduced a motion Oct. 20  to take the Tenement Law a step further.

They want to legalize thousands of illegal "ADUs" showing as much contempt for the law and the public interest as the owners of those properties showed when they turned garages into death traps, houses into tenements and ignored every Building and Safety code in the books.

They want the Council to order the Planning Department. which is now "conducting a study which will lead to a recommendation for permanent Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) regulations," to "study and report back in regard to the legalization of previously unpermitted converted units "

Their logic goes like this:

"The current housing crisis is exacerbated by the turmoil in the mortgage lending industry where foreclosures have increased and many other homeowners are on the brink. This situation impacts all segments of the housing market, but is particularly dire for those with low incomes, those with special needs and the homeless.

"The number of low income households and the pervasiveness of poverty in Los Angeles are markedly higher than in other urban areas. These factors further speak to the need for more affordable housing in Los Angeles, but creating this housing will require greater subsidies than in other areas as well."

Imagine what this city will be like when every inch of it is paved over and twice as many people are living on your street.

Never have I seen the naked truth so clear in a city document.

We have more people than other cities because we have followed policies that encourage poverty by chasing away good-paying jobs, destroyed our schools, tolerated sweatshops, allowed slum conditions to flourish.

And now we have a moral and soon-to-be-legal obligation to provide every poor person a place to call home with subsidized rents, wages, utilities and other public services -- subsidies paid for by the shrinking numbers of middle class residents who still think there's a chance in hell of changing the direction of City Hall or are too set in their ways to admit the game is up.

Imagine what this city will be like when every inch of it is paved over and twice as many people are living on your street.

That's the vision and time is running short.

City Hall, exposed now for its failure in everything from financial management to the proliferation of digital billboards and marijuana dealing, will do anything to protects its perks, privileges and paychecks.

That's where the Planning Department they have totally politicized comes in.

The planners have been assigned the task of escalating the war against homeowners -- 2,000 percent increases in fees, failure to measure cumulative impacts of development, out-of-date or meaningless planning documents, approval of every project where the influence peddlers have spread around enough money.

And now granny flats and tenements -- a campaign they are running in hopes nobody would notice with a backup plane to lie, mislead and obfuscate whenever necessary.

Citizen journalist Karen Kanter reported at about Saturday's meeting the Neighborhood Council's Plan Check Group with City Attorney Carmen Trutanich on the ADU proposal.

Contrary the claims of city officials that this ordinance is "mandated" by a six-year-old state law, AB 1866, Trutanich said there is nothing that require the city "to adopt or amend an ordinance for the creation of these units. As for the criteria that was adopted by state law, there was no mention of minimum lot size or parking requirements or anything related to restrictions on residential density.

"In fact, room was left for cities to narrow the state requirements. Pasadena, for example, adopted an ordinance that required that these units could only appear on lots with a size of 15,000 square feet or more."

City planners in LA want have issued interim guidelines that would reduce the minimum lot size to half or a third of Pasadena's and to all but eliminate parking restrictions.

I just spent 18 months and wrote 16 articles tracking an illegal conversion of a house in my Valley floor tract into three apartments I saw the impact this one ADU had on my neighbors and neighbhorhood and can imagine if there were a lot more. We would have no choice except to sell our house or cash in on two or three tenants each paying more in rent then our mortgage.

So maybe, if you all out there aren't going to get mad enough to stop this madness, I need to change my mind and consider this a city pension for an old newspaperman living on Social Security. By God, I could live on a beach in Mexico like a king with the proceeds of my tenement in the Valley.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Leonids meteors put on show early Tuesday

Get out your cameras and warm clothes because the wee hours of Tuesday morning is the best viewing time for this year's Leonids meteor shower.

Although peak viewing was at 1:45pm Pacific Time this afternoon with up to 300 meteors per hour, the best viewing for Southern California is expected between midnight tonight and 5am with the maximum number of meteors expected to be around 30 per hour.

The Leonids come from debris from Comet Temple-Tuttle and are so named because they appear against the backdrop of the constellation of Leo.  The Earth may pass through enhanced streams of particles during the following afternoon, possibly providing Asia with an even better show, and may make the shower worthwhile to watch again from here between midnight and 5 a.m. on Wednesday morning, the 18th.

According to Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office on a NASA blog, “A remarkable feature of this year’s shower is that Leonids will appear to be shooting almost directly out of the planet Mars.” Now that is worth seeing! Just imagine what ancient peoples would have thought about the Roman God of War suddenly shooting meteors at them.

Leo will rise in the eastern part of the sky as seen from Los Angeles after midnight tonight. Send in your Leonids pics from around town and we'll put them up here on the Wayist blog.

TES (Traditional Equitation School) is for sale

Advertisement from

Price is unknown... e us if you know how much they're asking. Of course, if we are having to ask, then we obviously cannot afford it.  :-)


Premier Riding School for Sale In Burbank, CA
Offered by Owner of, 
Located at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center

Traditional Equitation School located at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center is for Sale! With 330 days of sunshine a year, THIS is the place to ride horses! Leave your snow shovel behind.

Burbank, CA (PRWEB) November 16, 2009 -- It doesn’t get any better than this, a coveted location at the premier equestrian facility in the Los Angeles area and next to a large network of trails in Griffith Park! After 30 years of owning this going concern, Patricia Kinnaman is retiring to her other pursuit,

  • Traditional Equitation School was established in 1979
  • Stellar reputation and time-tested goodwill in the Los Angeles equestrian community
  • Located at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, the top equestrian facility in Southern California, offering facilities and amenities unmatched in the region
  • Approved and certified in 1999 by the British Horse Society - a distinction not many achieve!
  • Offering training for all disciplines
  • 30+ happy, healthy and safe horses suitable for all levels of riding skill
  • Huge inventory of Western and English tack and equipment
  • Experienced trainers and support staff
  • Built-in, loyal student base
  • Location, location, location
  • Financials available

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cowboy up for the Festival of Lights

Go green for the Light Festival,  19th century-style!

From December 9th through the 30th, horse fans can enjoy the DWP Holiday Festival of Lights in Griffith Park on horseback, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays only. Recreation and Parks personnel will be on hand to control the safe use of the path between the riders and walkers.

Group rides are welcome. The equestrian entrance to the Light Festival is at the Griffith Park  Park Ranger station. Do not enter from the Zoo side (the Zoo is the exit).

For those without their own horses, rental horses and guides are available at the Diamond Bar Stables. Call 818-242-8443 for information.

For those wishing to trailer their horses in, ample parking is available in the dirt lot across the street from the Live Steamers (next to Travel Town). Exit the 134 Freeway on Forest Lawn Drive off ramp. Travel Town and Live Steamers are east of the exit on Zoo Drive (left turn at the stoplight to access Zoo Drive, next to Martinez Arena). There is a wide trail along the 134 Freeway , past the Autry Museum and on to entrance to the Light Festival at the Ranger Station.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"Blame" booksigning event at Skylight Books

Michelle Huneven reads from “Blame”
Co-Presented by Phoenix House and Skylight Books

Skylight will donate 10% of the sales of Blame” from this event to support Phoenix House’s treatment programs in Los Angeles, which every day help hundreds of youth and adults in our community overcome the trauma of addiction and its related problems.

Sunday, November 22
Start: 4:00 PM
Location: Skylight Books, 1818 North Vermont, Los Angeles, CA

Phoenix House is delighted to co-present a reading with Michelle Huneven of her new book, “Blame,” with Skylight Books located at 1818 North Vermont Avenue. By mentioning Phoenix House when purchasing the book from Skylight, 10% of the sale will be donated to support Phoenix House’s programs, which helps individuals, families, and communities rise above addiction.

In this gripping tale, Huneven charts the parameters of guilt and how a young, wisecracking intellectual becomes a shadow of her former self. Patsy MacLemoore, a boozy history professor, is helping her boyfriend, Brice, take care of his niece, Joey, whose mother is undergoing cancer treatment. But when Patsy goes on a bender and emerges from a drunken blackout in jail, she learns she’s accused of having run down a mother and daughter in her driveway. After her conviction, Patsy transforms from free spirit into a convict, and Huneven deftly underscores the bizarre trajectory Patsy’s life has taken. Huneven’s exploration of misdeeds real and imagined is humane, insightful and beautiful.

Michelle Huneven is the author of two previous novels, Round Rock and Jamesland. She has received a General Electric Foundation Award for Younger Writers and a Whiting Writers’ Award for fiction. She lives in Altadena, California.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

CD 4 Community Congress -- worth going?

In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.   -John Adams

Councilman Tom LaBonge’s Winter 2009 Community Congress will take place on Wednesday November 18th 2009.

These things are usually a lot of hot air and little substance with LaBonge interrupting the speaker and controlling the conversation, so don't think this is about community input. This quarter, LaBonge has collared City Attorney Carmen Trutanich as his guest. Trutanich can monopolize a discussion as much as LaBonge, so this might be mildly entertaining. It might be more fun still if Nuch's biggest fan, Mulholland Terrace, shows up for a little friendly chit chat.

We suggest going for the free food and possible entertainment value only. Certainly don't expect anything like true community discourse to occur.

Community Congress
Wednesday, November 18, 2009

4:30-5:30 p.m. Workshop on New City Special Event Permitting System
5:30 p.m. Light Dinner Served
6:00-7:00 p.m. Congress on Public Safety and Infrastructure Upgrades
7:00-8:00 p.m. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich

Hollywood City Hall
6501 Fountain Ave.
Los Angeles CA 90028

RSVP to Jeanne Min (213) 978-2616

      Shockingly appropriate image from

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Principal funds fire restoration

Why do we care? Because...ostensibly....Ms. Principal paid for the restoration of Dantes' View in Griffith Park, too. (see article below)

She did? This is news to us! We know Tom LaBonge got state money for both Dantes' View ($225,000) and Captain's Roost ($110,000). Today Dantes' View looks pretty good (top photo) while Captain's Roost  (bottom photo) still  lies in ruins.

Makes ya think.

From Tree People:

On October 30, actress, activist and entrepreneur Victoria Principal joined nonprofit TreePeople and the U.S. Forest Service to announce a $25,000 gift to support TreePeople’s fire restoration efforts in the Angeles National Forest. Victoria Principal’s gift kicks off a fundraising goal of $250,000 to help restore the Angeles National Forest following the 2009 Station fires that burned 144,000 acres, the largest fire in Los Angeles County history. The announcement took place at TreePeople’s headquarters in Coldwater Canyon Park, Los Angeles. “I am grateful for the long relationship I’ve had with TreePeople,” said Victoria Principal. “Because of this enduring collaboration, I am confident that the funds I’m providing will be used for thoughtful restoration, to benefit the earth, and to support my California neighbors.”

Victoria Principal joined Jody Noiron, U.S. Forest Supervisor for the Angeles National Forest, and TreePeople founder Andy Lipkis to transplant Jeffrey pine tree seedlings originating from the devastated Angeles National Forest. “We’re grateful to Victoria Principal for her foresight and generosity in stepping forward with leadership funds to help launch TreePeople’s restoration of the Angeles National Forest after the recent fires,” said TreePeople Founder and President Andy Lipkis. “We are very excited that this lead gift will inspire others, and will enable us, together with the U.S. Forest Service, to engage thousands of volunteers to revitalize the forest so it can be healthy for generations to come and provide critical water supply, air protection, habitat and recreation.”

Victoria Principal’s donation supports TreePeople’s partnering with the U.S. Forest service to restore the fire-damaged Angeles National Forest as part of Forest Aid. Forest Aid was created after Southern California’s 2007 and 2003 wildfires where 185,000 acres burned in the San Bernardino National Forest. The partnership includes the U.S. Forest Service, the San Bernardino National Forest Association (SBNFA) and TreePeople. Forest Aid is funded by generous grants from The Walt Disney Company and The Boeing Company. For more than 20 years Victoria Principal has been one of the most generous individual donors to TreePeople’s wildfire recovery efforts. Her commitment to urban parks and national forests is a model for other Hollywood philanthropists to follow. She provided funds for the restoration plan for Griffith Park after the 2007 fire and individually funded the restoration of "Dante’s Peak." [sic]  Over the years Ms. Principal has been an activist for fire restoration, water conservation, clean air and clean oceans in California. Victoria Principal’s Angeles Forest donation will be used for tree and native species planting, invasive species removal, and community outreach and education. TreePeople is an environmental nonprofit that unites the power of trees, people and technology to grow a sustainable future for Los Angeles.

More information at or

Sunday, November 8, 2009

True Greatness

This race was the greatest thing I have ever seen in my life.

I'm too young to remember Secretariat. By the time Ruffian met her fate, I was old enough for it to break my heart. 

Since then, so many approaching true greatness but never quite making the cut, or living long enough (Go For Wand).

Nothing left to say... except "Horse of the Year".

Beautiful backyard visitors may signal improvement to park habitat

These beautiful male pheasants - a green pheasant and a ring-necked pheasant -  were photographed in a backyard by homeowner Bob Eicholzin. Eicholzin lives a housing development called The Outpost just south of the Hollywood Reservoir.  

As many as seven different pheasants have been seen in the area and hopes are that some of their colorful friends may still be living in parts of Griffith Park. Pheasants haven't been seen in the park for almost a decade and concerns have been growing that human impacts to the park may have caused yet another species to disappear from park habitat.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Does Anybody Care?

As Los Angeles and its electeds lose their collective mind, this piece from the musical 1776 finds John Adams, played by William Daniels,  asking the question we all should be asking:


2012 is two years early. The public and all other employees suffer loss of income and services while the DWP and mafia goon union leader Brian D'Arcy get RAISES.

Can you say racketeering? W-T-F?  Poor Griffith Park. There won't be anyone left to pick up the damn garbage, much less actually care for grounds. And if your park is any other park than Griffith, you are completely shit outta luck.

Get out of  Los Angeles while you still can.

From today's LA Times:

L.A. City Council OKs more pay cuts to help offset budget shortfall

November 4, 2009
Still facing a $100-million budget shortfall, the Los Angeles City Council has given the go-ahead to cut the pay of an additional 800 employees, imposing a 5% reduction for city workers who do not belong to a union.Looking to save $2 million, the council agreed to take four hours of pay out of the 80-hour paychecks of department heads, policy analysts, human resources employees and aides to council members, according to a memo issued Monday by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, the city’s top budget official.

The pay cut, which starts Dec. 6 and remains in effect through June 30, 2010, represents a half-furlough day per pay period. It is only the latest rollback for the city’s civilian employees. Workers with the Coalition of L.A City Unions, which represents 22,000 employees, have already had their pay cut 4.4% through June 30. Employees of the Engineers and Architects Assn. have been told to take 26 unpaid days off over the course of a year. The temporary pay cuts are part of a larger effort to slash payroll costs. Since Monday, roughly 1,500 city employees have applied for early retirement. Another 400 already planned to depart earlier this year. 

Still, not everyone is facing cuts this year. 

The council voted behind closed doors last Friday to give employees of the Department of Water and Power a 3.25% cash bonus this year and raises of 2% to 4% each of the following four years. Those increases come back for a final vote later this month.

-- David Zahniser at L.A. City Hall

Community forum with City Attorney

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich will be the guest speaker at a community forum at the Autry National Center this Monday, November 9th. The meeting starts at 7:15pm with refreshments at 6:45. The forum is part of a series presented by the Loz Feliz Improvement Association.

After kicking Jack Weiss's pathetic ass in the election for Rocktard Delgadillo's job, Nuch's short time in office has been pretty ....rocky.

Question: Will Mulholland Terrace go to the event and clown around with Carmen?

Another far more important question:

Trutanich promised to shut down lawsuits resulting from illegal employee-related practices and get rid of employees who constitute potential future threats by their actions.

Given this, why does Chief Gary Newton of the Office of Public Safety -- who was just found guilty along with the City of Los Angeles of illegal and discriminatory hiring practices to the tune of more than $1.5 million -- still have his job and title?

As a follow-up: Why do the people Newton illegally hired and who were not qualified for their jobs at the time of hiring also still have those high-paying public safety jobs?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Investigation into fatal coyote attack continues

A necropsy was completed on one of the two coyotes who attacked and killed Canadian folk singer Taylor Mitchell last week. The animal was found to be in good health all around but no information as to the contents of its stomach was released.

A great deal of the discussion about this incident centers on two areas - whether Ms. Mitchell was feeding the coyotes, and if the particular type of coyote had anything to do with the highly aggressive nature of the attack.

From the Chronicle-Herald's Nova Scotia edition:

Coyote wasn’t hungry or sick
Wild animal was in good health when it attacked Mitchell, necropsy shows

By LAURA FRASER Cape Breton Bureau (
Tue. Nov 3 - 4:45 AM

This barricade blocked traffic to the Skyline Trail entrance in Cape Breton Highlands National Park last week. (TERA CAMUS / Cape Breton Bureau)

Taylor Mitchell

Pathologists say that preliminary tests on one of the coyotes that killed a Toronto folksinger in Cape Breton last week found the animal’s aggression came from neither hunger nor disease. "The pathologists confirmed that the animal was in good health," Chip Bird, a superintendent with Parks Canada, said of the results from the necropsy at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island. "There is no evidence of physical injury, starvation or rabies."

Taylor Mitchell, 19, died after two wild coyotes attacked her while she was hiking alone in Cape Breton Highlands National Park last Tuesday. The singer-songwriter was airlifted to the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Halifax but died overnight from several bite wounds. Park wardens and conservation officers had expanded their search for the other coyote, Mr. Bird said Monday. They had not been able to find it, or its body, near the scene of the attack on the Skyline Trail. An RCMP member reportedly shot the animal last Tuesday, but it hobbled off. Park officials could not say whether it left a blood trail that could be followed. Trackers have started looking on the Fishing Cove and Benjies Lakes trails in the Cape Breton Highlands. They have spotted other animals, but none have shown aggression or a lack of fear of humans.

Mr. Bird could not say whether human food had been found in the coyote’s stomach. Feeding wild animals can cause them to lose their fear of people. Anyone caught feeding wildlife in the park may be given a warning by a park ranger, but if the problem persists, someone could be fined or charged. "A fed animal is a dead animal, because eventually they will get into trouble," Mr. Bird said. Since Ms. Mitchell’s attack, Mr. Bird said that he has received calls from others who have had encounters with aggressive local coyotes. Those stories and the recent tragedy will likely force Parks Canada to make some changes to the warnings they give the public about animals. Signs now warn visitors about moose or bear, but Mr. Bird said that information about coyotes will also be given to the public. The Skyline Trail stayed closed Monday. Mr. Bird could not say when it would reopen. The RCMP could not be reached for comment.

New LAPD chief selected

In what is probably his last Mayoral decision of any note (unless he resigns), Mayor Villaraigosa named Charlie Beck as the new Chief of the LAPD this morning.

The LA Times has a bio on the new chief.  It is strange that Villaraigosa, who has been a creature of habit in automatically picking the minority from any pool of candidates, picked mainly white guys as finalists for this job. Curious.

What's most important for people who use City parks is whether or not the LAPD will commit to patrolling any of the problem parks in this City, and if so - WHEN? Beck supposedly has placed an emphasis on community policing during his career and we'd like to see a little of the well-financed love trickle down to some of the parks that need the most help.


Images from the urban wilderness interior
of Griffith Park on Halloween.

Sunset over Cahuenga Peak...

Moonrise through an ancient eucalyptus...

The City at night from Mt. Hollywood....

Monday, November 2, 2009

In case of a park emergency, who you gonna call?

Alternative title:  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Strikes City Parks

You are hiking on a trail in Griffith Park in the hills above the girls camp, Camp Hollywoodland. You just saw some guy toss a lit cigarette into the brush. A small fire erupts and the guy tries to stomp it out. He fails, and simply runs off so as not to be caught.  The fire is suddenly way out of control..... Who you gonna call?

Think now - there was a sign at the bottom of the trail that gave you the information you need. It said:


WTF?   WTF?   WTF?

Oh-kaaaaaay........ so who in the heck do you call?  Damn good question.  There are at least three different numbers to call if you need help in Griffith Park, and none of them is 9-1-1.

How can this be a safe situation? More importantly, what bureaucratic idiot allowed this to happen?

The real answer is a three-parter:

1. The 24 hour park emergency number is 323-913-7390.

This has been the case for ten years or so. It was set up that way to act as the 9-1-1 for parks.

If you call 9-1-1 on your cell phone, the California Highway Patrol answers the phone and unless you have a physical numeric address for your location more specific than "on a trail in Griffith Park", they are probably going to tell you to call the Park Rangers.

When you call 323-913-7390 today, it rings to the Office of Public Safety who is supposed to be patrolling all parks including the larger Regional parks in conjunction with the Park Rangers. Depending upon the dispatcher at OPS and how they perceive the importance of the call, you may or may not get any response. An illegal off-road vehicle, a runaway horse, a person smoking in the brush may not get any response from OPS at all. Of course, now that Recreation and Parks has just about destroyed any ability of the Park Ranger Division to patrol parks, you will likely not get a response from them either.

2. The direct line for the Park Rangers is now 323-644-6661.

Parks users asked for this number in Regional Parks because Park Rangers will answer the calls for an illegal off-road vehicle, a runaway horse, and a person smoking in the brush if they have someone available.

As for the third emergency number on the signs?

3. The direct line for the Office of Public Safety is 213-978-4670.

Now you need to ask the question, why is this third number here when I get OPS if I dial the first number?  The answer is politics. Both the General Manager of Recreation and Parks, Jon Kirk Mukri, and the Chief Financial Officer, Regina Adams, are both administrators from the General Services Department - the Department that houses OPS. OPS was handed control of most of the City parks as well as City libraries and public buildings as part of a cost-savings/efficiency measure initiated by Wendy Greuel and Jim Hahn. OPS and its backers promised to do the same services the Library officers and Park Rangers did, but do it faster and better.

Today, there is a lot of question whether OPS is even meeting the old level of service, much less exceeding it. Politically, however, no one is allowed to even intimate that OPS is anything but number-one-with-a-gun. Assistant General Manager Kevin Regan was tasked with dumbing down the Park Rangers while talking up the Office of Public Safety, which he reportedly does incessantly.

Ultimately all of this political posturing - Rec and Parks Administration making stupid decisions without consulting their own department's park safety specialists, the Park Ranger Division - has resulted in yet a third emergency number on signs in Regional parks without regard for public safety.

Time-tested public safety best-practices show that 9-1-1 works because people do not have to think about who to call in an emergency.

Three little numbers: 9-1-1.

People in parks are faced with three different 10-digit phone numbers. The only possible response from anyone trying to figure out who to call is W-T-F?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New benches for everyone!

The Department of Recreation and Parks seems to have some kind of funding stream for benches of late. This story comes courtesy of Martha Benedict of the Debs Park Advisory Board:

The Debs Park Advisory Board is pleased to announce that two new benches have been installed at one of the most dramatic vista spots in Debs Park. Board members worked with Rec & Parks to find the right place to spend some of the department's limited resources for the benefit of hikers. Last summer, Jorge de Loera, Andy Ho and Bill Lopez travelled around the park with Debs PAB chair Martha Benedict and selected on the intersection of three trails directly above the Audubon Center.

This morning Rec & Parks staff Dan, Duane, Ricardo, Adan and Jose along with community service workers Juan and Richard installed the terra cotta benches on previously poured concrete bases. Duane was the epoxy man who cemented the benches in place with help from the others. Jose operated the forklift with skilled precision to place the seating. Afterwards, staff arrived to bolt the benches to the bases with L-brackets.

The two new benches provide a resting place with dramatic views of downtown, the Southwest Museum and the San Gabriel Mountains. Debs PAB members Michael Perez, Ann Walnum, Nancy Wyatt, Tom Marble, Sybil Venegas, Jeff Chapman and Martha Benedict all participated in the planning of this installation.

Many thanks to the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks for this enhancement to Debs Park.

See photos of the installation here.  (Click any thumbnail to see the enlargement, click next/previous to move through the photos, click index to return to the thumbnails.)