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Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
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stories along The Way

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sensing no challenge, LaBonge moves on plans for Toyon Canyon

It looks like John Ferraro's loyal council aide is operating like the March election has already come and gone.

LaBonge is moving on his plans to develop Toyon Canyon in Griffith Park, beginning this week with one of his infamous 'public consensus' meetings in which he invites carefully chosen members of the public to a public meeting to rubber stamp one of his projects.

LaBonge has quietly called one of those meetings this week for Toyon Canyon, but won't give any specifics in advance on what exactly he wants rubber stamped up there.

Whatever it is, it appears no one can or will be able to challenge it as LaBonge is once again running essentially unopposed for CD4. Sure Stephen Box is technically running, but it hasn't been much of a campaign so far, unless a shoestring budget and a slew of articles on CityWatch about biking constitute a campaign.

Sadly, no. As Joe B. aptly pointed out, even the semblance of fair elections was eradicated by the Supreme Court recently and we get to live with the post-decision hell. Without a ton of special interest cash and a wealthy political action committee or two backing you, good guys like Stephen don't stand a chance.

Short of a miracle it looks like it's another four years of LaBonge for CD 4 and Griffith Park. But this time he'll be completely unencumbered with the threat of needing to be re-elected. And you thought he was a bully in the past. Among other consequences, a third term for an unencumbered LaBonge likely means thumbs up on the Universal City expansion and another 70,000 humans packed into CD 4 on the north side of Griffith Park. (now taking odds on this one for all you gambling types ).

Toyon Canyon was the City landfill shoved into the middle of Griffith Park in the 1950s. Closure plans have it being returned to natural habitat in the heart of the urban wilderness section of the park.  LaBonge wants baseball fields on Toyon and even tried to have cable cars installed there by writing them into the widely-hated Melendrez version of the Griffith Park Master plan.

Odds are that at the secret meeting to be held this week, LaBonge will likely be content to start with yet another artificial picnic area to get a toe-hold on the property. Look for carefully selected constituents to dutifully approve those picnic grounds on Toyon Canyon as they try to dodge something bigger on the property by approving just a picnic area.

However, it is never just a picnic area for Tom LaBonge. Once March comes and goes, you can expect a councilmember completely unfettered with re election to go nuts with all that free land on Toyon. After all, Walt Disney looked at all that free land in Griffith Park and envisioned Disneyland - why shouldn't Tom do the same?