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

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lack of proactive prevention leads to gang-related murder in LA City park

When public safety in our City parks consists of just responding to calls and takes no proactive, preventive ownership, then violence and bloodshed will be a growing common occurrence.

Proactive ownership via community-based policing is what LA City Park Rangers used to do. The Mayor, along with SEIU and City Controller Wendy Greuel have made it their mission to eradicate City Park Rangers in favor of the Office of Public Safety - a second police force created by Greuel in the name of "efficiency" that, like LAPD for the most part, also simply answers radio calls.

Actually, OPS answer calls IF any of their units are even available.

As long as there continues to be no Park Ranger presence, yesterday's multiple murder is just another day in a Los Angeles City park.

Get used to it, folks.

Two killed, one injured in shooting at Venice park

Police say they believe Wednesday afternoon's fatal shooting at Venice's Penmar Recreation Center was gang-related.
Los Angeles Police detectives, standing near a shooting victim, investigate the attack at Penmar Recreation Center in Venice. Two people were killed and another was injured in the shooting. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2011)
By Robert J. Lopez and Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times

June 23, 2011

A gunman calmly shot three people, two of them fatally, as a woman fled with a small child in her arms and others scrambled for safety Wednesday afternoon at a Venice park, according to police and an eyewitness.

The shooting forced authorities to lock down a recreation center filled with small children at Penmar park, which sits in a quiet neighborhood lined with single-family homes and shady trees in the 1300 block of East Lake Street.

"I heard popping sounds," the witness told The Times, "and I saw a guy standing and shooting a gun."

The witness said the attacker jumped into a car, perhaps a silver Volkswagen station wagon, in which a driver was waiting and fled.

A baseball coach gave CPR to a victim sprawled on the grass between the recreation center and a baseball diamond, the witness said. A second bystander administered CPR to a man lying in the bleachers.

The children in the recreation center, the oldest of whom were in third grade, were reunited with their parents at the center, said Los Angeles Police Lt. Jeff Bert.

Bert said investigators believe the shooting was gang-related. Officers found several shell casings in the area.

The third victim, police said, was shot in the leg and was being treated at a hospital. The two dead men were believed to be between 18 and 20 years old, police said.

One of the victims was pronounced dead at the park. The other died at a nearby hospital.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Autry Expansion up for vote today in City Council. ~yawn~

UPDATE:  Shocking - City Council votes to approve Autry Expansion.

Tommy LaBonge and Jackie Autry...
Sitting in a tree.

That's about the intelligence level of the nonsense that occurred at yesterday's scripted Arts Parks meeting.

LaBonge, with Herb Wesson's Gomer Pyle-like duplicity, ignored a very clear demonstration of CEQA violation and moved the Autry expansion forward for its City Council blessing today over a waffling Ed Reyes. As we predicted. Proving he's a good friend to HRH Jackie Autry, as so ordered.

Friends of the Southwest Museum will be in City Council in force today to plead for City Council to force the Autry to stand by its legal obligation to Los Angeles's oldest museum. City Council will hem-haw and whine, then pass the expansion with a vote somewhat divided down ethnic lines.

So it'll be "see ya in court... again" for LA City on the taxpayers' dime.  Didn't the geniuses downtown learn anything in losing the Lopez Canyon CEQA court case

It has gotten pretty bad in LA when The People must frequently take Their Government to court to enforce the law. Yet that is where we seem to be at.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Enviro-Scare: DWP to inject reclaimed water into Hansen Dam Recreation area

Hansen Dam Recreational Area is one of the most environmentally sensitive gems in the Los Angeles. The fourteen hundred acre regional park is managed by the City's Dept of Recreation and Parks via a lease from the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Big and Little Tujunga Washes empty into the wildlife lake at the base of Hansen Dam. 1/7th of the City's drinking water is filtered through the sands of Hansen Dam.

The Big Tujunga river from Big Tujunga Dam to Hansen Dam is the protected habitat of the Santa Ana Sucker (fish), and the area surrounding Hansen Dam wildlife lake is the protected habitat of both the Lesser Bell's Vireo and the Cactus Wren (birds).

So when the LADWP - who is not the best of environmental stewards - decides to dump reclaimed water into this most environmentally sensitive of areas, you probably need to worry.

Water World Weekly
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has wrapped up its $2 million dollar Groundwater Replenishment Treatment Pilot Study, which takes a hard look at a plan to transform wastewater into drinking water.

Officials say the $700 million dollar plan will reduce the city's reliance on imported water supplies. Currently, more than half of its drinking water comes from Northern California or the Colorado River.

The city's Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Encino already pumps about 40 million gallons of reclaimed water daily for irrigation and industrial uses.

Under the proposed plan, 30,000 acre feet of that water would undergo further advanced treatment processes -- including microfiltration, reverse osmoses and UV purification -- before being injected into wells under the Hansen dam.

BY 2035, LA DWP aims to increase its use of reclaimed wastewater to 8 percent.

[Patch] Cell towers in City parks without community input in the works

Cell Phone Towers in Public Parks?

If Recreation and Parks managers get their way, the community will have little or no say in the matter

By Ajay Singh
June 18, 2011
Image from
The Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks is considering the installation of cellular phone towers in some of the city’s public parks, and although the department says it has not set any policy on the issue, a high-ranking manager is opposed to any community representation in the project’s so-called “working sessions.”

That was the gist of comments inspired by a report presented to the Board of Recreation and Park Commissioners at its twice-monthly meeting, held at the Glassell Park Recreation Center Wednesday, June 15.

The report (item # 11-185), among a dozen items on the meeting’s agenda, was titled “Park Property—Installation of Cellular Telecommunication Equipment.”

Presented by Melinda Gejer, a Rec and Parks city planning associate, the report began with a reference to the commissioners’ May 4 meeting, during which “some specific instructions [were] given by the commission in terms of revising the procedures, guidelines and leases to reflect the desires of this department,” Gejer said.

The official requested the board to adopt the various procedures and guidelines as well as site-lease agreements whose prices would be based on geographical locations, “reflecting the concept that some areas of the city are more desirable than others for our applicants.”

Although site leases for the proposed cellular towers provide “some flexibility for this department, in terms of procedure it’s important to remember that every application will come before this commission for conceptual approval,” Gejer said. “If conceptual approval is granted, then we can enter into an extensive and exhaustive community outreach process—and the final approval, reflecting those comments, will be brought back before this commission.”

Every application, Gejer concluded, will be “reviewed twice by this commission and will have full staff review as well.”

Glenn Bailey, chairman of the Los Angeles City Bicycle Advisory Commission and a founding member of the Encino Neighborhood Council, urged the board to consult with the city’s neighborhood councils on any steps to allow cellular towers in public parks within a given council’s jurisdiction.

Bailey also asked the board to provide a minimum of 60 days notice to neighborhood councils so that relevant committees within the councils get enough time to study and decide on the cellular tower proposals before the department.

“We are quite concerned about the general, multiple use of our parks and rec areas and we are also concerned regarding the process,” Clyde Williams, a member of the L.A. 32 Neighborhood Council, which encompasses El Sereno, and the Northeast Los Angeles Coalition, told the board.

All proposals for cell towers in the L.A. 32 Neighborhood Council’s jurisdiction go through the council’s land use committee, which makes recommendations, Williams said. “Why not [in the case of] the parks?”

A lot of people in El Sereno “are quite sensitive to cellular phone towers, where they going to be located—and also whether they may or may not influence the public health and visual aspects [of the issue],” Williams said, adding that “we’ve gone around and around with AT&T and others in El Sereno regarding cell towers and how to mount them.”

Finally, said Williams, “we are part of the City of Los Angeles—why aren’t the departments of neighborhood empowerment talking to Rec and Parks?”

The idea of building cellular phone towers in public parks continues the Board’s “headlong slide of commercialization of our city parks,” said Joseph Young, a community activist with the Sierra Club and the Friends of Griffith Park. “You want to wring every penny you can out of our parks. It is wrong. We are destroying the very things that make parks what they are intended to be—places of serenity, tranquility and beauty.”

Read the rest of the article at Patch.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Forest Lawn plans clear-cut into Royce Canyon wildlife corridor [LATimes]

Environmental groups concerned about Forest Lawn's plan to clear trees

By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times

June 17, 2011

A proposal to replace 835 oak, sycamore and walnut trees with 199,000 new interment spaces at a prominent Hollywood Hills cemetery near Griffith Park is at the heart of a controversy over the future of what little remains of the Los Angeles area's undeveloped wildlife habitat.

Image from
Forest Lawn Memorial-Parks & Mortuaries wants to develop 120 acres of its grounds because its existing expanse of carefully manicured lawns has nearly run out of room for interments in grassy havens with names like "Ascending Dawn" and "Vale of Hope."On Wednesday, as families in mourning gathered around grave sites overlooking the San Fernando Valley, Forest Lawn President and Chief Executive Darin B. Drabing said the proposal aims to meet a pressing need.

"There have been no new regional cemeteries built in 50 years, yet most people want to bury their loved ones close to home," he said. "Some critics should put their emotions in neutral and realize that we are serving an ancient human impulse to say, 'Remember me,' as well as traditional, cultural and religious needs to recall and honor loved ones who passed away."

The 63-year-old cemetery serves about 3,000 families annually.

The new facility would cost tens of millions of dollars and include 108,000 grave sites for casket burials, and 91,500 spaces for above-ground interments.

Drabing also pointed out that the new development would only affect about 2% of the greater Griffith Park natural habitat area. In addition, Forest Lawn has contributed 200 acres of wildlands to Griffith Park over the last 20 years.

The proposal, however, has ruffled the feathers of groups including the Friends of Griffith Park, the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council, the Sierra Club, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the California Department of Fish and Game. The groups are concerned that it could have a disastrous impact on the area's woodlands, wildlife corridors and creatures ranging from legless lizards to western mastiff bats.

The proposal calls for the removal of 632 coast live oaks, 59 sycamores and 144 Southern California black walnut trees across 18 acres of land through 2050, according to the draft environmental impact report released earlier this year. It would also destroy rare plants: the oscillated Humboldt Lily, Catalina mariposa lily and Coulter's matilija poppy.

The Department of Fish and Game, in its response to the draft EIR, argued that Forest Lawn's plan to replace mature woodlands with acorns and 1-gallon seedlings planted on graded slopes within the project site, or at undisclosed locations elsewhere, is vague and "not truly mitigating for the loss of a community."

In an interview, Forest Lawn officials said they plan to replace each felled tree with up to 15 new trees cultivated from local seeds. The new trees would be planted across the cemetery grounds, and in selected locations in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Other critics said the EIR does not adequately address the cumulative effects of nearby proposed and ongoing development projects in terms of traffic and noise, light and pollution. For example, a proposed NBCUniversal development proposal calls for roughly 2 million square feet of new commercial uses, including a 500-room hotel and 2,937 multifamily residential units.

Of particular concern are potentially adverse effects to Sennett Creek, a spring-fed perennial stream that courses from Griffith Park, winds through the cemetery and empties into the Los Angeles River. The portion flowing through Forest Lawn has undergone significant restoration over the last 15 years and provides habitat for toads, tree frogs and garter snakes, and lush cover for deer, foxes and bobcats.

Read the rest of the story at the LA Times.

[CityWatch] Stubborn Autry Museum Asks City Council to Break Law

Stubborn Autry Museum Asks City Council to Break Law
By Ann Walnum

PARKS POLITICS - As a long-time volunteer for the Southwest Museum and a founder of the Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition (70 community and civil rights organizations), I remain amazed at the Autry Museum’s stubborn effort to violate our General Plan – the City’s fundamental zoning law – in a series of project proposals intended to relocate the Southwest Museum to the Autry’s building in Griffith Park.

A recent version of this idea was approved by the Recreation and Parks Commission but City Council voted under Charter Section 245 to assume jurisdiction over the issue due to concerns about transparency of the approval process.

After Autry angrily withdrew its first expansion proposal in 2009 which endangered preservation of the Southwest Museum under the General Plan, the Autry Board developed a new project idea, to move its collection storage out of Griffith Park and begin relocating the Southwest Museum’s premiere exhibits from Mount Washington to Griffith Park’s storage area.

The new project and the one withdrawn in 2009 are equally offensive to the City’s General Plan which contains a policy requiring the City to only take actions that “maintain the Southwest Museum on Mount Washington.”

Autry applied to the State for a $6.6 million grant to pay for relocation of the Southwest Museum’s most important Native American exhibits to its Griffith Park building. State officials, unaware of the unlawful nature of the grant proposal, tentatively funded it.

This puts the Los Angeles City Council in an unfair position: Should it ignore its own General Plan and approve Autry’s project to avoid losing the State grant? Or should the integrity of the City’s fundamental law -- the General Plan -- prevail? Autry knows its proposal is contrary to City law, but is asking Council Member Tom LaBonge to ram it through City Council on Tuesday, June 21, 2011, nonetheless.

Recently, the California Department of Recreation and Parks announced that the Autry Museum was selected to receive a $6.6 million Proposition 84 grant of taxpayer dollars to pay for the construction of permanent and rotating galleries of Native American themes and a native plant education garden at its Griffith Park site. On the surface, to the average person and typical City Council member, this sounds like good news: $6.6 million returning to the City’s economy.

But dig deeper and you’ll learn that Autry’s grant application should have never been submitted. That’s because the project for which it seeks state funding is designed to forever destroy the Southwest Museum – an institution Autry promised everyone it would “respect” by maintaining its separate identity and operation as part of a 2003 merger with the former Southwest Museum Corporation.

For more than 50 years, school field trips to the Southwest Museum brought to life history lessons about the State’s and Southern California’s earliest inhabitants. Autry’s move will render the historic building redundant to exhibiting its own collections – a building for which we taxpayers already shelled out $25 million for a Metro Rail Gold Line station at the front door to help bolster its economic feasibility. That clears the way for Autry to sell or give the building away – essentially stealing the Southwest’s priceless collections for itself and forever extinguishing the “Southwest Museum” name/institution.

At a hearing in Council Member Tom LaBonge’s Arts and Culture Committee on Friday, June 3, 2011, Council Member Ed Reyes had some questions he needed answered.

The Casa de Adobe (a replica of a hacienda from California’s pastoral farming days), from which Autry removed all the artifacts and locked the door, lies in Reyes’ District. “What are Autry’s plans for the Southwest Museum and Casa de Adobe?” Reyes asked. Autry’s new CEO and President, Daniel Findley, essentially took the Fifth Amendment: “I will defer to the City Attorney as to whether I have to answer that question,” Findley replied.

When it became clear that Findley would refuse to answer Reyes’ questions about plans for the future of the historic Southwest Museum structures in Northeast LA, Reyes simply read his questions into the record and they remain unanswered.

However, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out Autry’s goal. Autry signed the 2003 merger agreement promising to rehabilitate the Southwest Museum if its expert team found it physically and economically feasible.

Read the rest of this story at CityWatch

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Autry Expansion battle - part 2: CEQA CEQA CEQA

Throwdown time:

It's Tom LaBonge and Jackie Autry verses Ed Reyes, supporters of the Southwest Museum, and the almighty CEQA next Monday in items (2) and (3).

The dealine for City Council action is the next day, Tuesday the 21st.  After City Council votes to approve the Autry's expansion, that evening Tom LaBonge will be sworn into his third term of office by Jackie Autry on Mt Hollywood at 6:30pm. Free cowboy pony ride shuttles up the hill for all wanting to witness history in the making.  Saddle up, y'all!

Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee - Special Meeting
Monday, June 20, 2011
MONDAY, JUNE 20, 2011* ROOM 1060*, CITY HALL - 9:00 AM* 

(Richard Williams - Legislative Assistant - 213-978-1071 or e-mail

Click here for agenda packet

Note: For information regarding the Committee and its operations, please contact the Committee Legislative Assistant at the phone number and/or email address listed above. Upon 24-hour advance notice, assistive listening devices, and other accommodations, such as sign language interpretation and translation services are available at the meeting. Contact the Legislative Assistant listed above for the needed services.

Continued from June 14, 2011 Scheduled for Council – June 21, 2011 Los Angeles Department on Aging (LADOA) report relative to acceptance of grant funds from the California Department of Aging (AP-1112-25 & HI-1112-25); approval of 2011-12 Area Plan Update to 2009-12 Area Plan; and execution of proposed Senior Services contracts for Fiscal Year 2011-12.

Fiscal Impact Statement Submitted: Yes
Community Impact Statement: None submitted

CD 4
Continued from June 3, 2011 Special Meeting Scheduled for Council – June 21, 2011 Consideration of the Board of Recreation and Park Commissioners’ action of May 20, 2011, relative to the proposed renovations of existing exhibit gallerias, outdoor area, restrooms, and associated improvements at the Autry National Center’s Museum of the American West. Fiscal Impact Statement Submitted: No Community Impact Statement: None submitted (On May 31, 2011, Council adopted Motion [Huizar-Reyes] asserting jurisdiction over this matter, pursuant to Charter Section 245.) 



Scheduled for Council – June 21, 2011 
Appeal filed by Daniel Wright, on behalf of the Mount Washington Homeowners Alliance brought under California Public Resources Code Section 21151(c) (California Environmental Quality Act - CEQA), from the Board of Recreation and Park Commissioners’ determination that a proposed project at the Autry National Center was exempt from CEQA environmental review for various improvements for the property located at 4700 Western Heritage Way.

Fiscal Impact Statement Submitted: No
Community Impact Statement: None