GPW: Self-Tempered Anarchy since 2009

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

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Finally! New Illegal Vendors code for parks passed by Commission

Nine very long years after lawsuits at Venice Beach caused it to be suspended, on Wednesday the Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners passed a new version of the Illegal Vendors code within LAMC 63.44 sections governing City parks.


It's damn well time they did!

The reticence on the part of the City Attorney to deal with this issue in a reasonably timely fashion is unconscionable. For nine years, the City itself was left wide open to a variety of potentially costly liability lawsuits. After all, if someone falls off a horse they paid to ride in a City park  or someone gets sick from food purchased in a City park, who are they going to sue? How about the equestrian riding on a legal park trail whose horse spooks and throws them when a vendor wagon or vendor with flowers rushes out in front of them - who are they going to sue?

The physical impact to the facilities itself has been pretty bad. City parks are looking like street parties on weekends, with vendors just about everywhere including pushing their carts deep into sensitive wildlife areas of some parks to sell food, toys, beer, cigarettes, and so on.

Concessionaire agreements for the parks dept. were significantly impacted, too. Vendors paying for exclusive contracts in City parks were often inundated with unregulated competition, making such contracts undesirable. This financially impacts the Dept. of Recreation and Parks because they are semi-proprietary and should therefore be able to control any financial undertaking on their properties. Without the suspended code, the Dept. had no control essentially of their own properties.

Meanwhile, Park Rangers and law enforcement were left with no authority to cite on the basis of the illegal vending - period.

Pure anarchy.

With the vote on Wednesday, the Board of Commissioners took the first official step to stopping the anarchy by passing the new ordinance content. It didn't happen quickly, though. This particular issue caused some consternation on the part of the Board  who took their time with it over the course of two meetings with special committees. Their approach to this issue is entirely unlike how they handled the two Tom LaBonge boutique items that failed to have proper CEQA work done on them and rightfully drew lawsuits. The Board passed those easily. I'm trying to decide if the board's new found caution is is a good thing (they're learning), or they were just following someone's (Mayoral?) orders again.

Let's hope this is a good thing and they're learning.

I should note that it was Rocky Delgadillo and Carmen Trutanich's office who let this crap slide. These two really were a complete waste of taxpayer dollars, weren't they? Thank you to Mike Feuer's office for handling this.

The code update also includes a tightened definition of Camping in Parks, which should help with transient management issues. Next stop is a vote at City Council. Hopefully these past nine years of park impacts have not been lost on councilmembers, and they pass this without changes.

Link to the new code is here. 

Or read on Scribd -

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Jon Mukri back to Rec and Parks, and other park notes

For the past ten months, RAP GM Jon Kirk Mukri has been doing Mayor Garcetti a solid by managing Los Angeles's beleaguered  Dept. of Transportation while the Mayor searched for a new GM for that department.  Approved last week, Ms. Seleta Reynolds starts as the new DOT GM in mid-August.

At the time Mukri began babysitting DOT, he was still the General Manager of Recreation and Parks. Ostensibly, that has not changed. Mukri is still the General Manager of the Dept. of Recreation and Parks. Come August, will the Mayor return Mukri - arguably the most talented  manager in Los Angeles - to Recreation and Parks? Or come August, will the Mayor's wife (Amy Wakeland) be allowed to continue filling key Recreation and Parks positions with more of her girlfriends.

Speaking of Mrs. Garcetti's friends, Kafi Blumenfield - aka Mrs. Bob Blumenfield - seems to have gone missing from the Recreation and Parks Commissioners' coffee klatch.  Given the hideous conflict of interest her appointment represented, it's good to see that someone finally came to their senses on this. The Recreation and Parks Commission has a great deal more legal and fiscal power than most of the other figurehead commissions in Los Angeles. Recreation and Parks is semi-proprietary, and pretty much every major department activity must be approved by the Commission.

Given the poor legal performance by Mrs. Garcetti's friends on the Crystal Springs Baseball Fields project and the "Old Zoo Performance Stage" ... or whatever new name the Bandshell has this week, one can only hope that a new commissioner without baggage but with enough technical knowledge and actual talent will be appointed to replace Blumenfield.

We've previously noted another key poor legal performance in the same hearing by Acting Rec and Parks GM Mike Shull. Shull stated for the record that neighborhood children will walk to the new ballfields from surrounding neighborhoods. Honestly? The proposed fields are more than a mile from just the the park entrance. The walk through the park is along a public and sometimes secluded jogging trail. Any parent would think twice about before letting their child walk alone or even with friends on it. 

Thinking we've had enough of the bullshit pretend leadership being appointed over our City parks. Seriously. One way or another, it's time for a real manager to take back the managerial reins of Recreation and Parks.

Griffith Park is getting a Park Advisory Board. Yes, you heard that correctly. The current councilmember vociferously opposed this idea when the Griffith Park Master Plan Working Group originally proposed it a few years back, but now it is happening. Unfortunately, the surprising acquiescence on said councilmember's part is likely due to a plan to fill the board with their chosen people.

From all appearances, at this point in time there is an actual process in place for the selection to the new Griffith (Park?) Park Advisory Board. Personally, I actually believe in the Park Advisory Board system in principle. I hope the establishment of Griffith Park's first PAB is completed with due diligence and foresight, not politics. Fingers crossed.

Still empty.
Finally...properly staffing and supporting Park Rangers remains a thinly veiled joke in Los Angeles. No new hires, no proper Chief as required by POST, and no action on the Mitch O'Farrell motion to resurrect a real Ranger program. That motion was supposed to be heard in April. To date? Crickets...  Meanwhile, the Ranger Division struggles to have one single full peace officer Park Ranger available a couple times a week for the new Hansen Dam Ranger Station. That station needs twelve Rangers plus Park Patrol officers for full coverage.

A token four new Rangers and a supervisor is included in the FY15 budget, but no action on that either. Four new Rangers doesn't even cover attrition, folks.  I'd laugh, but honestly as a dedicated parks volunteer, I find the hypocrisy -- "Los Angeles cares about our parks, parks resources, and park safety" blah blah -- utterly nauseating. Cities that have nice things take good care of their nice things. To look at our parks right now, Los Angeles must not give even the slimmest of shits about them.