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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Vote to Officially Carve Up Griffith Park for Special Interests Expected Today

Today the City Clowncil is expected to pass without discussion the historic landmark designation for Los Angeles' largest municipal park, officially carving it into the swiss-cheese chunks for special interests that clowncilmember Tom LaBonge has been trying to achieve for at least a decade.

LeBong 'negotiated' the deals in the fifteen minutes before the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee moved the Griffith Park Historic Monument application forward with those last minute changes as part of the package. The duplicitous parties included the Griffith Trust, the Autry, DWP, and the Department of Recreation and Parks.

The Griffith Trust, chaired by the great-grandson of the larger-than-life historical figure, Col. Griffith Jenkins Griffith, is the organization who began the process to have the entire park designated a City of Los Angeles Cultural Historic Landmark. In an LA Weekly article about the need for the application, about Los Angeles' s most visible icon Van Griffith was quoted as saying: "It’s not a theme park. It’s not a movie studio. People don’t want to see it turned into Disneyland ..."

Yet even Griffith himself drank LeBong's koolaid, agreeing to exclude huge chunks of the park in the time prior to the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM's) January 12th vote for as yet unknown reasons. Since the changes were at the last minute, there was obviously no public comment on them and there was nothing in writing for anyone to examine, including PLUM committee members (Reyes, Weiss, Huizar) themselves.

During the entire PLUM hearing, wannabe City Attorney Jack Weiss never bothered to even sit up from his perpetual chair slump while Reyes seemed amused by public concern that the park remain whole in the application, in spite of the fact that more than 15,000 people -- 15,000 VOTERS -- signed a petition to safeguard Griffith Park. The evidence pretty much leads one to the conclusion that this so-called last minute wrangling was pre-planned, with the PLUM Committee in on the deal.

As for why Van Griffith allowed LeBong to have his way with his family's gift to the citizens of Los Angeles is anyone's guess, including Griffith's. From the LA Weekly:

The chafing question now, though, is whether the unwieldy preservation plan, jam-packed with City Hall–esque exclusions and qualifications that almost nobody can decipher, will accomplish what homeowners and activists have fought for — a Griffith Park protected forever from chains and large-scale development. Or is the door still open to traffic-generating restaurants, aerial tramways and theme hotels?

“I’m not sure myself,” says Griffith “Van” Griffith, who has spearheaded the defense of the mountainous 4,218 acres, a crown jewel among the nation’s urban parks. “It seems like a kind of gray area floating in limbo. If they wanted to put aerial trams in the zoo, I don’t know what would happen.”

What does this mean for Griffith Park?

As for the clowncilmember who admits to idolizing Walt Disney, the opportunity to formalize such zones of development opportunity in his personal back yard must be LeBong's greatest wet dream ever. So what has been magically 'excluded' without public process from the Griffith Park Historic Landmark application?

Biggest Holes Awaiting Development:

1. Griffith Park land leased to the Autry Museum for the criminal sum of $1 per year.

No matter how you slice it, the Autry Museum is simply a lessee of City park land. However, the Autry behaves as if they own this public land. The Autry's plans for '....their land', quoting Latham and Watkins' cave dweller Bill Delvac read as Disneyland meets the Wild West. Gene Autry's little monument to the fictitious history of the television cowboy is a private non-profit corporation that in 1985 was given a land lease of 10 acres of Griffith Park in a backroom deal proffered by Tom LeBong's predecessor through the Board of Referred Powers, which -- deja vu! -- may one again be raised from the dead to approve the Autry's current expansion plans. The merger agreement between the Southwest Museum Corporation and the Autry's Griffith Park museum promised that the art and rare artifacts displayed in the museum would stay in the SW's Mt. Washington location, keeping the City's oldest museum viable.

Expansion plan phase 1 and 2 nearly triples the size of the Griffith Park facility and takes physical control of the Southwest Museum's billion dollar inventory, while reducing the SW Museum to a community college classroom. A 100' tower (in violation of current zoning), garish advertising, an expanded event venue with another alcohol license, and a parking garage swallow up the remaining green space around the Autry.

2. Toyon Canyon Restoration Area.

In the 1950s, Los Angeles made the decision to shove a municipal garbage dump in the heart of the park, filling in Toyon Canyon with millions if not billions of tons of refuse.

The impact of such an action has been almost beyond mitigation. It destroyed habitat, buried a number of natural streams that provided water to the plants and animals in the area, polluted the ground water and air via the millions of truck trips to and from the facility, and created a methane-filled mountain of potential landslide that today must be carefully groomed and maintained to keep it from sliding onto a popular picnic area below. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that the Bureau of Sanitation, tasked with this maintenance, does not have the correct diameter of pipe installed to handle turbulent-flow runoff at the level needed in Southern California. If true, ignoring the huge environmental devastation this landfill brought to the local ecosystem, families with children at the Mineral Wells Picnic Area may be in physical danger on a regular basis.

Of the many possible, the one true mitigation measure promised to the citizens, both human and animal, was the restoration of the canyon -- now a mountain -- to natural habitat. The official Toyon Canyon Landfill Closure Plan calls for exactly this. Closure and restoration of a landfill to usable land takes decades. Today, partway through the official closure process, endangered bird species such as the shy meadowlark have already returned to Toyon.

In conversations between members of the press and Tom LeBong's office, regarding Toyon, representatives from CD 4 have reiterated the councilman's mounting frustration at "...letting all that land go to waste." To the controversial 2005 Melendrez draft of the Griffith Park Master Plan, LeBong has added full-sized baseball fields with lights, parking, and cable cars running from either the Zoo or the picnic area to the top. "Angel's Flight meets Dodger Stadium", if you will. Although LeBong has had to distance himself from the Melendrez draft due to major public backlash, he still chafes at all that wasted land up there.

Expect these little projects to be back on the table after today.

3. "Headworks"

Dumping things like landfills and City Clowncil-kitch seems to be the ongoing fate of Los Angeles' most iconic piece of land. When the residents of Silverlake decided they wanted to keep their reservoir above-ground where they could enjoy the view and 'passively' recreating around its perimeter, the below-ground tanks planned for Silverlake were unceremoniously dumped into Griffith Park without any public process. "Headworks", lying next to the main equestrian entrance into Griffith Park, had been slated for trails and an equestrian picnic area. The land where DWP will be burying part of Los Angeles' s water system is next to the 134 freeway and LA River and is highly polluted by MTBE. DWP authorities promise the tanks will not leak or be contaminated by the ground pollution. However, the DWP plan calls for directing part of the LA River through the property and back out into the channel.

No comment so far on just how much MTBE if any will be added to the river itself.

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Anonymous Anonymous said:

Excuse me for asking, but why are people complaining about these dopey city council people if they either voted them in, or didn't vote at all?

These problems we're having now are nothing new. And they are being caused by the people who somehow won their elections. WE put these dopes into office, so we have no reason to blame them; we can only blame ourselves.

If we wanted better, we should have voted better. Or voted at all.

January 27, 2009 7:53 AM  

Anonymous Phil Jennerjahn said:

I was just watching the live broadcast at City Hall and Zuma Dogg was up to his old tricks, screaming at Garcetti so much that Garcetti interjected and told him to calm down and maintain some sense of dignity and decorum.

Of course, Zuma didn't do that and continued his high-volume tirade. Garcetti ordered Zuma thrown out of City Hall with police escort!


And this guy wants us to trust him to be Chief Executive of this City....when he acts like this?

January 27, 2009 10:55 AM  

Blogger Petra Fried in the City said:

Live blogging....

LaBonge- Park is the heart of Los Angeles. Griffith Trust, Planning, RAP, Historic Planning... proud of Historic Planning.

Ken Bernstein- approve application as approved by PLUM. Office of Historic Resources found several non-contributing factors: freeways, LA Zoo, Autry, Roosevelt Golf Course.

LaBonge- those of you who filled out a card, there is no public hearing today. Stand and be recognized.

Garcetti- relating how he made Echo Park lake as a historic monument.

January 27, 2009 10:59 AM  

Blogger Petra Fried in the City said:

Hahn- Does this include the Zoo?

Bernstein- Zoo non-contributing. Zoo is within the boundaries, but non-contributing feature.

Hahn- Isn't there some issue with animals and historic preservation? I have a facility in San Pedro that has some issue...

Bernstein- not that I know of.

Hahn - fully support.

Greuel- thanks Griffith family, LaBonge's leadership.

Reyes- thanks PLUM. Given all the projects around Griffith Park, are we going to lose any park space?

Bernstein- what is historic about this designation is the mix of open space and development.

Reyes- makes it clear no open space is being taken.

LaBonge- Mr. Mukri (GM) just raced over here.

Mukri- just came over here from a hearing to add 400 acres to parkland in the Valley. Spent over $3mill to restore Griffith working with public. Park should be cultural crossroads for the community. Working with Ken Bernstein on a few issues. Couldn't be happier at this time to be General Manager of Rec and Parks and working with the community on this.

January 27, 2009 11:06 AM  

Blogger Petra Fried in the City said:

LaBonge- recognize Van Griffith.

Griffith- greatgrandson of Griffith J Griffith, donor of the park. Thanks Griffith Trust, Los LFeliz Improvement Assn and those members of the public. Astonished by the people's passion for this park. Hopefully this adds a layer of protection against development.

(reading from unpublished autobio of greatgrandfather) '...in world travels, not a territory more appropriate for a magnificent city park than Los Feliz Rancho. '

LaBonge- I met your father, I kissed Catherine Mulholland. Let's salute Jones and Stokes. (names of members of the public), Mayor of Griffith Park. We're going to protect that park! I challenge everybody within the sound of my voice to join me at 5:45am every morning to hike!

15 ayes, 0 nays.

January 27, 2009 11:12 AM  

Blogger Petra Fried in the City said:

Wow - it's not yet noon and I can actually leave City Hall!

January 27, 2009 11:14 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Jesus Christ! Why doesn't someone in the damn press in this town chronicle the absolute hypocrisy of Tom LaBonge. He struts and preens around Council chambers and brags about how much he "loves LA and its history."

But behind the scenes he is happy to take the campaign contributions from Autry Museum management and Board members and actively work to TRASH the Southwest Museum, this city's first museum. It's simply unconscionable.

Meanwhile Jose Huizar, in whose district the Southwest Museum lies, slumps in his chair while LaBonge HELPS the Autry breach its promises to help the Southwest Museum. If the Southwest Museum was in TOM'S DISTRICT, well that would be a different story. He would be screaming bloody murder if Jose Huizar announced the Autry was going to be moved into the Northeast LA.

Note to Tom: Los Angeles has a history outside your damn district. If you want to have a shred of credibility regarding your commitment to this City's history then tell Jackie Autry that her little ego project to steal the Southwest's collection is unacceptable. Downsize the expansion and tell the Autry it has to live up to the contract it signed with the Southwest Museum Board: raise money to restore the Southwest Museum to proud service and make it a proper component of the Autry Center.

January 27, 2009 11:16 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I caught the online public comments today and it looked like Eric was just with a short fuse to jump into ZD's loud voice- but the content was really not the problem- it was the part where Eric said lower your voice and Z dropped it an octave or two that put Eric over the edge to "warn" Z, with Dion (Dep. C.A.) with him on that.

The loss of a quorum on Friday for putting "Awards" first, as always, ahead of regular busniness, was the first thing that Z chastised them for, and then it was really what sent everything into "the beginning of the end" for Z.

Then an argument about the loss of clock time and it was over as Eric called to shut off the mic for not being respectful, following rules and such; the continued loudness after the mic was off got Eric to call for Z's ouster.

It seemed the nit picking went on by the council side by someone adding in that Z was continuing to shout something or another, and I suppose they wanted that "in the record" so they can use it for "toughening up" their "rules" later.

Really it was a matter of "what rules" they want to "enforce"- Z was not out of control, just loud and pushing back on Eric- and you know who's got the official might on their side.

If you want to talk about "rules", the commenters were all over the quality of life matters for Boyle Heights, Jose Huizar's responsibility, and the unlicensed food vendora and other shops going up on public sidewalks, along with people trashing up the place with no attention to building and safety violations- (b/c no inspectors?) A landlord asked that B&S come out for a tenant storing propane tanks indoors so he could get a report for court use and he said no one resoonds.

Stuff like that. A woman who has her restaurant business action down b/c a taco truck is outside complained that paying taxes and fees gets her nothing in the way of fairness, and on and on.

So the point is that this is all non-agenda material, and Jose had to respond as he does for any criticism aired in pub.comm. section of meetings; that is limited to "50" words isn't it?

If it's "500" words for a reply on a non-agenda matter, then it's my mistake, but if not, Jose runs on with his defense that neither Eric nor Dion call him on.

If they have a particular violation of rules, for ZD other than decorum, they should specifically state it, and I think they jumped the gun on ending his time to begin with, using the vagueness and subjectivity as a cover.

They still are the same weasels as always; anyway, it should be up on the city website, Zuma coming almost at the end of public Comment. Eric seemed to enjoy the moment, but unfairly so, in my opinion.

In CD-14

January 27, 2009 3:44 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Phil, with all due respect,

YES - this is someone we'd want in City Hall. Zuma has passion, genuine passion for what happens in this town. Not passion purchased by an Autry or an NBC-Universal or a Broad.

I'll take passion and genuine concern over the totally bought, sold, and owned dicks we have in office right now. (LaBong is a perfect example.)

January 27, 2009 3:56 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Jennerjerk shut up.

Criticizing Walter Moore one day and Zuma Dogg the next is not going to get you elected Mayor.

I predict you will get 12 votes.

January 27, 2009 9:41 PM  

Anonymous labongeisbundy said:

"This reminds me of the time I scored four touchdowns in one game for Polk, er, Marshall High. By the way, what high school did you go to?"

For CD4 residents, 2015 can't get here soon enough. Unless perhaps in 2011...

January 27, 2009 10:12 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

3:56 :
You'd want someone in city hall who can't dialog with a differing viewpoint other than to call them a dick, loser, crybaby, or pussy, or threaten them?

Are you even old enough to vote?

January 27, 2009 10:48 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

ZD is at the end of his time.

Next step; the twin towers and a long couple of days in counrty jail with no one to bail him out except Higby.

You've been warned, Saltsburg, and warned again. They are setting yuo up for an arrest and imprisonment. Bet on it.

January 28, 2009 5:42 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

When you talk about dialog, don't forget that the Mayor has so much accomplished this term that HE REFUSES DEBATE INVITATIONS. So much for dialog.

Maybe that's why he spent all the time on the road raising campaign donations to get enough money on "city time" (and any time while in office IS city time), enabling him to avoid taking any public "matching funds" that come with the onerous and deadly (as to incumbents) "debate" requirement.

Maybe he can't handle the debate unless he's allowed to have Matt Szabo or Tom Saenz speak for him.

There's your dialog from the top; even a news conference WITHOUT SCRIPTED questions is a threat to him.

Name-calling, though not the best attention-getter, is useful to achieve that, and it's usually accurately aimed in the limited slots given to the public, between the double-talking lobbyists and the awards marathons.

Consider that you only have a 2-minute opportunity to present your comments, sometimes only 1 minute when the council decides too many people want to speak.

Weigh that against all the time each CM speaks, with plenty of misstatements and omissions of facts, slanting all for the sake of their presentation, and ALL WITHOUT being subject to public challenge AT THE MOMENT.

They can be so grateful that CMs don't have to speak "under oath" at any Council proceedings- but it sure would cut down on their verbage.

Complain about Dogg but there's truth and then there's City Government. And then there's Tony in a class all by himself.

In CD-14

January 28, 2009 10:10 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Why should the Mayor debate Wacky Walter? Like Lopez says in his piece today, without that, Walter has no chance in hell of getting known outside the fringe elements and gadflies who disrupt city hall and read this blog and Daily News. (Where Walter has a couple of very passionate supporters, but even if there are a few hundreds of them lining up behind the anti-illegal issue, that's still statistically irrelevant.)

Lopez says if the Mayor doesn't debate him giving him that huge PR platform, his only chance to to get someone to hijack his car with someone in it and a sign with his name on top, then report is stolen and be there when LAPD finds it. Even then I doubt the tv cameras would bother to show up.

January 28, 2009 1:28 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The Mayor's best course of action is no action.
The sad and true part of it all is that the crappy job that Tony has done is being camouflaged by the glitz and political rhetoric.

There is still no dispute that anything Tony does will only hurt his chances and help his opponents and that's the sick part of it all, that road to winning motto: "We need to hide the truth to win."

Tony relies on restricting the truth as much as possible and you can bet the flood of his tv political ads coming up will show a lot of those clips to make his photo ops do their job, their snow job.

Informed voters would have him out in a heartbeat. We don't have that kind of electorate in Los Angeles, and Tony is so lucky and we are not.

In CD-14, just an L.A. view

January 28, 2009 3:42 PM  

Blogger Petra Fried in the City said:

10:12pm Jan 27,

Yes, LeBong IS Al Bundy. Scary resemblance.

Bad news for all of us is that he has -->>two<<-- more terms coming after this one, not one more. His first was a partial and therefore doesn't count. So thanks to the illegal and unethical Prop R, we have The Autocrat of Griffith Park driving us insane until 2019. (god help us)

Unless of course he's the one that hit a kid while drunk and paid the family off. (see Zuma's blog.) Which is more likely than finding a legit candidate to run against him.

Need to go throw up now.

January 28, 2009 4:06 PM  

Blogger Petra Fried in the City said:

1:28, The Mayor should debate Zuma Dogg.

January 28, 2009 4:09 PM  

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