In a backroom deal by "the late great John Ferraro
" in 1987, the Board of Referred Powers which is made up of LA City councilmembers, met to hand over a ten acre parcel of prime real estate in Griffith Park
to Gene Autry
for the sum of just $1 per year.
Tomorrow, in a backroom deal by high school football star Tom LeBong
, the Board of Referred Powers meets once again to basically do the exact same thing -- allow the Autry
to expand at will on public open space for the sum of ..... $1 per year.
The Board of Referred Powers (Hahn -ch, Cardenas, Parks, Reyes, Rosendahl)
is hearing the Autry's EIR in place of the Recreation and Parks Commission
because current Commission president Barry Sanders
used to be employed by Latham and Watkins
who is the Autry's legal firm. A relatively recent addition to the commission, it is possible that Sanders was selected with this exact idea in mind. Although it helps to make Recreation and Parks look less the bad guy, most observers do not believe this switch ultimately affects the outcome since the entire issue is highly political and the Recreation and Parks department has no option but to hand LeBong and the Mayor
exactly what they want.
The Autry stands to make a lot of money on the deal. They already have, with the Southwest Museum's collection worth hundreds of millions being given over to them in a related string of City payouts without accountability since the 1987 Ferraro double-deal.
Recently, the Autry has begun renting their $1/yr property to commercial entities for events that are entirely inappropriate for public park land. One example, the "Brew-Ha-Ha" beer event
ostensibly benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is returning to the Autry this Fall for a second round. The Brew-Ha-Ha has appropriately been described as 'drinking for a good cause'
. The Autry has also begun renting its venue out for other more commercial private events and will likely expand this revenue-making activity once their own expansion is passed by the board.
The EIR that the Board of Referred Powers will be approving is essentially identical to the draft version that was open to public comment. No significant changes or mitigation measures were added in spite of the fact that there was ample public input, some of which was directly linked to required City code. A good example of the blatantly ignored comment can be found at the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council's web site,
with two important letters (1
) outlining what code is being violated and as well as some of the major concerns of park stakeholders.
It's interesting to note that this important vote comes less than 24 hours before new City Attorney Carmen Trutanich
takes office. Trutanich has a strong environmental background and during his campaign stated he would be a tough fighter for social and environmental justice. Handing over 10 acres of Griffith Park to an entity who doesn't even bother to pretend anymore that their mission is public-benefit driven for just $1 per year hardly seems just.
Labels: Autry Museum, board of referred powers, carmen trutanich, griffith park, john ferraro, latham and watkins, mayor antonio villaraigosa, Southwest Museum, tom la bonge, Tom LeBong