The Oaks Newsletter Winter 2004
In this issue:
|NOTES FROM THE PRESIDENT
Renee championed our efforts several years ago to expand the playground at the end of Bronson Canyon. It became the newest attraction in the park at a time when the city was not building any new playgrounds. Only because of her support did this needed facility get built, and has since become a focus for our community, filled with kids and families throughout the day. More recently, Renee has actively helped to ensure that new developments in the area are handled in a responsible, but fair way.
Renee Weitzer began her civic involvement many years ago, serving for 15 years as the president of the Encino Homeowners Association, when councilmember Joel Wachs in 1980 asked her to join his staff. Ten years later, Renee was offered a position by councilmember John Ferraro, and now is a senior deputy to his successor, Tom LaBonge. Attending Renee’s award ceremony, Tom said how lucky he was, and how unusual, to have a staff member with as much experience and expertise as Renee who continues to care so much for all of his constituents.
In her comments, Renee thanked The Oaks Homeowners Association, and noted that because of her early service on her neighborhood homeowners association, she was very sympathetic and understanding of the needs and concerns of homeowners groups. We are proud to thank Renee Weitzer for her ongoing service to Los Angeles.
As I munched on my sesame seed bagel, I cast my eye out over my fellow group of volunteers, which included young and not so young folks from the oaks, below Franklin, East of Western and our muses and guides, the professionals from Tree People. We were all there to plant 21 Golden Rain trees along the south side of Franklin between Western and Canyon.
The event was the brainchild of Adam Kean from Hollywood United Neighborhood Council (HUNC), an effort to beautify the neighborhood. Tree People provided the trees, gloves and equipment which included two types of shovels, stakes, rock scrappers and pick-axes, which, to my surprise, I found myself quite proficient at wielding (more on that later).
Still munching away, I wandered over to where a planting demonstration was already in progress. I watched as a hole large enough to accommodate the tree and its wooden box was being measured. Yep, it was big enough, but I was already having doubts as to whether or not I could dig out a hole that wide and that deep. After all, wasn’t that what I hired my gardeners to do?
As the demonstration continued, and we pry the bottom off the wooden box, ease the tree into the hole, making sure it’s centered so the branches don’t grow out over the street, tear off the sides of the box, massage the roots to let them know it’s okay now to grow beyond your confines, shovel dirt back in, feed the tree and create a moat so that the buckets of water that you’ve schlepped over seep into the earth surrounding the tree, my doubts increased.
I looked around desperately for an escape route. I couldn’t just walk away because Susan Swan of HUNC had already seen me and I knew I would be forever labeled that person who ducked out of her neighborly, maybe even civic, duty at a time of need. So I gainfully followed the others to the Tree People truck, grabbed a pair of gloves and a shovel and hit the road. (Actually, I just crossed the street to the corner of Franklin and Garfield).
My crew consisted of the young married couple Daniela and Adam who live on Hobart, and Will. We looked dubiously at the rock hard ground below our feet. Uh-huh, we’re supposed to dig through this?? Fortunately, a Tree People person came by to check our, ahem, progress. Noting none, he picked up a shovel and plunged it into the earth.
Our particular plot of land turned out to be harder and drier than the others (of course I had to pick that spot) and required much use of the pickaxe to break it up. Will had a bad back so Adam manfully volunteered to swing the axe. However, after several powerful hits to the ground, Adam wrenched his back. As we watched in sympathy while he performed Yoga stretches on the sidewalk, a young woman from Tree People ambled by to show us the correct way to swing an axe, that is, to use your legs and upper body, not your back.
I considered this useful information, thought, hey, I work out, I should be able to do this and picked up the axe. After one mighty swing, I was hooked. Oh yeah, this was it, I found my calling. Wielding an axe made me feel powerful and, well, sorta invincible. After all, who’s going to mess with a woman who knows how to use a pickaxe?
We finally got our tree into the ground, named her Bella, fed her, watered her and called it a day. All in all it was great fun, not to mention productive and tangible . I met wonderful people that day and decided that I will return on Saturday, November 13th to plant 37 more trees along the North side of Franklin. I hope you can join me. For more information mail to Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org or see the pictures on HUNC’s website www.hollwoodunitednc.org
|Franklin Avenue Musings
Anyway, you start there at the Daily Planet, with all the papers and magazines you could ever want. There’s usually some hungry looking actors looking through the casting directories for as long as they can before the woman at the sales counter starts giving them the evil eye. The Planet also has LA’s most clever candy (rather than delicious) selection: you get “Atonemints” (mints for repentant sinners), Nietzche’s “Super Bar” (a chocolate treat for Nihilists) and Gummi Weapons of Mass Destruction. Sometimes I’d like a Snickers or some Dentyne, but this is the price we pay for living in the irony capital of the world.
Next door you have the Bourgoise Pig. I am fairly certain this is a gigantic mob front. When I go to work in the morning, there are five or six people sitting on chairs drinking coffee. After work, the same people are sitting there, nursing the same cups of coffee. It would appear the Pig makes about eight dollars a day, tops. The mob needs to do a much better job here.
Next is Birds. This seems like a bar from a different time and place. The bartenders are friendly and dependable. The walls are full of pictures of (i) the patrons and (ii) of birds (yes, actual birds). The other notable feature is the patio, which is a tremendous place to get a beer on a nice day. Birds is also the best place on the strip to watch a game. Well, the best place to watch a football game. The best place to watch a game of Scrabble or Chess is the aforementioned Bourgeois Pig.
Oh, and I saw the Riddler (Frank Gorshin) there once.
Next door of course is Prizzi, which is where most of the waiters at Birds used to work. I don’t know exactly why. This is also the place, outside of McDonalds, where I’ve had the most meals. Which is why the other night I went there to meet my wife for dinner. One waiter asked, “where’s Holly?” and the other said, “is she still going to school?” This familiarity soon showed it’s less pleasant side, after an hour passed without Holly showing up, when one of the waiters said, “she’s not at the Fred Segal sale is she? That could be trouble….”
Truth be told, Holly was actually doing volunteer work that night (although she had gone to the sale earlier that day, and there was, indeed, “trouble”).
The Tamarind theater is next, with it’s thirty or so seats and it’s edgy productions. I have gone only once, and my friend and I were 50% of the audience. We would have left, but all four members of the production were waiters at Prizzi and would have spit in my food.
I almost shouldn’t mention the next place—Espiratu de Vida—because it’s where we always buy presents on the way to birthday dinners. This store has an uncanny way of offering items that make it appear you put a lot more thought into your gift giving than you really did. I heartily recommend their selection of rocks with “deep” words painted on them (“passion,” “strength,” “peace,” etc.). Drop one of those in a gift bag and people just might think you have a soul!
Well, unless you walk out on their play.
The next place was an answer to a prayer, or at least an answer to an audible request that they build a sushi place on the strip. Taiyo inhabits the location that was previously a short lived French place and, before that, a very unpredictable Mexican restaurant. It’s cool inside, they have good fish and they bring water out for our dogs when we eat on the patio. What more could you want.
The weirdest spot on the strip is the narrow little storefront that, at least for a time, did nothing more than host “Poetry Slams.” I am sure they will move on to other timeless offerings, like Beanie Baby clubs and Dungeons and Dragons tournaments.
Counterpoint, the used record and book store is the next door down. They almost always have a theme in their window—mom songs for Mothers Day, patriotic songs for Fourth of July. On other days, you have to guess the theme. One time I spent about ten minutes trying to figure it out. The lightbulb went off and I ran inside and correctly guessed that the theme was that all the records truly sucked.
Counterpoint is another place that appears to stay in business through the aid of a great American crime family. They appear to have millions of books and a huge store, yet sell about four used books a day, again netting the same $8 as the Bourgoise Pig. I wish continued good luck to these “friends of ours.”
Then we have La Poubelle, a French (or “freedom”) restaurant. Great atmosphere, beautiful bar. I feel a little guilty though, because I now kind of want it to be an Indian restaurant or a bowling alley.
Then I’d never have to cross Franklin.
|Gates in The Oaks|
The City of Los Angeles allows a process whereby a group of residents can agree to gate public streets, walks or stairs. The “vacation” process basically requires agreement by all adjacent property owners to transfer all issues of liability for the vacated property from The City to the property owners, collectively. Some sort of “nuisance” must be shown for The City to process the paperwork for the resident(s) requesting it.
Some court cases in California have found that the closing of a street in this manner violates other citizens rights, i.e. the right to have free and equal access. Despite this, many get away with doing it simply because the closure occurs legally unchallenged.
The Oaks Board has adopted principles concerning this issue, as follows:
1. The building of private entrance gates does not promote the sense of community and neighborhood that has always existed and continues to thrive in The Oaks. Gates create barriers to interaction among neighbors.
2. Private road access gates rob our residents of their right to use the public streets for purposes such as walking and exercise. The closure of streets also eliminates valuable parking spaces that are needed if, for example, a resident is having a party.
3. Gates create difficulty for emergency vehicles. If an emergency responder does not have a security code or key readily available, significant delay can result. This has been witnessed at other gate locations.
4. The construction of any gate in The Oaks may cause unwarranted alarm about the safety of our neighborhood, and may also spawn interest of doing the same for other locations.
5. The Oaks is comprised of over 20 “dead-end” streets that theoretically could be gated. The Oaks would not be the same if that were to happen.
New Parking Restrictions
City Fire Department officials have determined that weather conditions in recent years have significantly increased the brush fire threat in Griffith Park. As a result, the fire danger to our homes is currently greater than ever before.
To avoid a tragedy like the 1991 Oakland Fire, our Fire Department sees an urgent need to improve the access to our hillside neighborhood and through its many narrow, winding streets. Test runs have shown that all too often parked cars or dumpsters left in the street do not allow large fire trucks to pass. In the event of a major fire this could significantly delay the advancement of emergency response vehicles and could even impede the evacuation of residents, if that ever became necessary.
This is why sharp turns and other sections of our narrow streets identified as possible “choke points” will soon be marked with red curbs or “No Parking” signs. An official LAFD map posted on this website shows the “red zones” in our neighborhood where parking will not be permitted. The map is based on a preliminary survey of our streets; if you have any suggestions for changes or additions, or like to voice any other concerns you may have in regards to the proposed parking restrictions in your street, we encourage you to contact us immediately by telephone at 323-467-8685, or send an email to Parking-Comments@oakshome.org.
At this time, it has not yet been determined whether the new parking restrictions will be in effect and enforced throughout the year, or only during the main fire season (from October 1 through December 31). During that 3-month period, whenever a dangerous combination of low humidity (under 15%) and high winds (speeds of more than 20mph) is in the forecast, the Fire Department may issue a “Red Flag Alert”. On such days a possible brush fire in Griffith Park would likely spread very quickly, with potentially disastrous consequences for our neighborhood.
If the proposed new city ordinance passes, it will include a special provision for those days on which a “Red Flag Alert” is in effect: Any vehicle or dumpster that has been left in a no-parking zone on “Red Flag Fire Danger Day” will be towed or removed at the owner’s expense.
What is still at issue is how the community could be notified of a “Red Flag Alert”. To spread the word, city officials plan to rely mainly on the media (radio and tv) but also on other means of communications, such as e-mails and flyers.
Our local fire station has encouraged us to initiate our own Community Fire Patrol. On any critical day during the fire season, including those dangerous “Red Flag Days”, volunteers with cell phones would be driving around our neighborhood in their own cars, being on a constant lookout for smoke and other signs of fire. If we form an Oaks Fire Patrol and you would like to join, please call (323) 467-9004, or send an email to FirePatrolCoordination@oakshome.org.
Let’s do our share and help our local firefighters to prepare us for a possible brush fire or any other major emergency event that may effect our neighborhood some time in the future.
|Will Park Rangers Become Extinct? |
In August, the City announced a plan whereby most of the Park Rangers would be transferred to General Services. General Services is a large City department which is responsible for many tasks, including City building security/maintenance, parking facilities, City fleets, etc. The plan was rushed forth with intentions of a swift implementation (January 2005), without appropriate input from the public. The Recreation & Parks Commission themselves openly represented the process as a ‘bad process’.
Under the plan, we are told that a handful of Park Rangers would remain as ‘interpretive’ Rangers, and would not have ‘peace officer’ status. The ones transferred would be armed and would need to have appropriate uniforms distinguishing them from the unarmed Rangers. The normal General Service Security Division uniforms are similar to that of LAPD.
Issues of concern include at least these: 1) Our Park Rangers currently are specialist in their particular assigned area. It is questionable whether GS Officers will be extremely knowledgeable of the territory they patrol. 2) We are concerned about the complete bifurcation of the ‘security’ function from the ‘interpretive’ function. Our Rangers do both functions quite well, currently. 3) A police-like uniform is less friendly than a Ranger uniform, and does not encourage the environmental responsibility theme that Rangers exude. Also, police-looking personnel are seen by citizens as ‘passing through’, whereas Rangers are ‘in situ’.
Oaks Homeowners has asked Councilmember LaBonge for a townhall meeting on this subject, allowing homeowners living next to Griffith Park to ask about the implications of this significant consolidation proposal. A tentative date of OCTOBER 27th, 5PM, AT FRIENDSHIP HALL ON RIVERSIDE DRIVE, has been announced.
Coyotes Trick or Treat The Oaks
Recently the City’s Wildlife Officer Program was salvaged, thanks to activism by a group of Griffith Park users and the support they received by Council District 4. The timing could not be better, as our urban wildlife continue to overlap our own habitat. Wildlife officers give this advise on dealing with Coyotes in our neighborhood. First, never feed them and never leave out pet food or food scraps. A significant fine may be accessed to anyone feeding any species of wildlife. Second, ‘stand your ground’ and ‘put the fear back into them’. Do not be friendly; be aggressive and talk harshly to them. Third, eliminate any possible denning areas, such as overgrown vacant lots. Eliminating denning areas is also helpful in keeping the skunk population in the Park, and less in our neighborhood.
|The Neighborhood Beat|
“MEET THE JUDICIAL CANDIDATES”
Don't miss "Meet the Judicial Candidates" which is an hour long film featuring one-on-one interviews of each of the ten candidates for five Superior Court judicial positions appearing on all ballots in L.A. County and airing on station LA36. The film is presented by some of the Leagues of Women Voters in the county and other civic minded organizations. More information, including the times it will air on different channels, may be found on the following web site of the League of Women Voters. smartvoter.org/sv/ca/la/
HISTORIC HOMES TOUR
The Oaks Homeowners Association is trying to organize a Historic Homes Tour of the Oaks. If your home is a historic home and if you would be kind enough to partake in the tour, please contact Caroline Schweich via email at: Caroline.Schweich@oakshome.org
GRIFFITH PARK LIGHT SHOW
Every year the DWP lights up Crystal Springs Drive in Griffith Park with a 1 mile tunnel of holiday light displays. The show is specially designed to be seen with 3D glasses. The fun begins Nov 22 and runs till Dec. 26 and viewing hours are from 5-10pm. Don’t forget to bring an unwrapped toy for the LA Fire Department’s annual toy drive. Insider tip: if the line of cars is too long, you can park and stroll the path to enjoy the lights.
November 28, 2004 is the Hollywood Spectacular. The parade begins in front of the Grauman’s Chinese theatre and then follows this two-mile route around downtown Hollywood. This parade has been a local tradition since 1928!