OAKS HOA CHALLENGES THE CITY’S DECISION TO CLOSE THE BEACHWOOD TRAILHEAD
On Monday, May 1st , the Oaks Homeowners Association joined the Friends of Griffith Park and the Griffith J. Griffith Charitable Trust in filing a Motion to Intervene in Los Angeles Superior Court, thereby challenging a decision by the City of Los Angeles to close the Beachwood Gate to the Hollyridge Trail in Griffith Park. That decision by the City (announced on March 13th ) to close access permanently to the trailhead at the top of Beachwood Canyon was made in response to a Superior Court judge’s ruling in the Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables vs City of Los Angeles court case. The Beachwood Canyon access to the Hollyridge Trail has been used by hikers and visitors to the City since the 1920s. The popular trail offers one of the most direct access points to (and best views of) the iconic Hollywood Sign atop Mount Lee. The closure of the trail access became effective on April 18th .
Residents associations near the Park — Los Feliz Improvement Association, Oaks Homeowners Association, Beachwood Canyon Neighborhood Association, and Lake Hollywood Homeowners Association – were surprised and stunned by the City’s decision to close the Beachwood access because it seems directly to contradict the judge’s actual ruling in the Sunset Ranch case. In that case, Judge Elizabeth Feffer determined that Sunset Ranch does not have an exclusive right to the access road that leads to the trailhead and cannot exclude members of the public from that easement, and that the City must provide public pedestrian access to the Hollyridge Trail at a point close to the Beachwood Gate. In seeming defiance to that ruling the City and attorneys for Sunset Ranch entered into a “Joint Stipulation” in which they agreed to close the gate at the end of Beachwood Drive completely.
The Motion to Intervene filed by the Friends of Griffith Park, the Griffith Charitable Trust, and the Oaks Homeowners Association is a legal action taken so these organizations can become additional parties in the suit with an interest in the outcome and the right to be heard. The three parties are asserting their right to intervene based upon the Stipulation’s effects, including (1) the elimination of access to Griffith Park, a public park, at a much-used access point; (2) the creation of a serious public-safety risk in adjoining communities; and (3) the improper transfer of public land to a private party. The three organizations claim the City misled the Court with inaccurate assertions and sought to alter a ruling that was for the public good by means of a secretive Joint Stipulation between the City and Sunset Ranch. The legal filing argues that, at a minimum, the Stipulation violates the Los Angeles City Charter, the Los Angeles Municipal Code, the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”), and various provisions of state law. The three organizations filed the lawsuit in order to protect public access to Griffith Park, to correct the record, and to represent the interests of taxpayers and the common good.
The Oaks Homeowners Association is taking this significant action because we feel – as do the Friends of Griffith Park and the Griffith Charitable Trust – that the closure of the Beachwood access to the Hollyridge Trailhead creates a dangerous precedent that will likely lead to the closure of other access points to the Park. When Colonel Griffith generously donated the land for the Park to the citizens of Los Angeles in 1896, he wrote: “It must be a place of recreation and rest for the masses, a resort of rank and file, for the plain people. I consider it my obligation to make Los Angeles a happier, cleaner and finer city.” The decision to end pedestrian access to Griffith Park from Beachwood Canyon strikes at the heart of Colonel Griffith’s stated principle of open access for park patrons.
Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks General Manager Mike Shull has over the years assured the Park’s adjoining communities that he wants to keep entrances to Griffith Park – specifically the entrance in Beachwood Canyon – open to the public. The Oaks Homeowners Association, the Friends of Griffith Park, and the Griffith Trust urge Mr. Shull and Councilmember David Ryu to reverse the Beachwood Gate closure and support the policy of open access. Closing one trailhead sets an unacceptable precedent for closing others. Major trailheads with wide trails or fire roads are important in order to provide the public with safe hiking routes while protecting the park’s rich habitat and wildlife.
More Information about the organizations leading the Motion to Intervene:
The Griffith J. Griffith Charitable Trust has roots dating back a century. The Trust makes consistent efforts to protect the basic premise underlying Colonel Griffith’s gift of Griffith Park to the City, and supports ongoing activities in the park. Public access to the park is a part of its core mission. When the park expanded to the west, the trustees fought to ensure public access from Western Avenue. The Griffith Park Trust famously objected when the City attempted to institute a fee for driving automobiles into the park. Today, it is supporting a much more basic issue: the right of pedestrians to access one of the park’s trailheads, which gives hikers access to the park’s entire network of trails. The Griffith Park Trust has reversionary rights to Griffith Park if the City violates the terms of the original grant.
Friends of Griffith Park is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable group dedicated to preserving and protecting Griffith Park’s natural habitat, biodiversity and historic features for our generation and future generations to enjoy. FoGP promotes knowledge about the natural and human history of the Park, Los Angeles’ largest Historic-Cultural Monument. The organization believes that now, more than ever, it is critical that the people of Los Angeles protect this, the largest urban Park in the country. Friends of Griffith Park is committed to ensuring that Griffith Park remain open, natural, and free to all citizens of Los Angeles. FriendsOfGriffithPark.org.
OVER 150 ATTEND RALLY TO KEEP BEACHWOOD TRAILHEAD OPEN
On April 15th, over 150 people gathered at the top of Beachwood Canyon to rally for keeping the Beachwood trailhead open to the public. Residents of communities adjacent to Griffith Park carried posters and signs in support of their position. They also handed out flyers to hikers and tourists letting them know that City would be closing the Beachwood access to the Hollyridge Trail on Tuesday, April 18th and urging that they contact City Council and the Department of Recreation and Parks to register their disapproval of the closing. Many of the rally troops wore nametags that indicated their frustration with the City’s decision: “Hi! I’m sad the gate is closing,” “Hi! I’m thinking it’s not fair to close this trail to the public,” and “Hi! I’m disappointed I can’t hike here anymore.” Several speakers from residents groups (including Beachwood Canyon Neighborhood Association, Oaks Homeowners Association, and Lake Hollywood Homeowners Association) talked about the closing of the gate and concerns about the “back door deal” that resulted in the closure.
LET THE CITY KNOW WE WANT OPEN ACCESS
TO GRIFFITH PARK TRAILS FOR EVERYONE!
JOIN US ON SATURDAY APRIL 15TH AT 12 NOON
AT THE TOP OF BEACHWOOD DRIVE.
The City has announced that on April 18th it will close the Griffith Park access trailhead at the top of Beachwood Drive and divert hikers, residents, and Hollywood Sign tourists from Beachwood Canyon over to Bronson Canyon and Vermont Canyon. How did this happen?
On March 13th, we all learned of the City’s decision to close access to the Hollyridge Trailhead above Beachwood Canyon in response to Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Feffer’s ruling in the Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables vs. City of Los Angeles court case. But the City’s decision seems not only to be unjustified by the Judge’s ruling, it seems in direct contradiction to the ruling.
The Judge determined that Sunset Ranch does not have an exclusive right to the access road that leads to the trailhead and cannot exclude members of the public from that road, and that the City must provide public pedestrian access to the Trail at a point very near the Beachwood Gate. In response, the City decided instead to close the Trailhead at Beachwood Canyon completely. To compound the injury, the City announced that Hollywood Sign tourists, hikers, and residents now will be re-routed from Beachwood to points east, specifically Canyon Drive/Brush Canyon and Vermont Canyon – both sites where the Hollywood Sign is demonstrably not located.
Because of this action, the traffic along Canyon Drive and into Bronson Park and up Vermont to the Observatory has already increased and will grow even greater once the Beachwood Gate to the Park is officially closed.
We hope that the Mayor and Councilman David Ryu will act swiftly to turn back this disruptive move by the City Attorney’s office before it becomes permanent and closes off forever this access to Griffith Park for the many members of the public who enjoy it.
The Associations below support not closing the Beachwood Gate to the Hollyridge Trail. If you agree, join residents from all the neighborhoods surrounding the Park on Saturday, April 15th at Noon at the end of Beachwood Drive. Let the City know you favor keeping all Griffith Park trailhead access points open to the public. Call your friends and let them know. Bring friends with you on the 15th!
Oaks Homeowners Association. Lake Hollywood Homeowners Association. Los Feliz Improvement Association. Beachwood Canyon Neighborhood Association.
Because of neighborhood parking restrictions at the north end of Beachwood Drive, we cannot park cars near the site. So take a ride-share car or public transportation or enlist a family member to drop you and others off at the site.
POSSIBLE SUBDIVISION AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE FIFTEEN-ACRE OPEN SPACE PROPERTY AT THE TOP OF GREEN OAK AND WILD OAK DRIVES
In December, the Oaks Homeowners Association was contacted by the representative of a high-end real estate developer from Northern California.
The representative told us that the developer had recently opened a three-month escrow on the fifteen-acre lot that sits on the ridgeline above Green Oak Drive, Park Oak Place, and Wild Oak Drive, and is adjacent to Griffith Park. Before this contact we were not aware that the fifteen-acre lot was even for sale.
The lot is private property and is zoned residential. It’s owned by a trust that was created upon the death of the last individual owner. When we met with the representative of the Northern California developer, he showed us a plan for subdividing the single large parcel into fifteen lots, each around an acre in size – some more, some less (the existing home and lot at 2600 Wild Oak Drive would be one of these fifteen lots). The plan envisioned the construction of fourteen new homes, each one from six thousand square feet to nine thousand square feet, as well as a new residential street connecting the end of Green Oak Drive to the end of Wild Oak Drive. The representative said that he had already met with staff at our City Council office and the staff there had told him that there were a number of significant issues that would need to be addressed for such a development to go forward. CD4 staff urged the representative to speak immediately with the homeowners association because we represent the people who would be most affected.
At that December meeting, we explained that (1) Wild Oak Drive is substandard in width and could not serve as a primary entry or exit from the property, (2) the property is adjacent to Griffith Park and contains known wildlife corridors, endangered plant habitat, and long-standing hiking trails which would necessitate a sensitive approach to the placement of the new homes and the new street, (3) the property is characterized by steep hills that would require extensive grading and enormous hauling away of dirt, as well as large retaining walls for the new street, (4) the surrounding infrastructure – roads and sewers – were already in poor condition and could likely not support new large-scale development, (5) the entire neighborhood is considered a “very high fire hazard severity zone” and so would require special attention with regard to access for emergency vehicles and evacuation in case of fire, and (6) that such a large development would likely require a decade or more of construction and would negatively impact quality of life for the dozens of surrounding homes and residents. The meeting was cordial and the representative thanked us for our comments and said he would try to set up a second meeting so that the developer could come to town and talk to us himself.
A month later, in January the representative told us that the developer was terminating the escrow and abandoning the project.
We understand that the trust that holds the fifteen-acre property plans to continue to market it directly to developers. The property has not been listed for sale publicly and so we do not know what the asking price is.
The homeowners association has written to the attorney who represents the trust, asking that he meet with us to discuss the issues mentioned above and also to discuss a possible alternative scheme that would allow the trust to receive substantially the same value for the land but with significantly lower costs, in a much shorter time frame, and with greatly reduced municipal red-tape.
The council office has been very responsive to our concerns about large-scale development on the hill and stands ready to help us find a way to preserve some of the land as open space and make the development proceed at a scale that is acceptable to the residents of the Oaks.
OAKS RESIDENTS CONSIDER ISSUES OF HOMELESSNESS, SECURITY,
TRAFFIC CONGESTION AND TOURISTS AT ANNUAL MEETING 2017
On March 14th, members of the Oaks community gathered at Immaculate Heart High School to hear the state of the City and their neighborhood. Linda Othenin-Girard, President of the Oaks Homeowners Association, greeted the large audience of neighbors with a brief review of the many issues the boardmembers of the Association confronted in 2016. These include traffic, crime, and changes in zoning. She noted that the board works hard to find solutions to these problems and that they sometimes succeed (preserving the D limitations) and sometimes do not (still no improvement in traffic conundrum at Franklin and Bronson).
Linda introduced Laura Friedman, our brand new representative in the California Assembly. (It is worth noting that Ms. Friedman made a special trip from Sacramento just for our annual meeting!) Ms. Friedman discussed the areas she’ll be focusing on in the Assembly during this term. These include the environment, specifically such areas as the federal Clean Air Act waiver that allows California to have more stringent emission standards for cars, water conservation, and state protection of wild and scenic rivers (in case these lose federal protection). Friedman is also focusing on affordable housing and generating funds for housing. She noted that in Glendale, the city receives applications from 10,000 qualified applicants for each unit of affordable housing. The Assemblymember then segued to issues relating to the homeless, noting that homelessness is a major problem that will require a multifaceted solution. She pointed out that the homeless population in our city is not a homogeneous group, but is instead diverse, requiring a wide spectrum of services. She is hopeful that Los Angeles County Measure H and LA City Measure HHH will help address the problems. She closed by encouraging people to get involved; her office has packets of information on a variety of topics (e.g., homelessness, politics) to help people get involved.
Following Laura Friedman to the speaker’s rostrum was Joe Salaices, the Superintendent of Griffith Park. Salaices gave us an update on the Griffith Park Observatory traffic circulation plan which is moving forward at this date. Later in March, enhanced bus service to the Observatory from the Vermont/Sunset Red Line station is set to begin. This is part of Recreation and Parks global vision of greater access to the park and of enhancing the park experience for visitors to the city. Joe also addressed the recent decision to close the Hollyridge trailhead near Sunset Stables at the top of Beachwood Drive. He read a brief prepared statement and noted that Recreation and Parks was looking to the park entrances at Fern Dell and Bronson Canyon to mitigate the impacts of this closure. A number of the Oaks residents in attendance expressed their displeasure with this development citing the impacts it will have on entrance roads into the Oaks.
We next heard from Robert Caropino, Los Angeles Fire Department Battalion Chief for the Hollywood area. Officer Caropino discussed the challenges LAFD faces in fighting fires in hillside areas like the Oaks including the difficulty Department firetrucks may have in reaching fires on our narrow, winding streets. He noted that Oaks residents can sign up to receive alerts (e.g., for red flag days) that allow us to adjust our schedules to facilitate fire department access to our neighborhood.
Manny Sanchez, the senior lead officer for the Hollywood Division (firstname.lastname@example.org) addressed crime in the Oaks. Sanchez reported that according to LAPD crime statistics for 2017 to date, crime is down in the Oaks. However, Oaks residents in the audience interjected to say that their experiences are not squaring with those statistics and that they face difficulties in reporting crime to LAPD. Oaks board member Sheri Hellard advised the attendees at the meeting that she was coordinating with Officer Sanchez and that residents could also contact her regarding crimes and criminal activity and that her contact information is available on the Oaks web page.
Linda then introduced Shannon Prior, the new Council District 4 field deputy for the Oaks. She reported that CD4 is pursuing an ordinance to enhance penalties for the owners of party houses. She also stated that 311 is now available online and through an app. She said that if we report something to 311 and do not receive a response within 2 to 3 days, we should call her.
By way of concluding the meeting, Linda asked the assembled membership to reelect the Oaks Homeowners Association board for another year. The membership did so, and the meeting adjourned.
All of us in the Oaks neighborhood thank Immaculate Heart High School and its President Maureen Diekmann for allowing us to use their beautiful cafeteria (with its wonderful view of Los Angeles) for our Annual Meeting.
New State Assemblymember Laura Friedman addresses Oaks residents on issues of homelessness and traffic congestion at the Annual Meeting of the Homeowners Association on March 14th.
LAPD Senior Lead Officer Manny Sanchez addressed crime and rising homelessness issues in our area at the March 14th Annual Meeting.
Robert Caropino, LAFD Battalion Chief for our area spoke about concerns about access for fire trucks to our hillside area during the Oaks Annual Meeting on March 14th.
Griffith Park Superintendent Joe Salaices details the new Park traffic plan to Oaks HOA members at the Annual Meeting at Immaculate Heart High School on March 14th.
DON’T MISS THE OAKS FAMILY PICNIC!
Saturday, June 24th
11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Bronson Park (at the end of Canyon Drive) across from the playground
Kids games and entertainment – Great “chef prepared” picnic food and desserts – Bouncy Bounce – Arts & Crafts – Meet new neighbors and connect with old friends.
For HOA Members Only. Not a current member? Join at the picnic! Annual dues are only $40 per family.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Coyote Hazing: A Special Meeting
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Doors open at 6 pm / Meeting begins at 6:30
Griffith Park Visitor’s Center Auditorium, 4730 Crystal Springs Drive 90027
Please join your neighbors from
- Los Feliz Improvement Association
- Franklin Hills Residents Association
- Oaks Homeowners
- Friends of Griffith Park
for a special meeting to address problems associated with human/coyote interactions.
National Park Service urban coyote biologists Cathy Schoonmaker and Justin Brown will be presenting this program amid growing concerns regarding coyote moving into residential areas.
Tere will be a PowerPoint presentation discussing urban coyote behavior and how we can reduce coyote attractants. Additionally, a coyote hazing video will be shown, followed by how and when to haze coyote.
Participants will then go outside for a demonstration of tools and hazing methods. Hopefully this training will help if you encounter coyote in your neighborhood. e “loudest whistle in the world” will be given to 99 attendees – which is also the room capacity.
All residents are invited to participate in this event.
If you spot coyote along your route, please take the time to make a report at http://gmrnet.com/Coyotea.html. Please make sure to use a cap “C” on the Coyotea… otherwise it won’t come through. ~thanks