STEPHEN HODDING BRIGGS
January 11, 1920 — September 23, 2018
Our older brother Stephen was just four months shy of reaching his 99th birthday when he passed away quietly in the home he built in The Oaks 62 years ago.
After the Great Depression eliminated our father’s manufacturing business in San Francisco, our family of five moved from Oakland, CA to the Los Angeles area in 1933, settling in a small house on Highland Avenue in Hollywood… mostly because Los Angeles was fairing better than the average city in the U.S. And that was because Hollywood was unofficially one of the three “escapes from reality” for the general public, which were: liquor, tobacco and the movies. Stephen attended Bancroft Junior High and I went to Selma Avenue Elementary. Three years later, in 1936, the landlord wished to sell the house and Fortunately we found a two–and-half story house to buy on Cazaux Drive in the Hollywood Hills, (pronounced Kaz-oh from the previous owner and a little French settlement in the Pyrènees) perfect for our family of five. Steve was entering the eleventh grade at Hollywood High and I the ninth grade at Le Conte Junior High. At that time, The Oaks was only partially occupied, and Spring Oak Drive was not yet cut through to Canyon Drive, as it was mostly “fill ground” waiting ten years to settle.
A better older brother you could not find. Stephen and I did everything together, from schooling into our working careers. We both played in the Hollywood High marching band, Stephen beating the bass drum while I played the bass tuba. After graduation and before the war, we both worked on the assembly line on Lockheed’s swing shift for over two years before leaving for military duty. Steve fitted the sheet aluminum skin to the top sides of the Hudson Bombers we were building for Great Britain. I worked 20 feet away in the crew riveting up the fuselages of the bombers Steve’s crew had just completed.
Even though our work was essential to the war effort, we knew it would not be long before we single young men would be called up for military duty. I remember when Steve came home one day and told our mother he had joined the U.S. Army Air Corps for pilot training. She answered, “Good, Steve, I hope you get to fly something safe. . . like bombers.” Steve replied, “No, Mom, I don’t want to kill anyone. I just want to learn how to fly.” (Since I couldn’t pass the pilot’s eye test, I enlisted in the Navy while Steve waited his turn to be called up for pilot training.) Well, the Good Lord must have been listening, because all the airplanes he was assigned to fly were unarmed reconnaissance aircraft. And, after training he suddenly found himself out searching for enemy armored columns while flying in the Battle of the Bulge (the same mission as was depicted in the movie of the same name featuring Henry Fonda). For that mission Steve received the Air Medal and an official citation “for conspicuous bravery in flying search missions under fire during the strong enemy counter-offensive in Belgium in December, 1944.” Allied air support was grounded by enemy-anticipated over-cast weather, but that is why the recon missions fell to the essential small liaison airplanes flying close to the ground.
After World War Two, we both took advantage of the G. I. Bill’s training program, Steve taking up Industrial Design and I earned a degree in Business Administration, and later a pilot’s license. Fortunately, we both were able to pursue our chosen fields of endeavor, Steve in designing consumer, medical and industrial products, and I in advertising military and aerospace products. We even both worked on the same products for Hughes Aircraft Company, my advertising client for 30 years.
During the Viet Nam and Cold Wars, Steve worked for North American Aviation and Lockheed Aircraft writing and illustrating instruction manuals. His last assignment before retiring with a pension from Rockwell International was preparing the instructions for servicing and repairing complex systems aboard the B-1 Lancer Bombers.
In the meantime, Steve married his war bride and reared two daughters, but remarried after his first wife died of physical complications. His second wife, Marge Markey, was assistant principal and alternately the teacher of his two girls at Cheremoya Elementary School. Marge was also second reader for many years at the Christian Science church on Edgemont in the Los Feliz area.
They lived in the house Steve personally designed and had built in 1956—just two doors from the family’s home on Cazaux. And that was after returning from 18 months of active duty in the Korean War where he was flying recon and artillery targeting missions over enemy lines.
All told, Stephen certainly led a full and loving life. He is survived by his two daughters, Veronica Peterson and Denise Potter, and two brothers Huntly and Alfred, stepson Erick Markey and his special nephew, Tony Briggs.
JOIN US FOR THE OAKS 25TH ANNUAL HALLOWEEN WALK ON OCTOBER 31st!
Wednesday, October 31st from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Ghosts, goblins, pirates, princesses and all are invited to begin the Halloween Walk at the intersection of Alto Oak and Hill Oak. A table of holiday treats marks the meeting spot. Trick or Treating will be better than ever and the walk ends at Spring Oak and Park Oak Drive.
Park Oak Drive will be closed to traffic from the intersection of Spring Oak Drive to the 5 corners from 6pm to 9pm.
Should you need to drive in or out of your house during that time, we ask that you please park your car on Canyon Oak or Spring Oak temporarily and enjoy the Halloween festivities. The Homeowners Association apologizes for any inconvenience and sincerely hopes residents agree that this short closure will make the Halloween night safer and more fun for everyone. Thank you!
OAKS PICNIC LOTS OF FUN!
Over 75 Oaks neighbors attended the 2018 Oaks picnic and feasted on Mexican fare. The kids really enjoyed the bouncy bounce, games and water balloon toss! Also the ice cream! Thanks to all who helped put on the picnic and to all the great neighbors who attended.
The Oaks and the Comprehensive Strategies Report
For more than a year, the Oaks Homeowners Association has been focused on the balance between the competing priorities of park access for everyone and livability of our neighborhood. Those two priorities came into conflict last spring with the City’s closure of the Beachwood gate to Griffith Park. In the aftershock of that closure, Councilmember David Ryu underwrote a 64-page study (costing $120,000) which brainstorms solutions to the adverse impacts on residential areas adjacent to Griffith Park largely related to Hollywood sign-seekers. In his motion, Councilmember Ryu made reference to last year’s record Los Angeles tourism numbers (48.3 million visitors) and the critical role tourism plays in LA’s job growth and economy.
The contract for the study was given to Dixon Resources Limited, a “parking solutions” consultant which had previously worked on the Observatory-focused Circulation and Parking Plan. Two meetings were hosted with invited community stakeholders: mostly representatives from affected residential neighborhoods. Beyond the discussions at these meetings, Dixon assimilated volumes of comment by email, much of which was not vetted at the meetings.
A limited amount of data was collected on traffic volumes at various impacted locations. Parking occupancy rates on some street sections and in the parking lots in Bronson Park were also collected. While the data supports a few of the strategies in the final report, most of the strategies are ideas generated by the consultant and the participating stakeholders.
The resultant Comprehensive Strategies Report describes a whopping twenty-nine strategies, organized in the final report under categories such as Pedestrian Safety, Park Access, and Traffic Flow. The ideas range from a gondola that would ferry tourists through the air to the Hollywood Sign (a notion that quickly grabbed the media’s attention) to improvements for visitor signage.
The Oaks Homeowners Association has given its support for the concept of an electric shuttle bus bringing visitors and hikers up Beachwood Drive and through the Beachwood park gate for a safe drop off at the Hollyridge Trail. There tourists would have a very short hike to a great location for selfies with the Hollywood sign. This shuttle would originate at a Metro Station or at DASH stops. Because public transportation must be encouraged to reduce the number of personal vehicles, Oaks also supports small electric shuttles along Canyon Drive to safely serve Bronson Park.
We further support the Beachwood “alternative access trail” proposal at the end of Beachwood Drive. Local residents and the public should have the basic right to enter the park on foot; currently they are locked out.
Paid parking inside Bronson Park, both on the road and in the lots, was another strategy included in the report. Oaks Homeowners is not supportive of such a plan at this time since it might necessitate establishing “preferential parking districts” in a large area of upper Canyon Drive in order to protect residents from the overflow of visitors’ cars seeking free street parking – all of which could be very disruptive to life in the Oaks. It is hoped that other measures can be implemented that might restore a more normal level of Bronson Park usage, once the Beachwood Gate is again in use and other mitigations become reality.
The Oaks HOA also supports the creation of a safe sidewalk around the narrow gated entrance to Bronson Park and continuing into the park. This sidewalk would connect to the existing sidewalk on the east side of Canyon Drive which currently ends just south of the Park entrance. A preference has been voiced for a permeable surface material once inside the park to protect the California sycamores trees there.
The strategies are currently being vetted by multiple city departments to consider their feasibility. Then Council District 4 is expected to announce which solutions it supports. We will keep you informed of upcoming opportunities for your comments.
Finding the right balance between accommodating public access to our great park and protecting residential livability is an exceedingly difficult task. While we work with the city to implement strategies that find this balance, we must also be vigilant that strategies selected don’t turn out to be promotions for increased tourism in our own neighborhood. After all, the 2028 Olympics is coming!
Read the Full Report HERE.
New Restrictions on Short-Term Rentals and Party Houses Put in Place by City Council
By Bob Young
Led by our councilman David Ryu, Los Angeles City Council has created new regulations governing short-term house rentals as well as a new ordinance on the conduct of party houses. Both measures seek to address abuses in home rentals that have increased in frequency over the last decade.
The proliferation of short-term house rentals, initially described as “home-sharing” or “room rental” has expanded over recent years (due to Airbnb and similar popular internet sites) to include whole house rentals. Room rentals – in which the homeowner is renting part of the space in his/her primary residence – are largely supported by neighbors. Whole house rentals – where the owner of the property may live elsewhere and rents out the entire house (or multiple properties) – have come under increasing criticism for noise and disturbance to neighbors and disruptions to the character of neighborhoods (due to short-term renters moving in and out at all times). These sorts of whole house rentals seem essentially to create small hotels in the middle of residential neighborhoods where such commercial enterprises are not be permitted. In addition, whole houses used for short-term rentals tend to pull properties out of the long-term rental inventory and make it more difficult for people to find housing.
The new home-sharing regulations require that the host-owner register with the City in order to rent rooms. The rented rooms must be within the homeowner’s primary residence and cannot be rented for more than 120 days per year (although proven good-actor hosts may apply to increase that number to 180 days per year). The host is liable for any disruptions or nuisance caused by his/her renters and enforcement provisions are stipulated. Whole home rentals for short-term periods (days or weeks) remain illegal. You can read the full text of the Short-Term House Rental Ordinance HERE.
The City Council’s new “Party House” Ordinance creates the strongest legislation yet to rein in loud and unruly gatherings at whole homes rented out by the day or weekend for parties and other raucous nighttime activities. The ordinance allows for escalating fines on party hosts and on homeowners to ensure that hosts who throw (or allow) unruly parties are cited for multiple offenses (or in multiple houses), and that property owners remain culpable for renting out their homes to party house operators who abuse the quiet and character of the neighborhood. The fines begin at $100 for the first violation, escalating to $8,000 for the sixth and subsequent violations. Those who violate the ordinance are required to post public notice at the house site for thirty days or face further penalty. You can read the full text of the Party House Ordinance HERE.
Many of us chose to live in the Oaks neighborhood because of its quiet charm and reasonably serene character. Party houses and unregulated short-term, whole house rentals both contribute to a diminishment of that charm and serenity by insinuating the chaos of commerce into residential space. The intent of residential zoning is that people will live in the houses there, not that houses will become hotels and businesses. We thank Councilman Ryu for his efforts to restrain the impulses of commerce in neighborhoods like ours.
CITY COUNCIL APPROVES PARTY HOUSE ORDINANCE
The LA City Council has unanimously approved an ordinance to reign in out-of-control party houses in Los Angeles. The ordinance, which began as a motion introduced by Councilmember Ryu on June 10, 2016, creates a series of escalating fines against party hosts and homeowners who either host or rent out their homes for massive gatherings that disturb neighbors, block the public right of way, and threaten public safety.
“Today, we are putting public safety first and party houses on notice” Councilmember Ryu said.
“The problem of residential homes being used as de facto nightclubs has been growing for years. It’s not just a nuisance in otherwise quiet neighborhoods – it is a real danger.”
The ordinance, which passed Planning and Land Use Management Committee on February 6 and Public Safety Committee on January 24, includes increasing fines up to $8,000. The ordinance also requires those who violate the ordinance to leave undisturbed a posted public notice for 30 days notifying neighbors of their unlawful conduct.
The ordinance, which was supported by the Hollywood United Neighborhood Council, Bel Air-Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council, Northridge East Neighborhood Council, Valley Village Neighborhood Council and other community organizations, penalizes both party hosts and homeowners, which is meant to dissuade property owners from renting out their homes to professional party-throwers and reduce the likelihood of future violations, freeing up law enforcement personnel for other purposes.
“With this new ordinance, the party is over for these completely out of hand neighborhood headaches,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. “With escalating fines into the thousands of dollars, this ordinance has the teeth to help us continue our house party prosecutions with greater effectiveness. I applaud Councilmember Ryu’s leadership on this.”
“Too often, we have seen people renting out their homes for the express purpose of turning it into a stage for elaborate events,” Councilmember Ryu said. “These aren’t barbeques or birthday parties – these are massive events with cover fees and throngs of people tossing cigarette butts in fire prone areas. It’s reckless, it’s irresponsible – and it stops today.”
“It’s with enormous thanks and great relief that we celebrate the passage of the Party House Ordinance, a project long in the making,” Anastasia Mann, President of the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council, said. “This will come as a great relief to residents who have had to endure significant damage to their quality of life issues due to unruly, out of control – mostly commercial – parties in neighborhood across Los Angeles but particularly in the Hollywood & other Hillside communities.”
The new law allows for escalating fines on party hosts and homeowners to ensure that hosts who throw unruly parties in multiple homes are increasingly cited for multiple offenses, and that property owners remain culpable for renting out their homes to party house operators. The fines are:
- $100 for the first violation;
- $500 for the second violation;
- $1,000 for the third violation;
- $2,000 for the fourth violation;
- $4,000 for the fifth violation;
- And $8,000 for the sixth and subsequent violation
Read the final ordinance here.
DON’T MISS THE OAKS FAMILY PICNIC!
Saturday, June 23th
11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Bronson Park (at the end of Canyon Drive) across from the playground
Kids games and entertainment – Great picnic food and desserts – Bouncy Bounce – Arts & Crafts – Meet new neighbors and connect with old friends.
FREE for or HOA Members Only. Not a current member? Join at the picnic! Annual dues are only $45 per family.
We look forward to seeing you there!
UPDATE ON THE BEACHWOOD GATE LAWSUIT
I am the incoming president of the board of the Oaks HOA, and here is brief report on the lawsuit involving the closure of the Beachwood gate to pedestrian traffic.
As many of you probably are already aware, the superior court heard our case on March 22. The Oaks HOA had joined with the Friends of Griffith Park and the Griffith J. Griffith Trust in challenging the decision of the City to enter into an agreement with Sunset Ranch that resulted in what now appears to be a permanent closure of the Beachwood gate to pedestrian traffic. At the hearing, Judge James Chalfant rejected our arguments about why the City’s closing the Beachwood gate was not proper. The centerpiece of our arguments was that staff of the Department of Recreation and Parks could not make the decision to close the gate to pedestrian traffic but rather the board of the Recreation and Park Commission had to make that decision in a public process.
The judge decided that, while permanent (or at least very long term) closure of the gate could seem like a policy decision within the authority of the board, here it was a decision that was within the scope of staff’s operational authority. We also made other arguments, for example, relating to Griffith Park’s protected status, and that in agreeing to close the gate, the City in effect gave it to Sunset Ranch in violation of the prohibition on gifts of public funds. Judge Chalfant rejected these arguments as well. As you can imagine, we are quite disappointed with this outcome.
Going forward, the board of the Oaks HOA has 60 days to make a decision about future steps, and in that period, it will be considering its options and will be discussing options with the Friends and the Griffith Trust. I will keep you posted on future developments.
Board President, Oaks Homeowners Association
BORN-AND-RAISED IN THE OAKS AUTHOR WRITES TRAVEL FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
Anne Collins Howard grew up here in the Oaks and she never dreamed that someday she would take the “world’s longest honeymoon” and publish a travel book about it with her husband Mike Howard.
The adventure started when Anne and Mike embarked on what was planned as a yearlong honeymoon trip around the world. The trip went so well that they just didn’t want to stop after a year. So it grew to eighteen months, and then longer. Now they’ve been traveling for over five years! Together they’ve visited seven continents, 53 countries and 503 regions. Using Anne’s background as a writer and Mike’s skills as a digital media strategist and photographer, they’ve chronicled the journey on their website HoneyTrek.com and have partnered with several companies to make the extended trip a lifestyle and business…as well as an inspiration for all of us with wanderlust.
Enter National Geographic, who approached the pair to write a book about adventuresome travel for couples. The result, Ultimate Journeys for Two: Extraordinary Destinations on Every Continent is a beautiful, informative, and inspiring guide on how to get off the tourist track, embrace adventure, and create lifetime memories. Organized not by geography but by types of terrain (think Mountains, Beaches & Islands, Snow & Ice, Deserts & Dunes, etc.) it is an engaging and fascinating read.
Well done, Mike and Anne. You’ve done the neighborhood proud!
OAKS HOA JOINS TWO OTHER ORGS IN SUIT
TO RESCIND THE CLOSING OF BEACHWOOD GATE
As many of you know, in May of this year the Oaks HOA sued the city, challenging its closure of the Beachwood Canyon access point to Griffith Park. Joining us in the suit are Friends of Griffith Park (a non-profit devoted to park maintenance and preservation), and the Griffith heirs themselves. We filed our legal action after a previous judge opined that intervening in the existing suit between the city and Sunset Ranch would inordinately delay that suit. In that earlier action, Sunset Ranch sued the City claiming that Park visitors and hikers accessing the Hollyridge Trail via Beachwood Drive were impeding access to the Ranch by its customers. In response to the Judge’s ruling that Park users were in fact making it more difficult for Ranch customers to drive up to the Ranch, the City unilaterally decided to close the Beachwood Gate to all Park pedestrian traffic.
Our suit raises several issues. The first is the impropriety of taking legislative or regulatory action (closing the Gate) by fiat. Any decision on a park access point should be made by the Recreation and Parks Commission following the required public outreach and comment. Instead, the decision was made behind closed doors. Moreover, we taxpayers paid for the gate at Beachwood as well as the cost of years of maintaining the trailhead. By ceding control of the Gate to a private party, the City has, in effect, gifted public assets.
Of course, the legal issues reflect our common-sense concerns – namely, why the city would choose to shift one neighborhood’s problems to another neighborhood, why it would close a popular recreation access point, and why it doesn’t comprehensively address the larger issues pertaining to traffic, parking, and the Park.
Our first hearing is scheduled for January. But we may take certain actions to press the issue, given how much city officials continue to ignore the pleas of their constituents. One plea is what many call “the alternative proposal,” a simple plan which would allow pedestrian access at Beachwood and also fulfill the Court’s order requiring no interference with Sunset Ranch’s business.
If you’d like to get involved or make your voice heard, please e-mail email@example.com.
PARTY HOUSE REGULATIONS PROPOSED BY RYU
In 2016 Councilmember David Ryu first introduced a motion in City Council to strengthen restrictions on party houses in residential neighborhoods. At the instruction of Council, the City Attorney drafted regulations governing “loud or unruly gatherings on residential property.” The draft of that legislation will be heard in Council’s PLUM and Public Safety committees this fall. If those hearings go well, the “Ordinance Regulating Party Houses” will be adopted by the full Council, signed by the Mayor, and become law. This is a very positive development for the many Oaks residents who have complained for years about homes in the neighborhood that are rented out frequently as party locations.
Among other provisions, the new ordinance would:
- Define and substantially expand the types of activities that could draw enforcement against a party house.
- Allow for fines or charges of misdemeanors to be brought against party organizers AND the person(s) in charge of the house (owner or leaseholder). Citations will be issued to absentee owners. Criminal prosecution is possible at the discretion of the City Attorney
- Require that any location cited under the ordinance also be tagged with a public notice of the Loud and Unruly Gathering which took place at the site. The notice must remain posted for thirty days or incur further penalties.
We will alert Oaks residents about the times and dates of the two committee hearings on the Ordinance so that those of us who feel strongly about the need for restrictions on party houses can attend and voice support. We applaud Councilman Ryu and City Council for taking steps to rein in a nuisance that has made many residential streets in Los Angeles practically unlivable for longtime residents.
SAVE THE DATE!
OAKS ARCHITECTURAL TOUR & WINE TASTING,
FEB 10TH, 2018
The Oaks Homeowners Association presents
its third architectural home Tour & Wine Tasting
THE OAKS – YESTERDAY & TODAY
ON SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10TH
The 2018 architectural tour will showcase two of the most stunning homes in the Oaks neighborhood. The first is a grand 1920’s Spanish style residence with vaulted ceilings, an interior courtyard, and marvelous original accents. The second, completed in September 2017, is a breathtaking, cutting edge, green technology home with surprises around every corner. Both homes enjoy some of the most beautiful city views to be had in Los Angeles.
Join us Saturday afternoon, February 10th to tour these two spectacular residences. You’ll enjoy an afternoon of wine, cheese, conversation, and beauty. All proceeds go to supporting the work of the Oaks Homeowners Association.
More details to come via e-mail or check back here on our website. Tickets will be available on line in early January or by contacting Sheri Hellard at 323-871-2111. We look forward to seeing you!
JOIN US FOR THE OAKS 2017 HALLOWEEN WALK ON OCTOBER 31st!
Monday, October 31st from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Ghosts, goblins, pirates, princesses and all are invited to begin the Halloween Walk at the intersection of Alto Oak and Hill Oak. A table of holiday treats and beverages marks the meeting spot. Trick or Treating will be better than ever and the walk ends at Spring Oak and Park Oak Drive.
Park Oak Drive will be closed to traffic from the intersection of Spring Oak Drive to the 5 corners from 6pm to 9pm. Should you need to drive in or out of your house during that time, we ask that you please park your car on Canyon Oak or Spring Oak temporarily and enjoy the Halloween festivities. The Homeowners Association apologizes for any inconvenience and sincerely hopes residents agree that this short closure will make the Halloween night safer and more fun for everyone. Thank you!
OAKS FAMILY PICNIC LOTS OF FUN!
Over 100 neighbors gathered on June 24th for the Annual picnic with lots of great food (thanks to our own Chef Joan), games, and fun. The gelato was especially enjoyed by all. Click on the photos below to enlarge them.
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