2018 News

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.

—Huntly 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.

Yours truly,

John Saurenman
Board President, Oaks Homeowners Association


Anne Collins Howard and Mike Howard gave a presentation and signed books at a recent Book Soup event in West Hollywood.

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!

For a signed copy of the book, visit HoneyTrek.com/UJFT. Read more about Mike & Anne on HoneyTrek.com


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 info@oakshome.org.


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.


You can tour this grand 1920’s Spanish in the Oaks.

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!

This modern, cutting edge home will also be on the tour.

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