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Oaks News Archive 2007
December 2007
On December 18, 2007 residents of The Oaks, HollywoodLand, the Eastwood Coalition, Franklin Avenue and the flats of Hollywood attended a community  meeting to see drawings and designs for the proposed new Fire Station 82 at Hollywood and Van Ness and for the renovation of the existing FS 82 on Bronson Avenue.

Rory Fitzpatrick of Council District 4 opened the meeting, introducing Allan Kawaguchi from the Department of Engineering.  Mr. Kawaguchi then moderated the meeting, introducing representatives from the Fire Department, the Planning Department, the Cultural Affairs Department as well as two architects from the firm that has designed the new fire station. ... [continued here]
November 2007
At 7 pm, Sunday, November 25th, at the DWP “Walking Only” Light Festival, the Zoo parking lot was wide open and there was absolutely no traffic delay on the freeway or getting into the parking area. In fact, “oodles and gobs” of parking was available at the Zoo lots at this time. Also, all of the Autry parking lots were empty, although the attendants directed everyone into the Zoo lot. In contrast, folks parking south of the Festival route reported traffic congestion all the way from Los Feliz Blvd, resulting in a time delay of 25 minutes between 6:30 and 7:30. ... [continued here]
October 2007
A survey of Griffith Park’s flora and fauna was well underway prior to the May 8th fire which ignited a good portion of the Park. The Griffith Park Natural History Survey (GPNHS) is a privately funded project whose mission is “To promote knowledge, appreciation and understanding of Griffith Park wildlife and natural resources, and to provide a source of information for informed stewardship of the Park’s ecosystems.” A permanent website is under development and already partially operational as a means of accessing the scientific data collected. The website will become an educational resource for Park users seeking information about the plants and animals they see in the Park, and eventually interactive tools such as a blog and sighting report forms will be incorporated. ...  [continued here]
September 2007
On September 18th, the Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) of the City of Los Angeles considered, among many other items, The Oaks’ Interim Control Ordinance (ICO). At the hearing, planners Blake Kendrick and Kevin Keller of the Community Planning Bureau presented the basis for the ICO (the Oaks neighborhood’s desire to control out-of-scale development) along with their research into the character and size of all the existing homes in The Oaks and the Ordinance they designed to preserve that character. ...  [continued here]
More Power to the Oaks!
Many of you have seen the DWP work crews around the Oaks off and on since early this spring. As announced at our annual meeting in March, the DWP is upgrading the electrical system in the neighborhood in several phases. We asked The DWP’s Transmission & Distribution District Supervisor, Jay Puklavetz, for an update.

The focus right now is on the high-voltage lines that feed the four distribution circuits the homes in the Oaks are connected to. While each of those circuits has its own supply lines, they can also interconnect. This means if there’s a problem with the supply in one circuit it can be fed from another direction. ...  [continued here]
September 2007
It's been nearly a year and a half since Friday, June 23th, 2006, when Oaks residents discovered a tree service crew illegally cutting down protected mature Oak and Walnut trees on four contiguous empty lots on Live Oak East.  More neighbors were summoned, and the police were called.  The tree cutting was stopped but only after a number of trees had been destroyed. The City Attorney is, as of this date, still considering charges against the tree service and against the owner of the lots and their representative for their roles in cutting down protected oak and walnut trees on the lot.  If charges were filed, this would be the first case involving the new Protected Trees Ordinance to go before the courts. ...  [continued here]
August 07
Oaks Interim Control Ordinance - Language and Q&A
You've read about the proposed ICO here, you've read about it in our newsletter, you went to the workshop in April, and you've heard about it from your neighbors. But you have never seen it? No?

Well, that's about to change - if you click here. You'll see a pdf document of the Draft Version of the ICO as it stands now. We have compiled a list of Questions and Answers about the ICO to help clarify its language. The Q&A list is availabe here.

The last hurdle still to be cleared is approval by the City Council which is expected to occur relatively soon. As implied by the word "interim", this ordinance will only be in effect for a short period of time (between 12 and 24 months, to be exact). During that time the Department of City Planning will work on a set of permanent regulations to restrict out-of-scale building - what is commonly known as "mansionization" - in the Oaks. There will be ample opportunity for input from the community and for public comment. 

September 2007
"Out of the Ashes" - Symphony in the Glen
Oaks residents are invited to attend "Out of The Ashes”, a free Symphony In The Glen Community Event. Bring a blanket and picnic to the Old Zoo Picnic Area in Griffith Park to join the free festivities on Sunday, Oct. 14 for “Out of the Ashes”, a special community event in support of Griffith Park Recovery. Pre concert activities, including information on the Recovery Plan, begin at 4:00 PM. At 6:00 PM, Symphony In The Glen will perform Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony as a tribute to those who fought the fire. Parking and admission are free.

Pre-concert VIP Donor Reception to benefit the Griffith Park Recovery Fund Click here for a Pdf version of the “Out of the Ashes” VIP Donor Reception to benefit the Griffith Park Recovery Fund. The reception will be held just before the concert. VIP Donor exclusives include a gourmet wine and cheese tasting, courtesy of “Say Cheese”, and VIP “Front Row” reserved seating for the concert.  

Most of the traditions of the Oaks Summer Picnic continue from year to year, but this year there was a new feature, Dandy Don’s Ice Cream.  Dandy Don’s served ice cream sundaes until Oaks residents actually ran them out of ice cream.  Gene and Kay Bauer had to share the last sundae, in fact!  However, the kids depleted most of it.

The Oaks Homeowners Association would like to thank this year’s Summer Picnic GOLD SPONSORS:  Daniel & Judie Carson, Holly Purcell, John Purcell, TailWaggers, and Bob Young. Also we thank these donors of raffles and food:  Home Restaurant (wraps), Tam O’Shanter, Jonathan Corob – wine, Sunset Nurrsey, Rompage Hardware,, Tailwaggers. ...  [continued here]

July 14, 2007
At its July 12th meeting, the City Planning Commission approved the proposed Interim Control Ordinance for The Oaks. The vote by the Commission members was unanimous and President Jane Usher expressed the Commission's thanks to the city planners who wrote the ICO as well as to The Oaks Homeowners Association members and the staff of Council District 4 for working in concert to craft the much needed measure.

During the hearing on the ICO, ten Oaks residents, including OHA president Gerry Hans and board member Bob Young, as well as architect Wayne Schlock (who helped research and design the measure), voiced their support of the ordinance. Our council member Tom LaBonge was represented by his Chief Planning Deputy, Renee Weitzer, who spoke in strong support of the ordinance, and Assistant Planning Deputy Doug Mensman. The Ordinance now moves to The Planning and Land Use Committee for consideration. Depending upon the results there, it could then be considered by the City Council for implementation. [More on the ICO here]
The Los Angeles Fire Department will conduct a major fire drill on Saturday, July 28th from 9:30 am to noon. The eastern half of the Oaks has been picked as the first neighborhood in the City to test this simulation of an evacuation. Participation is strongly encouraged, but voluntary. An exact map and a list of the streets to be evacuated will be forthcoming. The point of this drill is to find out what works prior to an actual event happening. This is certainly very timely, given that we are currently in the driest fire season known to date. ...  [continued here]
July 07
The Planning Commission of the City of Los Angeles will hold a public hearing on the Interim Control Ordinance for The Oaks on Thursday, July 12th at 8:30 A.M. at City Hall, Room 1010 (200 N. Spring Street, enter on Main Street). The hearing is open to the public and we strongly encourage all Oaks residents who are concerned about the pace and size of development in our neighborhood to attend. ...  [continued here]

On June 20th a new schedule of rates and fees for the Observatory was approved by the Recreation and Parks Commissioners. This schedule includes some things the Oaks had asked for, specifically the limitation of private catered events with alcohol to 26 per year, 3 per month. The events are to stop serving alcohol at 10 pm, and end no later than 10:30 pm. But the General Manager can allow exceptions to these hours. The document is available here.

Somewhat troubling is the fact that under the new rules, donors of $150,000 or more are eligible to have events at the Observatory. Remarkably, the Guidelines do not specify whether these are donors to the Observatory or to some other organization. ...  [continued here]

June 07
The June 2007 of the Griffith Park Advisor is now out. It is published by the Parks, River and Open Space Committee (PROS), a standing committee of the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council. PROS acts as a watchdog for Griffith Park and the Los Angeles River. Anyone who uses the park is considered a stakeholder and is thus welcome to participate in the PROS committee. PROS meetings are attended by representatives from the surrounding Neighborhood Councils (Hollywood United NC, Atwater Village NC), as well as from advocacy groups like the Sierra Club, the Los Feliz Improvement Association , the Franklin Hills Residents’ Association, Preserve Atwater Rancho, and last, but not least, by the Oaks HOA's own Gerry Hans.

"Advocating for the betterment of Griffith Park", as stated on the front page, the Griffith Park Advisor gives a very good overview of a great many important issues around Griffith Park. It is a valuable source of information for anyone who is a novice to all matters Griffith Park, as well as those who have been following those issues already. Click here to view it as a pdf file.

June 07
Parks Commissioners Meeting on Observatory Guidelines June 20th
The next installment of the ongoing saga about alcohol at catered events at the Griffith Observatory looms on the horizon, and is actually approaching fast. You may recall, as laid out on this site in previous stories ("Observatory Liquor License Community Meeting", "Zoning Variance for Alcohol Service at Observatory Requested to be Wide Open?", "Mars or Martinis?"), that Wolfgang Puck Catering has applied for a Zoning Variance so that they can serve alcohol at catered special events at the observatory. The City's Zoning Administrator was assumed to rule on that application on May 30th, but the outcome was not published, and this hearing was to be closed to the public.

Another important part of the equation are the Department of Recreation and Parks' guidelines for such events, because they could impose limits on the number and frequency of such events, as well as the permissible hours for them. The Department has indicated that the issue will go in front of the Board of the Recreation and Parks Commissioners at their June 20th meeting. No definitive consensus about any limitations to be incorporated into the guidelines has been reached between Puck Catering, the Department of Recreation and Parks and the various community groups. This meeting may be the last opportunity for the concerned public to speak up. It is scheduled for Wednesday, June 20 2007 at 10:00 a.m. (There has been a time change from 9:30 a.m.!) and will be he held at the Garland Building Auditorium, 1200 West 7th Street, First Floor, in downtown Los Angeles. We hope that you will be able to attend.
Griffith Park Fire

Fire in Griffith Park on May 8th, 2007, seen from the hills north of Franklin and west of Highland. The Observatory is the bright spot on the ridgeline just to the right of the center of the picture.
Autry Taketh from Mt. Washington?
Many of us remember how quickly the Autry Museum sprang into existence back in the late 80’s.  In a not-so-public process, the City gave the private Autry foundation a long-term lease on ten prime acres in Griffith Park at the rate of $1 per year.  It all happened so fast that many Park users had no knowledge about it until ground was broken.  Now, another fast-track project in Griffith Park is in the making.

In 2003, the City’s oldest museum, the iconic Southwest Museum, merged with the Autry.  The Southwest’s main building had some unfortunate, but fixable, structural problems because of the Northridge earthquake.  Those problems combined with other short-term financial woes led it to the merger table.  Initial promises were made to keep and revitalize the Southwest at its current scenic location on Mt. Washington.  What seemed to be obvious when the merger was struck -- that the two museums would be administered separately at separate locations -- is now severely compromised. ...  [continued here]
On Tuesday night, April 10th, representatives of the City’s Planning Department welcomed Oaks residents to a workshop at Immaculate Heart High School Auditorium to discuss the shape and scope of a proposed Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) aimed at reining in the out-of-scale development that’s compromised both the character of our neighborhood and the quality of residents’ lives over the last several years.

Nearly fifty residents of The Oaks, Los Feliz and Hollywoodland attended the workshop at which City planner Blake Kendrick narrated a power point presentation with assistance from fellow city planner Kevin Keller. ...  [continued here]
In our last update of the Observatory - Wolfgang Puck Catering saga, we said the Recreation & Parks would be hosting a meeting to accommodate input from community representatives and to settle on acceptable guidelines.  Well, that meeting was held on March 29th, and it turned out to be something other than what was advertised.

Vickie Israel, Superintendent of Griffith Section, presided at the meeting, flanked by upper management executives, Kevin Regan and Jon Mukri, as well as Observatory Director Dr. Edwin Krupp.  Council District 4 representatives Rory Fitspatrick and Patty Malone remained mostly uninvolved during the meeting.  The remaining space in the auditorium was filled with public representatives and concerned residents that either wanted to mitigate the service of liquor at the Observatory or were opposed to liquor service entirely....  [continued here]
April 2007

Howard Cremin
1922 - 2007

On Monday, April 3rd, long-time Oaks resident Howard Cremin passed away. Howard was a very well-liked neighbor and known as the foremost expert on the history of the Oaks. In 2004 the Oaks Homeowners Association published his book "Los Feliz Oaks, A Place of Rare and Ineffable Charm", a collection of articles that had previously appeared in our newsletter. A Funeral Mass will be held on Thursday, April 5, 2007 at 10:00 am at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, 6657 W. Sunset Blvd. at Cherokee (2 blocks east of Highland). In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to in Howard's honor to the Church of the Blessed Sacrament at the above address.

The Oaks Annual Meeting was held on Monday, March 12th at the   Immaculate Heart High School Cafeteria.  About fifty Oaks neighbors attended and were greeted by a selection of very tasty food donated by the new Little Dom's restaurant which is set to open soon on 2128 Hillhurst Ave, where La Belle Epoque used to be.

Oaks President Gerry Hans opened the meeting with a brief overview of issues the Oaks Board has worked on during the past year, particularly the Griffith Park Master Plan, the liquor license application for the Griffith Observatory, and the proposal to make the Annual Festival of Lights in Griffith Park a pedestrian-friendly event. The Board of Directors of the Oaks Homeowners Association was introduced and then re-confirmed for the upcoming year.

Neighbor and friend of the Oaks, Wayne Schlock next gave background on the proposed Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) that could limit new out-of-scale construction in the Oaks. The ICO is a temporary measure (in effect for only one year with the possibility of a second year extension), designed to slow down large-scale development while the City's Planning Department works on permanent regulations. The ICO would deal with size of home relative to lot size, and would not in any way govern architectural styles or other aesthetic matters. ...  [continued here]

Wolfgang Puck Update – March 13th Hearing for Observatory Liquor License

A dreadfully long hearing on Tuesday, March 13th produced results that give hope that the Observatory’s concessionaire, Wolfgang Puck Catering, will need to submit to more limited “conditional uses” than what they are currently advocating. (see previous story here) The meeting began with presentations by Puck Catering’s attorney and Executive Director.  The attorney asked the zoning administrator to focus only on whether liquor could be served, and not make any issue of limitations.  He cited the Zoo and the Autry as precedents for such consideration.

When it became clear to the Zoning Administrator that only minor “volunteered conditions” existed in the application, whereas Recreation and Parks (RAP) was actually the agency that would impose the real limitations, the Administrator was anxious to see RAP’s criteria and policy for deciding on special events liquor permits.  Of course, RAP hadn’t yet written them!!  The exact words from the Administrator to describe this were, “putting the cart before the horse.” ...  [continued here]

Fire Season in March?

Fire in Griffith Park on March 12, 2007

The newly opened Observatory in Griffith Park is one of the true gems that adorn Los Angeles. It makes perfect sense that there is a café for Observatory visitors who would like to enjoy food, refreshments and the magnificent views overlooking the city. The Observatory's mission is public education, and this mission is intended to take priority over any other use of the facility. The café helps accomplish that mission, so long as it is used by regular visitors to the Observatory.

During the Observatory’s renovation, plans surfaced to establish a 'Destination Restaurant' on the site. The community was concerned about negative impacts on the surrounding areas, such as late night traffic, intoxicated driving down dark and windy roads and noise. The park gates would be open late and thus drug trade and prostitution might be attracted. This plan was opposed by a group of neighborhood organizations that included the Oaks, and it was eventually withdrawn. Instead, the relatively small café has been established and the city has contracted with Wolfgang Puck's Catering and Events Company to run it. ...  [continued here]

For several years, residents of The Oaks and members of the Oaks Homeowners Association (OHA) Board have been concerned with out-of-scale development in our neighborhood – new houses that are much larger than the existing homes around them.   We presented the issue to our membership at the OHA’s Annual Meeting a year ago.  After discussions with City Council District 4 and the Planning Department, we soon found out that there are no existing city regulations to protect our neighborhood from these out-of-scale developments.

Since that time your Board has taken a more active role in understanding and coping with the massive new development taking place all over our neighborhood.  In the spring of 2006, we embarked on a detailed survey of the existing conditions in the neighborhood: the sizes of homes, the sizes of lots and so forth – in order to document what gives The Oaks its character as a neighborhood.  Using data from the city’s own records we compiled data that showed the average home size and the average floor-to-area ratio (the ratio of a home’s size in square feet to its lot size in square feet or FAR) of all the homes in The Oaks. ...  [continued here]
Workshop Planned for Interim Control Ordinance
The Los Angeles Planning Department and Council District 4 have scheduled a workshop for residents of The Oaks to hear about the proposal for an Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) on Tuesday, April 10th at 6:00 P.M. at the Immaculate Heart High School Auditorium. Parking will be available in the school's parking lot on Western Ave. See the invitation mailer here.

The proposed ICO would restrict over-scale development in The Oaks for a period of one year while the City developes more long-range regulations. Residents are invited to attend the workshop, which will be led by representatives of the Planning Department, to hear how the ICO might be devised and how it might function, and to express their opinions.

The Oaks Homeowners Association first proposed the idea of an interim ordinance to the Planning Department a year ago as a means to preserve the character of The Oaks neighborhood in the face of out-of-scale development. Since then, our Councilman Tom LaBonge and the Planning Department have both been very helpful in moving the process forward.

See our previous story "Oaks Residents, Board, and the City Struggle With Out-of-Scale Development" here.
The Oaks board supports the conversion of the Annual Lights Festival in Griffith Park to a pedestrian event. President Gerry Hans sent the following letter to the the LA DWP:

Dear Mr. Nahai,

The Oaks Homeowners Association joins with much of the community in support of a pedestrian DWP Light Festival event for year 2007.  As a participant at the recent meeting held on February 7th, we must report disappointment in the reception that we received, the lack of progress made to this date, and the lack of understanding of the issues demonstrated at the meeting. ... [continued here]

For many years, neighbors on Wild Oak Drive have been concerned about the sad condition of the one-story home at 2500 Wild Oak.  The house has not been lived in and the walls have continued during that time to decay, reaching a point where the house had become an eyesore to the neighborhood and a fire danger due to exposed beams and an exposed “live” electrical box.  In addition, lack of attention to landscaping resulted in severe erosion of the hillside; absence of any inhabitants left the house open to vagrants and trespassers who loitered there in the evenings consuming alcohol; and, during windy days, dislodged pieces of the deteriorated roof actually blew into the street below nearly hitting cars and pedestrians. ... [continued here]

In the fall of 2006, Castle Asset Management, developers of a proposed 3600 square foot, multi-story home at 5898 Lorae Place, submitted a request to the City’s Office of Zoning Administration for three variances to the City’s building codes for the purpose of (a) erecting five retaining walls with a total height in excess of what the City allows, (b) reducing the requirement for four off-street parking spaces to only two, and (c) extending the height of the house above the permitted 45 feet to a height of 46.5 feet.  The proposed house would be located at the end of a cul-de-sac and on an extremely steep hillside. There are houses directly above the site on Hollyridge Drive -- all of which would be affected by any alteration in the stability of the hillside.  In addition, the lot is bisected by a ravine where water runs down from the hillside above.  And at 3600 square feet, the proposed home would be larger than almost all the other houses in the immediate neighborhood. ... [continued here]

The song’s lyrics were talking about the Oaks, maybe?  Recently on almost every other street there’s been a GREEN LEAF Tree Service sign posted --  old dirty, gritty, recycled signs that Green Leaf seems to move around our neighborhood and other neighborhoods when their business is slow, and they need to drum up more.
No wonder their business is slow!  They aren’t exactly the kind of company with whom Oaks folks might want to do business.  Even if you forgive them for their poor marketing approach, how could any Oaks resident ever forget the native trees they cut down on Live Oak East, including large Coastal Live Oak and California Walnut trees?... [continued here]
by Mary Button, a Runner in the Oaks

The Los Angeles Marathon on March 4th will feature yet another new course.   The course will begin at Universal Studios and finish 26.2 miles later downtown.  This new course is reminiscent of the original course which I first ran in 1989, traveling through Hollywood. For quite a few years, Hollywood was included in the marathon course, and it was especially fun since it covered streets close to home.

It would be interesting to know how many residents of The Oaks will be participating in the L.A. Marathon.   Often I see runners training in our neighborhood, especially on the flatter more “runner friendly” Canyon Drive.  Gerry Hans, current Oaks President, has run the Los Angeles Marathon a few times.  Former Oaks President, Peter Ellis, and former board member James Rubin have participated in the Bike Tour in the past.  If you are planning on participating in this year’s event, please send us an e-mail to let us know, and we’ll list you as an Oaks FINISHER when it’s over! Mail us at ... [continued here]

As the new year begins, the Oaks Homeowners Association has taken inventory of the most important issues facing our neighborhood. With Griffith Park at our boundaries, what happens in the Park over the next 25 years is of great importance to us, as well as all residents throughout our City that come here to enjoy its natural beauty.

The Oaks Homeowners Association renews its voice of discontent with the Master Plan draft ("Melendrez Draft") which was commissioned by the City of Los Angeles and released to the public in March 2005. It is available for download here. This draft, written by the planning firm Melendrez, combined with the failed attempt by the City to place a “Landmark Destination” restaurant near the Observatory in 2004, served to put citizens on high alert regarding unwanted activities coming into the Griffith Park. The volunteer community-based Master Plan Working Group convened in July 2005 to re-write the Master Plan. ... [continued here]

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