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Oaks News Archive 2008
November 2008
Faced with dwindling available water supplies on one hand and ever-growing demand on the other, the City Council of Los Angeles this past summer passed an ordinance that introduces new water use restrictions that you should be aware of. The first stage, in effect now and indefinitely, comprises a list of new regulations.  [... Continued here]
On Thursday morning, October 30th, the Cultural Heritage Commission voted 3 to 1 in favor of recommending to the City Council that the entirety of Griffith Park be designated a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument.  Commissioner Glen Dake, a local landscape architect voted against the designation saying that many operational issues, including pending permits for work in the park, were not yet resolved.  The other Commissioners and the Office of Historic Resources staff opined that a Commission action is required more on principle, and that further understandings with respective City Departments could be accomplished prior to the measure going to Council.

A large hearing room at City Hall was filled with supporters, including representatives from the Oaks Homeowners Association and other civic-minded Oaks residents.  Fifty eight attendees filled out speaker cards for speaking in favor.  Among them, Oaks President Bob Young expressed the Association’s position that the designation would give Colonel Griffith’s covenants further protection and assure the Park’s invaluable mix of natural, historic and cultural resources be preserved for future generations of Angelinos.  Gerry Hans, past Oaks President, suggested most of the  prior arguments  against the designation had been addressed  in the new staff report, and together with an acceptable Master Plan for the Park, operational issues  would be clear.  [... Continued here]

(Fall 08) Tell City Hall that you support the Griffith Family's Application to have all of Griffith Park designated a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. Alarmed by proposals over the last few years to commercialize Griffith Park by building hotels, restaurants, tramways and numerous parking structures, Col. Griffith J. Griffith's heirs submitted a 300+ page Application which just passed its first vote for continued review at a recent meeting of the Cultural Heritage Commission. Approval of the Application by the Commission and then by the City Council would bring Griffith Park the same status and protections now enjoyed by many other parks and treasured L.A. sites. [... Continued here]

The process for Historic Cultural Monument designation for Griffith Park squeaked through the second step at City Hall on August 21st.  The Historic Resources Commission, which assembled with only 3 of 5 Commissioners present, made it necessary that all three vote in favor in order to pass the next step of “considering” the nomination application.  One Commissioner, Glen Dake, stubbornly argued that it was too complicated to even consider Griffith Park as a monument.  Fortunately, after 45 minutes of counter-arguments, he conceded to Richard Barron, the Commission president.  [... Continued here]
On May 9th the family of Colonel Griffith J. Griffith filed an application with the City requesting that Griffith Park be designated in its entirety as a City of Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument (HCM), thus receiving the special status and protections that accompany this designation.  The consulting firm Jones and Stokes, hired by the Griffith Family at considerable expense, presented the formal application to Ken Bernstein, manager for the city's Office of Historic Resources.  The application includes a comprehensive study of the park by Jones and Stokes' architectural historians that describes the many elements of the Park that justify the designation. [... Continued here]

Oaks neighbors gathered at Bronson Park in near record-setting heat to welcome the advent of summer and celebrate the 100th birthday of our good friend, Milan Herzog. Milan and his wife, Shanta, were joined at the picnic by their grandsons, Ryne and Torrey, and Torrey's wife, Claire. A big, three-piece “1-0-0” birthday cake (baked by Joan Young) was hauled in, along with a hundred balloons and sixty Oaks folks sang Happy Birthday to Milan. [ ... Continued here, including many pictures]
City Announces Major Overhaul of Aged Sewer Pipes in the Oaks
Spring 2008

According to a flyer distributed in the neighborhood, the City of Los Arrgeles Department of Public Works will rehabilitate and replace certain old, damaged and substandard sewer pipes around the Oaks over the next 12 months. These sewer pipes are small - less than 16 inches in diameter - but are important because they connect to homes' and businesses' private sewers.  They convey flows to larger pipes that carry wastewater to the Hyperion Treatment Plant in Playa del Rey where it is treated to a high quality before being released into the Santa Monica Bay. Rehabilitation of the faulty sewer pipes will improve sewer flows, reduce maintenance and potential sewer spills, and help minimize sewer odors in the community. The entire flyer is here, more information on the project is here.
Spring 2008
Mother Nature is always good for a surprise.  Just when you think you have her figured out, she throws you a new curve.  Such is the case with wildflowers.  What makes one year a better bloom year than others? Winter rainfall, no doubt, is a big part of the story, but it also depends upon what months the rain comes down and whether it saturated the ground deeply over a sustained period of time.  On the flip-side, some plants bloom more with below-average rainfall.

The May 2007 Griffith Park Fire may have been a factor in this year’s spectacular bloom of some the species in Griffith Park.  The smoke was everywhere, both in the burn area and outside the burn area.  The smoke was sustained and significant.  It’s well documented that smoke stimulates shoots and runners in some plants which can result in blooms that may not happen otherwise.  It seems as though native lilies species may have had especially favorable stimulation to bloom this spring, maybe because of last year’s fire!  It is also well-documented that some species are capable of producing a second, alternative type of seed which only germinates when stimulated by heat.  Biologically speaking, it’s called “dimorphism”.  Pretty neat trick, Mother Nature!

Please read Gerry Hans' photo-journal of his favorite five flowers of this spring in Griffith Park here.
April 2008
Oaks ICO Passes Council Real Fast
In the twinkling of an eye, the long-labored-over Interim Control Ordinance for The Oaks passed in City Council today, Wednesday April 9th.  The vote happened so quickly that Blake Kendrick of the Planning Department missed it.  Blake, who with Kevin Keller, wrote the Ordinance, stepped outside Council Chambers to take a quick phone call and when she got back, it was all over.  Wayne Schlock, Oaks resident and our zoning advisor, who helped put together the survey of existing homes in our neighborhood and design the Ordinance, arrived at Council five minutes late and also missed the vote.  But Gerry Hans, Rainer Standke and Bob Young, of your Oaks Association Board, were in their seats in the Council Chambers in City Hall, poised to speak on behalf of the Ordinance, Item 13 on the day’s agenda.  Suddenly it came up for a vote, lumped together with several other items, there were ten “Yes” votes, no “No” votes and it was over.  Not quite the big splash we had anticipated but a Yes vote is a Yes vote.  The measure now goes to the Mayor’s office for his signature and then, after a waiting period of a couple of weeks, it’s an official Ordinance.

After the vote, Gerry, Rainer, Bob and Wayne went up to the fourth floor office of Councilman Tom LaBonge to find Renee Weitzer, the Councilman’s Chief of Staff and thank her for her effective support of the Oaks ICO for the past three years.   Renee was very pleased to hear the news – she had the Council hearing on her office TV set but had missed it, too.

It was a brief, but an important moment for The Oaks as all of us seek a way to preserve the character of our neighborhood.  But the ICO is only a temporary measure and now that it has been passed by Council, the Planning Department must start the work of developing permanent regulations on development for The Oaks.   That work will certainly occupy them for quite some time.  Stay tuned to this website for updates on the process.
Oaks residents are urged to attend the L.A. Board of Public Works' hearing on Friday March 21 at City Hall, Room 350, at which the Board will consider penalties for the owner of the lots on Live Oak East where illegal tree cutting occurred in June 2006.  The exact time of the hearing hasn't been set yet, but the agenda will be available on Wednesday, two days before the hearing at:

As reported before here at, the owners' representative plead guilty in connection with the illegal clear-cutting of the Oak and Walnut trees on the property, and was sentenced in December of last year to a month of highway trash pick up and payment of a substantial fine (see the City Attorney's press release).  As a penalty for the owners of the property in connection with the illegal clear cutting, the Urban Forestry Division recommended that its overseeing board (the Board of Public Works) ask that the Department of Building and Safety withhold building permits for the two lots (of the original four) still owned by the owners for a period of ten years. This penalty will be in effect even if the owners sell the two lots.   [... Continued here]

March 2008
Revised Interim Control Ordinance Once Again Clears PLUM Committee - Next stop: City Council
On March 25th the Oaks Interim Control Ordinance moved ahead one more step. The City Council's Planning and Land Use Management subcomittee had previously approved of the proposed ordinance and referred it to the City Attorney's office for legal vetting. The result was a relatively minor change in the wording, mainly concerning the effective date of the ordinance. To read the full text of the revised ordinance please click here. The next and final hurdle the ordinance has to clear is approval by the City Council. It should be on the Council agenda some time in the near future.
March 2008
Ten Year Building Moratorium Recommended by Board of Public Works After Illegal Tree-Cutting
Today, on March 21, 2008, the City of Los Angeles’ Board pf Public Works recommended that the City’s Department of Building and Safety suspend the issuance of all building permits for two of the four lots on Live Oaks East where clear-cutting of trees protected by the city’s Native Tree Ordinance occurred in June of 2006 (the two other lots had been purchased by neighbors and will not be developed). While the Native Tree Ordinance allows as penalty for violation a maximum building moratorium of ten years, the staff recommendation was for only five years, beginning in June of 2006. This recommendation was based on the opinion that the property owner had not necessarily had any intent to break the law, a contention supported by the owner and her attorney at the hearing today. Councilman Tom LaBonge, appearing at the hearing, asked the commissioners to suspend any permits for the full ten years to set the right precedent, since this case is the first one to be brought before the Board under the Native Tree Ordinance. His request was echoed by a long string of speakers, with current and past Oaks HOA presidents, neighbors and an emissary from the Los Feliz Improvement Association among them. The Commission’s deliberations then yielded unambiguous support for a ten year moratorium in its recommendation to Building and Safety which will now take up the matter in a hearing of its own.
March 2008
As they have done every year for the last half decade, seven intrepid members of the Oaks Homeowners Association Board put on smart black aprons and became waiters-for-a-night at Vermont Restaurant. It was Tuesday night, March 18th -- Oaks Night at Vermont with a special three-course menu of beautifully prepared sea bass or barbequed ribs or mushroom ravioli or braised oxtails or... oh my gosh, what were the other two? There were six entrees, but it so hard to remember them all, especially when you were a novice waiter with five tables of hungry Oaks neighbors waiting for the next course. ... [continued here]
March 2008
As they do every March, Oaks residents met in the upper cafeteria of Immaculate Heart High School to review the news and events of the past year in the Oaks.  Here are a few highlights of the meeting.

Beginning with the most important stuff first… Little Dom’s (newly opened on Hillhurst) provided a light dinner of fried rice balls (with a heart of creamy burrata cheese) and grilled artichokes.  Yum.

After folks had some food to stoke their furnaces, our new President, Bob Young, opened the meeting with words of thanks to immediate past president Gerry Hans for three years of extraordinary dedication to The Oaks and great results in both in advocating for our neighborhood with the City and in preserving the character of The Oaks for the future.  Then Bob gave a brief report on the association’s activities in 2007, which included working for the enactment of the Interim Control Ordinance that will stop “mansionization.”  Bob was able to report that the City Attorney’s Office had finally signed off on the ordinance and that he is hopeful it will go to the city council soon. ... [continued here]

January 2008
Oaks board members Gerry Hans and Bob Young attended the Board of Public Works’ hearing on Friday, January 4th at City Hall at which the Board considered the application for removal of four protected oak trees at 5898 Lorae Place by the builder of the new house currently under construction there, Castle Management.   Gerry and Bob were joined by Doug Mensman and Jullian Harris-Calvin of Council District 4.

First the background:  The Native Tree Ordinance, adopted by the City to protect oak and walnut trees such as the ones in the Lorae Place application, was passed April 6th of 2006.  Castle Management’s building permits and documents for 5898 Lorae Place are dated April 23, 2006 or later.  In August of 2007, during the construction process, Castle cut down two of the four large native oak trees on the property – without having applied for a permit to do so, as is required by the Ordinance.  At that time, The Oaks Homeowners Association was told that the two remaining oak trees were to remain, and in fact Castle was asked by the City to place protective fencing around them.  ... [continued here]
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