2014 News


Hundreds of ghouls and goblins solicited treats from homes along Park Oak and Spreading Oak Drive during the annual Oaks Halloween Walk. Many parents dressed up as well, and the creativity was amazing. Thanks to all who helped with the organization of the evening and to neighbors who graciously allow us to close down Park Oak for the walk each year as a safety measure.


By Linda Othenin-Girard

droughtEvery day I drive from my home down the winding streets of the Oaks and almost invariably see water filling the gutters or sometimes gushing down the road and I ask myself, “Aren’t we in a drought? Where is all this water coming from?”

Even though there has been much media coverage of our statewide water shortage, it looks like some Oaks residents are not aware of the water restrictions issued by the City of LA. The city and the DWP are relying on residents to become familiar with these regulations and to cut back on water usage voluntarily. Many Californians are doing just that, according to a recent article in the LA Times, with an 11.5% reduction in water production this past August compared to the same month the year before and Southern California cut back an encouraging 7.8%. But, we need to do more. Okay, we’re supposed to cut back… but how?

In a recent interview on KPCC radio, Lester Snow of the California Water Foundation explained that homeowners can make the most significant reduction in water consumption by restricting landscape watering. Sure, you can take shorter showers, wash your car less often, shut off outdoor fountains (like the Getty Villa and other museums have done), even flush less often — but the real savings will come from reducing water flow to lawns and plants. I know it’s heartbreaking to see your lawn turn brown or witness the wilting of flowers in a well-tended bed, but we live in a desert and the drought may persist for years to come. We must adapt.

The best place to find information about how and when to water your yard is on the DWP website at www.ladwp.com. Basically the rules are as follows (based on the last number of your street address): if your street number ends in an odd number, your watering days are Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; if it ends in an even number, your days are Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. LADWP recommends that you run sprinklers eight minutes maximum per station and do it before 9:00 a.m. or after 4:00 p.m. only.

But besides listing watering days and durations there is also this: Section 121.08 – A/9 of the City of Los Angeles Emergency Water Conservation Plan effective 8-10-2010 (not new) states, “No Customer of the Department (the DWP) shall water or irrigate any lawn, landscape, or other vegetated area in a manner that causes or allows excess or continuous water flow or runoff onto an adjoining sidewalk, driveway, street, gutter or ditch.”

There is little, if any enforcement of these restrictions, though technically one can be fined for ignoring the regulations. A feature on the DWP website allows people to “Report Water Wasters.” When you click on the link, you get the following message: “Some Angelenos may not yet know. Our Water Conservation Response Unit can tell them all about the drought. Send us an email to waterwaste@ladwp.com.” Pretty gentle.

I won’t be tattling on my neighbors any time soon but I do get a bit exasperated when I see all that water needlessly flowing onto the street. Come on Oaks residents. We can do better.

Learning to Love and Respect Our Native Snakes

By Gerry Hans

Southern Pacific Rattlesnake - Poisonous

Southern Pacific Rattlesnake – Poisonous

Snakes aren’t a favorite subject for many folks. However, the more we know about these important reptiles, the more we can appreciate the role they serve in nature and the better we can live in harmony with them. Since The Oaks is surrounded by healthy Mediterranean habitat, we get visits from these critters quite often. Like coyotes, they are drawn to water and food sources, particularly rodents.

Gopher Snake - Non-poisonous

Gopher Snake – Non-poisonous

Our only poisonous native snake is the Southern Pacific Rattlesnake. My experience is that they will only give you a warning if they are clearly threatened, so don’t count on a far-away warning via their rattles. They are often well camouflaged and usually remain motionless as a defense adaptation so they can remain undetected. They are hard to see, especially if you have the kind of drought-tolerant vegetation that is being encouraged, versus the green lawns we once had.

Small Ringneck Snake - Non-poisonous

Small Ringneck Snake – Non-poisonous

Tiny young rattlesnakes are as much a concern as intimidating-looking large ones for a couple of reasons. First, they are harder to see, and second, they have less control over venom release. Often they are in a tightly-wound coil and appear innocuous.

Tips at home:
Check your yard before allowing children or pets to play.
Poke bushes and plants with a long stick before you pull weeds.
Call the Park Rangers (323) 644-6661, if you would like a rattlesnake moved from your property to a remote location in the park.
Send your dog to rattlesnake-avoidance class, but this is not a fool-proof solution.
Pay attention when hiking. Don’t wear headsets.
Wear boots and long pants. Stay on main trails.

Common King Snake - Non-poisonous

Common King Snake – Non-poisonous

Most snakebites occur when people handle rattlesnakes or step on one. If you’re bitten, call 911 immediately. Transportation to a hospital with antivenin on-hand should be the priority. For pets, a rattlesnake bite is often fatal. Some vet hospitals may have antivenin on the shelf.

Striped Racer Snake catching alligator lizard - Non-poisonous

Striped Racer Snake catching alligator lizard – Non-poisonous

Fortunately, we’re visited more by non-venomous snakes than rattlers. Gopher snakes and striped racers (aka, whipsnakes) are very common. Gopher snakes do a great service eliminating rodents from hillsides, just as rattlesnakes do. But the gopher snakes are usually docile, even when handled. They have similar coloration as rattlers, but do not have the distinctive triangular-shaped head that rattlesnakes are known for. They are proportionally longer with a gradually tapering tail and no rattle. The striped racer will be gone in a flash once it detects your presence. They have two obvious yellow stripes along the length of their body.

Two other native species, the common king snake and the ring-necked snake are much less common. In fact, consider it a real privilege if you see them anywhere in the park. The common kingsnake has rattlesnakes on its dietary menu, by the way. See all five species of Griffith Park snakes here.

Mindful of Pets


Be mindful of your pets:
Coyotes on the increase!

There has been an increase in coyote presence in the Oaks and throughout Los Angeles. This may be due to lack of water and the coyotes are coming into urban areas seeking food and water. Many coyote problems are caused by people feeding the coyotes, either intentionally or unintentionally so let’s take a few simple measures to help protect our pets and children:

  • Don’t Feed The Coyotes! Ever.
  • Make Sure Garbage Bins Are Fully Closed
  • Don’t Leave Food Outside
  • Clear Away Fruit That Has Fallen To The Ground From Trees
  • Don’t Leave Your Pets Outside Unattended

For more information on how to techniques to resolve coyote conflict,
please visit: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/coyotes/tips/techniques_to_resolve_coyote_conflicts.html

P-22 Update – Our mountain lion, after more than two years in Griffith Park

By Gerry Hans

P-22 Update2Concerns about Griffith Park’s mountain lion (named P-22 by the National Park Service), were addressed at the recent Oaks Homeowners Annual Meeting in March. As many now know, P-22 has recently been sighted walking on residential streets including Hollyridge Drive and Hill Oak Drive without incident. P-22 has also crossed Barham and then returned back to the Park.

Fortunately, the National Park Service (NPS) has been studying the mountain lions of the Santa Monica Mountain Range for twelve years and monitoring P-22 closely since he came to Griffith Park. He sports a collar which transmits GPS information six to eight times per day, mostly during the night when he is most active. During daylight hours P-22 mostly uses dense park habitat to rest.

NPS reports, “P-22 is by far the most urban mountain lion ever studied in and around the Santa Monica Mountains.” Scientists speculate that P-22, a five to six year-old male, is feeling the urge to find a mate and perhaps to find a larger territory to call home. Whereas Griffith Park is approximately eight square miles, male mountain lion territories typically are as large as two hundred square miles.

According to NPS, P-22 continues to spend a great deal of time in the most undisturbed and remote areas of the park and consumes his natural prey, mule deer. P-22’s behavior fits the pattern of other mountain lions studied: testing boundaries in urban areas and then returning to more natural habitat. These lions are shy and elusive animals.

At the Annual Meeting, Park Ranger Adam Dedeaux told us that a remote park video camera recently recorded a lone park hiker and then, twenty-nine seconds later, P-22. This illustrates that our mountain lion has had every opportunity to attack people and has chosen not to do so. P-22 is focused on deer for his meals. Adult mountain lions typically consume one per week, burying the kill and coming back to eat daily.

Various scientific surveys began in Griffith Park in early 2007 and the Oaks Homeowners Association has supported these efforts along with quite a few other organizations and individuals. In recent years, much of the funding for such surveys comes through Friends of Griffith Park. Because of the “Wildlife Connectivity Study,” P-22 was likely discovered (February 2012) soon after he entered the Griffith Park area. Partners in the second year of this work include NPS and United States Geological Survey (USGS). Currently there are about 30 cameras in Griffith Park.

Residents and park users are urged to exercise extra caution at dawn, dusk and evening. An excellent resource is California Department of Fish and Wildilfe’s “Living in mountain lion country” website dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/lion.html.

In an emergency, call 911. If you see P-22, call the Park Rangers at (323) 644-6661.

For further information contact Kate Kuykendall, Public Affairs Officer, National Park Service at 805-370-2343.

Basic tips include:

  • Do not hike, bike, or jog alone.
  • Avoid hiking or jogging when mountain lions are 
  • most active—dawn, dusk, and at night.
  • Keep a close watch on small children.
  • Protect your pets at night
  • If you encounter a mountain lion, do not run; instead, face the animal,
    make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms;
    throw rocks or other objects. Pick up small children.

© Copyright 2014 - The Oaks Homeowners Association