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Save Griffith Park: Activists Win Key Support for Protections Against Development

It’s hard to believe that the City of Los Angeles has designated 900 places for preservation as cultural-historical monuments and it’s taken this long and this much effort from so many to get the city’s greatest asset, Griffith Park, within reach of that status.

In a hearing room packed with 150 or so griffith park.jpgcommunity activists, the Cultural Heritage Commission voted 4-1 to approve monument status for the park, setting the stage for the City Council to act on their decision.

The key moment came at the outset when Councilman Tom LaBonge, who represents the park area and is it’s No. 1 cheerleader, ended doubts about where he stands with unequivocal support for the commission staff report which found nearly all of the park contributed to its cultural-historical significance.

LaBonge talked about his love affair with the park and his daily hikes, and how Babe Ruth found out he was traded from the Red Sox to Yankees while playing golf at Harding and how his idol Walt Disney dreamed up Disneyland watching kids playing on the park’s merry-go-round.

The crowd loved it and cheered him for his support, and for dispelling the notion that he harbored a dream of creating a different kind of “Disneyland” in the thousands of acres of wilderness in Griffith Park.

In all, 58 community members signed up to speak and they got their chance after representatives of the Autry National Center and the lobbyist firm Latham & Watkins accused them of having “misunderstood” or worse “misstated” the Autry’s position on the park proposal.

They were all for approving monument status for the park as long as it fully excluded the Autry.

The Autry, the zoo, Toyon Landfill were among the parts of the park that city planning staff determined were not elements of the historical nature that justified granting special protections.

The Autry, which pays $1 a year lease for its 12 acres and wants to expand dramatically on the 10 unused acres, is the most contentious issue and its continuing dismissal of community opposition only fans the passions of their opponents.

The sore spot has less to do with Griffith Park but its willingness to commit to maintaining the Southwest Museum in the Mt. Washington/Highland Park area as a living museum of western and Indian culture. Long mismanaged, the Southwest — with a collection of art and artifacts far more valuable than the Autry’s — was taken over several years with a promise it would be restored and maintained.

The Autry, once seen as a savior, now faces intense community opposition and the Cultural Heritage Commission spent a lot of time talking what it’s role could be since it is included in the overall monument area but not a “character defining” element of the history.

The issue of the Autry and similar elements was left vague and the staff was directed to develop a policy that would let the commission intervene if any development might negatively impact the park’s character.

In the end, community activists came away pleased that they had gotten as much as they could have hoped for and started gearing up for the dealing with the City Council.

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10 Responses to Save Griffith Park: Activists Win Key Support for Protections Against Development

  1. Sandy Sand says:

    good luck to them dealing with the city council.
    they better come prepared with lists of council members’ developer doners who have a financial interest in screwing the people, the city and historical monuments.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think that unlike Sandy and her negative take on what happened yesterday re: Grffith Park, we should be expecting a positive response from the City Council for a change.
    After all, they are human and half of them are running for re-election to their third term
    I am so happy to hear so many of us community people were able to get to the meeting and thank you, Ron, for reporting what happened.
    Those of us who were not at the meeting should consider letting their city council member know what they believe should happen next. Like the Council voting “yes” for a change, That would be
    a progressive thing to do and rational as well.
    The public is not going to shut up and put up any longer. Pandora’s Box is wide open. TH

  3. Sandy Sand says:

    TH, I don’t have a negative take on what happened yesterday; I have an negative take on the council members.
    When my own councilman, Dennis Zine, told me he was positively against the Phony Phone tax, and then, after a secret meeting with Villar, changed his mind, I can only think that no matter what the public outcry is, we must be wary that 99 percent of the time council members will do what they want to do, and not what we want.
    How else can one explain all their votes that have gone against us, and all the circuses they put on to make us think they care about what we think?
    I will always be suspicious of everything the current members do or say; we all should be.

  4. Glenn says:

    Excellent Job, as an advocate every little movement in the right direction should be celebrated. Every inch is a major accomplishment.
    Remember what it is we fight, Money, development Money, special interest and paybacks of favors. Most of these plans have been planned, discussed and worked out, sometimes years before we even hear about them. So the fact that “We the People” have any say in our community at all is amazing. Truly Troubling. This SLAP org set’s on a precipice, if worked correctly will have a huge say in local politics for our communities future.
    Again Congratulations one and all.
    Your friend

  5. Anonymous says:

    “This SLAP org set’s on a precipice, if worked correctly will have a huge say in local politics for our communities future.” Right on, Glenn
    Sandy, I am on your side, just being thrilled for small successes which may in time rule the day! BTW I did send my letter to Greig Smith who is my council member. I hope many others have done the same thing. We need Griffith Park as a totally sane place to renew ourselves after being on the streets of LACITY.
    OKAY? th

  6. Petra Fried in the City says:

    Hear that sound? Kind of like “chopping”?
    That’s LaBonge cutting chunks out of the Cultural Heritage Commission’s learned and studied recommendation keeping the park whole. He already held a secret meeting in which he told every City GM that their departments had better oppose this application. A lot of departments ratted him out afterward. The idea of an additional layer of transparency makes him crazy.
    This goes to PLUM next — Huizar, Weiss, Reyes. Huizar has already rolled over on the Autry so you can bet this will be the first cut. Weiss’s constituents tried to recall him for being in the pocket of every developer in town. Reyes is outnumbered, no matter what he wants.
    Unless the public gets after these guys and LaBonge, you can say “bye bye” to Griffith Park remaining whole.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Autry’s lobbyist, Steve Sugerman, recently hosted a political fundraiser for Jack Weiss for City Attorney. I wonder how cheap Weiss can be purchased to vote Autry out of the historical-cultural monument?

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  9. GlenM says:

    First of all thanks a lot for the great and informative entry indeed. I have to admit that I always follow your website which is full of various information about various subjects. Reading this post about the Griffith Park development I have noticed some new facts which I have not known before. Personally I agree with the activist’s opinion against development because I think that it is needed to save the natural surrounding. And I think that it is no needed to destroy the environment. But it is only a my own opinion so thanks a lot for the ability to express the opinion. Keep up publishing those great posts in the future by the way.
    Regards, Glen Matton from custom software development

  10. Vibrator says:

    We should take action when it comes to saving the parks that make a city beautiful and natural! This is a good cause for activists!

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