view from the river

mallardstrollerIn a few short weeks FOLAR (Friends of Los Angeles River) will be conducting their annual LA River cleanup… this being the 25th year since the inception of these cleanups.

People from across the city come down to the river one day out of the year to insure that water fowl and other wildlife will once again have a clean environment…

The efforts of city dwellers flocking to the river in droves to strip trees of plastic bags, islands of debris, and the river bottom of shopping carts and hub caps are greatly appreciated by FOLAR and those who walk, bike or even canoe along the river.

(Also, the wildlife seems appreciative…)

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the beauty within…

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Cactus blooming on the western edge of Griffith Park…

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appropriateness of the haunted hayride in griffith park

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Yep, folks…

The Old Zoo is taken over once a year around Halloween for about a month and this is what hikers are subjected to (or anyone else who traverses this area… like parents with their kids out for a stroll or a picnic in the park…)

But I’m curious… why is a display of women chopped up with their guts pouring out and fake blood everywhere (and a guy or two tossed in for good measure) appropriate for a city park? I really would be curious to know given the increasing number of attacks on women in our society.

Perhaps, someone down at City Hall will be able to provide an answer…

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the theft of parkland continues… unabated…

heritagesycamore

Griffith Park… like every park in Los Angeles, remains subject to the whims of city hall.

This has been the case from the very beginning… and unfortunately city hall’s laissez-faire attitude serves neither the public, nor its parks well…

As cities grow, so should city parks, for it is these “green” spaces which allow people to escape from the stresses associated with city living. Go to any parkland, or seashore on a beautiful day, and you’ll discover hundreds if not thousands of like-minded folks soaking up sunshine in an effort to regain some equilibrium in their lives.

These folks are willing to dodge traffic-clogged freeways because there are insufficient parklands in their communities… and they realize that city parks offer something sorely lacking in their ‘hood(s)… trees and grass, and an area to lay down a blanket and enjoy a picnic with the family…

PROP K Funds and City Parks

In the early 2000s, Los Angeles came up with a solution to address the deficit of parkland and recreational activities for kids… Prop K. According to the Bureau of Engineering websiteThe intent (of Prop K) would “generate twenty-five million dollars each year in funds for the acquisition, improvement, construction, and maintenance of City parks, recreation facilities, and other projects through an annual real property tax assessment on City residents over a 30-year period. Funding is for capitol improvements and maintenance. The primary purpose of Prop K is to combat the inadequacies and decay of the City’s youth infrastructure, which has resulted in serious unmet needs for park, recreation, childcare and community facilities.”

The reality unfortunately, is quite different.

Rather than acquire new parklands closer to park-poor neighborhoods, the city has chosen to take the easy way by eliminating existing parkland from current user groups and transfer these areas to private entities… all under the guise of providing “sports facilities“ to “underserved, at-risk“ youth

This concept will serve neither the public, nor will it really address the primary goal of providing recreational activities for kids… and the city knows this to be true.

Griffith Park up for Grabs…

In the 1996 introduction to “Griffith Park: A Centennial History,” then mayor Richard Riordan commented “Each year more than twelve million people visit the park. It is home to countless hiking trails, grassy fields and other spots for recreation and relaxation. Young people and the young at heart can spend countless hours exploring their favorite sites…”

Just think about it… 12 million visitors to Griffith Park in the mid ’90s…

That sentiment is more relevant today than when the book was written, because as the economic downturn has continued to envelope this city, more and more turn to areas like Griffith Park for their recreational resources… But as with other city parks, Griffith Park is squeezed more and more by those numbers of recreationists.

And at the same time we’re seeing this valuable parkland given away… for practically next to nothing.

The Autry Museum is a great example of the great park give-away… as the Autry inhabits a twelve acre parcel, paying LA City the outrageous amount of $1 per year for the privilege of occupying this space.

Outrageous… yes… and as the trend continues, hopefully more and more people will become outraged by this kind of freeloading at the expense of the rest of us…

As they say in the movies… “Stay tuned!”

 

Image: Heritage Sycamore in Crystal Springs Picnic Area would become a victim of the freshly-approved youth ballfields in GP.

 

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paving paradise…

dodger

LA Parks Commission Caves…
14-061 and 14-062 projects in Griffith Park 

On the Griffith Park Wayist blogsite it was noted that during the hearing… commissioners’ comments/questions were not very legally, morally, or politically sophisticated, which is extremely disappointing.”

Having been in the audience, I will attest to that sentiment. From where I was seated, it seemed a done deal from the outset… rubber stamp these two projects… and move on…

Frankly, I expected nothing less. The bully pulpit has been used very effectively to garner the necessary outcome by the current councilmember at CD4.

Unfortunately, it is the Park, and the families who come weekly to utilize the Crystal Springs and Old Zoo Picnic areas who will be wronged by this charade…

Interestingly, the two projects were reversed during the hearing… with the Performing Arts Center permanent stage hearing taking place first.

14-062 Griffith Park – Performing Arts Center (W.O. #E170202A) Project – Adoption of the Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration and Conceptual Approval (Original Date – 3/5/14)

The majority of the public who spoke on this project were those with a “vested interest”… from Symphony in the Glen, and Shakespeare in the Park (actors, owners, managers) who weighed into the discussion— naturally favoring building a permanent stage.

The majority of speakers who opposed these two projects (and the general public… i.e. those who work for a living) were generally ignored in the process. Details of this plan were (and I’m being polite with this…) sketchy at best. At worst, this area which SHOULD be protected under the Historic/Cultural Landmark Status (942) will be completely overbuilt. It’s not just the oversize stage going in, but also the enormous ADA-enhanced “bridge” that wasn’t included in “props” which had been provided by the councilmember’s staff. And, even though it wasn’t  discussed, there will be massive changes to parking lots as many spaces will be “restricted for handicapped.”

Next on the agenda…

14-061 Griffith Park Crystal Springs – New Baseball Fields (W.O. #E170110B) Project – Certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report and Approval of the Project (Original Date – 3/5/14)

The councilman from CD4 stepped up to the mike to wax nostalgic about the ballfields which had been removed from the Crystal Springs Picnic area when the I-5 Freeway plowed through Griffith Park.

Ironically, there is NO documentation to support this statement, so it’s been allowed to permeate public discourse surrounding this project. This is not to suggest there have never been ball fields in Griffith Park… they’ve just not been in this immediate area.

But that’s neither here, nor there… right?

So, once the councilman made his long, drawn-out pitch, he brought to the mike a former Dodger player to plead the case for ballfields for “at risk youths”… followed by a veritable parade of current CD4 staff members who all spoke long past the 1-minute limit imposed on speakers from the audience.

But let’s be perfectly frank about who will really benefit from this charade.

Those with vested interests… in other words… private enterprises.

The city is hard up… millions of dollars (over the years) have been allocated into private hands at the expense of park-poor communities. While the city has frittered away public funds… this money should have been spent on acquiring more “green space” for “at-risk youth.” And yet the city can continue to give away our public parks.

So, here we are. This city that is renowned as a park poor city in California… wasting taxpayer dollars to enrich private enterprises… all at taxpayer expense.

Truly, a shameful episode all around.

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along the la river -or- splish, splash…

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splash

fish2I admit I was a little surprised to see these fish (there were three in all) attempting to swim north on the LA River channel about 5 feet from where I stood… I kept hearing splashing, but couldn’t see anything initially… then I saw some movement and saw something splashing in the river. Judging from the size, these fish were quite large… at least 18″ long, which given the area to maneuver in, was enormous… I’m pretty sure one of them got stuck in the shallows and I’m not sure if it was able to move any further. I did end up walking north and didn’t come back to see if it was ok…

There were a couple of guys on the opposite bank fishing… but I have no idea if they caught anything. Personally, I’m not sure I would eat anything coming out of the river, especially after the floods from a couple of weeks back…

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It was late in the afternoon and I had gone down to the river to shoot some images of the waterfowl as they lazed about the river searching for something to munch on…

Surprisingly, there were a few ducks on the bank just north of the bridge who appeared unafraid as I wandered fairly close, took some photos, and left…

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I did notice remnants of the recent floods caught in tree branches up the river…

I do believe it’s time for a cleanup!

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parkland for plunder

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The City of Los Angeles is primed to once again take valuable parkland and turn it into a privatized, concreted property that will be accessible to only a small group of like-minded individuals. (Read it here http://laparks.org/commissionerhtm/pdf2014/mar5/14-061.pdf )

I’m talking about the Crystal Springs Picnic Area that for over a century has been accessible to any and everyone coming out to enjoy a day in the park; be it a picnic, a day of sunbathing, or tossing a ball back and forth with your kid. or perhaps a nice quiet hike in the park.

Soon, this will no longer be an option.

The city, in it’s infinite wisdom thinks it’s much more important to build baseball fields (and other “built” structures in city parks) so the rest of the tax base can continue to underwrite entities like Little League. And it’s not as though Little League doesn’t already control other venues in other areas of the city.

Further, while the city denies that this venue would fall under the jurisdiction of Little League, they have neither the personnel nor the finances to manage these fields. And even if the city doesn’t hand the property over immediately, they eventually will as this has been the consistent case in the past.

So once again, say goodbye to city parkland open to one and all because unless you’re willing to pay, you won’t be allowed to enjoy this venue.

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In Bishop Canyon near Dodger Stadium, the fields are locked when not in use, and sadly, the fields are not well kept… in fact, they’re downright pathetic.

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In Highland Park, the gates are not only high, they’re also well locked so no one can step onto the field and use it when it’s not being used by Little League.

And this is what we’ve come to… the city can dole out property that belongs to the citizenry, but when it comes to privatized maintenance, forget it…

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Ironically, in Griffith Park, new bathrooms will be installed for use by little leaguers and their friends and families… meanwhile, down at the end of the Crystal Springs area sits this abandoned bathroom, that was slated to be reconditioned by a park bond measure passed in 2000.

So tell me, where has the money from that project gone?

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