2019 Community News
LAUTNER STARS IN 2019 OAKS ARCHITECTURAL TOUR
By Sheri Hellard
On May 4th an excited crowd of Oaks neighbors were thrilled to tour the Harvey House, a mid-century modern masterpiece designed by the renowned architect, John Lautner.
Kelly Lynch and Mitch Glazer were perfect hosts as they chatted with neighbors and shared charming (and sometimes harrowing) stories about their home, the saga of its restoration, and what it’s like to live in a genuine landmark.
Guests were escorted through the house by trained docent volunteers from the neighborhood who described the extensive restoration process and pointed out highlights of the home’s past and present.
The Harvey House was built in 1950 for wealthy industrialist and inventor Leo Harvey of Harvey Aluminum Company at a cost of two million dollars. By the time Kelly and Mitch purchased the house it had deteriorated to the point of being designated a tear-down. Original aluminum from Harvey’s company is still visible in the home as are stunning examples of rare woods and dazzling walls of glass. Neighbors were delighted by the beautifully organic architecture and gorgeous lines of the home as well as by the vintage furnishings that Kelly and Mitch have acquired to accent their home.
After the tour, guests were escorted out on the lawn to enjoy a stunning 270-degree view of the city while tasting fine wines, enjoying delicious hors d’oeuvres, and socializing with neighbors. Vintage pictures of the home and historic documents were on display for perusal while guests soaked up the afternoon sun.
Our heartfelt thanks go to Kelly and Mitch for generously offering their beautiful home for this year’s event. Also, many thanks to the volunteer docents for their time and effort.
The money raised by the Tour goes to furthering the work of the Oaks Homeowners Association in our community.
ELECTRIC SCOOTERS: WHAT THEY MEAN FOR THE OAKS
By Linda Othenin-Girard
I looked up one day and the sidewalks of Hillhurst Avenue and Larchmont Boulevard, were cluttered with variously colored metal objects lying on their sides like so many tin soldiers with wheels, strewn haphazardly as if people meant to discard them. My first response was “Ugh! This looks awful. These scooters should be banned.”
“Not so fast,” I said to myself. “Before you go off half-cocked on your MyLA311 app, why not do a little research to see what the pros and cons of e-scooters are?”
Here’s what I’ve found:
On the Pro side:
From an energy standpoint, electric or dockless scooters (as they’re called) are pretty efficient when compared to cars. It’s all about weight ratios. The average America car weighs just under 4100 pounds and the average driver weighs 175 pounds so the average car weighs 23 times the average driver. That’s a lot of weight to pull around just to move the average body. Most scooters average about 28 pounds and run off an electric motor, thereby requiring much less energy than a car to move a body from one place to another.
Not convinced? Here’s a more technical way of looking at energy efficiency in e-scooters. An electric scooter can travel more than 80 miles per kilowatt hour whereas a gas-powered car can travel less than a mile on the same kilowatt hour of energy.
From an emissions perspective, electric scooters are also more efficient and cheaper to operate than cars. They don’t burn gasoline so they have a minimal impact on ozone and carbon dioxide levels. The cost of fueling a scooter is only a fraction of the cost of fueling a car that delivers 28 miles per gallon. Most e-scooter trips are under five miles and only cost a few dollars per ride. [Note: There is a question with the efficiency argument. Do scooter trips really replace car trips or do they replace trips people would have taken on foot or by bike? Not enough data has been compiled yet to resolve this question fully.]
From a traffic perspective, e-scooters have obvious advantages in a city like Los Angeles where traffic congestion is driving us all bonkers. They don’t get stuck in traffic, they don’t create more traffic, and they can only go up to 15 MPH. You don’t work up a sweat riding them and you can leave them pretty much anywhere you want. From an Oaks’ point of view these are all pluses: fewer cars (and fewer Uber and Lyft vehicles) driving to and from Bronson Park because more scooters are bringing visitors in. They are also providing Oaks residents with an alternative to their cars as a means of getting to and from public transit hubs – scooters can fill the “last mile” need of getting people between the terminus of public transit and their homes.
As regards managing the surge of scooters bringing folks into Bronson Park and Brush Canyon, one idea being floated is that of creating a dedicated scooter drop-off site near the Bronson Park entrance. This would be a spot where all scooter riders could park their scooters when entering the Park. It would also be the spot where visitors leaving the Park could pick up a scooter to get them back to other transit nodes (buses and Metro Rail). Geo-fencing, a new technology already in use at the Santa Monica Pier, would automatically shut off the motor of any scooter that tried to proceed farther into the Park than the drop-off point.
On the Con side:
E-scooters pose aesthetic and safety challenges that seem unexplored and unresolved by the companies that introduced scooters to us. The scooter companies could and should have prepared the general public and their riders with a comprehensive roll-out strategy. Now they and our government officials are playing catch-up.
In California, by law scooters have to be driven in the street. But many users seem unaware of the rules or they disregard the sidewalk-riding prohibition entirely. Negotiating the road with e-scooters going every which way can be confusing and challenging. As drivers, we aren’t familiar with them yet and many scooter riders don’t seem to be that skilled at dealing with traffic either. In the Oaks neighborhood this isn’t a serious issue because large parts of our neighborhood have no sidewalks at all and the sidewalks on streets like Canyon Drive have problems (broken concrete, large cracks) that make them unsuitable for scooter-riding.
Scooter riders are not insured. Should a rider collide with a pedestrian on a sidewalk in Hollywood, who is liable for any injury or medical expense incurred? This question is unresolved.
Scooters can be dangerous for their riders. Current law requires that riders of stand-up e-scooters wear helmets when traveling on roads. But most riders we see aren’t wearing helmets. According to the Washington Post, “Emergency room physicians in a dozen cities around the country have [said] that they are seeing a spike in scooter accidents. In seven cities, those physicians are regularly seeing severe injuries, including head trauma that were sustained from scooters malfunctioning or flipping over on uneven surfaces, as well as riders being hit by cars or colliding with pedestrians.”
Safety issues also arise from scooters being left on sidewalks. This can create a tripping hazard particularly for seniors, mothers with strollers and toddlers, and the handicapped. Good sidewalks are at a premium in the Oaks, so if a scooter blocks a sidewalk on Canyon Drive, a real mobility problem can occur.
To deal with some of these issues, LADOT was asked to come up with a plan to address the issue of tipped-over scooters and those blocking sidewalks or other public spaces. Proposed solutions include using corrals and “geo-fencing technology and signage or symbols that designate parking locations.” (The Daily News)
For more on this plan to deal with e-scooters and additional information on how Los Angeles officials are monitoring e-scooter safety and enforcement of the rules, please see the recent article linked below. This new mode of short-haul transportation is likely here to stay, so we just need to ask that our elected officials insure safety on our streets and sidewalks, while at the same time encouraging eco-friendly and efficient ways of getting around.
IMPROVEMENTS REVITALIZE FERN DELL
By Sabrina Speer
On a recent walk with my daughter through Griffith Park, we stumbled upon a fairy wonderland. It’s true. Well, at least that that’s what my four-year-old called the new play structure in Fern Dell. To our surprise and delight, the old playground had disappeared and a new one magically sprouted up in its space. (In reality, it had less to do with magic and more with financing from Quimby Funds — money collected from fees on new development.) Gone is the old, small, and unimaginative play structure that lacked shade. In its place is a larger playground with dual slides for racing, musical instruments, a bridge to a climbing tower, and a play area for smaller children. Everything is set amongst fake trees with forest animals and places to hide. It really does look like a fairy wonderland and my daughter’s imagination ran wild as she sat on her “throne” accessible by the “troll’s bridge”.
Coincidentally, another bridge is being built a little to the south of the playground. Rather than appealing to the youngest among us, this new bridge is for all of us who happen to like safe conditions when we walk around Griffith Park. An old pedestrian bridge has been closed for more than fifteen years because of safety concerns. However, in avoiding the closed bridge, pedestrians were often forced to walk in the narrow street creating yet another safety hazard. The decrepit bridge that’s been replaced was built in the 50s or 60s and was quite utilitarian in nature and unattractive. The new structure reflects the design of the original pedestrian bridge from the 1920’s with a graceful arch and classic X design on the railings. This bridge is the first significant project for Friends of Griffith Park’s plan for the revitalization of Fern Dell.
BEACHWOOD GATE BATTLE ENDS
Until very recently, Friends of Griffith Park, the Griffith J. Griffith Charitable Trust, and the Oaks Homeowners Association continued our legal efforts challenging the City of Los Angeles’ 2017 decision to close the Beachwood Gate to the Hollyridge Trail in Griffith Park. Our last legal action — filing an appeal to the court’s March 2018 decision in favor of defendant, the City of Los Angeles — challenged several half-truths and inaccuracies that the City Attorney had continued to make in court.
In the end, the City was able to avoid the substance of the lawsuit, such as a “gift of public funds,” on technicalities. Most shocking and shameful, despite the trial judge stating six times the Beachwood Gate was closed, the City Attorney argued on appeal that the gate was in fact open to the public, since it was “not completely closed.” As many know, the pedestrian gate allows for egress as an emergency measure. Being forced to point out the absurdity of this argument, the City countered that the appellants were attempting to re-litigate the facts of the case on appeal, which the court then listed as a reason for denying the appeal. As the appellants, we have chosen to not pursue further the misdeeds of the City, having done so for more than two years already.
According to the original court’s findings, Sunset Ranch does not have an exclusive right to the access road that leads to the trailhead, but the City had nevertheless interfered with Sunset’s access by channeling pedestrians onto the road and the City’s hired security guards accidentally turning away certain motorists who were paying customers going to the stable. The court ordered the City to stop turning away the stable’s motorist customers and to steer pedestrians differently so they would not interfere with the stable’s business. Rather than finding an alternative that would accommodate pedestrians as the court mandated, the City decided it was simpler to close the gate to public access at Beachwood Canyon completely. This gave control over the newly-installed, $250,000 gate (paid for at taxpayer expense) and a trailhead (belonging to the public) to a private business.
Bronson Canyon – The New Reality
Oaks residents have always shared with other areas the burden of hiker and tourist traffic, the latter often seeking a convenient, decent view of the Hollywood Sign. With the City’s closure of the trailhead at Beachwood Canyon where a great view of the Sign was easily accessed, the Canyon Drive entrance to the park has taken the lion’s share of the displaced volume of Sign visitors. Unexpectedly, the City proclaimed access to the park (and the Hollywood Sign) via Canyon Drive as the alternative nearest to Beachwood in its entered stipulation with Sunset Ranch. Following the City’s lead, some players to the west of Bronson Canyon also promoted the Canyon Drive access to visitors.
For obvious reasons, though, the Brush Canyon Trail is not a good alternative for the typical tourist. From this vantage point, there is no good view of the Sign, short of ascending a steep, two-mile trek. To arrive at the Hollywood Sign itself is more than a three-mile hike! Tourists are usually not prepared for that sort of strenuous journey.
Then, strangely, new short-cut trails began to show up on Google Maps! And magically, perhaps through social media tagging, the “Brush Canyon Trail” was renamed “The Hollywood Sign Canyon Drive Trail.” Worst of all, Google’s directions to the Hollywood Sign encouraged tourists to take shorter and dreadfully dangerous routes! Enough is enough, especially after these new shorter routes started showing up on social media. Surely park management, rather than Google, should have control over trails in their own park, not only for safety’s sake, but also to prevent hill erosion and habitat destruction.
Finally, after an emergency rescue was initiated as a result of these illegal “goat trails,” the Parks Department, with help from CD4, sided with Oaks Homeowners and Friends of Griffith Park and agreed that something needed to be done. A little background here: Google and other technology platforms enjoy near immunity from liability due to inaccurate content. They say they only provide the platform, and they’ve been winning in court when challenged. However, when safety is an issue, they will at least listen to public officials. Google was successfully contacted (by phone, the old fashioned way). They listened, and now the GPS mapping of Brush Canyon has been corrected. We will closely monitor to assure harmful information does not creep back onto the Google maps of Griffith Park.
The City did not have to close all public pedestrian access to Griffith Park near the Hollyridge Trail to settle the lawsuit; there were other options. Those options still exist. Rhetoric from city officials that continues to claim the court ordered the closure is simply untrue. At a minimum, mitigations should move forward, and not at a snail’s pace.
One promising proposal in the Dixon Comprehensive Strategies Report completed in January 2018 calls for an electric shuttle beginning at Metro stations and travelling through the Beachwood Gate, allowing riders to be conveniently dropped off at the Hollyridge Trailhead. This strategy progressed to the feasibility review stage in June, 2018, but now seems to be “on ice.” The Report said it could be implemented in 6-9 months once environmental questions were addressed (if those were even required). Yet, 21 months later, nothing is in motion.
Yet, the City just spent $750,000 to study the possibility of an aerial tram. If history is a guide, building a gondola will never happen due to public outcry, as was the case in 1968 and 2005. The people of Los Angeles love Griffith Park as the amazing urban wilderness it is and don’t want to see it become commercialized as a magnet for even more tourists.
Your Oaks Homeowners Association is committed to continuing its work with the Department of Recreation and Parks, along with Council District 4 in order to find ways to mitigate the impact of an increasing number of Hollywood Sign visitors wanting that close-up glimpse and selfie, while protecting the Park as an urban wilderness and ensuring free public access.
2019 HALLOWEEN PHOTOS!
Our 2019 Halloween Walk was a smashing success with more attendees and fun costumes than ever.
Click here to view a slide show of all the great costumes!
DON’T MISS THE OAKS FAMILY PICNIC!
Saturday, June 22nd
11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Bronson Park (at the end of Canyon Drive) across from the playground
Kids games and entertainment – Great picnic food and desserts – Bouncy Bounce – Arts & Crafts – Meet new neighbors and connect with old friends.
FREE for or HOA Members Only. Not a current member? Join at the picnic! Annual dues are only $45 per family.
We look forward to seeing you there!
EYES ON GRIFFITH PARK
Things have been busy on the Griffith Park front. From No Smoking signs, to Next Steps on the Dixon Report and a Legal Appeal on the Beachwood Gate issue here’s what is happening.
No Smoking Signs Added
Following two significant brush fires in Western Canyon just to our east this past summer, Rec and Parks has answered our urgent requests for additional signage to remind smokers not to light up near vulnerable native habitat. The new signs announce a fine of up to $1,000. Friendlier Smokey the Bear signs have also been erected recently.
Dixon Strategies Go to the Next Step
Twenty-two strategies from the Dixon Report were approved by City Council as being “feasible,” making them eligible for further interdepartmental review and study. Some of these strategies would have significant impacts on life in the Oaks community:
An electric shuttle may operate to move passengers from the Metro Red Line to the Hollyridge Trail at the top of Beachwood Drive, traveling through the quarter-million-dollar public-funded electric gate which is currently being used only by Sunset Ranch. An environmental assessment will be initiated as a first step. The shuttle could either be city or vendor-operated.
A continuous sidewalk along the north end of Canyon Drive to connect with Bronson Canyon Park will receive cost estimates and a timeline for completion. There’s hope that a pedestrian entrance can be engineered around the east side of the historic rock pillars at the entrance gate. Oaks Homeowners has specifically asked for a permeable pathway for the portion inside the park continuing to the first parking lot.
The city will conduct parking occupancy studies in Bronson Canyon Park, as well as other areas, for possible paid parking or time-restricted parking. As we know, the consequences of this could be far-reaching for nearby residents. Stay tuned.
An aerial tram — various renditions from both the private sector and the city having already been reported in the press — will be assessed for feasibility. So far, only vague concepts have been floated, with few details regarding origination and termination.
Noticeably absent from the list of strategies making the final cut is the “Alternate Access Plan,” a simple pathway allowing pedestrians to bypass the locked Beachwood Gate and walk easily up to the Hollyridge Trail. The plan was both snubbed and falsely discredited during the process. This viable strategy clearly had support from a large majority of area residents and also from Hollywood United Neighborhood Council, HOAs and other organizations. This leads us to the next topic: legal action.
Legal Appeal Filed
After Superior Court Judge Chalfant rejected legal arguments regarding the improper closure of Beachwood Gate in April of 2017, Oaks HOA joined non-profits Friends of Griffith Park and the Griffith Trust in an appeal of that decision. The appeal focuses on city staff’s operational authority, short of a public process involving the Recreation and Park Commission, to permanently close Beachwood Canyon to pedestrian access. A trial is expected sometime well into 2019.
LONG-TIME OAKS RESIDENT REMI KESSLER BRINGS TO LIGHT THE HOMELESS AND THEIR CHAMPIONS IN THE ADVOCATES
Remi Kessler, filmmaker and long-time resident of the Oaks has made a film about homelessness. But not the one you expect. Instead of focusing only on the seemingly hopeless situation of so many of the homeless, The Advocates documents the lives of three people who’ve devoted their energy to helping people caught in the experience of life on the streets. We confront the unsettling world of homelessness as experienced by these three fierce proponents of social justice who believe that, to some degree, solving homelessness is actually possible. Though certainly an arduous process, this transformative work can happen when the right resources, skills, and compassion are applied.
The Advocates premiered last month at the LA Film Festival and opened for a limited release in Laemmle Theaters all over Los Angeles and the Valley.
As Remi explains, nearly 54,000 people are sleeping without a roof over their heads on any given night in Los Angeles. His film provides a sweeping look at the history and causes of LA’s current crisis and an intimate view of the tireless efforts of social workers who strive to create better lives for those living without shelter. As the policy landscape changes with the passages of Propositions H and HHH, this revelatory film demonstrates the singular role played by three individuals who pull at our hearts with their integrity and dedication.
It’s a story that is still evolving in our city and Rémi continues to film and be involved with the organizations he follows in The Advocates. We are so very proud to have such an accomplished and dedicated neighbor and encourage you to see the film. You can find out more about it at: AdvocatesFilm
NEW NEIGHBORHOOD-WIDE PATROL SERVICE BEGINS IN THE OAKS
As many of you are aware, the Oaks neighborhood now has a security patrol service.
This past spring, In response to homeowners’ increased security concerns and widespread interest in some sort of regular patrol, a committee of residents – Hadley Rierson, Zoe Bannon, and Mark Harrison – began to research what patrol services other LA neighborhoods have engaged to reduce criminal activity. The committee interviewed four leading security companies, all of which work in our area. ACS, a local company that has provided such services for over thirty years, submitted the proposal the committee judged to be most advantageous to residents in terms of level of service and cost.
The ACS proposal calls for households to sign up for the new patrol service at a cost of $75 per month. As of this writing we have 157 homes signed up and 16 hours of patrol, so you should be seeing those yellow patrol cars quite often! When 200 homes participate, there will be a 24-hour dedicated patrol car in the Oaks.
Here are the details for the service:
• The cost to each homeowner is $75 per month. There is no long-term contract and there is no need to change your existing alarm service. But you must sign up for the service in order to be able to call for patrol response.
• The current sixteen hours of patrol are divided and randomized throughout the day and night so potential perpetrators cannot predict when the area will be patrolled.
• While the hours of 1:00 AM to 9:00 AM don’t have dedicated patrol at this time, ACS will still respond to any direct assistance calls or alarm activations from members during these hours.
• The patrol service includes armed response; calls for assistance (ACS sends a guard if you feel uncomfortable or see suspicious activity); vacation watch (armed guard checks the property / takes mail & newspapers out of view); and escorting (ACS guard waits for you at your home).
If you’re interested in signing on (or simply wish to ask questions about the service) please contact ACS at (310) 446-0527 option 3 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You do not have to be a member of the Oaks Homeowners Association to take advantage of this patrol service. You should also know that neither the OHA nor its board members receive any advantage or remuneration from ACS. The OHA is not in any way affiliated with ACS.
THE SPECIAL EDITION OAKS LICENSE PLATE FRAMES ARE HERE
They are finally here! Our wonderfully talented neighbor Geoff McFetridge has designed a unique and charming license plate frame just for the Oaks HOA. Geoff is a renowned artist and these very limited edition frames may become collectors items someday.
You can own one (or more) of these license frames just by making a contribution to the Oaks Homeowners Association. The frames are now being offered as a premium gift for a donation of $100 or more to the HOA – which includes your $45 annual dues. See the remit envelope that’s included in this newsletter. Additional frames (after the $100 donation) are available for $55 each.
Geoff McFetridge is a long-time Oaks resident and a multidisciplinary artist. Displaying his gifts as both an art director and a graphic designer, Geoff’s work is enriched by his creative diversity. His paintings are layers of crisp color and clean lines expertly composed. Silhouettes of subjects in scenes both playful and everyday are a signature element of his art, and our license frame reflects this charming philosophy.
You can see more of Geoff’s work on his Instagram @mcfetridge or on Artsy at Artsy.net/artiste. We are so grateful to Geoff for creating these very special frames and we expect our limited supply to go quickly! Please consider donating to the Oaks Homeowners Association at the $100 level or more to receive your special license plate frame.
THE OAKS ARCHITECTURAL TOUR AND WINE TASTING
Saturday, May 4th, 2019
1pm – 5pm
The Oaks Homeowners Association is pleased to present our 4th Annual Home Tour and Wine Tasting Fundraiser.
Tour one of the most famous homes in all of Los Angeles. Designed in 1950 by master architect John Lautner for industrialists and inventor Leo Harvey, the home has breathtaking 270-degree views and is an excellent example of the organic influenced mid-century modern architecture that Lautner was celebrated for.
You’ll enjoy a wonderful afternoon exploring the home, chatting with friends and neighbors, and tasting delicious wine and cheese.
Tickets are $60 per person, or $100 per couple and include a docent led tour, wine tasting, and light snacks.
Availability is limited. For any questions or to purchase tickets, contact Sheri Hellard at Sheri.Hellard@OaksHome.org, or you may purchase tickets online below.
This is an adult only event. No children, please.