Meeting Date: 07/11/07 06:00 PM

Meeting Type: Regular

Location: Will & Ariel Durant Library
7140 West Sunset Blvd. at Detroit St.
Los Angeles, CA 90046 (323) 876-2741



Meeting: Wednesday, July 11, 2007, 6:00-7:45 p.m.

Location: Will and Ariel Durant Library
7140 West Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, 90046

The Library is located one block west of La Brea on Sunset Blvd. It has free parking in the rear lot, and it is accessible on Sunset DASH and MTA lines.
RSVP to [email protected] would be useful to know how many people to expect.

1. Sign-in, meet and greet.

2. Chairs’ welcome, explanations of procedures and Speaker Cards*- minutes, reports.

a. Explanation of procedures and Speaker Cards*.
b. Minutes – Review and Approval of the previous meeting minutes.
c. Announcement regarding DWP Rates Rise and Comment period.
d. Welcome of guests and speakers.

3. Discussion of Existing Sources of Funding for Pocket Parks:

a. Kellee O’Rourke, Office of Councilman Jack Weiss.
b. Steven Markowitz, Office of Councilman Tom LaBonge.
c. Joe Edmiston, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy &
Santa Monica Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

4. Public Comment period.
5. Adjournment.

*The public is reequested to fill out a “Speaker Card” to address any item of the Agenda prior to the Committee taking an action. Comments from the public on Agenda items will be heard only with the respective item is being considered. Comments from the public on other matters not appearing on the agenda that are consistent within the committee’s subject matters jurisdiction will be heard during the Public Comment period. Public Comment is limited to 2 minutes per speaker unless waived by the presiding chair of the meeting. Agendas are posted for public review on bulletin boards at the top and bottom of Runyon Canyon Park and electronically on the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council Website (


JULY 11, 2007

Meeting begins with 3 at table, 14 in audience; joined by more at table and in audience later.

a. Kellee O’Rourke, Office of Councilman Jack Weiss
b. Steven Markowitz, Office of Councilman Tom LaBonge
c. Joe Edmiston, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy & Santa Monica Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority
d. Jeanne Minn)

Thank you for coming, I’m Claire Guy:- the Chair of the Infrastructure, Public and Regulated Resources and Services Committee of the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council.

Tonight we’re having a meeting on acquisition of small parks–finding the money to purchase small parcels of land and turn them into small parks. There are a number of copies of the Agenda in the back of the room. We’re waiting for two more speakers. Speakers promise that they’ll speak briefly and then take questions on this issue I think is of interest to everyone. There are three speakers on our list and we’ll be joined by a 4th: Jeanne Minn will join Steve Markowitz from Councilman La Bonge’s Office, and Kellee O’Rourke from Councilman Jack Weiss’ Office, who are seated with me at the front of the room. We’re also fortunate to have in the audience Cheryl Holland, Chair of Area 7, Wendy Kneedler, our Beautification Chair, and Orrin Feldman, our Vice President.

I did not know how many people to anticipate. What I do know is that they lock the library at 8 pm. Normally we’re informal here but we do have the use of Speaker Cards, if you want to write questions out ahead of time so we can make sure that your questions are addressed before we are required to vacate.

The speakers are prepared to talk for 10 minutes each. Before we get to that I’d like to dispense with old business:

We need to turn to the minutes of the last meeting. Does anyone who attended the last meeting have any corrections to be made to these minutes?

Lena Ghafoor: I just skimmed it- it’s actually Fountain Avenue. Correct me if I’m wrong, but do you see anything mentioned to do with the situation with the parking, the nightclubs. The numbers of spaces required by planning and zoning for the conditions?

CLAIRE GUY: I do under 4B. “Limited parking is an issue.” That may be too general.

WOMAN STAKEHOLDER: I thought someone motioned on that subject.

CLAIRE GUY: There’s one motion noted at the bottom. A stakeholder motioned to enforce zoning…


CLAIRE GUY: Great. The other is under what item?

WOMAN STAKEHOLDER: Higher up. 3B, subsection 1.

CLAIRE GUY: Hollywood City Hall on Franklin and Wilcox- it’s actually on Fountain and Wilcox. Anything else? Does anyone move to approve the minutes?


CLAIRE GUY: Do I have a second?


CLAIRE GUY: May we have a show of hands on accepting the minutes?

They’re accepted unanimously.

I have an announcement. We signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the DWP and it’s Oversight Committee. Neighborhood Councils that sign have a member assigned to the Oversight Committee so that as a Neighborhood Council it can contribute to DWP’s decision making process.

DWP is planning rate hikes. I have a quick explanation of them here. For power, starting Jan. ’08, power rate would rise 2.9%; for the average homeowner that would be $1.75 a month. Then again in July 08 another 2.9% that would go through that fiscal year to July ’09. Then for 2009-10 they are asking for a raise of 2.7%.

The water rates are supposed to be rising on July 1, the equivalent of about 90 cents per home, a little more for small businesses, $1.20. Then on July 1, 2009, they’re scheduled to go up again, about $1 per home. All the information on rate increases is on the DWP website:

STAKEHOLDER: How are we doing with power outages here?

CLAIRE GUY: We seem to be doing OK.

ORRIN FELDMAN: There was one about 2 weeks ago or less. Up Mt. Olympus and the area north to Woodrow Wilson. Some cables came down and some transformer locations had not been remarked after streets had been repaved so at night, when the transformers blew, the DWP couldn’t find them. Some homes were out of power for up to 15 hours. Much of us were out for much less.

CLAIRE GUY: It’s not like a summer high-usage related problem?


BLOND STAKEHOLDER: Last year where we are on Cahuenga we had multiple outages for several months. It was blowing out something on Cahuenga.

CLAIRE GUY: We did discuss that extensively last summer and fall. The DWP came to talk to us at one of our Board Meetings. I think they’re doing OK now, but I’ll be happy to look into that and we can have a meeting at which we discuss the DWP more extensively when the agenda is not filled with as many invited speakers on the parks issue.

BLOND STAKEHOLDER: We can bring candles.

STAKEHOLDER: They’re saying that they’re new building, increasing the house sizes but nobody is notifying DWP at the time of construction.

BLOND STAKEHOLDER: In our building, there’s a cell tower, so our landlord just cares that that goes out.

CLAIRE GUY: If some of these vacant lots get turned into parks rather than residential units there may be less demand on the power grid. I’m a little bit eager to get onto the subject of tonight’s meeting because we have just a little over an hour left.

WOMAN: This may be inappropriate, but I just have a question. I notice going back and forth on Sunset that there’s just so much graffiti. There’s one in particular, Roman’s the old Denny’s, that’s really been tagged. Is something being done about that?

CLAIRE GUY: We have our Beautification Chair here.

WOMAN: It’s just awful.

KELLEE O’ROURKE: If you dial 311 that’s graffiti removal, and you just need the address, they’re response time is usually really quick.

ORRIN FELDMAN: If you find yourself stuck in traffic at 7522??? Sunset, you’ll see there’s still an old sign up for the old library, going the wrong way!

CLAIRE GUY: Interesting. I would like to give our invited speakers a chance to speak on the issues we have asked them to address with respect to pocket park:

KELLEE O’ROURKE: I’m Kellee O’Rourke, and I have the pleasure of working for Jack Weiss. I recently moved to the councilmember’s downtown office. I understand from Claire that we’re hear to talk about 7905 Selma, Selma and Fairfax.

WOMAN: It’s also 1611 Fairfax; they have 2 addresses.

KELLEE O’ROURKE: I can only think of 3 million problems with that. One is that it’s very pricey. It’s a very desirable neighborhood to live in, so it’s very pricey to acquire land in this area. We have to acquire at market rates. We don’t have a discount. Also, when you start a pocket park, it’s not just the acquisition, it’s the development and the change in infrastructure around that park. As a city, there are a lot of standards that we’re upheld to for anything we acquire- ramps, parking. There’s no such thing as homeless proofing a park. The reason I’m familiar with this park is that several of you and I met late last year about a problem of transients hanging out there. I wish I could say we’d have an officer there all the time, but it’s going to be the same problem. We want to provide quality service but sometimes there are hurdles. We need to get bang for the public bucks. This would be a 5 million dollar project. I’m going to suggest to you that the next step is to- and another thing, the city is always looking for new and exciting ways to do things, a public/private partnership. Sometimes neighbors have gotten together to form an assessment district, and if it passes you get assessed a certain amount of property taxes. But I wanted to throw that out there as well.

I think the next step is to submit in writing a formal request to Councilmember Weiss and say this is what we want, and this is why we want it. Make a compelling argument. What community benefit would there be from investing in such a project. Submit that on the Hollywood Hills West Council stationary with official signatures (most appropriate officeholder, maybe the president)- and I’ll make sure to get it to the councilmember. Then we’ll do a formal report on it. They’ll look at the parcel, the market price, they’ll do an analysis, they’ll look at similar projects, and they’ll do a thorough analysis of the situation and report back to the councilmember.

WOMAN: Which part of the parcel and how much are they looking at? There’s more than one lot.

KELLEE O’ROURKE: That’s whatever– we don’t make a move until we get a request in writing. It’s on the market as one contiguous parcel right?

WOMAN: It’s three parcels.

KELLEE O’ROURKE: But they’re not separated.

ANOTHER WOMAN: Are any pocket parks gated and locked at night?

KELLEE O’ROURKE: I know in Westwood we have a pocket park that we’re developing and it’s attached to the library. So you have to go through the library to get to the park. So anyone can go in, it doesn’t limit anyone. But you have to go through the library to get there.

JEANNE MINN: Technically the park closes at 10 but we close the gates at sundown.

WOMAN: I think security issues are what to talk about. If you can’t secure it at night.

KELLEE O’ROURKE: And that’s an issue- do we have the person power to have someone unlock and lock the park. (Some discussion followed about another park.)

CLAIRE GUY: The issue was raised by our Area 7 Chair about that particular parcel, but since we have such great speakers, I thought it could be of wider interest to other areas in our NC.

WOMAN: In a park like that in that situation, what circumference do you look at that that park would service.

KELLEE O’ROURKE: The definition of pocket park means we think of people who are close enough to go home to use the restroom. There’s no restroom, no parking. We think of collecting fees, for instance a Quimby Fee- it’s like a pool or pot of money that developers pay into. They’re earmarked for land acquisition and capital improvement projects and those can be used within a 2 mile radius.

WOMAN: On Courtney there’s two apartmentt buildings going up, are those included?

JEANNE MINN: Only condominiums count.

KELLEE O’ROURKE: We frequently hear that people are having problems with existing parks.

MAN: What parks are within 2 miles?

CLAIRE GUY: With all our new condo projects, I’m hopeful…

MAN: You have two districts that get this money. One verges on West Hollywood, but I’m involved with Pan Pacific Park, far away, and we have no little parks right in this area of Hollywood.

CLAIRE GUY: That’s why we’re here.

JEANNE MINN: You can use those Quimby funds 2 miles from where it’s generated.

KELLEE O’ROURKE: With a formal request we can evaluate.

WOMAN: There are a lot of complexes going in …

JEANNE MINN: Quimby is a state law.

CLAIRE GUY: Thank you Kelley. Jeanne thanks for joining in. You had some things to say.

JEANNE MINN: I’m joined with Steven Markowitz that is interning for the summer. I heard Kellee talk about initiating the process. Just to be really frank, Dept. of Rec. and Parks, they’re busy. We encourage folks like you to find parcels that you think could be adopted that you think can be maintained. That bolsters the case. There aren’t any lots for sale right here. Maybe parcels that have defaulted in the taxes or whatever, and look for opportunities to build SOMETHING whether it’s a park, garden, picnic tables.

There was a proposition passed in 1996 by the voters, a program by which your property is taxed to provide recreational spaces within the city. We … an alternative to public money available….

I’m working on an acquisition in the office, there was an old gas station on Beverly Boulevard in Korea Town, not a big space, and because of the contaminants in the soil we think we can purchase for a lower cost than what she wants, but we’ll just make that into a green space with maybe a playground but then we have to address security and fencing.

MAN: One of the problems with parks-across form the YMCA they made one, and the guys in there are homeless guys with their shopping carts. The other small park in Hollywood, they put a bunch of rocks in there. That little piece at Franklin and Highland, the thing is that you need to do something to stop the homeless from camping there.

There was an agreement to clean out the sewers by having this thing at the old library site, and that building was going to be torn down, but it wasn’t. I’m sick of the city not doing what the city says it’s going to do. Especially Tom. It’s not being enforced. That old library area was supposed to be cleaned up, landscaped, etc, but it’s not.

ORRIN FELDMAN: The program that was undertaken wasn’t a park but a greenscaping. The sanitation department needed access to the site. And there was supposed to be greenscaping.

WOMAN: One of the things we wanted to talk about were alternative spaces. We’re not wed to Selma and Fairfax. If we’re looking at that we may need only a part of it. One of the other areas I was interested in, our neighborhood is full of children, but one of the first thoughts I had- WADDLES, the whole front end is an avocado grove, and it’s fenced off, it’s not even part of the common garden. And it just sits there. It has beautiful trees already. It just needs to be landscaped and slap a play structure in there. We’ll utilize that space.

CLAIRE GUY: There may be additional issues with Waddles.

WOMAN: The avocado grove that you’re talking about is part of the Community Garden. You can walk in there but carefully. The roots are very fine. It’s actually one of the most inappropriate places for a playground because you would kill the trees- you can’t pave back there.

WOMAN: But some of us have avocado trees and we can walk near there. Can you put fencing there?

WOMAN: No, the roots are right on the surface. They’re enormous spreading wild shapes.

MAN: Are they productive?

WOMAN: Oh yeah. You’re all welcome to join the garden.

ANOTHER WOMAN: What’s the difference between a park and a community garden?

WOMAN: Membership.

KELLEE O’ROURKE: The first step is for Hollywood Hills West to decide what to ask for. A locale will help.

WOMAN: There’s another locale. If you want one for children, there’s a park down Curson above the mansion. If you really have the resources and want to turn it into a playground, put your resources into that area, and use the Japanese garden there and the garden house. You could raise money from the people that live on Curson.

ORRIN: Another fundraising idea is- with the redevelopment of Yamashiro and Magic Castle properties, there’s interest, on part of owners, because of the Asian theme, from the business owners to help upkeep that as a Japanese park. You’ll have to be patient, but that’s an option.

CLAIRE GUY: I’d like to introduce Joe Edmiston, Director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. Welcome.

Quimby funds have been mentioned, special assessments, also other things-I did hear someone saying something about homeowners being able to help with the parks in addition to assessments.

What I’d like to do, if you (Joe) have other things to tell us, please address the issue so we can discuss them.

JOE EDMISTION: I apologize to Dr. Guy for being late. It’s a long trek from Malibu.

Let me focus on the State funding sources and some fairly obscure funding sources so let me start with Proposition K. That measure was passed 1996 by the City of LA, that provides 25 million a year to be allocated by the City Council for a number of purposes but Parks and Rec is the primary purpose. There’s a backlog of projects but stuff is always falling out of the cue. Talk to your councilman about getting into the Prop K queue.

If you ask , the first answer is “that money is spoken for” and theoretically it is, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get unspoken for. There are many projects, where the cost exceeds what the city has allocated.

Second is Proposition A, also passed in 1996, a LA County measure–The Safe Neighborhood Parks Act. That is also “all spent out” which is technically true, but not actually true. There is something called excess funds. In government the idea of excess funds is interesting. Because it’s a tax measure, they were able to bond against that tax revenue. The banks want to make sure that above all, they get their money.

Even if the economy tanks, the banks still get their money. What happens to the extra 20%? It used to go into a slush fund. Very smart people put it together and realized, ok, every few years we’re going to have an accountant look at this and say do we need this fund in case of a depression? So every couple of years they release more money. Every Supervisor gets some money to spend. For projects north of Sunset Blvd.- those would have a higher priority than others in LA county because it’s in the Santa Monica Mountain zone. But there currently is in the 3rd district $3 million available and more in the next few years.

That money is extremely competitive, and for the Supervisor they tend to think if it’s in LA City, let the City take care of it.

Proposition 84 is a statewide measure. That allocated about $5.3 billion and about $400 million for parks. The criteria for that is being disputed in Sacremento right now.

One is bill 732 by Steinberg. And one is Assembly Bill 31 by De Leon.

The caucus is primarily a rural caucus, and they don’t want it all spent in urban areas, they want to spread it out. That’s the fight. You may want to weigh in with your assemblyman so that the money goes to park-poor neighborhoods, and this is a park-poor neighborhood.

The criteria is up in the air. The program will get going toward the middle of next year.

There are other programs that are still around from Props 40 and 50. Those are categorical grant programs administered by Dept. of Parks and Rec.

Politically connected and aggressive reps somehow seem to have their projects sifted toward the top of the pile of this. Who is your assembly member? Feuer?

Mike Feuer is a good friend of parks, and one thing to pursue would be to go to Sacremento and invite him to invite members of the State Dept of Parks and Rec’s staff, and the assemblyman can say “this is important to me find out how we can fund this.”

Same in terms of your State Senator, Sheila Kuehl? (yes?)

If it comes from the top, at least they have been sensitized to your issues.

Do a concentric circles analysis. Google “green visions plan” put USC after it. USC from a grant has developed a comprehensive database, you can put a cursor over any place in LA and you can see important indices that government agencies look at–the number of kids, how many are on subsidized food programs, median income, etc. Look at that.

The final thing that you can do, depending on how much will power is here, it is possible to establish a Community Facilities District, a “Melaruse” district.

The criteria have been tightened, but it is possible to have a CFD and then the vote is on registered voters. That’s different from all the other assessment measures. All the others use the property owner. It’s possible for a property owner Pakistan to vote.

It is possible, depending on the willpower, to establish a CFD and have that voted on by registered voters.

Those are the measures that can be used. None of the measures are effective unless there is overwhelming public support. If you have that, the elected political process will respond to that.

We’ve found that we never had a good public project with a lot of public support that did not find funding somehow.

BLOND WOMAN: This is partially question, partial statement. I went to a meeting a few weeks ago for another Neighborhood Council by Gower. There’s a condo project going up on the corner where that pizza place was. The developers for this new condo thing, they talked about incorporating a pocket park into the development.

KELLEE O’ROURKE: It’s actually pretty common. If they do that, they’re excused from paying Quimby fees.

CLAIRE GUY: Then is it only for people in that unit?

JEANNE MINN: I think it’s supposed to be in a place so the public can enjoy it.

CHERYL HOLLAND: I have a question- a concern to everybody interested in the pocket park- the homeless issue. You can lock parks, correct?

(Joe nods yes.)

CLAIRE GUY: Can a community group be responsible for that if there aren’t resources?

JEANNE MINN: I think there are parks in the hills like that.

CHERYL HOLLAND: I have seen signs up that say unless you’re accompanying a child, you can’t enter this area.

MAN: Where there’s children’s play equipment, you can only go there with a child. It’s on the sides- there are two separate spaces. The homeless have part and then little kids have a playground in the other part. Not very well used; I think the mothers don’t want to be close to the other part.

WOMAN: I don’t understand the psychology of parks, but I went to a seminar put on by the city, a forum, and a lot of folks talked about public spaces. Already our streets are filled with homeless cause we live in the city. They said if people come and actually use the space, then you start to have less of the space being used by people you don’t want there.

JOE EDMISTON: Good use drives out bad. There’s a debate in the parks and rec community about the application of anti-loitering laws. You know who you want to apply it too but can you say you want to apply anti-loitering laws in a park? That’s what people do in parks. Are you going to say if you have 3 days stubble you can’t? (More discussion about locking parks.)

CLAIRE GUY: Earlier I made reference to things homeowners can do without financial assessment for parks. Could we do that- could homeowners can assume responsibility?

CHERYL HOLLAND: It depends how far it is from our community. You have to take the good with the bad. I’m fascinated how West Hollywood has these pocket parks that work, they work as pocket parks, they have cracked the code.

WOMAN: The one by Gelsens?

CHERYL: Yes, that’s my ideal.

ORRIN FELDMAN : It’s not a big secret. They talk about it on the green spaces website. There aren’t a lot of kids there, they also have the sheriffs dept. and part of what you need to consider is when you talk about maintenance and opening and closing, you are contemplating assuming police functions not just custodial functions. Many of us may not want that.

If you’re the person opening and closing, there are moments that will be difficult.

CHERYL HOLLAND: What’s the alternative, no park?
What about the 1400 block of North Stanley?

WOMAN: That woman lives in one but the other … This lady has been entrusted for them for the term of her life.

CHERYL HOLLAND: How old is she?

WOMAN: 80 or something. They are in the worst condition. We’ve been trying to do something since I’ve been here. It would be an ideal location. It’s 50X135, it has a house on one side, apartment building on other, a one-way street.

JEANNE MINN: There’s acquisition and then there’s development.

CLAIRE GUY: Do we know the price on the Selma lot?

WOMAN: He wants $3.1. We could talk about many locations but maybe more productive to have a group interested in this one group, if we don’t have a large group interested in one particular site we won’t go forward.

MAN: Is anyone from Area 7.

KELLEE O’ROURKE: My parks person is on vacation. One of the glories of Neighborhood Councils- we can’t live in every neighborhood in LA. We don’t know all the details. We don’t control the private real estate market so we depend on groups like you. If you think something is feasible, let us know.

MAN: Do Quimby funds cross councilmember borders?

KELLEE O’ROURKE: Yes, but let’s say you’re here (draws map)- wherever the park is, the two miles is all around that.

MAN: One is in LaBonge’s District, one in Weiss.

JEANNE MINN: My understanding is they go to the council district where it’s generated from.

WOMAN: Is it better if everybody lives in CD 4, to find a place in CD 4, rather than go after a place that’s in CD 5. Is it better for us to look for something that stays in our CD 4 district?

JEANNE MINN: I don’t think it matters personally.

KELLEE O’ROURKE: Weiss would never make a decision about something that takes place in LaBonge’s district. That councilmember makes the decision. It’s less about where the constituents live, and more about where the parcel is.

WOMAN: We can say we have all this building going on, etc, but it’s in CD 4 not CD 5.

JEANNE MINN: Well is there a way to engage those who live in CD 5?

WOMAN: It’s all apartment buildings.

JEANNE MINN: You could talk to the Neighborhood Council.

ORRIN FELDMAN: We have been involved in issues that have brought tons of people to Neighborhood Council meetings. If you want to build a coalition to support a park, you can create that, but you have to walk the streets and do the legwork. The good news is the apartment buildings have lots of residents that would appreciate it. You should be thrilled you’re in a district with rich single family homes and less rich apartments. It shows there’s a need for a park. You can say there are 5K in apartments without rec access. That’s the count you need to do, see what’s there.

WOMAN: Legal question. If you get involved and put a fence up, are you liable if someone gets hurt in that park.

ORRIN FELDMAN: It would be turned over to rec and parks because neighborhood councils are advisory. It would be referred to them.

JEANNE MINN: Ideally we like for our City staff to be responsible for maintenance and security and such. But there is one …

ORRIN FELDMAN: There’s a small private park- it’s behind Yamashiro and the more they explained to us, it turned out the rest of us can’t go to that park. It’s only for the immediate residents.

WOMAN: I wanted to say as someone close to the Selma lot. There are lots of concerns about that site. I think we would really need to canvass the people who live closest to it.

WOMAN: I wanted to bring up the park on Cherokee and DeLongpre. I never see any children or families there just homeless people. It’s a very pretty park.

JEANNE MINN: We’re trying to change it to make it more family oriented. Putting in more lights and cameras.

KELLEE O’ROURKE: Thank you for having me.

CLAIRE GUY: Thank you all for coming out.

WOMAN: What keeps coming up- everybody wants a place to relax in a park and the issue people keep bringing up is the homeless. Maybe what we should be thinking about solutions to is the homeless issue. Maybe that comes first. First we need to make out streets safe.