The second step in the process to be designated a Historic-Cultural Monument is to have the Cultural Heritage Commission tour the nominated property. They toured Griffith Park on September 4. Griffith Park is the largest property ever nominated in the city. Planning such a tour was a real challenge since the Park offers much more than can be appreciated in three hours. The tour was lead by Daniel Paul, the principal author of the application from the firm of Jones & Stokes. Commission President Richard Barron, a preservation architect, Commissioner Roella Louie, a former Director of Public Art for the Cultural Affairs Department and graduate of Marshall High School, and Commissioner Glen C. Dake, a landscape architect and former deputy for Eric Garcetti, attended the tour. Commissioner Oz Scott, a television director, did not attend. The fifth Commissioner, Mia Lehrer, a local landscape architect who has done work for Rec. & Parks, recused herself to avoid any impression of a conflict of interest.
The Cultural Heritage Commission touring of Griffith Park. Member of the Griffith Trust and author, Mike Eberts, relates the history of the Wilson-Harding Golf Club House.
The tour was also attended by Ken Bernstein, head of the Office of Historic Resources, Lambert Giessinger, preservation architect for the Planning Department, Flora Chou of the LA Conservancy, and Doug Mensman of CD 4. Many of the people who spoke in favor of the nomination at the August 21 meeting also attended as observers.
The tour began at the Griffith Observatory, a prime example of how a Historic-Cultural Monument can be updated and expanded without sacrificing its historic elements. It also provided an excellent view of the wilderness area of the Park. Daniel Paul gave a running commentary of historic elements in the park as we caravanned from site to site. Portable radios allowed everyone to hear his commentary. The Commissioners toured Fern Dell, the ranger’s house, the municipal plunge, the Griffith Park & Southern Railroad, the Wilson-Harding Turf Maintenance facility, the Old Zoo Picnic Area, Wilson-Harding Golf Club House, Travel Town, Bette Davis Park, the Merry-Go-Round, Commonwealth Nursery, and Cedar Grove. Unfortunately, there was little opportunity to visit the interior urban wilderness area of the park which is the part of the park that is most endangered and needs the most protection.
The next step is a recommendation from the Cultural Heritage Commission. Because one commissioner has recused herself and another rarely attends Commission meetings, the vote of the remaining Commissioners will have to be unanimous. It is extremely important that Commissioner Dake be convinced of the validity of the nomination of Griffith Park. It is even more important that Councilmember Tom LaBonge support the nomination for the entire park. Right now he supports only the designation of individual buildings, not the designation of the open spaces and urban wilderness area. The Office of Historic Resources has assured the Councilman and Rec. & Parks General Manager Jon Kirk Mukri that they can resolve any concerns they may have about repairs to infrastructure in the Park. Given the way City politics operates, it is ultimately Tom LaBonge who will decide the fate of Griffith Park.
The next hearing on the Griffith Park nomination is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, October 2. If the Cultural Heritage Commission recommends supporting the nomination, it will be referred to Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM). PLUM will make a recommendation to City Council.
What to do:
It is vitally important that everyone write or e-mail the Councilman to let him know that you support the Historic-Cultural Monument designation of the entire park.
Hon. Councilmember Tom LaBonge
City Hall, Room 480
200 N. Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Cultural Heritage Commission
Office of Historic Resources
City Hall, Room 620
200 N. Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Please copy your letter to all Councilmembers. Please also copy it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attend the hearing Thursday, Oct. 2, City Hall, Room 1010, 10:00 am if you can.
Thank you for your support on this critical issue.