The Cultural Heritage Commission met at 10:00 am Thursday, October 30 to discuss the Historic-Cultural Monument nomination of Griffith Park. Room 350 of City Hall was packed with more than 100 supporters and a few members of the press.
Daniel Paul of ICF Jones & Stokes, the consulting firm hired by the Griffith J. Griffith Charitable Trust to prepare the application, presented the Commission with the additional information regarding the history of the landscape of the park that they had requested. Paul described the park as a “landscape park” and referenced Griffith’s own book, “Parks, Boulevards, and Playgrounds.” Griffith’s intent was to give the people access to nature. Clare Darden of the Griffith Trust spoke in favor of the nomination on behalf of Griffith’s great-grandson, Van Griffith, who was unable to attend the meeting.
LFIA Parks Committee CoChair Chris Laib speaking
When Councilmember Tom LaBonge asked everyone in the room who supported the nomination to stand up, everyone stood! He thanked Daniel Paul and Clare Darden of the Griffith Trust for all the work they have done for the park. Tom commented that oversight is so important. Although he still has concerns about the infrastructure in the park, he supports the nomination. He said we should do the right thing and restore the park naturally.
Marty Adams of the DWP said they supported the effort to preserve the park, but they wanted the Headworks area excluded. He was concerned about the impact of landmark designation on current below ground projects. An observer commented that DWP’s objections were “pathetic.” The Latham & Watkins attorney representing the Autry National Center stated that the Autry is historically insignificant and told the Commission that the City did not have the legal authority to include the Autry property in the landmark. However, the Autry’s Chief Operating Officer Luke Swetland said the Autry does not oppose the designation.
The Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council led off public comment. President Phil Gasteier, Chair of the Planning, Zoning & Historic Preservation Committee, Ken Owen, and Chair of the Parks, Rivers, & Open Spaces Committee, Bernadette Soter, all spoke in favor of the nomination. Their special concern was that Toyon Canyon, the former landfill, should not be excluded. Several other Neighborhood Councils were there as well. Mike Buhler, Los Angeles Conservancy Director of Advocacy, provided the Commission with examples of how historic parks, including those on the National Register of Historic Places, throughout the country manage their infrastructures.
LFIA President Marian Dodge, Parks Committee CoChair Chris Laib, board members Tom Ford, and Margret Lohfeld spoke in favor of the nomination as did Oaks Homeowners Association President Bob Young and Past President, Gerry Hans. Other LFIA members who supported the cause with their presence were Chuck Soter, Mark Stong, Tess Nelson, Angela Stewart, George Abrahamian, Tess Nelson, Don Seligman, Michael Widman, Jim Schupp, Jon Zimmermann, Luise Baur, Steve Dodge, Bruce Carroll, Lon Wahlstrom, George Grace, Leslie Small, Dino, Reed Bogert and Mary Button.
The Griffith Park Master Plan Working Group was well represented with speakers in support: Clare Darden (Griffith Trust), Bernadette Soter (GGPNC), Gerry Hans (Oaks), Lynn Brown (Equestrian), Jeff Gardner (Atwater Village), and Louis Alvarado (hikers). Joe Young and Al Moggia spoke for the Sierra Club which had many representatives there.
More than 40 organizations supported the nomination.
After a great deal of discussion by the Commissioners and Planning staff, the Commission voted 3 – 1 to recommend the nomination. Commissioner Scott recognized the potential for the restoration of Toyon Canyon to become contributing and wished to include it. Commissioner Dake was the lone No vote.
The next step in the Historic-Cultural Monument designation process is the Planning and Land Use Management Committee who will send the nomination on to the City Council, probably in a few months. It is the City Council who ultimately makes the decision.
Many thanks to everyone who attended and to all of you who wrote or sent e-mails. Rory Fitzpatrick said that CD 4 received hundreds of letters in support of the nomination. Your voice counts. Together we can make anything happen.
“Never doubt that a small group of concerned people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead10/31/08- by Marian Dodge