On March 29, the Department of Recreation & Parks (RAP) held a community meeting at the Griffith Park Ranger Station regarding the guidelines it would impose on Wolfgang Puck Catering. The meeting was chaired by RAP’s Vicki Israel, Superintendent, Griffith Region. Also speaking were Kevin Regan of RAP, and Dr. Krupp representing the Observatory. No written draft of the guidelines under discussion was provided for attendees.
Israel responded to written restrictions requested by GGPNC. The major areas of contention were the number of catered events to be permitted and the hours of service of alcohol.
Dr. Krupp explained that requests for special events would come to him for a recommendation of approval by Rec. and Parks General Manager Jon Kirk Mukri. Krupp pointed out that he is an employee of Rec. and Parks (translation: he has to do what the boss says). Kevin Regan of RAP stated that they (RAP) are the property owner and they can serve alcohol until 2:00 am.
After much heated discussion, Recreation and Parks “promised” that alcohol service would not be permitted after 10 p.m., that events would be limited to 1000 people, and that no catered events would be permitted that excluded public access to Observatory facilities. They were vague and evasive when questioned about the total number of catered events that would be permitted, how they planned to handle the traffic from 1000 guests, and other important issues.
Promising that conditions would be imposed on Wolfgang Puck Catering, but refusing to allow the public to see those conditions in writing, struck most of those in attendance as disingenuous. Speakers were outraged and public comment was heated. Juliet Kiperman, chair of the LFIA Zoning Committee, told Israel that the public had given input to Nederlander’s contract with the Greek Theatre and been ignored, and that we had given input to the Griffith Park Master Plan and been ignored. We no longer trust the city to seriously consider public input and would continue being vigilant.
RAP avowed that there would be no further public meetings nor information provided to the public before it submitted its final recommendations to the Zoning Administrator, who will render his ruling at a closed-door hearing on May 30. Many demanded a second meeting where Recreation and Parks’ final conditions would be presented in writing to the public. If another meeting is not scheduled, the LFIA and other community organizations will take additional steps to assure that the Observatory does not become L.A.’s newest party place.
In the meantime, you can voice your opinion to: Councilmember Tom LaBonge at councilmember.Labonge@lacity.org, Jon Kirk Mukri of Recreation and Parks at JonKirk.Mukri@lacity.org. You should also send your comments directly to the Zoning Administrator who will make the decision, email@example.com. Put the case number ZA-2006-10405-ZV in the subject line of the e-mail.
Please note that a longer article, also published in our newsletter, the Observer, is available here. This article outlines the history of the concession at the observatory.