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Birth of a Fire Plan

    On Tuesday, August 24 th the Hollywood United Neighborhood Council sponsored a Town Hall on Fire/Parking Hillside Safety which got the first look at the LAFD's proposed new No-Parking Priority Enforcement Program.  As the last proposal met was unworkable,  there is much interest in this revised proposal. 

    Attended by over 125 hillside residents from the Hollywood Dell, Beachwood Canyon and the Oaks, the meeting, organized by Susan Swan of HUNC and Mayor Hahn's representative, Michelle Fleenor, started with an introduction by LAFD's Battalion Chief Mark Stormes (Battalion 5) and videos of the 1991 Oakland fire.

    The primary safety concern for the Fire Department is how to obtain immediate access to quickly "knock down" a fire and effect a safe evacuation if necessary. Towards this end they will be mapping the "pinch points" in the hills which are critical to movement of men and machinery into the high risk zones. A "pinch point" is the point at which the fire engines must make a sharp turn.

    Their four-step plan will first: map the district, second: post at critical choke-points, third: inform the community and then, by October 1st, having mapped, posted and informed, enforcement will begin. We have already heard of the "red flag days" in which the winds are over 25 mph and the humidity is under 15%. Anyone parked at "pinch points" on these days will be towed. "No Smoking Zone" signs will also go up at over 160 new locations.  

    During a question/answer period much of the discussion centered around the short notice given to the community;  how could one effectively notify hillside residents;  where will displaced people park;  how do you deal with construction dumpsters; could the LAFD use smaller vehicles to access the hills;  can trucks be pre-deployed during fire season; can large water tanks be located above risk zones.  

    Revamping the Municipal Code  to allow DOT the authority to tow in this identified area and to identify which vehicles are street legal was also mentioned, although no details were given on the specific changes proposed to the Code.  HUNC has asked for the wording of the Code changes.  Enforcement is also a big issue as the budget crunch has caused cuts in all areas. 

    There were also concerns about a rise in 'bandit towtrucks'.  Issues such as scheduled construction  (workmen,  concrete pours for instance) or even moving vans/ other work-related issues arose as these need to be scheduled ahead of time and how does one reschedule when the flag goes up only that morning.  There was also great concern about the rise in illegal garage apartment conversions and multiple-unit rentals in R1 areas and the lack of Building &Safety enforcement.  Michelle Fleenor acknowledged that as yet no one has solutions for these problems,  which cause HUNC great concern.                 

    Andrew Ettinger of HUNC and Hollywoodland reminded all that we need to be vigilant within our own neighborhoods and create effective Neighborhood Watches.  

    Promised the map by early September, the Hollywood United Neighborhood Council Fire/Safety Committee will be meeting with the community to make sure concerns and suggestions are presented to the LAFD and the Mayor's office.  We have asked for and will insist upon input into any plan. 

    We will schedule an initial review of the proposal at the HUNC Public Safety/Transportation Committee meeting on September 13th (6:30 PM, First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, 6054 Yucca Street (East of Gower), Upper Terrace).

    HUNC's Susan Swan can be reached at and the Fire Department website can be accessed through . HUNC's website will have information or links as soon as they are made available to us and can be reached at

Susan Polifronio