Archived Entry - August 19, 2005
Griffith Park Master Plan
Speaking of Griffith Park, the City of Los Angeles is currently underway with the public comment period on a new Griffith Park Master Plan , which is in draft form. The plan was developed to provide a framework of guidance for the management of Griffith Park over the next 25 years. The draft document was released earlier this summer, and a 'Griffith Park Master Plan Working Group' assembled in July to provide input and complete a package of revision recommendations for the draft Plan over the course of the next 6 months.
With its development having gone largely unnoticed by the public-at-large up to this point, a number of community groups have organized in opposition to several of the proposed 'improvements' put forth by the draft document. The Los Feliz Improvement Association, the Hollywood United Neighborhood Council, the Oaks Homeowners Association, Equestrian Trails, Inc., and other concerned citizens have formed a cooperative effort to "Save Griffith Park: No More Development."
To those familiar with the history of public parks in Los Angeles, the story of Griffith Park's creation is well known. In 1896 Colonel Griffith J. Griffith donated over 3,015 acres of land to the City of Los Angeles for the creation of Griffith Park. This single act created (at the time) the largest municipal park in the world. The donated land included five miles of riverfront and the eastern end of the Santa Monica foothills. Griffith requested its name remain in perpetuity as Griffith Park, and that the cost for any rail to the Park remain a nickel so that "...this park will be in every sense the peoples' recreation grounds..."
Many of the park's current recreational facilities were added in the 1920s and 1930s, including the Wilson and Harding Golf Courses , Fern Dell, the Boys' and Girls' Camps, the Municipal Plunge , the Greek Theatre , and the Griffith Observatory . Travel Town Museum and the Los Angeles Zoo were added in the 1950s and 1960s as the number of park facilities was expanded to satiate the needs of a rapidly rising urban population.
A reminder of the park's early history also still exists in the historic Antonio Felix House, an adobe built in 1853 that still stands 4730 Crystal Springs Drive , serving as the park's Ranger Station. The house was the locus of the Rancho Los Feliz , one of the first first Spanish land grants in California, given to Corporal Jose Vicente Feliz as early as 1795. Griffith purchased 4,071 acres of the Rancho's original 6,647 acres in 1882.
Colonel Griffith was a strong proponent of the City Beautiful Movement , a progressive-era social movement that used the creation of parks to regulate development and improve the quality of life for urban citizens. Griffith Park was his bequest to the people of Los Angeles for this purpose. In 1910, Griffith argued in a self-published book entitled Parks, Boulevards and Playgrounds :
"That there must be an outlet for the population that chokes in the streets and alleys of our cities; that fresh air, communion with nature and amusements other than those afforded by the cheap theater, moving picture show or saloon, are requisites of public health, and is worth spending money on--all this has become a settled conviction among thosee who think at all."
Although it has changed over time, today Griffith Park is very much the 'outlet' of natural open space that the Colonel originally intended. In 1896, there was almost no development whatsoever in the vicinity of the park. In contrast, pressures to develop and redevelop land inside and at the edges of Griffith Park are now stronger than ever.
Despite widespread community input to the contrary, the current Griffith Park Master Plan proposes the intensive development and commercialization of the park in such a way as to significantly alter the Park as it is currently known. These recommendations raise concerns about the Park's open and natural spaces, significant increases in noise and congestion, and the Park's continued existence as an intact historic resource and cultural landscape. They are also considered by many as a violation of longstanding covenants with the community.
Among the proposed recommendations are:
- Construction of six multi-level parking structures;
- Two aerial tramways;
- Street widenings throughout the Park;
- Introduction of traffic into the interior of the Park;
- Division of the Park into separate themed "lands;"
- Creation of a hotel, restaurant, culinary school and sports complex in
the Park's interior;
- Redesign of the 18-hole golf course at the expense of the Zoo Magnet
- Development of a commercial pier on the Los Angeles River at the Los Feliz Bridge; and
- Additional public-private partnerships and revenue-enhancing schemes.
If you are interested in commenting on one or all of these proposals, there are a couple different ways you can respond:
- Sign the Griffith Park Urban Wilderness Petition ;
- Call, write or email your Los Angeles City councilperson;
- Send in a comment form , which can be downloaded at http://www.laparks.org ;
- Attend the public meetings; and
- Spread the word to other organizations and individuals.
The next meeting of Griffth Park Master Plan Working Group is scheduled for Monday, September 12, 2005 at 6:30pm. The meeting will be held at the Griffith Park Rangers Station, Meeting Room, 4730 Crystal Springs Drive in Griffith Park.
A downloadable copy of the Master Plan is available on-line at http://www.laparks.org .
For more on the history of Griffith Park, be sure to obtain a copy of Griffith Park: A Centennial History by Mike Eberts, Ph.D., published by the Historical Society of Southern California .
Councilman Tom LaBonge has issued the following statement concerning his support of the Griffith Park Master Plan. LaBonge is responsible for forming the Griffith Park Master Plan Working Group, and appears to support a sensitive approach to the park's future development.
LaBonge Statement - Master Plan
Griffith Park is one of the greatest public spaces in the world. My love for the park is second only to the love I have for my family.
When elected in 2001, one of my primary goals was to direct the Department of Recreation and Parks to update the 1978 Griffith Park Master Plan. Several years later, we have from Melendrez Partners the draft Master Plan -- a working document for all of us to review and revise. It is a work in progress.
This process began in 2002 and has had it starts and stops along the way. The draft plan was released earlier this year with the expectation that the document would be reviewed and refined before going to the Recreation and Parks Commission.
With this in mind, I requested the department to form a Griffith Park Master Plan Working Group to analyze the draft in its current form and make recommendations that would be considered for inclusion in the next version. We have been successful in getting a very engaged working group that is comprised of representatives of the Los Feliz Improvement Association, Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council, Hollywood United Neighborhood Council, Atwater Village Neighborhood Council, Los Feliz Oaks Homeowners Association, Franklin Hills Residents Association, Sierra Club, the equestrian community and youth and adult sports groups.
Melendrez Partners certainly thought outside the box in composing the draft Master Plan. By proposing such previously unthought-of ideas as
a tramway to the Griffith Observatory from the Greek Theatre and "Pleasure Pier" over the Los Angeles River allows people to think in different ways about experiencing park attractions. We may never realize any of these recommendations, but it has been a springboard for discussion about which park features are worthy of developing, others worthy of enhancing and others that might be left alone or eliminated.
For example, I think it is critical that we identify a suitable location to replace the baseball fields that were lost when the Golden State Freeway was constructed. Additionally, we should enhance and upgrade many of the park's facilities that are showing their age. However, much of the area defined in the master plan as the California Heritage Zone remains one of our region's last unspoiled acreage. To this end, as identified in the included map, this area must be maintained in its natural state and be free from any future development.
As the process moves along, I hope you will continue to express your opinions about the evolving draft Master Plan document. You are welcome to attend the bi-monthly meetings of the working group or submit comments online by visiting www.laparks.org.
Let us follow the wish of Griffith Jenkins Griffith that "Griffith Park should be a park for the masses!" And together, let's continue to love and enjoy the great City of Los Angeles!
Renovation of the Griffith Observatory is entering its final year with a re-opening tentatively scheduled for the late spring or early summer of 2006. This will be a very exciting and highly anticipated event, a highlight in the observatory's and the park's history. What has traditionally been Los Angeles' No. 1 "vista point" for both natives and visitors alike, will be even more so when we unveil the facility after a $90 million upgrade and enhancement.
There is little doubt that when this great day arrives and the City Engineer delivers the completed observatory and the Department of Building and Safety issues its certificate of occupancy, this burnished civic and cultural attraction will be second to none for a Los Angeles landmark. We will have many people and entities to thank and celebrate.
They include some very generous private donors as well as various government officials who help us secure federal, state, county and city funds. I know it will be a very happy day for Dr. Edwin C. Krupp, the Observatory's director, and his staff, Friends of the Observatory, and others who have worked so long and hard to see this dream become a reality.
The City must be prepared for this day and be able to manage the impacts of an instant hit attraction, for lack of a better term. For more than a year from its re-opening, we have been developing a comprehensive access plan to mitigate the traffic and parking challenges at the Observatory and in the surrounding neighborhoods. Recreation and Parks, along with my office, has employed a technical advisory group comprised of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, Los Angeles Police and Fire Departments, the Getty Museum, the Greek Theatre and Hollywood Bowl and other private consultants, to identify various mitigations to address demands we expect the facility will impose. We are also working closely with the Los Feliz Improvement Association, the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council and the park's neighbors to craft a strategy that will produce a successful re-opening.
I want to thank you for your patience as we await the historic day in the City of Los Angeles.
- Preserve interior of park
- Preserve wildlife habitats
- Expand park boundaries
- Public transit access to park
- Improved park management
- Educational opportunities for youth
- reforest Toyon Canyon and Toyon Vista
- Passive recreation and picnic space at Toyon Canyon
- Preserve Dante's View, Captain's Roost, Amir's Garden
- Revitilization of Bird Sanctuary and Fern Dell
- Maintain Martinez Arena for public equestrian use
- Audubon certification for all five golf courses
- Connect Griffith Park to Los Angeles River and River Bikeway
- Preserve and enhance equestrian trails
- Additional children's play arenas
- Complete modernization of park water system
DO NOT SUPPORT
- Commercialization of Griffith Park
- Off-road mountain biking
- Pleasure Pier over Los Angeles River
- Destination restaurant at Griffith Observatory
- Culinary School
- New roads
- Tram to Toyon Canyon
- Overhead power lines
Have an opinion? Discuss the Griffith Park Master Plan on the PreserveLA Forum !
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