State of Griffith Park: Why Thursday’s Advisory Board Meeting Means Something

As most have noticed, I’ve been following the Griffith Park saga not just from a cycling standpoint, but as a people issue as well. With the pilot program being completed a week ago, most of us sit with baited breath waiting for the next shoe to fall.

This Thursday, the Griffith Park Advisory Board will be meeting at the Crystal Springs Ranger Station where this issue will take shape again. If a motion passes supporting the continual closure of Mt. Hollywood Drive, it’ll be considered a victory, but the battle will still wage on.

Ultimately, the fight will center around the one thing most fights center around: money.

While Eric Garcetti covered everything that’s awesome in LA last week, I do not remember any mention of the Recreation and Parks Department which is in dire need of funding.

At the start of the whole controversy, it was spread across the news that this was a Beachwood Canyon vs. cyclists issue, pitting the poor underserved hill residents versus the entitled bicycle lobby, which is exactly opposite of reality.

You may be shocked to hear this, but this was a common exercise by the media to polarize two sides to oversimplify the argument. Please return to the chair you just fell out of.

In reality, there are a number of stakeholders outside the cycling community that are vastly concerned about these developments, including residents, hikers, horseback riders and many groups, including the Friends of Griffith Park and the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter. Also, the idea that to be “pro” Griffith Park means you’re against Beachwood Canyon is an incorrect generalization as well.

The reason we're doing this
The reason we’re doing this

To be honest with ourselves, there never would be this forced Griffith Park versus Beachwood Canyon issue if money wasn’t involved. Opening up Mt. Hollywood Drive to cars might have seemed liked the attraction, but the real issue was bringing paid parking, Hollywood sign shuttles or both!

Summing up what this throughway looked like during the three week trial period can be done in one word: chaos. Cars filled the road speeding down the hill and making awkward U-turns leaving no spot for hikers. The ground became a convenient place to leave your trash while Parks and Rec deployed a daily army to clean this mess up. Dog walkers awkwardly navigated the dirt ridge that now serves as a dangerous walkway. The park’s ecology was threatened as cigarette butts were spread abound a highly flammable environment. Even P-22 had to seek shelter.

With all the resources involved to make this pilot program happen, it’s hard to imagine making this program palatable, unless other resources are being sucked away.Griffith Observatory

It’s no secret RAP are looking for more creative ways to bring in funding. Last week, the Observatory was taken over by an oversized tent for a fashion event involving a british clothier who I won’t promote. Perhaps more troubling was during its construction, the staff refused to mention its purpose creating more of a divide between us versus them.

Also, last week we saw the intersesting decision to turn over control of the Greek Theater from the Nederlander Organization to RAP after Live Nation was temporarily named the winner. How this is going to play out is anyone’s guess, like the first page of a greek drama(whoops, I just did that). There’s talk of extending the season, which will affect many of the park’s regular events, including Cyclocross at the Park.

It’s not to say that the park shouldn’t be allowed to make money, but it’s not a stretch to say that these aren’t elegant solutions.

This Thursday’s meeting is important, but remember that this is not just about your own needs, but how we want future generations to experience Griffith Park. It’s an easy place to take for granted, with so much to offer. It only takes one misstep to permanently damage the park.

Please show up this Thursday to show support and join one of the feeder rides from either Toluca Lake and Silver Lake. This can only be the people’s park if we take a stand for it.