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Alternate Plans for Plummer Park Coming by End of Month

Councilman John D'Amico meets with Protect Plummer Park activists, says public meetings unveiling alternate plans could start by end of January.

Alternative plans for renovating Plummer Park could be ready for residents to see by the end of January. That’s what City Councilman John D’Amico told a group of two dozen residents Thursday night during a special meeting to discuss the park’s future.

Residents involved with the Protect Plummer Park movement requested the meeting with D’Amico to discuss their concerns about the that would include closing a majority of the park for up to two years while an underground parking garage is constructed.

D’Amico reported that architects from Brooks + Scarpa, the firm originally hired to design the park renovations, are scheduled to bring those alternate plans to a City Hall subcommittee in two weeks. After that subcommittee reviews the options, meetings for public input will then be scheduled, D’Amico said.

An architect by profession, D’Amico was appointed to that subcommittee in December when the City Council announced it was

Residents presented a 12-point list of their major concerns about the park renovations, including their opposition to the underground parking, removal of trees during construction, and the demolition of the conjoined Great Hall and Long Hall.

D’Amico, who was elected to the City Council in March, told the group he had recently met with Brooks + Scarpa to get the background of the project. He said it became obvious during the meeting that saving the WPA-era buildings was not a priority given to the architects originally. He assured options for restoring the building would be included in the alternate plans.

Residents also expressed concerns about the futuristic façade planned as part of the Fiesta Hall renovations. They said they were happy to see it get a state-of-the-art makeover, but wanted to see the Spanish Colonial architecture preserved. They also suggested that Brooks + Scarpa, a firm specializing in modern architecture, might not be the best firm to handle those renovations.

D’Amico said they would have to see what the alternate plans looked like before deciding whether to go with another architecture firm.

Residents emphasized that construction phasing was a major concern. Since the park is so heavily used by residents, any construction closures would greatly impact them.

“I completely understand that the phasing of the park is as important as the end product,” said D’Amico.

The meeting was initially tense, but as it became clear that D’Amico was understanding their concerns, the mood lightened considerably. D’Amico assured residents the City Council was now hearing what they were saying, even though it initially did not.

“The problem from September to December was the city had invested a considerable amount of money and had a considerable number of stakeholders who slowly peeled away,” D’Amico said. “Then there was only the money expenditures.”

For three months, Protect Plummer Park activists appeared at virtually every city meeting to speak against the planned renovations. Gradually, about the park redesign until the City Council finally announced it was commissioning the alternate plans.

After the meeting, D’Amico told Patch he felt good about the meeting. “I’m pleased that so many people showed up and we had such a great conversation,” he said.

Stephanie Harker, who helped spearhead the Protect Plummer Park movement, told Patch she was “cautiously encouraged” about the meeting.

Similarly, Cathy Blaivas, the other person behind Protect Plummer Park, said she felt “reserved optimism” that the alternate plans would reflect their concerns.

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Cathy January 07, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Thank you James for continuing your coverage of this topic and for your honest and impartial reporting.
Chloe Ross January 08, 2012 at 06:01 AM
How can that be?
joninla January 08, 2012 at 09:45 AM
WAIT, WAIT, WAIT ..... The "new plans" are almost done. The City Council voted to postpone any further action until the new year because so many people were unavailable/out of town during the Holiday Season. I noticed how the City has misled the Residents over the 'promised redesign' of the $41 Million Dollar project. They dismissed all possibility of purchasing any adjacent land (with movietown on the auction block and a blight on the neighborhood) and made it clear there would be the construction of some kind of underground parking structure that would be within the boundaries of the existing park. But there was an issue about there be ANY UNDERGROUND STRUCTURE even build for numerous reasons beyond the trees (safety, crime, homeless etc..). To announce as a "SURPRISE" early Christmas bonus for the City rushing so quickly to hire the new architecture team was a big SLAP IN THE FACE for everyone who spent so much time devoted to affecting a positive redesign of the plans. I've NEVER seen the City move so quickly as they did to agree to wait until after the holidays and then FIND, INTERVIEW, COMPARE, ENGAGE IN NEGOTIATIONS AND HIRE AN ARCHITECT .... Then have them present new Plans ... all before the end of the year?? COME ON! And Mr. D'Amico .... I know you have Planning Experience, but your political skills may need sharpening LETTING THE COUNCIL DUMP THEIR RESPONSIBILITY ON TO YOU & Abbe.
Rudolf Martin January 08, 2012 at 04:39 PM
joninla: you seem to misunderstand what is going on here. just to clarify what John D'Amico told us: nobody has been hired or commissioned yet. Brooks & Scarpa were merely asked to present various alternate concepts that would incorporate resident's concerns as related to them by him and Abbe Land. They get to make their 'pitch' first, but they haven't been hired yet.
Cathy January 08, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Thank you martincomet for clarifying. Althought joninla is correct in saying the city acted quickly. I still have reserved optimism!
joninla January 08, 2012 at 10:27 PM
I think I may be coming across wrong. I wish all my concerns and beliefs in what the City is doing is wrong, but I have been watching the repetition of a pattern each time there is a project, the public outcry, the bs dog and pony show, and then end result being something undesirable but what we are stuck with. I also admit to have not paid any attention for 15 years. But during the last year or so, I sudden began to see what was going on, and having no personal issues with any of the projects (they don't affect me personally - I just am considering it from what is best for the CIty). The driving force behind all the Building Projects is a state "Incentive Program" which gives Developers the ability to "stack" various incentives for including in their projects low income units, parking, mixed-use .... Once they incentives are stacked, the Developer gets to bypass the zoning restrictions for size, height, setbacks, number of units and number or parking spaces. The Jons Market & Carl's Junior MASSIVE Projects are the current disaster about to be built. Movietown failed for financial reasons, and I think it was because the City was unable to build the necessary low income units on the Tara Property. Likewise, I suspect the Plummer Park Parking Garage and the additional 69 spots are only being forced upon us because it may be part of an "incentive program" for the nearby Carl's Junior lot project.
joninla January 08, 2012 at 10:35 PM
For example, when John Heilman was coming up with every reason under the sun as to why the 25 Year Plan for the Future of the City HAD TO BE VOTED ON IMMEDIATELY - could not be revised or reivewed and really pushed for the immediate vote to approve that plan. Well I only realized the reason he was so desperate was that in order for the City to legally Chage the Zoning Restrictions for the City (among the requirments) is the need to have a comprehensive long term City Plan (supposedly a very formal one with true and accurate studies about population, enviornment, transportation ... not like the bs claims the city has done these studies). The pressure was so intense, but it appears he has finally be satisfed and the new zoning will be completed and in place to ensure no delay in the Carl's Jr & Jon's Market projects. What's wrong with all that? Everything. The City Council is acting for the financial interests of the very wealthy Developers who are going to create massive projects that will negatively impact our city, but obviously benefit the personal interests of the City Council Members who voted for the Developers interests, and who spend $41 Million dollars for 69 parking spaces for the Park (which really does not have that much of a parking shortage, as is). I may be very very wrong ... but I am concerned and do believe there is some accuracy to what I've been seeing.
Stephanie January 10, 2012 at 08:21 AM
The Protect Plummer Park movement formally lifted off on Labor Day, Sept. 2011 and pushed forward gathering steam and support from the community.  James Mills has been a dauntless reporter covering this important story of, not only the problems with Plummer Park, but of the failure of the "process" and the glaring disconnect between the constituents, the City staff, the City Manager and our elected officials.  We have met with John D'Amico who in turn has met with the other half of the subcommittee, Abbe Land (is two a committee?) and Brooks & Scarpa.  Supposedly, B&S are to report back with alternatives to their original design.  This concerns the citizens because of B&S's lack of expertise in historic preservation and because of their lack of judgement in their original design i.e. routing the exhaust shaft for the garage up through the preschool building...yes, that was their idea.  Do you want them designing our park?  Speak up, people.  Do not stand idly by.
Stephanie January 10, 2012 at 07:18 PM
The Protect Plummer Park movement formally lifted off on Labor Day, Sept. 2011 and pushed forward gathering steam and support from the community.  James Mills has been a dauntless reporter covering this important story of, not only the problems with Plummer Park, but of the failure of the "process" and the glaring disconnect between the constituents, the City staff, the City Manager and our elected officials.  We have met with John D'Amico who in turn has met with the other half of the subcommittee, Abbe Land (is two a committee?) and Brooks & Scarpa.  Supposedly, B&S are to report back with alternatives to their original design.  This concerns the citizens because of B&S's lack of expertise in historic preservation and because of their lack of judgement in their original design i.e. routing the exhaust shaft for the garage up through the preschool building...yes, that was their idea.  Do you want them designing our park?  Speak up, people.  Do not stand idly by.
Lynn Russell January 18, 2012 at 08:44 PM
The newly announced "additional 1 million dollar redesign" comes on top of what is believed to be a 2.5 million design fee to Brooks & Scarpa. Hmmmm at what point does an architect take responsibility for ill conceived design proposals oblivious to the natural merits of a property? Is the idea of customer or user satisfaction not in the lexicon of ethical business practice? It seems akin the bottomless pit where no one takes responsibility......the architect is uninformed, the folks passing muster are equally ill informed and the community that is becoming increasingly informed is expected to eat it. Can I interest anyone in a "Collectable Couture Iceberg Project in the arctic wasteland"?........It is sure to be world class.
joninla January 19, 2012 at 03:03 AM
updated reposting - nothing new "D’Amico reported that architects from, the same firm originally hired to design the park renovations, are scheduled to bring those alternate plans to a City Hall subcommittee in two weeks." It looks to me like the Architects have been 'hired' and are continuing to work on revising the plans. I am listening to the Dec 5 council meeting, and speakers said several people would not even be in Los Angeles during the Holiday/New Years. So the first reports that there was commission input and people stating they never even heard about it and the City Hall stating they failed to given notice to the residents who are listed to be a part of the planning. "TABLED TO JANUARY 17" at meeting timm 54:30 minutes. It's not 'tabled' to have met with a few residents to tell that what D'Amico had told the Architects to do in creating the revised plans over the holiday. I am on the side of NO UNDERGROUND GARAGE being constructed. The city is clearly committed to the Garage and the biggest question is WHY the rush? There is a motivation to rush this through, which I think is part of the requisites for the 2 major developments breaking ground (carl's Jr & jon's market).
joninla January 19, 2012 at 03:08 AM
RE-POST - WITH CORRECTIONS PER LYNN'S INFORMING ME OF AN ERROR Lynn - I couldn't agree with you more about the necessity for the architect to take responsibility for their finished product. THE ARCHITECTS have wasted no time or effort to brag and republish the initial 'awards' for their design of our new multi-use library, City Meeting Chamber, parking lot and park. After the cameras and reporters are gone, we are left to discover that even basic use on the new facility is so severely flawed in design that it is useless for some intended purposes and even very dangerous for basic access. What should we do?? There are a million possible suggestions that nobody will all agree upon ..... Except one ..... STOP ANY AND ALL PROJECTS THAT HAVE BEEN DESIGNED BY THE SAME ARCHITECTS & DESIGNERS BECAUSE WE KNOW WITH 100% CERTAINTY THEY LACK THE PROFESSIONAL SKILLS AT A MINIMUM TO DESIGN A FUNCTIONAL AND SAFE PUBLIC STRUCTURE! The City's continued use and payment to THE SAME DESIGNERS for services rendered already any any future professional architectural and design services is so far beyond any rational argument for continuing that the City Council and as Mr. Prang stated, our CITY MANAGER WHO IS THE ONE WHO REALLY RUNS THE CITY is a clear sign of negligence in performance of their respective jobs/duties and obligations as both elected officials or GROSSLY OVERPAID CITY EMPLOYEE/MANAGER.
joninla January 19, 2012 at 03:54 AM
Before Lynn distracts everyone over the actual issue, and point with uninformed nonsense, My point was we should not continue with the same builders (architects/contractors/planners et al) who are responsible for the Library. The same contractors of the Library/Park and the entire 25year building project is the same : http://www.heery.com/portfolio/west-hollywood-25th-anniversary-capital-projects-program.aspx The architect for the LIbrary is: http://www.johnsonfavaro.com/our-work/west-hollywood-library http://www.johnsonfavaro.com/our-work/west-hollywood-park http://www.johnsonfavaro.com/our-work/sunset-strip http://www.johnsonfavaro.com/our-work/plummer-park
Chloe Ross January 19, 2012 at 04:11 AM
A good idea would be to seek another plan from another firm that specializes in design for historic locations. And I ask myself why do we have "historic" neon signs along our piece of Route 66 and in the next breath even consider a plan for Historic Plummer Park that disrespects our amazing history and the name of Senor Plummer. Adopt a heritage tree - we have olive trees that will live a thousand more years that need to be protected. We have birds that nest in our lovely space; join the Audubon Society. Save it, protect, enjoy it. Give it a discreet facelift - but we need it and it needs protection.
joninla January 19, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Semi-Interesting and on point http://la.curbed.com/archives/2012/01/map_shows_the_depressing_lack_of_trees_in_la.php
joninla January 19, 2012 at 04:24 AM
In addition to the very real concerns people have about the Professionals Hired, we should also focus on the non-professional City Planners who are ramming this revamped version down our throats before we even know what is really going to be changed from the original Plans. Rushing with the next project while the biggest project of them all, The Library, stands "defective" with no known fixes in the City's collective conscience - and ignoring my suggestions and numerous links to 'quick fixes' for the sound problem - noise dampeners - can be installed in a day (if they wanted to fix the problem) makes no sense.
Chloe Ross January 19, 2012 at 04:24 AM
L.A. is a great big freeway - put a hundred down and buy a car...
Chloe Ross January 19, 2012 at 04:26 AM
joninla - you are quite correct.
A different Paul January 19, 2012 at 05:36 PM
"Residents also expressed concerns about the futuristic façade planned as part of the Fiesta Hall renovations. They said they were happy to see it get a state-of-the-art makeover, but wanted to see the Spanish Colonial architecture preserved." Hooray. I am tired of all this futuristic geometric architecture. I want to see something human. Something that feels welcoming and friendly. Something that has the solidity and elements of detail that make it timeless rather than the latest fad inspired by advances in CAD drafting/building techniques. Just because we can build something like Disney Hall, doesn't mean it is appropriate in all circumstances.
Rudolf Martin January 19, 2012 at 05:43 PM
well said, a different paul! the occasional commenters in city council meetings that support the old design always argue that they would like an improved performance space with adequate parking. the residents united in Protect Plummer Park support that as well. but we want the park treated as the state historic landmark that it is and keep our old growth trees.
A different Paul January 19, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Beauty and functionality in architecture has to be the priority over fad-like flashy portfolio pieces. Thanks to everyone who has been calling out for preservation and embellishment of the park's historical qualities. There have to be architects who value these things out there. Our city needs to start cultivating a relationship with a firm that believes in classic functional and beautiful architecture.
Lynn Russell January 19, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Institute of Classical Architecture has many fine architects skilled in the Spanish Colonial Revival style among them Marc Appleton of Appleton & Associates who founded its So Cal Chapter. In the past several years ICA & CA partnered with Habitat for Humanity to sponsor design competitions for affordable single and multi family homes. The impressive designs, which are available in two pattern books, happened to be judged by a jury containing John Chase. At the awards ceremony at PDC we spoke about the beauty and values of the classical styles including SCR and his new found enthusiasm for them against the current trends. Sadly he passed away shortly thereafter. I am attempting to reconnect this link with John D'Amico and others as ICA & CA would be a most valuable resource starting with the richly deserved appropriate renovations at Plummer Park.
Rudolf Martin January 19, 2012 at 06:52 PM
that is a great suggestion, lynn. there is also Brenda Levin, quite a famous historic preservation architect based in LA - she did things like the Griffith observatory. the point is, there are plenty of great options for the city and they could actually SAVE money by making targeted improvements as opposed to the sweeping soulless redesign that nobody wants. and that would make the phasing a whole lot easier, the park would stay open at all times. and why is the courtyard of Fiesta Hall sealed off by a wall like a prison yard? it would be nice to open that great unused courtyard space under the ancient olive tree up to the community. and the courtyard of Great Hall / Long Hall is stunning, also completely unused for years.
Lynn Russell January 19, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Saturday in Pasadena is a great event in tribute to Julia Morgan (of WR Hearst's many projects) who designed the former YWCA Building on N. Marengo now on Pasadena Heritage's "Most Endangered" list after years of neglect and deterioration while in private hands. It is important because it also involves potential acquisition by the city through eminent domain. Valuable information is sure to come forth from a panel of notable speakers. 1/21/12 @ First Baptist Church, 75 N. Marengo (across from YWCA) $18 admission from 1-4:00 PM. http://www.classicist-socal.org/event/node/436
joninla January 20, 2012 at 12:27 AM
A a fan of modern architecture, I still have to agree with you. Modern is fine (great in my opinion) in the right place, circumstances and of a quality that it is not just a 'fad' style of modern architecture. For example, I recently saw the guy who was controlled weho's architecture just passed away. In the article it said he was responsible (proud too) that he had been able to change the style of the Sunset Millennium Mall (that exists today) from what he described as the developers desire to build a "Cruella D'Aville" style of roof and design. IN THAT SPOT ON SUNSET BLVD - that was exactly the style that should have been built to fit in with the traditional euro-french-interpretation style of Sunset Plaza. Now (and since opening) I every time I go past I wonder WHY??? not have built it in the same style as the row of buildings next door (and in the same style the Sunset Plaza shops just finished adding). The planning commission has taken credit for the designs in West Hollywood and they should also take responsibility for their total failures, to wit: The New Library, Parking Garage, City park, the Hancock Lofts which remain unsold and not even fully rented, apparently the City Hall which was completely designed and rebuilt to fit the City's needs now and into the future, but suddenly there is a supposed desperate need to build the Robo 13Mill Parking Garage. THE PLANNING COMMISSION IS A FAILURE IN PROGRESS.
joninla January 20, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Is anyone going to attend the Planning Meeting?
Stephanie January 20, 2012 at 08:39 AM
A different Paul, please contact us at protectplummerpark@gmail.com. Thanks.

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