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Duran Apologizes; East Side Group Wants a Say in Plummer Park Redesign

Mayor John Duran says he's sorry for his comment about foes of Plummer Park project. East Side Project Advisory Committee weighs in on renovation plan.

The Plummer Park controversy had several new developments this week. Mayor John Duran apologized for earlier comments he made about , the East Side Project Advisory Committee said it wants a say in the parks' redesign, and the city released a new information packet about the $41 million plan.

During Monday night’s City Council meeting, Duran issued an apology for comments he made two weeks ago about the park.

At the Nov. 21 City Council meeting opposed to the planned renovations of Plummer Park. Duran advised that rather than complaining about the redesign, people should be grateful that the city has the money to do capital improvements at a time when so many other cities are having severe budget shortages.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, Duran clarified those comments.

“I was not intending for anybody to believe that I was calling you ungrateful,” Duran said. “My comment was drafted that we all as a community should be grateful for the fact that we are not struggling today. That was the intent of my comment, not to offend. And I apologize.”

Duran went on to say he was glad the city was having discussions about how to handle the Plummer Park redesign and that everyone’s opinion will be heard before the Council votes on any new plan for the park.

After the meeting, resident Stephanie Harker, who spearheaded the Protect Plummer Park movement to oppose the park renovations, said she was surprised Duran apologized.

“I’m shocked by Duran’s apology,” Harker told Weho Patch, “but very grateful he made it. It shows he’s beginning to understand.”

D’Amico weighs in too

Councilman John D’Amico also addressed the Plummer Park situation during his opening comments, saying he was happy that the entire community was engaged in the discussion.

“It’s been a little bit of fits and starts, but the conversation is on,” D’Amico said. “Though we have not agendized this item, we all hear you and see you, and acknowledge that this is part of the conversation about how we make cities.”

D’Amico said he was confident that City Manager Paul Arevalo would bring the best alternatives for the park to the council. He also assured that council members were paying attention to the Plummer Park protests.

With those comments, D’Amico became the third of the five council members to address the Plummer Park controversy during a council meeting.

Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Prang was the first to address it. At the Nov. 7 council meeting, Prang said he believed the project as adopted on several points. He promised that the council would reevaluate the project, saying he had “never witnessed another event with such strenuous objections to the plans.”

Council members John Heilman and Abbe Land have not yet spoken publicly about the park controversy.

East Side PAC wants a say

Plummer Park was a point of prolonged discussion at Tuesday night’s meeting. The project advisory committee voted unanimously to request the opportunity to review and make comments on the park redesign when it comes back.

This was the first East Side PAC meeting since August, so it was the first chance members had to voice their opinions since the

Members were concerned about 75 percent of the park being closed for almost two years while underground parking is built. They did not like seeing the 100-year-old trees removed from the park or the WPA-era conjoined Great Hall/Long Hall demolished as a result of that dig.

They also did not not like the futuristic façade planned for Fiesta Hall, and strongly objected to plans that call for toddlers to play on the roof of a new Tiny Tots pre-school building when the school sits in the middle of a park.

East Side members said they did not recall giving their stamp of approval to the park design. Housing Director Allyne Winderman, who serves as the staff contact person for the PAC, said the advisory committee had been issued a copy of the plan to “receive and file.”

PAC members then asked why they were not allowed to have input into the park plans since it is something that should come under their purview. Winderman replied that “government is complicated” and there was not time for every board or commission to have input.

“For everybody to review everything to the enth detail just doesn’t work,” Winderman said, explaining that a large Plummer Park Redesign Committee was put together consisting of PAC members, various commission members and other residents who use the park.

She said some boards and commissions had input on certain aspects of the plan, but only the Plummer Park Redesign Committee and the City Council had a vote on the entire project.

“That was the route that has had the most say so and input into the design, and that’s just the way it went,” Winderman said. “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Winderman assured that the Council is hearing people’s objections and are reviewing other options for the park redesign.

PAC member Yola Dore, who served on the park redesign committee, said the East Side advisory committee was never asked for input. She said she was not happy with many aspects of the redesign, but had no one to back her up when she objected.

“[PAC members] were not ever out of sight or out of mind,” Dore said. “I did my best to represent your interests.”

With that information, the PAC then unanimously voted to have the chance to offer input.

Later, Harker told Patch she was pleased the PAC requested the review.  

“This is the first time we’re heard [the PAC] had no input either,” Harker said. “We were lead to believe they were very involved in the redesign. It’s good they’ll get a chance to make comments this time.”

New Plummer Park info packet

The city stepped up its PR campaign about the park with the debut of a new eight-page information packet titled, “Commonly Asked Questions about the Implementation of Phase I of the Plummer Park Master Plan.”

That document is printed in English on glossy 24-pound paper. There is also a Russian-language version of it, however it is printed on standard 20-pound paper.

The info packet was part of a collection of papers available at the new information table about Plummer Park, which was set up in the lobby at Monday’s City Council meeting. That table is scheduled to be set up at all future City Council meetings, at least until the Plummer Park controversy is settled.

Staff Senior Administrative Analyst Helen Collins, who serves as a point person for the Plummer Park redesign, said several people had stopped at the table to ask questions and examine a map of the redesigned park. She said many people were picking up the eight-page information packet.

The info packet was not available at Tuesday night’s East Side PAC meeting.

The packet provides a cost breakdown of how the $41 million for the park redesign will be spent. It also provides background into the redesign planning process and emphasizes the portions of the park that will remain open during the two-year construction.

Some say the packet downplays the role the $10 million, 179-space underground parking garage has in forcing the two-year park closure and subsequent removal of trees and demolition of Great Hall/Long Hall.

“The entire project hinges on the underground parking,” Harker told Patch. “And it’s barely even mentioned in this eight-page sheet. Only three paragraphs about it. This is really misleading.”

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Joel Quaresimo December 13, 2011 at 08:22 PM
Jan..lets move forward A.S.A.P with this enactive !! looks like the feeling on this matter is unanimous !!! I think if we could have a gathering on the matter of changing the election date and term limits, sometime so, it wold be to the bennefit to us all. We can all meet at plummer park or whatever is best for all ,, Feedback on this from all will be greatley apprecheated ,, !!
Chloe Ross December 13, 2011 at 08:31 PM
Right now I am focused on Plummer Park . All these ideas sound great and I encourage anyone who can initiate them to do so. My interest is the park. Please help us in finding a satisfying solution to the situation if you can. Thanks
joninla December 13, 2011 at 09:27 PM
I am glad to hear it. I am not in any way an expert in the field, but even I know when the City Council runs afoul of the law and obligations as elected officials, even if they don't. I'm all in if/when you get there. (I have one more park suggestion I will post separately.
joninla December 13, 2011 at 09:38 PM
One of the grounds possible to prevent the CIty Council from destroying old growth trees ... And so many in one fell swoop. West Hollywood has laid out its fundemetal principles as a City, including Preservation of all Tree in the City. There is a very short and specific local code that Prohibits Absolutely Anyone from Cutting, Trimming, Harming or Removing any Tree on Public Property. Of couse, as clear as the ordiance is, is is equally clear it "Does not apply to The City Council or City Staff there under. It sounds pretty clear and rather a sweet deal for the City when they want to build projects that requires them to chop down trees. However, just because the City (the same incumbants who wrote the City's Principles as well as this Ordinance) created and enacted it under what I will assum was proper procedure, THAT DOES NOT NECESSARILLY MEAN IT IS A LEGAL, VIABLE AND ENFORCEABLE/APPLICABLE LAW. There is a inconsistency with the ordiance and the basic fundemental principles and I belive the City trying to proceed to destroy 56+ trees under this local ordinance could be challenged and I think a judge would be very willing to consider the blanket exemption by the City as being such a contradiction of the intent of the CIty's Charter, involves not just one tree, but 50+ of the oldest trees in the area THAT IT WAS NEVER THE INTENT TO ALLOW THE CITY TO DESTROY SO MUCH, AND STRIKE THE BLANKET EXEMPTION THE CITY GRANTED TO ITSELF.
Rudolf Martin December 13, 2011 at 09:46 PM
yes, jan, joel, jon, chloe and anyone else following this. count me in. like chloe my interest is mainly Plummer Park but a broader approach can benefit both the park movement as well as the effort to enliven the democratic process. For example the Protect Plummer Park group will start registering voters next year. We will not go away if this plan gets shoved down our throats. Quite the contrary.
Chloe Ross December 13, 2011 at 09:48 PM
First we take Plummer Park ...then we take Berlin...
Rudolf Martin December 13, 2011 at 09:57 PM
..' they sentenced me to twenty years of no shade in the park..'
Rudolf Martin December 13, 2011 at 09:59 PM
and yes jon, this should be looked into as well.
joninla December 13, 2011 at 10:02 PM
I understand your priorities - however both saving the park (and stopping the $13 Mill garage) can also in one great fell swoop (greater than the intent to fell the entire Plummer Park) do both - STOP immediately the ability to cut the trees without notice, permanently protect the park, the loss of the massive costs and change the future to protect the City, it's residents and natural resources by showing the actions that have been taken to destroy our park were improper and the Council was taking on the side - Racketeering may be the correct crime. The irreparable harm to both the trees/park also pose irreparable harm to the future fiscal soundness of The City and Continued Survival, given the amount of this and the other concurrent projects. There may not be enough money left in the budget to address the other primary concern of the City's Charter, to wit: Protecting and Providing for the needs of the poor and elderly population of the City who are dependent on the Services the City Provides, and are in jeopardy from such massive and reckless spending for projects that do not even generate any income/revenue stream for the money the City is "Investing" in such an absurd project. Need an attorney to submit and frame the argument and then I think there could be a fast jump over the steps trying to go through the WeHo obstacles the City created to deal with community issues.
joninla December 13, 2011 at 10:07 PM
20 Years?? Do you mean a life sentence? Or do you mean 'until regrowth occurs'? I don't think anyeone (even Chole who I think sleeps with one eye alway open and watching :) ) realizes the Trees Will NEVER regrow to their old sizes OR EVEN TO A LARGE SIZE. There is going to be an undground parking structure with only a thinn layer of earth covering the garage. NO TREE WILL EVER BE ABE TO GROW VERY BIG WITHOUT THE EARTH BELOW FOR IT ROOT STRUCTURE TO HOLD UP THE TREEs.
Chloe Ross December 13, 2011 at 10:17 PM
The trees have names - they have unique needs - you cannot just rip out trees and stick new ones in. My brother is a tree man - he knows his trees. Trees are what keep the ecological balance, clean the air and cool the planet. Prune them, groom them, doctor them - but "woodman, woodman, spare that tree, touch not a single bough for in my youth it sheltered me and I'll protect it now"....(it's a quote).
joninla December 14, 2011 at 06:41 AM
Chloe - I know less than squat about trees and even I know how each tree really has very special needs. Do we believe the City is less aware than I or do we think they are fully aware and perhaps just hopeful nobody brings up your point. I saw this quote today, and immediately thought of you: "Complaining is good for you as long as you're not complaining to the person you're complaining about." Lynn Johnston (1947 - ) LOL (did I already point out the loss of the drainage from the park will cause possible excessive street flooding during major rain storms .... Add that if I haven't already)
Joel Quaresimo December 14, 2011 at 10:01 PM
I know its the holiday season but lets not let this go, I know plummer park in the # 1 issue on evryone's mind, I belive we must make a date and meeting place to get the (Term limits and voiting date) on the next ballot,, We can all talk and go on forever,, but I belive these actions will speak much louder than all of our words put together...I'm open for using the lobby at my Condo Building for meeting place.. ( I'm on kings) or whereever,, but no one thing will happen,,till we come together on this,,
Chloe Ross December 14, 2011 at 10:05 PM
Well contact ProtectPlummerPark@gmail.com as a start - my colleagues are very good at gathering and they can help
Joel Quaresimo December 14, 2011 at 10:11 PM
Chloe : That would be fantastic,,,the sooner the better !!!
Chloe Ross December 14, 2011 at 10:34 PM
I should say it is up to them because I am not an organizer but I do know that such efforts are NOT retroactive and are time consuming and can be costly. PPP is a grassroots, pro bono group and so I suggest it only because I am involved. I am not a politician nor am I an activist per se. I just am very concerned about PP. Once that is resolved for the better I shall probably dissolve into the ether.
Rudolf Martin December 14, 2011 at 11:40 PM
yes, joel, please email the PPP address with your ideas, they seem very compatible. PPP is becoming a large network that will be powerful when it really gets going.
Paul December 15, 2011 at 02:18 AM
I don't normally agree with Chloe but in this rare case I do. There was no apology.
joninla December 15, 2011 at 02:25 AM
Since there is such a desire to keep foucsed on Plummer Park, whoever is going to provide the knoweldge about the process can do the research and have both the details about what will be required and KNOW IN ADVANCE of any planned meeting, the earliest/first posssible date anything could get on a ballot. Interest & Attention span is short. It takes a long time to get anything on a ballot, largly because of the Election Dates which are already set, and the pre-electoin notice requirements may end up making any attempt to have a ballot addtion not possible for a year or more. If you have the information deatails about JUST THE CALENDARING OF THE PROCESS already, I would say "A DEADLINE" is the best way to get anyone onboard.
joninla December 15, 2011 at 02:37 AM
SInce your brother is a Tree Man - you're our expert. There are countless reasons to halt the Park Project. If we can present just one absolutely certain reason why there needs to be a total stop until A SPECIFIC ISSUE can be addressed in detail. The expertise which your brother has would be enough to cover the review of the condition of each tree, it's health, the requirements for relocationg and having it formally catalogued and presented as part of the Pre-Planning THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE by this so called 'planned' $41 Milllion dollar project. Well considering the number of trees - Ask your brother HOW MANY EXPERT TREE PROFESSIONALS would be necessary to do such a pre-planning by a professional. One Professonal Landscaper (licensed) coud handle what 2 or 3 or 4 trees at most for their professional reveiw of what you point out is the very different needs for every tree. The City's Failure to do any professional Tree planning is enough to stop the project (I think). When they say (as usual) "We have alrady done a full plan with a professional landscaper" - let's see what charlatan can handle the formal review of so many trees. (I'm not being clear, I know, but the genral idea, where is the pre-planning work for the protection of the trees?)
Shawn Thompson December 15, 2011 at 08:05 PM
http://wehonews.com/z/wehonews/Pages.php?choice=5973
Shawn Thompson December 15, 2011 at 08:07 PM
Term Limits!
Chloe Ross December 15, 2011 at 10:01 PM
Commenters to Patch comments: I am not an expert. I try to be informed. I rely on facts. I am not an arborist nor an attorney nor an activist. I am writer and I write. The comments I leave and the blog I write are my own opinions and unless I have permission or have heard the words myself - I don't quote others' comments. I have my own strong opinions and speak out but for the record - I am not a spokesperson for any others nor do I make policy or sleep with one eye open. Plummer Park is an important issue to me. I stand with many very smart and informed people with the same concerns. I am one of many. Just so you know.
joninla December 17, 2011 at 02:05 AM
I apologize for offending you or making any more than a suggestion that you were able to give any expert advice. I only realized by your comment that non of the reader are experts, but from our individual experiences, some people have known experts of all kinds and in all areas. I think I was trying to make a point about the city lacking any expert on Trees in planning the Park Project, which I had not even considered before. I was trying only to point out rehetorically after your comment about there beign Experts in Trees, that even if the city had hired ONE for the Park Project, given the size of the project and number of trees, just one tree expert would be indequate to deal with the needs of all the trees involved with the project. I am sorry, about offening you - I meant it as a compliment that you notice things that I had never even consiered. Nothing more. I am sorry.
Chloe Ross December 17, 2011 at 02:21 AM
joninla - no worries. It was meant as compliment and I accept your kind words. Keep fingers crossed for our PPP - we need all the support we can get. Thanks :}
Pastor Scott T. Imler December 21, 2011 at 07:36 PM
Joninla -- While I think term limits are a dubious subsitute for an engaged and informed citizenry and have been a disaster in Sacramento, there IS INDEED the capability to place on the WEHO muicipal ballot an intiaitve establishing some form of term limits. WEHO is a subdivision of the State of California and as such its resident voters have the same rights as the California electorate in this regard. In many communities "term limits" would take the form of a Charter Amendment. Since WEHO doesn't have a Charter, term limits would have to be added to the WEHO Municipal Code where the Campaign Contributions limits are. An alternative would ber to launch a CHARTER CAMPAIGN, whereby a Charter Commission would be elected by the voters and charged with creating a NEW governance document for the City. I just depends on whether folks think the problems will be solved by changing the faces on the Council or whether systemic changes are needed to correct structural problems in how the City goverment is set up. It could be the latter is the smarter way to go, with a new Charter containing some resaonable version of term limits.
Pastor Scott T. Imler December 21, 2011 at 07:52 PM
Joel - While I think term limits are a dubious substitute for an engaged and informed citizenry, there are models around the state that have been effective without limiting choices voters choices. there IS INDEED the capability to place on the WEHO municipal ballot an intiaitve establishing some form of term limits. WEHO is a subdivision of the State of California and as such its resident voters have the same rights as the California electorate in this regard. In many communities "term limits" would take the form of a Charter Amendment. Since WEHO doesn't have a Charter, term limits would have to be added to the WEHO Municipal Code where the Campaign Contributions limits are. An alternative would be to launch a CHARTER CAMPAIGN, whereby a Charter Commission would be elected by the voters and charged with creating a NEW governance document for the City. I just depends on whether folks think the problems will be solved by changing the faces on the Council or whether systemic changes are needed to correct structural problems in how the City government is set up. It could be the latter is the smarter way to go, with a new Charter containing some reasonable version of term limits.. I've done both local and statewide initiatives in the past and would be happy to help with the mechanics, but I do think we'd be well advised to take a look at the structural issues addressed by a Charter rather than strictly personality issues addressed by term limits.
Pastor Scott T. Imler December 21, 2011 at 08:13 PM
Joel - The e-mail address you posted above bounces back as UN-deliverable. Please advise.
Joel Quaresimo December 21, 2011 at 09:54 PM
PastorScott, sorry about the emale its joelq@mywehoworld.org I have been intouch with John D'Amico's , He's all for adding the term Limits, He's aware that there is a strong motion to move forward with this inchoative,,I apprecahte you input very much and belive we can get this done,waiting to get more details from John's office, Will let you know as soon as I do. lets stay on top of this ,,Merry Christmas ,, and Hoping for a greeat new year Joel Q
Joel Quaresimo December 29, 2011 at 08:17 PM
http://parklabreanewsbeverlypress.com/news/2011/12/plummer-park-plan-2-0/ Looks like city council is starting to Wake up !!!

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