By Bruce Carroll

Franklin Hills residents were welcomed to the FHRA’s 28th Annual Meeting on June 18, 2016, by our host the Lycee International de Los Angeles (LILA) with a lively video montage of campus activity. Then FHRA President Tim Cowell turned to some official business: introducing board members, announcing that the board had decided to change the schedule for the Annual Meeting from its traditional mid-June time to April for 2017, and calling for members at the meeting to vote on a motion raising FHRA dues by $5. Individuals dues going to $20, or $35 per household membership. The proposal passed overwhelmingly with one "no" vote from Treasurer Bruce Carroll who complained he’d have to spend more time counting the extra money. In his Treasurer’s report Carroll declared "the treasury is healthy and people are generous." He also noted that FHRA had switched Overview printers and saved nearly $1000 per issue.

The first guest speaker was LA Fire Department Capt. Richard Fields who spoke of LAFD’s reorganization. Our area is in the West Bureau (213-485-6282) He joked that "El Nino decided not to visit this year" emphasizing that "critical brush conditions continue to exist in our city." He pointed out everything has an ignition temperature and low humidity drastically reduces ignition temperatures, explaining, "our role inside a brush fire is we don’t go in and try to put it out. We try to draw a line around it. Your brush clearance helps us to do that." For more info about brush clearance you can go to www.lafd.org/fire-prevention/brush.

Capt. Fields also repeated the message about checking smoke detectors every six months noting that fire deaths are reduced by 22% in homes with working smoke detectors. He recommended hard wired detectors with a backup battery.

The next speaker was Capt. Arturo Sandoval commander of LAPD’s Northeast Division (3353 San Fernando Rd. 323-561-3211) who said he was "very, very honored and inspired by the attendance here on a Saturday morning" and spoke in glowing terms about their new "absolutely beautiful station." He explained that there was a public meeting room available and plenty of visitor parking, but no employee parking yet which he admitted will be "very trying for the next couple of years."

Capt. Sandoval had good news noting: Northeast year to date was one of only two LAPD division with a drop in violent crime, but also "Bad news for Northeast our property crime is toward the bottom…we have a double digit increase" Specifically "for Franklin Hills I’m sure it’s not news to anyone here in 2014,15,16 burglary from motor vehicles is the top crime." He explained "in almost 40% of the burglary from motor vehicles it’s people that leave their window open, leave their vehicle unlocked and, or leave valuables, or not valuables, it could even be just a phone charger, in plain sight that draws crime to their vehicle. We have videos time and time again where we see individuals going down the street pulling on car doors…1,2,3,boom! This one opened and guess which vehicle they go into?" He also emphasized the importance of following the "see something say something" rule.

John Marshall High School Principal Patricia Heideman was next on the agenda. She spoke of neighborhood concerns about the unsightly look of the ongoing project to restore the school’s aging iconic façade. "We have a new [decorative] scaffolding in front of the building and that’s a direct result of the neighbors saying, ‘what’s that awful black thing doing there.’ Unfortunately scaffolding is going to be there another four years." She explained that originally the work was just to repair the tower, "but when they started digging deeper they found that there was a lot of water intrusion into the building." So a what started as a $1 million project has grown to $11 million. She advised neighbors that if the construction work is very loud, in violation of the city’s noise ordinance, they should call LAPD who will deal with the contractor. And, "If you find that our students are doing anything they shouldn’t be doing in your front yard, or whatever, the number for the school police is 213-625-6631." She agreed to look into audience concerns about what can be done to ease traffic congestion at school drop-off and pickup times.

Our final guest speaker was City Councilmember David Ryu who congratulated Principal Heideman for Marshall’s third consecutive online decathlon championship and congratulated FHRA’s former President and Chairman, Charley Mims, who is now President of the Hillside Federation, the group that represents 44 LA neighborhood organizations which share many common hillside interests.

Knowing the neighborhood concerns over our crumbling concrete streets Ryu said he was, "very proud we got into the budget this year $750,000 for concrete streets." He termed the Hancock Park repairs a "pilot project." Which he hopes will provide info on how to reduce costs for concrete which now runs five to 20 times more than asphalt. The more durable concrete is important in hillside areas "because of rains, mudslides and more of a public safety issue." Ryu staff researched 70 years of city records and found "concrete streets have not been repaved, have not been fixed."

Ryu promised "anytime your neighborhood association wants to do a cleanup I will bring trash bags cleaning supplies, actual cleaners, I’ll bring other volunteers." Ryu also explained they are looking at ways to relieve some of the frustration and inconvenience of No Parking on street cleaning days. For residents who complain: "they went by already why can’t I park there." Street cleaning equipment will be fitted with GPS devices to track where they are so routes can be planned efficiently and parking enforcement can determine if the street sweeper has already passed so no ticket would be issued. Ryu stressed he’s working to get city departments to coordinate with each other.

FHRA Vice President Shirley Mims (left) and Boardmember Carole Nese presented our emergency safety plan. Nese explained the importance of having a hard hat, gloves, hard soled shoes, and a flashlight handy under your bed, as well as plenty of food, water and first aid supplies. The heart of the program she said is "neighbor helping neighbor and working together to help them survive block by block." Mims passed around a sign-up sheet for those who want to get started by having a safety meeting at their home. She said she always has a whistle with her because "if you get trapped in a building and you can’t get out you are going to use a lot more oxygen yelling. You can whistle a lot longer for help." to let rescuers know where you are.

The meeting was punctuated between speakers by several raffles with winners getting dinners at Palermo, Laemmle Theatres movie passes, Disney themed gifts, and emergency supplies.

Leaving the least surprise for last, the five candidates for the FHRA Board of Directors were elected to the five open seats. New to the Board is Monon St. resident David Brooks who will be joining re-elected board members Eric Frase, Charley Mims, Shirley Mims and Carol Nese.

The meeting was another informative example of how Franklin Hills neighbors can work together to make the neighborhood better.

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