The FHRA welcomed members old and new to its June 9, 2004, annual meeting at King Middle School. President Charley Mims opened the meeting with a positive “state of the hill” report and a tribute to the late Norman Harriton, founder of the FHRA Community Garden.

The hot topic of the evening was traffic. Board member Bruce Carroll spoke about a Community Redevelopment Agency proposal that might close off Prospect Avenue at Vermont. An FHRA poll of members found sentiment running 3-1 against eliminating the section of Prospect west of Vermont that merges with Hollywood Boulevard.

Zachary Driscoll at 7 months appears to be the FHRA's youngest new member.

Councilmember Tom LaBonge, who is also a member of the MTA Board of Directors, expressed his belief that it would be difficult to close off that street. He suggested that the MTA rely more on the subway line that runs under Vermont from Wilshire to Sunset, which could reduce area bus traffic and congestion at the intersection.

Jeannie Shen from the city’s Department of Transportation fielded many residents questions about what could be done to control speeds and reduce accidents on our streets, especially Franklin Ave. and St. George Street. She pointed out the intersection gets about 10,000 vehicles per day much of it “cut-through” traffic seeking to avoid congestion on the few other east-west routes through the area. She explained that because Franklin Ave. is classified as a secondary hiway such so-called “traffic calming” measures as speed humps would not be permitted. Several in the audience spoke from personal experience about bad accidents and near accidents from speeding and motorists failure to stop at the all-way stop signs at the intersection. In May 2004 a speeding motorist crossed over the median and totaled several parked cars…and the Median sign

One neighbor suggested that extending the guard rail on the north side of the median would prevent a repeat of this accident in the future. Shen promised to look at the traffic stats for the area to see what might be done. LAPD Senior Lead Officer Al Polehonki said LAPD would intensify enforcement in the area, but that most of those cited would likely be local residents.

Back by popular demand was LA Department of Animal Services wildlife specialist Officer Gregory Randall who praised the FHRA for helping him save the lives of over 300 animals, including four peregrine falcons on the endangered species list. It was at our February Critters meeting that Randall was introduced to representatives of a Camarillo based wildlife rescue organization that has taken care of the animals.
Randall discussed recent reports of a mountain lion in Griffith Park and warned hikers not to go out alone, to carry a cell phone and an air horn. He also suggested a walking stick, golf balls or small rocks or just waving your arms can be used to scare the lion away but you should never bend over or crouch down because you might be mistaken for the lions’ desired diet of deer or other four legged creatures. He explained to a resident who recently saw a pack of 7 coyotes on her street that we are just past the breeding season so numbers are higher than later in the year when most of the young will have died off from the skin disease, mange…and from being hit by cars. The most deadly street being Los Feliz Blvd.

Board member George Grace reported the FHRA fund established to install wildlife drinkers in Griffith park, so coyotes will not be forced to migrate to the Franklin Hills, has already collected over $1,500. Grace explained the goals of the program and asked those attending to sign a petition in support of the project. He also asked for signatures to retain the wildlife specialist position which is being eliminated from the Department of Animal Services. Officer Randall, who has been so informative, would be one of those to be reassigned.

GGPNC Board Member Mary Rodriguez Mary Rodriguez presents certificate of appreciation to FHRA President Charley Mims to honor the FHRA contribution to promoting art on the King Middle School campus.

Councilmember LaBonge introduced the new commanding officer of the LAPD’s Northeast Division, Capt. Morris Smith. The 23 year LAPD veteran said the he is “real big on community policing.” And explained the difficulties he has with the LAPD’s “very thin staffing.”

Senior Lead Officer Polehonki echoed that theme explaining there is only one officer on duty for every 1,900 residents…”so that puts us in a lot of hurt.”

Polehonki reported property crime in our area was down 11% from last year and violent crime was down also, but only by 2%. He asked for neighbor’s help in finding a suspect who used pepper spray to rob a man coming home north of Franklin near Talmadge early in the morning on June 8th. The suspect (black male about 6’, 200lbs, 35 yrs old) was driving a 2000 year gray pickup truck with the partial license plate number 7E143.

The meeting also had reports from several FHRA committees:

Treasurer, Bruce Carroll, reported the FHRA’s finances are in good shape and that to earn more interest we had opened an account at the neighborhood’s new CalNational Bank, but that the uncrowded bank unfortunately was incompetent and had an unfriendly attitude toward new customers, leaving unfullfilled their website's claim: “At Cal National, we have R-E-S-P-E-C-T for you, your money, and your time.”
New Community Garden coordinator, Marcus Christian, reported the garden is thriving and will be renamed to honor its founder the late Norman Harriton.

Mary Frances Smith-Reynolds showed off the design for the Hoover Street mural. The painting along the stairs down from Prospect Ave. should be done by this fall.

Eric Frase, the leader of FHRA’s graffiti abatement team, noted that “things have calmed down in the neighborhood.” He also proposed that we look into the possibility of decorating the many utility equipment boxes on Franklin Hills sidewalks as other cities have done to beautify the neighborhood and reduce graffiti.
Board member  Chris Boutelle plays the part of a human easel as Mary Francis Smith-Reynolds explains that the design for the Hoover Stairway Mural Project has been approved  by the  city.
(below)  Three days before the meeting the FHRA booth at the Los Feliz  Street Fair provided another avenue of outreach.
The meeting elected by acclamation new board member Anne Richardson and re-elected David Campbell, Eric Frase, Charley Mims, and Mary Frances Smith-Reynolds…all will serve two year terms.  They were not the only winners...two lucky residents won the raffle and will be enjoying a delicious prime rib dinner for two thanks to the generosity of the Dresden on Vermont.

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