FHRA Marshalls Its Members At The 2005 Annual Meeting
by Bruce Carroll
The 17th annual spring meeting of the Franklin Hills Residents Association, as usual, got off to a delicious start with large trays of homemade cookies donated by FHRA member Vivian Shea.
For the first time since 1991  the meeting was held on campus at John Marshall High School and  FHRA members used the halls of Marshall High to study historic photos of the school from the FHRA collection. Next year Marshall will celebrate its 75th birthday.

On hand to welcome all the Franklin Hills neighbors was assistant principal Richard Tellez. He recounted how when first told he was being assigned to Marshall instead of a valley school he agreed to stay just one year…"that was in 1983."  Once he got to Marshall he said he felt “very very fortunate” And noted “we get tons and tons of compliments about John Marshall High School and the Franklin Hills area."

Marshall is the second smallest LAUSD high school campus and according to Tellez “we’re bulging at the seams.” School board figures show an enrollment of over 4800 students. Tellez invited residents to call the school if there are problems, such as graffiti, that the school might be helpful in solving.

Next on the program was the State of the Hill report by President Charley Mims. He urged residents who see a way to better the community to come to the FHRA with their ideas and energy as we’ve done in the past with the median landscape and stairway cleanups. He also urged all of us to slow down when driving because of the increased number of children in the neighborhood.
The meeting also heard from board member George Grace who is still working to get a wildlife drinker installed in Griffith Park in hopes of keeping critters there and not in our back yards. He asked folks to let him know, through a link on the FHRA website, about any coyotes sightings in the neighborhood.

Grace is the FHRA representative to a citizens committee working to improve the proposed Griffith Park master plan unveiled earlier in the spring and mitigate the traffic effects of the Observatory reopening next year.
Next up was traffic committee co-chair Shirley Mims who detailed efforts to get traffic to slow down and prevent serious accidents adjacent to Franklin Avenue median.

Already as a result of FHRA concerns DOT has added new lines and signs to the area and since their installation there have been no major accidents.

She explained that new traffic studies are being done in hopes the street can be downgraded from its current “secondary highway” status which might allow installation of speed bumps, but with the high volume of traffic that still might not be possible.

Councilmember Tom LaBonge made his always lively appearance asking the crowd to give themselves a big hand for being involved in their neighborhood. Responding to a continuing complaint in the Franklin Hills…the deterioration of our concrete streets…LaBonge says he trying to find the money to put together a program to preserve those streets that are now over 80 years old. He also pushed for expansion of our rail transit system explaining that if all the buses that run along Wilshire Blvd. each day were parked end to end they would stretch from the ocean to Monetbello.
To relieve Griffith Park traffic and Observatorty parking he proposed an aerial tramway to allow Observatory visitors to park near the Greek Theatre and glide their way up the hill.
Peter Bedard reported that work will be started in late June on first for four envisioned murals along Myra Avenue under the Sunset overpass. The design for the mural by artist Louie Metz, which has been praised and approved by the city’s Cultural Arts Commission, incorporates historic photos from the FHRA collection and representations of current life in the area.

FHRA member Chris Casady complained about the lack of public input into the mural’s design and later supplied the FHRA with his own concept of what should go on the forlorn, oft graffitied walls.

Bedard also demonstrated how he uses his cell phone camera to catch photos of taggers and sends them the LAPD. There are rewards up to $1,000 for some tagging tips that lead to convictions.

Bruce Carroll presented the FHRA treasurer's report saying the finances were in good shape and asking those in attendance whether the FHRA should cast the proxy for our 4 shares of AT&T in favor of a merger with SBC. They said "yes." The big deal will net FHRA about $2.99 at current stock prices.
Carroll also reported that the wishes of Franklin Hills residents, as expressed in a poll last year, will come true, and the short section of Prospect Avenue just west of Vermont will not be closed off as some had proposed in redesigning the Vermont Triangle  intersection at Hollywood Blvd.

The official business of the evening, electing six members of the eleven member FHRA board, was carried out swiftly. Candidate Anne Marie Ripley, told the audience, “I love walking through the hills and I have been active painting out graffiti.” She will be joining reelected current board members: Chris Boutelle, Bruce Carroll, George Grace, Carol Skinner and Elliot Zeelander.

The most controversial topic of the evening revolved around cancellation of a new school in our area. The LA Unified School District had been planning a nearby “Span School” with grades 6 through 12 to relieve serious overcrowding at Marshall High and King Middle School.
Susan Cline, a former FHRA member, who manages planning and pre-construction of LAUSD projects, says the latest six year area school population projections have “taken a severe dip” indicating that overcrowding can be relived by other new school projects such as the Central High School #1 already under construction at Sunset and the 101 freeway and another planned across the LA River in the former Taylor railroad yard.
There would also be a new middle school on Western Ave. near Fountain replacing the old Tropicana mud wrestling venue. But that site is only three blocks from the existing LeConte Middle School.

Councilmember LaBonge favors building the span school as originally envisioned, but wants it located adjacent to the LA City College campus where the golf driving range was recently built. Cline says that site is not large enough and they’d have to condemn many rental units and businesses along Vermont to put the school in near the LACC campus.

FHRA member Mary Rodriguez, former GGPNC Education Committee Chair, contested Cline’s demographic assumptions and urged residents to let the school board know that we really do need the span school because without it Marshall and King will still be operating at twice their design capacity. She also noted that the proposed Taylor Yard site is very likely contaminated from its railroad days.
Then the meeting moved from big schools for lots of students to little schools for the littlest students. Representatives from three nearby preschools talked about their programs, progressive philosophies and parent participation. Missy Coombes spoke on behalf of the LA Family School on Griffith Park Blvd., Kenneth Robins described All Children Great and Small on Welch Pl., and Shelly Freiberger represented the preschool at the Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center on Bates Ave.
The closing act…because they are always a tough act to follow, was our long time LAPD Senior Lead Officers. Ofc. Al Polehonki reported Franklin Hills crime is down, about 7% from last year, but not as much as the near 20% drops in the last three years. Ofc.Sam Salazar detailed recent success with the arrest of a suspect who had raised the number of thefts from motor vehicles in his area to about 20 in one week from it’s usual 2. By spotting the trend early and applying extra resources his crime spree was quickly quenched. Polehonki warned Hondas and Toyotas are the most stolen cars…but suggested the steering wheel Club defeats 99% of the thieves who are just out joy riding.

At least three lucky residents went away from the meeting with big smiles after winning door prizes of gift cards.

FHRA member Sheri Mobley, who did such a great job publicizing our Shakespeare Bridge re-opening party in 1998, won a gift card from Skylight Books on Vermont. Other prizes got the winners meals at The Alcove Restaurant on Hillhurst and Giannino Restaurant on Hyperion.

The moral of the story is getting involved with the FHRA can be rewarding...not only for the community but for your palate and brain.

Thanks to all who attended and joined the FHRA for 2005