By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
"That land’s junk land," declares Nita Rosenfeld, a 40-plus-year canyon resident who says that the hillside collapses with every heavy rain. Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg joined Laura Chick, Mark Ridley-Thomas and Richard Alatorre in opposing the purchase.
"It’s our belief that he could develop the land," counters a spokeswoman for Cindy Miscikowski, the Mandeville Canyon council rep who championed the purchase. Reached by phone, Boeckman insisted that he was "well down the road" towards building when the mayor and other officials approached him about the park sale. But Miscikowski’s office concedes that Boeckman would have had to spend more money before breaking ground.
Why use public money at all, you might ask, to buy property in a council district with 313 acres of parkland, or 1.3 acres per 1,000 residents — as opposed to less than one-third acre per 1,000 in Echo Park/Atwater/Central L.A.? Echo Park rep Goldberg’s working-poor district, with a measly 79 acres of parkland, lacks the backyard lawns, pools and tennis courts of Mandeville Canyon. The Boeckmann purchase draws on Proposition K funds, which voters approved in 1996 for inner-city and other parks. Three million dollars is the current price tag for a new park in Hollywood’s impoverished Yucca corridor. But that’s with soccer field, basketball court, boxing gym and computer lab for the kids. Mandeville Canyon, by contrast, will exist primarily for adult joggers and mountain bikers. Miscikowski’s office says the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy will organize Mandeville field trips for inner-city children. OffBeat fears, however, that with the nearest bus stop two miles away, most city youth will continue playing in abandoned lots and alleys until the council decides to build in their neighborhoods. And that won’t be any fresh-air adventure.—Bobbi Murray
You’ve come to the end of a fine meal at a West Hollywood eatery, be it Spago or McDonald’s, and you’re in the mood for a little treat. Will it be the pot de crème, a soft-serve cone or, perhaps, a latex love glove?
The head of the nation’s largest HIV/AIDS medical provider is taking his group’s safer-sex crusade to the table in this gay-friendly burg, pressing the city to require free condoms at every restaurant and gin joint in town. Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, says he launched a petition drive to qualify a sweeping condom-distribution measure for an upcoming city ballot, because West Hollywood’s current free-condom program is a "joke" — one bar was spotted using its city-furnished condom dispenser for lime wedges. In a city with double the infection rate of L.A. County at large, West Hollywood’s "laissez-faire attitude about the spread of HIV and AIDS" is alarming, Weinstein says.
But the plan has met with resistance from both city leaders, who say it’s too broad (they don’t want condoms at family restaurants), and community members (one letter to a local publication called Weinstein a "condom Nazi").
Though Weinstein acknowledges that free condoms won’t wipe out unprotected sex, he says that they would make a statement. After the City Council agreed last week to take up the issue, Weinstein put his petition drive on hold. Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Prang credits Weinstein’s group with bringing attention to an important issue and says the city is considering a scaled-back plan to give out condoms at, say, gay bars and some other establishments that serve alcohol.
Weinstein is conciliatory, conceding that initiatives are "a blunt instrument" and adding that any increase in city focus on AIDS prevention, and social services in general, would be an improvement.
He’s also hoping to get the city to waive its parking requirements for all social-service agencies (his group is already exempt) and to spend more money on groups located within the city’s 1.9-square-mile boundaries. Officials are balking at both proposals, but Weinstein is unfazed. "We have a 12-year history of being obnoxious to city government," he says. "Sometimes that’s how you get things done."—Sara Catania
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