By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
”I believe the opponents to the site are not opponents because of the utility rights of way, or because it is currently parkland. I believe they are opponents because it’s going into their neighborhood. I can‘t prove this, but I think they are opposed because of my bringing large quantities of children who represent the diversity of Los Angeles to Los Feliz. No one has said or done anything else to convince me otherwise,“ continues Ring, a real estate developer who was recently nominated by Richard Riordan to the board of commissioners of the Community Redevelopment Agency. Ring says he is willing to complete an environmental-impact report for the site, but as of yet, the city has not mandated him to do so.
Beside Van de Kamp’s, the financially ailing Petersen Automotive Museum has been discussed as a possible site. Ring says it is not a situation he wants to discuss: ”That is a decision that has to be made by the Natural History Museum, not by me.“ The Petersen lies in the district of County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who wants to make sure another museum takes its place if the automotive museum indeed closes down. He also is hesitant to discuss his talk with Ring about the potential move. In the meantime, Ring continues to focus his energy on the Riverside Drive site.
The proposed site is zoned OS-1-XL -- open space, non-structural unless related to recreation, with a controlled floor-area ratio and a height of no more than 25 feet, such as a community center, according to John Perica of the L.A. City Planning Department. A small community theater on one portion of the property burned down in the late ‘70s. (The nonprofit L.A. Shares, which would have to find another location if the project goes forward, currently resides in one of the theater buildings that survived the fire.) On the site are cedar trees planted in 1916 by the LFIA and the Los Feliz Women’s Club. The trees were declared historic-cultural monuments in 1970. The William Mulholland Memorial Fountain, built in 1940, received the same recognition in 1976.
Keith Herried, who lives in neighboring apartments, has collected 60 signatures from nearby residents on a petition opposing the construction.
The Children‘s Museum is slated to receive nearly $9.5 million in Proposition K bond money over the next three years to facilitate construction, in what sets a precedent for a private nonprofit museum to benefit from public land and public money. (By comparison, the L.A. Zoo will get $10 million and the Griffith Observatory $7.4 million.)
As a condition of receiving the bond money, the Children’s Museum must raise matching funds from public and private donors. Proposition K moneys are dispensed by the L.A. for Kids Steering Committee, composed of William T. Fujioka, city administrative officer; Vitaly Troyan, city engineer; and Ron Deaton, chief legislative analyst.
A watchdog group consisting of two citizens appointed from each council district -- the Proposition K Volunteer Neighborhood Oversight Committee -- unanimously opposed giving money to the museum. Christine Mills O‘Brien, a member, says she based her decision on the high administrative costs of the nonprofit and low attendance, as well as the message the relocation sends to the downtown revitalization effort.
The project does have its supporters in the community.
Reiko Mathieu, a member of the Los Feliz Business Association and a mother of two, says she likes the museum’s plans. ”That land is so detached from what we think of as Griffith Park. It‘s a patch of land that never attracted me to bring my kids, it’s not a dog park -- it‘s a nice-looking grove of trees, but that’s all it is right now.“ The Los Feliz Business Association has declined to take a position on the matter.