Councilmembers Tom LaBonge and Jack Weiss said the city has to increase enforcement of illegal supergraphics (large advertising images draped down the sides of buildings) and study whether they make buildings unsafe to occupy. They spoke at a press conference in front of a building that has not complied with fire department or Building and Safety citations for supergraphics covering its facades on three sides.
“Public safety, more specifically, fire safety must be our number one priority,” Councilmember LaBonge said. “I want to be sure that people could get out of any building safely in the event of an emergency.”
He and Councilmember Weiss said the city's current fine is $2,500 per day isn't high enough to discourage building owners from hanging the lucrative advertisements. “Illegal supergraphics have climbed buildings throughout the City in flagrant violation of laws and safety codes,” said Weiss. “Because supergraphics are so profitable, full penalties must be brought to cut into the flow of profits and give enforcement some teeth.” Supergraphics have been the subject of controversy for several months as they have proliferated throughout the city. The City Council approved the three-month moratorium (Interim Control Ordinance or ICO) on both digital and supergraphic displays on December 17, 2008. Many new displays have been hung in defiance of the moratorium, including those at 4929 Wilshire Boulevard.
Councilmember LaBonge introduced a motion on October 24, 2008 directing the Los Angeles Fire Department and Department of Building and Safety to report to Council about any safety violations caused by the newly hung supergraphics throughout the city.
Before a standing-room-only crowd in Council Chambers today, the Los Angeles City Council voted 11-4 to complete the Pachyderm Forest Exhibit, a project which had been temporarily halted at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens.
The Council debated the issue for more than two and a half hours before taking its vote. The discussion drew a wide spectrum of elephant advocates, from zookeepers to Hollywood stars like Cher and Lily Tomlin.
In the end, several councilmembers said that they voted to complete the $42 million project because it is already one-third complete and halting construction to re-design it for another animal would cost the City millions of dollars.
"I'm very thankful to the City Council for reaffirming the work of our dedicated zoo staff and Public Works employees by moving to complete this voter-supported project," Councilmember LaBonge said.
Another Councilmember moved in October to halt the project and create a new elephant habitat in the San Fernando Valley.
The City Council voted unanimously today to make Griffith Park a Historic-Cultural Monument of the City of Los Angeles. About 100 park activists, Los Feliz area residents and equestrians appeared in Council Chambers to cheer the vote.
"I support the historic designation of this park, which I consider the greatest gift this City has ever received," Councilmember LaBonge said. "Without Griffith Park, Los Angeles would have no soul."
The preservation effort was initiated by Van Griffith, great-grandson of Col. Griffith J. Griffith, who donated more than 3,015 acres of park land to the city in 1896. That gift became Griffith Park which, as the city acquired adjacent parcels over the years, has become one of the largest municipal parks in the United States at 4,217 acres. "This is a great day for Griffith Park and a great day for the City of Los Angeles," Councilmember LaBonge said.
For more information on this designation, please click here.
Several hundred supporters of the Los Angeles Zoo's Pachyderm Forest exhibit rallied on the steps of City Hall this morning. Councilmember LaBonge and rock guitarist Slash spoke to the chanting crowd about educating the public through this state-of-the art exhibit.
"I support the people who know elephants, care for elephants and love elephants. And, I support the conservation of elephants. That's why I support this project," Councilmember LaBonge said. "I'm glad it is also what the people of Los Angeles want."
The councilmember and other speakers cited recent polls that indicate an overwhelming majority of Angelenos want to see the project finished and opened. He also thanked the Los Angeles Times for its editorial on Saturday supporting the project. (To read the Los Angeles Times editorial supporting the zoo's project, click here.)
The $42 million project was halted in October, after one-third of the construction was completed. Another Councilmember introduced a motion to create a sanctuary in the San Fernando Valley for zoo elephants. The issue will be heard tomorrow in the Council's Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee at 3 p.m. in Room 340 of City Hall.
City officials presented plans for the proposed North Atwater Creek Park expansion to the public this week. (See the rendering to the left.)
About 1,800 feet of new biking and hiking trails will be landscaped with native plants and trees at this park. The design also includes picnic areas, scenic vista points and interpretive signage along the Los Angeles River.
This on approximately 1.3 acre parcel will link the existing park and restored creek with the adjacent LA River Greenway and surrounding community. Although state funding for the park portion of the project has been frozen in Sacramento, design plans are moving forward in the hope that the project will be ready for construction when funds become available.
Comments on this plan should be directed to: email@example.com.
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Councilmember LaBonge commended Los Angeles Police detectives today for an arrest in the murder of John Robert McGraham, a homeless man who was burned to death in October. Officers arrested 30-year-old Benamin Mathew Martin on murder charges today in the Riverside County City of Rancho Mirage.
The murder of Mr. McGraham, who was burned to death on the sidewalk in the 3500 block of 3rd Street in Koreatown, attracted national media attention because of the horrific nature of the crime.
Mr. McGraham was completely helpless when he was attacked. Neighbors, who had become acquainted with Mr. McGraham and considered him part of their community, rushed to help him but where unable to rescue him in time.
"The tragedy of this case is that Mr. McGraham was harmless," said Councilmember LaBonge. "It's great to know that the fine detectives of the LAPD brought a man to justice. I look forward to the conclusion of this case for the sake the McGraham family."
The memorial service drew hundreds of neighbors and family members who remembered Mr. McGraham as a kind, gentle person who suffered from mental illness.
Councilmember LaBonge joined the Koreatown Youth and Community Center (KYCC) in announcing free help with tax preparation for working families. Employees from several Koreatown banks are volunteering their time to help families who make less than $41,000 per year pay lower taxes through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
"This program is terrific because who doesn't need help preparing their tax forms?" Councilmember LaBonge said at a press conference on Thursday. "In this difficult economy, it's great that KYCC is helping working families save money and fill out their tax forms properly."
Last year, 850 families in the Koreatown area took advantage of the program.
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Please join Tom for his monthly clean-ups in Griffith Park. Held on the second Saturday of each month at 8:30 a.m., they offer park-lovers a great opportunity to demonstrate affection for a great Los Angeles park. For more details, email firstname.lastname@example.org.