Councilmember Tom LaBonge, actor Ed Begley, Jr. and city parks and police officials switched on the first solar-powered lights in a Los Angeles public park last night, illuminating the way to a more energy-efficient, cost-effective future in park management here.
Twenty-eight new lights shined over an exercise station and jogging path in the interior of North Hollywood Park, 11455 Magnolia Blvd in North Hollywood. Scores of fitness buffs worked out and jogged by during the ceremony.
“It’s very gratifying to see so many people out exercising and enjoying the park tonight,” said Councilmember LaBonge. “These new lights will allow people to exercise here safely late into the evening without adding energy costs that, frankly, the city can’t afford right now.”
Added Mr. Begley, an ardent environmental activist whose nickname is the King of Green, “The city demonstrated real fiscal prudence by waiting until the solar power industry came up with lights that were both energy-efficient and affordable. Congratulations to Councilmember LaBonge and the management at the parks department for their environmental leadership.”
Jon Kirk Mukri, General Manager of the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks said the North Hollywood lights are a pilot project that his department will expand upon quickly. Solar lights are planned for two more parks, with three other parks planned for the near future.
“I’m particularly proud of this project because when we put it out to bid, the estimate came back at $500,000. Our own city crews installed it instead and the cost was $263,000, about half as much,” Mr. Mukri said. The cost of the project was covered by Quimby funds, which are amassed through fees from condominium developers in the area, Mr. Mukri added.
About 350 runners of all ages sprinted, jogged and toddled down Wilshire Boulevard this morning at the second annual Miracle Mile Grand Prix Run. The event began with a 5K race. Next came a one-mile fun run, which was followed by a kids' sprint in front of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
"I told the late great Councilmember John Ferraro in 1984 that I'd create a one-mile Miracle Mile run and it's great to see it happening," said Councilmember LaBonge, who co-sponsored the race and made the starting call.
The race was one event in the weekend-long TarFest film, art and music festival. For more information on TarFest, click here.
Councilmember LaBonge recommended a "no tolerance" policy for people who feed wildlife like coyotes in public parks this week. To prevent the public from feeding the wild animals, Councilmember LaBonge introduced a motion this week to review the city process for addressing incidents involving coyotes and people.
This action follows a report that a coyote nibbled at the feet of someone sleeping in the park last week.
"When coyotes approach humans that closely and nip or tug at them, it's because they expect to be fed," the Councilmember said. "We have to discourage this behavior in humans and wildlife because it's not good for either one of them." The Councilmember met with officials from the city's Animal Services and Recreation and Parks departments this week to discuss possible changes to city policy. His motion was referred to the City Council's Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee. For more information on dealing with coyotes in Griffith Park, please click here.
Councilmember LaBonge stressed the value of transit to the continued economic growth of Hollywood during his annual address to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce today.
About 200 business and community leaders crowded into the Avalon nightclub on Vine Street for the luncheon featuring "Mr. L.A.," the nickname that Los Angeles magazine chose for the Councilmember in a major feature article this year.
"People from all over the world love Hollywood and want to come here and we're very lucky to live in such a desirable place," the Councilmember said. "The city is doing everything it can to keep Hollywood strong and vibrant."
Among the initiatives Tom mentioned were stream-lining city services in an era of shrinking public budgets and planning a subway extension along Santa Monica Boulevard through West Hollywood to the Westside.
For more information about subway expansion plans, please visit the Metro website.
Councilmember Tom LaBonge led his annual Fall Equinox hike tonight, as he and 75 Griffith Park enthusiasts climbed to the peak of Mount Hollywood 1,625 feet above sea level. Hikers began gathering at the north end of the Griffith Observatory Parking Lot at 5 p.m. and the Councilmember made comments at 5:18, the exact time of the Autumnal Equinox this year.
“It’s all about enjoying a hike in the middle of the city with friends and neighbors,” said Councilmember LaBonge. “It’s a great way to celebrate nature and the change of seasons.”
An equinox occurs when the tilt of Earth’s own axis is inclined neither away nor towards the Sun, which means that the Sun is directly above a point on the Equator. It means that on this date, the day and the night are equally long.
Hikers departed at 5:30 p.m. for the gentle, 1.5-mile climb to the peak. Hikers brought children and dogs on the friendly community walk. The sunset views of the city were breath-taking. At the summit, hikers shared food that they had generously provided.
The Councilmember, dubbed Mr. L.A. by Los Angeles magazine because of his enthusiasm for his hometown, hikes Mount Hollywood every morning. He has been organizing quarterly sunset hikes in Griffith Park since he was elected in 2001. The hike lasted less than two hours. Click here to see more photos from the hike.
You're invited to Tom's annual Fall Equinox Hike on Tuesday, September 22nd at 5:30 p.m.
Meet the Councilman at the north end of the Griffith Observatory Parking lot for a gentle 1.5-mile hike to the top of Mount Hollywood. The sunset hike offers spectacular sweeping views Los Angeles. No food will be served. The entire hike up the mountain and back will take about two hours and be over by 7:30.
Please wear hiking shoes and layered comfortable clothing. For more information, contact Kathy Kim.
After a recent study indicated that many truants are still on campus during school hours, Councilmember LaBonge moved to address the issue. He introduced a motion that directs the City Attorney to draft an ordinance that would allow for enforcing truancy laws on school grounds.
The councilman's motion also allows for citing students on first offense. The motion will be heard in the Council's Education and Neighborhoods Committee next Tuesday, September 22nd at 3:30 p.m.
To see the agenda for this meeting, click here.
Councilmember LaBonge hosted a send-off yesterday for a team of former firefighters as they began a cross-country tour to raise awareness about cancer in their profession.
Lorenzo Abundiz, President and Founder of Code 3 for a Cure, left Griffith Park on a 20,000-mile journey throughout the United States to visit other firefighters who are victims of the pernicious disease.
"These are the people who go into fires and protect the homes and lives of everyone in Los Angeles," Councilmember LaBonge said. "They never know when they go into a building what chemicals will be in there or how they could be harmed."
Mr. Abundiz, a former firefighter for Pomona and Santa Ana fire departments, was once awarded the California State Firefighters' Association Medal of Valor. He was forced into medical retirement after 26 years because of leiomyosarcoma, a rare soft-tissue cancer.
The firefighters will share their cancer survivor stories to bring awareness of the need for early cancer screenings for firefighters and the public. They also hope to raise money to fight the disease.
"The public's contribution will enable this unique public charity organization to reach out and directly assist individual firefighters who are facing a financial hardship caused by cancer," said Mr. Abundiz. "We are firefighters and if we can extinguish fires, we can extinguish cancer."
The Code 3 for a Cure team is expected to return from their journey in November.