I wanted to comment on Gary Walker’s informative and balanced story regarding Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church’s petition to the Culver City Council to remove the 32-year-old Permit Only Parking District. No doubt parking is an issue through out Southern California and a difficult problem to solve. In the interest of full disclosure, which seems to have become a hot topic when discussing this dispute, I am a Farragut Drive resident since 1973. I have been in contact with both the City Council and the CCUSD School Board over the years looking for relief from the safety problems of living between Grace Church and the CCUSD Elenda Street Complex of CCHS, CCMS, Farragut Elementary, Center for Early Education, and relatively recently Culver Park High School. I have allowed signs in my yard and my name to go on campaign flyers — I have even walked the block to introduce candidates to my neighbors.
First, I would ask that everyone view the webcast at http://www.culvercity.org/ Government/Misc/Webcast. aspx?id=090814 before coming to a final conclusion — watch your city government in action. As I see it, the issue should be more about the 1957 Petition for Variance (signed by Pastor Blough) and the report submitted by Zoning Analyst, George Rosenthal, which discussed the request to demolish a residential structure and put up a significantly larger building without the off-street parking normally required.
My conclusion is what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Residents of Farragut Drive have been told that they knew what they were getting into when they purchased their homes. Read the petition for variance and report, come to your own conclusions. Culver City residents should be asking themselves what their reaction would be if they lived here. Further, ask what will happen to your property values if a two-hour only parking template to applied to all residential streets. What are the costs going to be if each street has to have a traffic study that will probably cost tens of thousands of DOLLARS? Incidentally, was it decided that the petitioner was going to foot the costs for this “to be developed” study? Be fair, Culver City, in your deliberations and examine the use schedules for the Parish Hall at Grace Church. Come stand on the corner of Coombs and Farragut Drive during the traffic rush to and from the CCUSD Elenda Street Complex.
Re: Justice for Farragut Drive
Restrictive Parking From 1982 I am often asked why our block, the 10700 block of Farragut Drive, requested preferential parking in 1982 when no other street in Culver City had it. Thirty-two years ago, Farragut was a parking lot for nonresidents we were and still are at the confluence of five schools, a church, multiple businesses and thousands of apartment dwellers. All of which have grown in 32 years. We were experiencing many home burglaries. Also, we experienced one nearby murder. We were afraid of all this crime and congestion.
Police Chief Ted Cooke refused to sign onto a 2-hourparking restriction because he said it was unenforceable. It was the Traffic Commission that recommended permit-only parking.
After the restrictive signs were installed, the intrusive parking during the week ended and so did the burglaries.
We relied on the City to continue protecting us. In the interim years, substantially all Farragut residents have purchased homes and/or made improvements to their homes, while relying upon the protections afforded by the long-standing-permit-only-parking restrictions. Without these protections, most Farragut residents would not have purchased homes here and/or spent considerable sums remodeling or making improvements.
Prior Fair Treatment from Culver City Government
For 32 years, I have personally dealt with Traffic Committees and City Councils with regard to the need for Farragutpreferential parking. On three occasions, the City Council either granted or enhanced our parking restrictions.
In November 2013, this City Council grandfathered Farragut’s long-standing rights when it adopted new regulations.
Before September 8, 2014, we received fair hearings before the Traffic Committee and City Council. That has now changed.
Justice Denied at City Council Meeting
On September 8, 2014, the Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, with the scheduling help of Councilperson Andrew Weissman, “petitioned” the City Council to strip Farragut of its permit-only-parking rights. Not one member of the Church signed the so-called “petition.” Not one member of the Church registered to speak at the hearing.
But, near the commencement of the hearing, Weissman inquired of the City Attorney as to the Council’s right to annul Farragut’s permit-only parking and “start from scratch, again.” Councilperson Jeffrey Cooper claimed the testimony of our nine witnesses was only “anecdotal,” and the Council in 1982 and 2004 did not consider the evidence required by the current regulations. (Evidently, he was absent from class the day that the rest of us learned that the United States Constitution outlaws ex post facto application of laws.) But even he recognized that the traffic situation on Farragut is a “mad house.” Councilperson Michael O’Leary,during the hearing, participated in extensive private communications with Weissman and, essentially, went along for the ride.
This was truly amateur night. When have you seen Councilpersons deny political connections to Church officials, knowing that the relationships are easily discoverable? When have you seen an unprepared Councilperson, who happens to be an attorney, publicly seeking crucial legal advice from the City Attorney by calling across a crowded room? When have you seen a Council intent on destroying residents’ rights in order to determine whether residents have rights?
In my humble opinion, this is all explainable. One member of Culver City’s politically-connected- power couple affiliated with the Church—Ken Smith— was at the hearing, seated in the front row, to remind at least one Councilperson that it was payback time. Again, this is just my humble opinion.
City-Wide Permit-Only Parking
I must admit that the Council has a good idea to conform the residential-parking restrictions in Culver City. But to what should they be conformed? In 1983, Police Chief Ted Cooke said that 2-hour-parking restrictions are unenforceable. Why would this Council want to use an ineffective model? Was the system purposely designed to fail, and provide residents with only the illusion of protection? Beverly Hills protects its residents by having permit-only parking on substantially all of its residential streets.
With only 2-hour-parking restrictions, Farragut would revert to being a parking lot for non-residents like the rest of Culver City with 2-hour-parking restrictions.
Wasting Taxpayer Money
Now, after 32 years of permit- only-parking protection on Farragut, some Councilpersons are thinking about spending $10,000-$20,000 of taxpayers’ money for a consultant to tell them what they already know. Also, they want to give up the $20,000 per year in parking-citation revenue generated on Farragut. Why? Could it have anything to do with Ken Smith’s obsession?
City Council Needs to Focus
The recently adopted regulations state, “The primary purpose of Preferential Parking Districts is to limit excessive intrusion of non-residential parking into parking- restricted residential streets and neighborhoods, where such parking practices have negatively impacted the residential area.” The regulations are designed to protect residential neighborhoods, not businesses or Churches.
The Council should recall that last November 2013, it grandfathered our rights and now, inconsistently, wishes to determine what occurred in 1982 to learn whether the permit-only parking was properly granted. Is this a rerun of a “Three Stooges” movie? The Council needs to ask itself what is in the best interest of the residents of 10700 block of Farragut Drive and is compliant with the regulations, not what Ken Smith wants them to do.
There is not a scintilla of evidence that the Church needs additional parking, or that Farragut impacts any of the church’s 49-weekly-non-church-related events or the church’s own activities. The only reason the Church gives for its “petition,” which not one member of the Church signed, is that the permit-only parking on Farragut inconveniences its members! By the way, all those 49 activities occur without one on-site parking space, because the Church sought and received a building variance in 1957.
The Council should start by getting a written legal opinion from the City Attorney. It needs a legal road map. Once it learns the applicable law, e.g., Constitutional restrictions against ex post facto application of laws and prohibitions against bills of attainder, it will know whether or not it needs to learn any facts, and, if so, which ones. I think that the Council will learn that it has absolutely no legal authority to do what Ken Smith wants it to do to us.
We Only Seek a Fair Hearing
We only seek a fair hearing before the City Council. Every household on Farragut signed our petition opposing the Church’s “petition.” Thinlyconcealed biases should not be allowed to interfere with the Council’s sworn duties. Several voluntary recusals are in order. Certain members of the Council must and will be held accountable for their unprofessional conduct.
So, if I understand the letter from Les Greenberg, Councilman Wiessman is an unethical and unprincipled city official, who is ignorant of the of the the “Farragut Parking Magna Carta” and should be recused or better yet, be banished from any Hearing, Negotiation, or Policy Decision relating to the issue of Parking Regulations on Farragut Avenue. In addition, Ken Smith is a Liar, whose credibility on such heady matters should be rejected because he and his wife chose to participate in the political process, which was and still is a constitutionally granted right to each citizen under more than on article of the US Constitution. This along with many elements of this debate, is ripe to the point of rot. It is, however, the hallmark of Greenberg rhetoric, whose whiny, passive aggressive approach has obstructed and trampled on the rights of others, as well as, played havoc with those who would do good in our community. It ultimately has as it’s goal to drive the Church and its congregation and participants off of the land that they have occupied long before this this pair was ever seeded in our midst.
Then there is the obsessive “jl heyl 1952”, who has little more to do with his waking hours than video taping cars, parked and most sinfully traversing the public street. His objection is twofold, the Church full of sinners, to be sure. All are deserving of a citation with in incantation “None Share Pass” and “JL”, adds to the mix the objectionable school properties and their families that have the temerity to traverse his sacred domain to get their intruding offspring to and from school. The unwelcome intruders that are listed on his incessant You- Tube postings are the following: Published on Feb 25, 2014 Video documentation of pass through traffic activity in a Culver City residential neighborhood close to the CCUSD Elenda Street Complex (CCUSD Office of Child Development Center for Early Education, Farragut Elementary School, Culver City Middle School, Culver City High School, Culver Park Continuation High School, and Culver City Adult School Elenda St. Complex).
So it is that, the community spirit of Culver City is once again threatened by a handful of agitators. It is always the case. The larger community is brought to bear burden of the self-serving needs of the few. I live and work on the corner of Overland and Franklin. I have no affiliation with the Church, except that we have been neighbors for 38 years and we donated a piano to our valued congregation of neighbors at Grace Lutheran Church. Oh yes, and the Pastor has permission to park in our parking lot to allow at least one extra spot for congregation parking. To be sure there are occasional inconveniences. However, one must ask who will provide the space for the good works that are performed daily at the church and schools, certainly not the Greenbergs or “Mr. jhheyl1952”.
For myself, I will insist the parking on Franklin be unchanged, for any change will adversely affect me, my patients and my neighbors. We will keep parking open. I would suggest in the most strenuous terms that the people of Farragut Dr. shoulder their fair share of community responsibility and accept the reasonable compromise that has been proposed. If not, and things are as bad as they say they are, there are plenty of people waiting in line to participate in the cooperative community of the City of Culver City.
Richard P. Schoenbaum, D.D.S.
Natatorium swimming pool
The people of Culver City recently passed a $106 million bond issue for the purpose of fixing the infrastructure of our schools. A new school year has begun and it’s hot like hell! Our students are sweltering in their classes and our senior citizens are getting heat strokes. Meanwhile our Culver City School Natatorium swimming pool stands unused and neglected. When are we going to use some of that bond money to fix the neglected Culver City School Natatorium swimming pool that has been left to decompose so that our students and citizens of Culver City can get respite from these heat waves.
Here is what’s crazy. The school district is still considering spending $10.3 million to demolish the school pool that could serve 6,500 students and all Culver City residents and replace it with a “multi-purpose” facility that would accommodate 80 students from Culver Park. Meanwhile, the cost to repair and upgrade the pool would be only $3 million. This doesn’t make sense!
I am asking the people of Culver City and anyone with common sense to go to the next Culver City School Board meeting on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. at City Hall Council Chambers, and demand that they use the bond money responsibly and fix our school pool. I will be presenting approximately 2,000 signatures of people that want to fix our school pool. It’s time that the board head to common sense and do the right thing. Fix our Culver City School Pool!