Griffith Park is the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountain range. NBC Universal, Universal MTA, Oakwood and Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills plan to expand. The expansions will probably result in degradation of biological resources and air quality. Carol Henning, Southern Sierran, “Neighbors’ Plans for Expansion May Spell Trouble for Griffith Park.” http://angeles.sierraclub.org/news/SS_2009-04/expansion_griffith.asp.
The Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills plans--the plan area is close to the proposed headworks reservoir for water that will end up in Silver Lake--will massively expand is its second battle with the public over land at the base of Griffith Park.
During World War II, the Los Angeles Parks Commission intend to purchase a large parcel of Rancho Providencia land on the northeast side of Griffith Park to create a larger park, which was also more suburban.
Forest Lawn Cemetery Company outbid the city for the property. Forest Lawn then maneuvered to get the City to get a conditional use permit in order to operate a cemetery in R1 One Family Zone housing. (Essick v City of Los Angeles (1950) 34 Cal.2d 614).
According to Mike Eberts, Griffith Park, A Centennial History (1996), The Historical Society of Southern California, pp 220-221), people were concerned because they didn’t want dead bodies and enbalming fluid to mingle with their drinking water. The city operated a large pond to catch rainwater runoff, and it was directly down the hill from the proposed cemetery. The spreading ground pond contained drinking water for about 300,000 people in central and northern Los Angeles. The planning commission received 2000 individual objections and 35 civic organization objections to the proposed land use change. The City voted 10-3 to give Forest Lawn its Conditional Use Permit.
Forest Lawn then obtained the corpses of six people who had recently died and converted the land to a cemetery. California law provided the legal burial of six people on a site dedicated the land forever as a graveyard.
In February 2011, the City released the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the project – 200,000 new internment sites, 22,500 square feet of built structures, 1,100,000 square feet of unoccupied space. The project will create 1,728,000 cubic yards of cut. (January 27, 2012 Notice of Completion of the Final EIR) The DEIR shows that the project will remove 632 live oak trees, 59 western sycamores and 144 walnut trees.
Friends of Griffith Park, California Department of Fish and Game, and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy responded. Their letters are available on-line, and they set out the public’s very critical interest in this area. http://www.friendsofgriffithpark.org/article-forrestLawn6-11.php.
On April 12, 2011, Gary Hans, President of Friends of Griffith Park, included loss of riparian habitat, loss of wildlife corridor, loss of an intact ecosystem that includes coast live oaks and sycamores, and connection to the Los Angeles River through Sennett Creek.
The City responded to the issues raised by the many public and public-interest groups. With respect to the Friends of Griffith Park point about Sennett Creek and Los Angeles River contamination and destruction of riparian habitat, the City wrote in part, “The current condition of the River at its confluence with Sennett Creek is degraded and human-modified. The Los Angeles River is entirely concrete-lined at the confluence, and has been deepened substantially below the grade at which it once naturally joined with Sennett Creek. The Los Angeles River Flood Control Channel has no vegetation canopy at its confluence with Sennett Creek. …..” http://cityplanning.lacity.org/eir/ForestLawnMemPrk-HlwdHillsMP/FEIR/index.html. Elsewhere, the EIR remarks that Forest Lawn has mitigated effects on the riparian corridor.
The City’s position assumes that -- as it has allowed degradation and channelization of the river already -- further degradation is a non-issue, which is an odd assumption to make inasmuch as the City also wants to restore the Los Angeles River.
Implicit in the City's assumption is that the State intended CEQA to protect existing environmental quality but does not have to restore it. The City’s assumption, however, is not warranted by a reading of CEQA’s mission statement. http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=prc&group=20001-21000&file=21000-21006.
The proposed Silver Lake Headworks spreading ground site appears from the DWP map to be on a downslope from Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills. http://www.ladwp.com/ladwp/cms/ladwp011947.jsp.
Construction on the proposed headworks project is intended to be complete this July. http://www.tomlabonge.com/projects?page=3.