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Griffith Park: Picnic area, not ball fields

Blog: 
Date: 
Monday, December 2, 2013
Author: 
Carol Henning

After the dust-up in spring 2012 about replacing most of Griffith Park’s Crystal Springs picnic area with two "youth baseball" fields, there was a period of relative silence. Local media had relished a disagreement that was often framed as tree-hugging curmudgeons versus kids longing for a place to play baseball.

At length, the story went off the radar. But, behind the scenes, promoters of Little League type baseball, along with a certain L.A. City councilmember, had not given up on their attempt to snag Proposition K money (a competitive grant of $500,000) to replace most of the picnic area of Crystal Springs with two baseball fields.The Sierra Club's Angeles Chapter opposes the use of Crystal Springs for ball fields.

A Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) was made public in October. Here is a brief summary: Funding from Proposition K (“L.A. for Kids”) and the Quimby Act would be used to build two youth baseball fields—accompanied by the usual dugouts, bleachers, warm-up areas, scoreboards, security lighting, landscaping and fencing—on a 4-acre site now used as a picnic and free-play area. To accommodate the ball fields, “up to 49 trees" would be removed. Included would be a huge, heritage sycamore. Removal of mature trees also means removal of habitat for birds, rodents and insects. Seven picnic tables would be “relocated.” The loop driveway would be truncated. Construction is expected to take two years.

Picnic area is a recreational use too

The DEIR for the ball fields project says its objective is to provide recreational programs “based on the needs of the community.” Which community is that? What about the community that consists of thousands of families who rely on and heavily use the Crystal Springs picnic area and have done so for half a century? The DEIR talks about “high quality, affordable recreation programs for youth in the area, especially at risk boys and girls.”

But Crystal Springs already provides affordable (free) passive recreation for families in the area, many of them Latino, most without backyards or easy access to green open space. These are the very people Colonel Griffith had in mind when he gave land to the City of L.A. as a place of respite for “the plain people,” who would need to escape from the noise and pollution of the surrounding city.

The ball fields project will benefit the few at the expense of the many. It will continue the national trend which Robert Reich calls “the decline of the public good.” In his book "Beyond Outrage," Reich points out that, “much of what’s called ‘public’ today is increasingly private.” These ball fields will be available only to children who are organized in youth baseball leagues. When baseball season ends, or when no one reserves them, the ball fields will be unavailable. They will be surrounded by chain link fences with locked gates. Most of the time, they will be closed, as is Pote Field (also in Crystal Springs). Four more acres of open green space in Los Angeles will be gone. And, when the bulldozers roll in, Crystal Springs picnic area and its users—humans and wildlife—will be out of luck.

Hearing held in November

A “workshop and hearing” meeting to present and discuss the DEIR was held on Nov. 20. L.A. City’s Bureau of Engineering, which will build the ball fields, conducted the meeting. Attendees were allowed 1 minute each to tell whether they supported or opposed the Crystal Springs location for the ball fields. Many who wanted to speak did not get a chance to do so before the meeting ended.

Proponents, many of whom brought their children, said more baseball fields for kids are needed. Opponents spoke about the trees that would be destroyed, the wildlife corridor that would be disrupted, and the users who would be displaced. Some argued that the Atwater site, proposed as an alternative location, would be better.

George Grace, founder of the Griffith Park Natural History Survey, has asked why the Ferraro Soccer Field area was not included as an alternative. This location is 23 acres and has the potential to host a complete sports complex. Why was this area not considered? Grace suspects that “Ferraro is not the high profile location where naming rights will be extremely valuable.”

Public comment period on the ball fields DEIR ends Dec. 17. Please email Maria Martin of the Bureau of Engineering: Maria.Martin@lacity.org. Copy District 4 Councilman Tom LaBonge: councilmember.LaBonge@lacity.org. You can also sign the Friends of Griffith Park petition to Save Crystal Springs.  

    

27 comments

There should be no development what so ever in Griffith Park. It should remain protected as public use green space. There are plenty of baseball fields in every part of Los Angeles there is no need to invade a park that people already use for nature access in urban environs.

I only heard about the proposed sports complex in the last few weeks. It just doesn't make sense for so many reasons. Just a few:
1. Already well used picnic area for families and parking for hundreds of hikers year round.
2. The wildlife corridor (center of the park) cannot be replaced or moved.
3. The narrow roads in and out of the area cannot support the type of traffic for a ball field. Already there are cyclists sharing the road with cars, and more traffic would be a potential disaster.
4. There are plenty of other areas in the park that would be more accessible for a sports center.

Please reconsider this proposal!!

Save Crystal Springs Picnic Areas

Kindly consider another area .

There are other alternatives available; i.e., the Ferraro Soccer Field area, for one, and the Atwater site for another. There is no need to disrupt and destroy an established family recreation area.

While I am sure that children involved in baseball programs would benefit from the additional fields, it is important to keep Griffith Park's "natural feel" and to remember that Park users come in all flavors, not just the child baseball-oriented family variety. There are many more of us who have paid our taxes for years who value the park in its current form and the variety of benefits it offers to all - not just to a specific section of the population.

Please rethink this location. There has to be somewhere else that could be a better solution for all without the constant jeopardizing of our natural environment and the constant privatizing of public space.

I am opposing the Crystal Springs location and supporting the better idea, one that serves many more people, the creation of a Sports Complex at the location of the Ferraro Soccer Field.

I am against building in Griffith Park. Keeping the picnic areas serves a larger and more diverse population than sporting areas.
Thank you

Please leave the Crystal Springs area of Griffith Park in its natural condition, as a picnic area. there are enough baseball diamonds close by.

I strongly OPPOSE the conversion of Chrystal Springs to a baseball field. Please leave it alone as it has been for decades.

The parks character would change with adding ball fields. Please keep it the same

Please preserve Crysrol Springs

I highly oppose taking any land away from Crystal Springs to use as baseball fields. It would provide too narrow a use for such a now natural environment that all can enjoy.

Well La Bonge has turned the park into a toilet. There are hundreds of people being driven to the western part of the park everyday...no sanitary facilities at all. Game trails and lesser used trails are being used as toilets by hundreds of people! The plaque commemorating the acquisition of Mt Cahuenga (something I donated a couple of hundred to) is right in front of the biggest mess on Mt Lee...folks going to the HOllywood sign. Disgraceful.
And another thing....the Sierra Club endorsing Garcetti is still got me pissed off at you guys. He f'd up Hollywood as head of the City Council, rubber stamping all kinds of construction projects in Hollywood without and impact studies at all. I really hope he ends up in jail.

I oppose developing the proposed baseball fields in this location. The removal of approximately 50 trees, with the accompanying destruction of this wonderful wildlife corridor, would be a tremendous loss of habitat for the birds, insects, and other animals that live there. We, the community members who picnic here, the PUBLIC, would be supplanted by seasonal participants in organized leagues, and the community-at-large would lose this valuable open space in favor of what would effectively be private occupation on a part time basis. The area would be locked behind chain link fence much, if not most, of the time, just like Pote Field is today. Please consider the Ferraro Soccer Field area as a superior alternative.

Keep Crystal Springs as a picnic area.

Absolutely right. This use, available now to many, should not be sacrificed for a few sports enthusiasts. This is NOT a balanced solution at all and does NOTHING to preserve and enhance our relationship with nature in general.

Although children involved in baseball programs would benefit from the proposed fields, it is important to remember that Griffith Park is a natural space within an urban environment that should benefit all segments of the population and not be destroyed to satisfy the needs of a special interest group. There are other areas in the park that could support a sports complex without the destruction of a natural space that is used and enjoyed by a broad spectrum of people.

Taking out 49 trees is wrong....we love Griffith Park for the nature it brings to all of us all.

This area is a magnificent example of what is/must be valued and protected in our all too wasted land.
My family has been in Los Angeles for more than 100 years and Crystal Springs is a memorable treasure for us. Hopefully, we will see to it that those to come will be able to enjoy this natural locale as well!

Ditto. Just as was meant in the original gift to LA it needs to continue to serve the needs of the growing general and common population - the Latino and other marginalized ethnic groups that make this City so special. My family, SoCal immigrants to support the US WWII effort, have enjoyed the open spaces of the park, including Crystal Springs, for 71 years. LaBonge needs to find something else to attach his name to. There's plenty of other locations better suited for areas chained off to the public at large as so many people have amply pointed out.

WE NEED THE BASEBALL FIELDS FOR OUR CHILDREN. THE PARK IS UNDERUSED. BRINGING IN YOUNG FAMILIES FOR EXERCISE AND LEARNING TEAM ETHICS IS A GREAT USE FOR THE PARK. WE CAN BOTH CONSERVE THE PARK AND HELP YOUNG PARENTS RAISE HEALTHY FAMILIES. THIS WILL INSURE A BETTER FUTURE FOR THE PARK. CHILDREN WHO BECOME ADULTS AND REMEMBER WITH FONDNESS USING GRIFFITH PARK, THEREFORE TENDING AND CARING FOR IT LONG AFTER MANY OF US WILL BE GONE.

UNDERUSED? Ms. Degovia; when was the last time you visited the Park? Went on a hike, or the OBS? The only thing "underused" in the Park is the baseball field right there in Crystal Spring.

If the Ferraro Soccer field is equally usable for the needs of Little league/youth sports fields, why is that not under consideration? You mention the acreage, but is that adequate to the long overdo needs of the numerous families who have been driving out of the area to transport their boys and girls to athletic fields elsewhere? What would the Ferraro area need to sacrifice of its present soccer field(s) to accommodate the total little league needs. Is it accessible traffic-wise at all times?

Mr. (Coronel) Griffith Jenkins Griffith must be "spinning" in his grave at the idea of replacing a long established, family and large groups picnic area-wild life habitat for two "fenced in" (YES!, gates and padlocks), baseball areas. I do not like this idea. #1. It is a disruption to the original purpose of the Park and #2. There are alternatives to the location. I would welcome to see the Ferraro area developed further on behalf of sports activities; the 2 baseball fields, even an Olympic swimming pool! The Ferraro Area is perfect for that use, North of the 134 makes sense to me. Let us leave Crystal Spring Picnic Area and all its trees the way they are now.

Mr. (Coronel) Griffith Jenkins Griffith must be "spinning" in his grave at the idea of replacing a long established, family and large groups picnic area-wild life habitat for two "fenced in" (YES!, gates and padlocks), baseball areas. I do not like this idea. #1. It is a disruption to the original purpose of the Park and #2. There are alternatives to the location. I would welcome to see the Ferraro area developed further on behalf of sports activities; the 2 baseball fields, even an Olympic swimming pool! The Ferraro Area is perfect for that use, North of the 134 makes sense to me. Let us leave Crystal Spring Picnic Area and all its trees the way they are now.

There are many places for kids to play baseball in LA but comparatively few beautiful picnic sites in a metropolitan area of this size. Do not bulldoze Crystal Springs for baseball. It's a very poor trade-off.

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