stringbook




........................................................................Home | Books | Bio | c.v. ............................. ... ...

A letter from the GGPNC

Here is a letter we received from the president of the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council, on which I published an item yesterday.

Dear Mr. [Terrace],

If I am not mistaken, I saw you sitting against the wall on my left last night. Thanks for attending our meeting.

I am writing you because you have misreported the item about the housing project.

The project on Riverside Dr. is a “by right” project that doesn’t need the council’s stamp of approval. However, the developers need community input for their files and they acknowledged that community support could give them a “leg up” in finding financing.

The developers made a presentation to our zoning committee and the committee, in turn, reported to the board that it wanted to send a letter detailing that meeting; going as far as including minutes. They did not feel it was appropriate, however, for the letter from the council to weigh in with an opinion about the project until there was more input from the community and there were more firm details.

The “argument” you refer to wasn’t about the degree of a boost to a developer a letter of support from our NC would give. The two-part discussion was first, whether a letter from us would give the developer a boost at all and second, whether the issue of a boost had any place in our discussion. The answers were, we don’t know and yes, it was a fair question to ask (one member had strongly disagreed on that point). There was no discussion of how the council could assist the developer in getting funding and the implication that the GGPNC was trying to craft a letter that would help fast track a project that you think Councilman LaBonge wants is incorrect.

Finally, to the best of my knowledge, the board had no contact from the Councilman’s office expressing his feelings on the subject. Rene Weitzer did ask the developer to come to the GGPNC’s zoning committee and make a presentation. At our board meeting last night, she explained that she thought it would be a good idea for the community to be made aware of the project and for the developer to hear back from the community. On this point, I would hope that you would agree, the Councilman’s office acted in the best interests of the community by making that recommendation.

In the almost three years I have served on the council, I have never seen us step over ourselves to do anyone’s bidding. As should have been evident last night, we are far from a monolithic, lock step organization. Our volunteers step up to serve the interests of our community as best they can, not to serve the ideology of any of our elected officials.

Again, thanks for attending. I hope to see you again soon.

Ron Ostrow
President, GGPNC

OK. I said that "We were later shocked to hear the NC arguing about the degree to which it might boost a developer's chances with a supportive letter for a project on Riverside Drive." Ostrow is saying that "the developers need community input for their files and they acknowledged that community support could give them a 'leg up' in finding financing." He also says "There was no discussion of how the council could assist the developer in getting funding and the implication that the GGPNC was trying to craft a letter that would help fast track a project that you think Councilman LaBonge wants is incorrect."

So, let me see if I can understand this. The Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council spends half an hour arguing about a letter they've crafted. The letter expresses the Council's support of the project. The developer acknowledges that community input gives them a "leg up." But also, the letter does not help "fast track" a project, because it doesn't help fast-track it through the City's approval process.

I'm still not sure I understand. I'm still not understanding what the purpose of this letter is, if not to boost the project. Is it really just to say, "Hey, you have a project, glad to know it!" Then why was there such an argument about it? I don't think the letter says that.

I can't understand the purpose of such a letter absent helping the project along--if not at the City, then at the bank. And if it's helped at the bank, as a by-right project, doesn't it just breeze through? So isn't the GGPNC helping to fast-track it after all?

My guess is this: the developer needs such a letter to take it to the bank to say, "See? I have community support, there's going to be no foot-dragging here if you make the loan." But I don't know. I can't imagine why a Neighborhood Council is writing a letter in support of a development, and now also saying it is not really helping the project along, unless it is actually trying to help the development along.

But I'll let Mr. Ostrow have the last word on this. To repeat:
Finally, to the best of my knowledge, the board had no contact from the Councilman’s office expressing his feelings on the subject. Rene [sic] Weitzer did ask the developer to come to the GGPNC’s zoning committee and make a presentation. At our board meeting last night, she explained that she thought it would be a good idea for the community to be made aware of the project and for the developer to hear back from the community. On this point, I would hope that you would agree, the Councilman’s office acted in the best interests of the community by making that recommendation.
OK. &c.