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Letter to Councilman LaBonge

October 24, 2007

Councilman Tom LaBonge
City Hall, 200 N. Spring Street #480
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Dear Councilman LaBonge:

     The bus company that drives passengers past the barricades and guards that for almost a year have blocked the roads leading to the Griffith Park Observatory is making a great deal of money ($8.00 per passenger, several trips a day). So are the owners of parking lots where passengers must leave their vehicles to board the buses.  This would cost a family of four $32, plus parking.

     This lucrative procedure discriminates against the poor, the elderly, and the disabled, those who cannot afford the fare and parking fee, and so, are deprived of driving their vehicles even close enough to view the outside of the Observatory or to visit the free educational exhibits there, including Foucault's pendulum in the lobby and the telescopes that rim the Observatory building.

     This violates Colonel Griffith's decree that the park remain free to everyone:  "... a place of rest and relaxation for the masses, a resort for the rank and file, for the plain people."  (In the '70s, a fee for entrance into the park was quickly withdrawn as a violation of that decree.)  The present endeavor blocks miles of scenic roads to citizens, turning the barricaded section even beyond the Observatory into a "private resort."  

     For decades, private vehicles were allowed to park free in the lots outside the Observatory without any problem of congestion.  The lots are still there and unused.

     Earlier, your office announced that this approach was only temporary.  It has become permanent.  I, and many others I have consulted, look forward to hearing when this discriminatory situation, highly profitable to private interests, will be corrected to provide equal free access to the park to all.


John Rechy

Copy to: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
  Special Assistant Torie Osborne
  Deputy Mayor Nancy Sutley
  Mr. Doug Mensman
  Attorney Dean Hansell
  Mr. David Benz
  Columnist Steve Lopez, LA Times

NOTE:  When I received no answer from Mr. LaBonge’s office, I telephoned an assistant.  My letter had been put, unread, into a pile of others.  I expressed my anger to Mr. LaBonge and insisted that he read it.  Three days later—with contrived “excuses”--the announcement was made that the park was now open to the public.

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