At one of the last public hearings of Los Angeles city district lines—held at in Studio City Thursday night—more than 250 people showed up and 148 of them signed up to speak.
The marathon session was a place to air concerns over the rough draft put together by the . There will only be one more chance to do so, on Saturday (see details below), before they rework the borders to get it ready to submit to the City Council on March 1. The council must pass it by July 1.
Among the biggest issues Thursday night was a contingent from Toluca Lake and Toluca Woods that wanted to remain in the Council District 4 area, which extends into Hollywood and Silver Lake, rather than in the newly-drawn Council District 2 which encompasses all of Studio City, but also North Hollywood.
About two dozen people wore green shirts showing support for Toluca Lake to remain in Tom LaBonge’s drastically-redrawn district, which stretches from Silver Lake to Van Nuys and cuts Sherman Oaks in two.
“All of the organized groups in the Toluca Lake area, even the elementary school, are opposed to the move,” said Peter Hartz, president of the Toluca Lake Homeowners Association. “We need to stay unified with the issues that surround us, such as and their and issues involving Griffith Park. We have good representation now, and we don’t want to disrupt it.”
And Tom Hawkins, a resident of Toluca Woods for more than 50 years—also in a green shirt—asked the commission to “put us back where we belong.”
One man, threatening Toluca Lake secession from the city, said they would rather be a part of Burbank than to be part of Council District 2, which is predominantly North Hollywood and Studio City.
Studio City Neighborhood Council vice president testified before the commission saying she was pleased that her neighborhood was kept in one district, but asked if two small sections could be swapped out, keeping Valley Village intact in CD2 and keeping Sherman Oaks together in CD4.
After she spoke and heard the Toluca Lake protests, Sarkin said, “I don’t know why Toluca Lake wants out. I think it’s disgusting that they don’t want to be part of North Hollywood.”
Another Toluca Lake resident was booed-down by the contingent with green shirts when he suggested to the commission that “those from Toluca Lake just want to keep in a district with wealthier communities because of property values.”
Studio City Neighborhood Council President John Walker said, “Gerrymandering for political reasons is wrong . . . For 10 years Studio City was split apart and if put back into one district you would be righting a wrong done a long time ago.”
Many board members of the Studio City Neighborhood Council spoke on behalf of their neighbors, too. Ben Di Benedetto of Studio City said, “We would like to have all of Valley Village in this district as well.”
Studio City Neighborhood Council Secretary Rita Villa added, “I am grateful that we are not going to be represented by three different council members and our district is no longer shaped like a barbell.”
Richard Niederberg, who lived Studio City 48-and-3/4s years and went to the junior high school where the meeting was taking place, suggested that the boundaries of the neighborhood councils are vetted borders and the commission should respect those lines as much as possible.
of the Valley Village Neighborhood Council said, “Valley Village has been split into two for the last 10 years. We are a very diverse community of smaller homes, and there is no reason why our community shouldn’t be in one district."
Sherman Oaks activists such as Ann O’Connor, Jill Banks, Sherry Revord and Valley Village representatives such as Paul Hatfield, Tony Braswell, Sandy Hubbard, Tom Patterson and Judy Price from Valley Glenn all spoke about the simple neighborhood switch of small sections of District 2 and 4 that would keep neighborhoods in the same district.
Alan Dymond of the Studio City Residents Association, representing 1,100 households, thanked the committee for the “compactness” of the district. His wife, Beth, suggested that the group look at the lines drawn up by Studio City resident Barry Johnson, who kept 87 of the 93 neighborhood councils within their district boundaries in the citywide maps he designed.
The other predominant protest came from the horse communities of the northeast San Fernando Valley. Belinda Woodruff, who said she lived most of her 61 years in Tujunga, made a plea to keep La Tuna Canyon, Sunland, Tujunga, Lake View Terrace and Shadow Hills together.
“It’s as if the communities are like orphan children split apart from a big family,” Woodruff said. “One family picked up one of the seven and we are being divided up. We are community that works and plays and prays together.”
Julie Tarnowski, owner of Gateway Farms, was a bit more harsh, saying the new maps “desecrate us with this abominable plan.”
A few people came from over-the-hill in Hollywood to express concern about how their area is split between three districts.
David Ambrose said, “I live in that little ‘appendage’ of CD4 in Hollywood (near the border of West Hollywood) and if it was lopped off and included in another area we would be better represented.”
Famous Hollywood Dental Care dentist Fariba Kalantari, who is also on the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce board, said, “It is important for the business area to remain in one council district in Hollywood.”
Other concerns include a speaker from West Hills who wanted to remain in the district of the reservoir in the West San Fernando Valley and representatives from the Thai and Armenian communities asking that their populations not be divided up.
And, some of the less-shrill calming comments came from a couple in Studio City. Mildred Higgins congratulated the committee for a good job and her husband, Joe, offered some sage advice.
“Work with your minds an not with your emotions and it will all come out OK,” Higgins advised.
The final meeting for public comment on this rough draft will be on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 11 a.m. at the West Los Angeles Church of God in Christ, 3045 South Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles.