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Letter: Harvard-Westlake Fails to Control Its Appetite for Growth

Ann E. of Greenleaf Street in Studio City submits a letter to the editor in opposition to Harvard-Westlake's proposed project.

The following is an open letter to the Studio City community -- the first in a series of posts of letters to the city written by Save Coldwater Canyon members, voicing their opposition to the so-called Harvard-Westlake Parking Improvement Plan.  

Every day the newspapers are full of stories of dereliction of duty, corruption and mismanagement by governmental agencies. It is time to hold our city and those having transactions with it to their promises. Time and again Harvard-Westlake has represented that its enrollment would not exceed the number stated in the representation. In each such representation it then proceeded to grow beyond that number and then again, when it needed city approval of  a plan, it promised no more growth.

That history is well documented in the city's own records and yet no one has stopped Harvard-Westlake from doing it over and over again. IT MUST BE REMEMBERED THAT HARVARD-WESTLAKE IS AN ELITE PRIVATE SCHOOL WITH A SELECT ENROLLMENT AND DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI.  IT IS A POWERFUL AND RICH INSTITUTION BUT IT OFFERS NOTHING TO ENRICH THE COMMUNITY BEYOND ITS EXCLUSIVE BOUNDARIES. ITS ATTITUDE IS THAT STUDIO CITY IS PRIVILEGED BY ITS PRESENCE AND SHOULD BE HAPPY TO HAVE IT BLOSSOM IN ITS MIDST. IT ONLY DEMANDS THAT THE COMMUNITY GIVE IT SOMETHING; IT GIVES NOTHING BACK.
 
The fact is that property owners and tenants are already burdened by its traffic, noise, activities and demands. Although promises to cap enrollment were a condition of granting Harvard-Westlake's prior applications, no one ever followed through to see if they were kept. Harvard-Westlake got what it wanted; the city got broken promises. Each time Harvard-Westlake made a promise to limit enrollment it broke it.

HARVARD-WESTLAKE SHOULD BE STOPPED FROM ASSERTING THAT IT HAS NO LIMIT ON ADMISSIONS AND EXPANDNG. 

If there is a need for Harvard-Westlake to expand into a residential area, it is of its own doing. Its failure to control its appetite for growth created its problem. It is not the community's problem. Its plan offers nothing to the community; everything is for Harvard-Westlake.

A LARGE GARAGE DOES OT BELONG ON COLDWATER CANYON. IT WILL ONLY MAKE TRAFFIC AND NOISE PROBLEMS WORSE. COLDWATER CANYON IS A NARROW, CURVING, MAIN ARTERY INTO BEVERLY HILLS. IT IS ALREADY BURDENED WITH BUMPER TO BUMPER TRAFFIC DURING MORNING AND EVENING RUSH HOURS--THE TIMES WHEN PEOPLE DRIVE TO WORK OR APPOINTENTS AND RETURN HOME. 

I find that when I have a 10 a.m. appointment in town it now takes 45 to 60 minutes to get there; it used to take 20 or 30. The presence of a large garage such as this will only increase the problem. The short lanes planned for ingress and egress will only complicate matters as drivers maneuver to get into the lane they want or need to make a left turn. Bad as it is, traffic will only get worse.  We have to think ahead as well as now. More parking spaces invites more cars. 

As it is, traffic on the feeder streets to Coldwater Canyon (such as Dickens and Greenleaf) are jammed as drivers try to avoid the backup at Coldwater and Ventura and seek to merge into Coldwater. The size and nature of the proposed construction is incompatible with the existing nature of the community. It affects each property owner because it affects the value of his property negatively. No amount of landscaping can mask this building. It is a commercial-size garage.

The neighborhood is residential with no street lights and sidewalks. Instead of quiet, there will be a huge building with light poles and an athletic field on top to disturb everyone and ugly netting hanging down. The "sky-bridge" is an eye-sore. It will invite graffiti just as a freeway bridge does; the students arriving at the same time will not wait for it. They will cross the road and invite danger to drivers and themselves.    

The impact on the environment deserves a dissertation in and of itself. Once again the neighborhood will be disrupted as construction takes place. Business and home life will both be negatively affected. Perhaps the most important thing is the canyon itself. It is beautiful; the little open space that exists on Coldwater Canyon should be protected from further intrusion. It is a brief sanctuary from the crowded city around it. It doesn't need a garage or an athletic field near it. It needs to be nurtured. What happens to a society when nature is destroyed by the encroachment of unneeded and unwanted construction? What happens to our community when an unwanted change is forced upon it?

There is a Neighborhood Council meeting this evening (Wed Dec. 11), at which the Board will vote on their comment letter to the city about this proposed project.

Save Coldwater Canyon (currently representing over 500 households) believes this project threatens to ruin a residential area in Studio City, destroy the hillside, and devastate a known wildlife corridor adjacent to Conservancy land. If you share our concerns about this project and its effect on Studio City, please join us at savecoldwatercanyon.com.

Ann E.
Greenleaf Street

Autumn December 11, 2013 at 07:56 PM
Great title - I equate it to Gordon Gecko "Greed is Good" Such an elite school but I have never read anything about it's giving back. Do us all a favor.....MOVE TO BIGGER CAMPUS. You have the money - just go.
Alex Daniels December 11, 2013 at 08:23 PM
Selling a want as a need to the city....disgraceful
Suellen wagner December 12, 2013 at 10:14 AM
Wonderful letter! I am happy to see the truth come to light. This is a MUST read for all residents of Studio City, as well as Harvard-Westlake parents who have a responsibility to educate themselves and to rein in their administrators. Thank you, Ann.
D.L December 12, 2013 at 10:40 AM
Yes, Harvard Westlake should move and in its place a Public High School that would serve 3000 students and offer night classes to newly released felons. Private funds and distinguished alumni? Yes that is ... I'm going to write my letter to the LAUSD and suggest that! The LAUSD Division of Adult and Career Education (DACE) provides learning opportunities and employment training to adults and in-and out-of-school at risk teens. DACE | 333 S. Beaudry Ave., 18th Floor | Los Angeles, CA 90017 Phone: (213) 241-3150 Fax: (213) 241-8988
Alex Daniels December 12, 2013 at 11:09 AM
A park, a monastery or even a country club with 18 holes is probably more in tune with the surroundings, not a school bent on growing and expanding their sports program at the cost of disturbing all of the peaceful surroundings, tearing down beautiful trees and cutting out a piece of a mountain for an unnessesary parking lot and lit second playing field and ridiculous bridge over a canyon road......If the school really wants to be a good neighbor to our community and help the under privileged, how about creating a sports complex and wing in Valley Plaza which is in desperate need for development and could use some of the hundreds of millions of dollars being funneled through the HW system each year...Valley Plaza has alot of vacant space that needs developing. Harvard Westlake can really lend a real hand to the underprivileged and expand there...Hey DL, maybe you can lead the fight!
David Ogilvy December 12, 2013 at 12:17 PM
"…newly released felons"? This is a selling point, D.L.?
Autumn December 12, 2013 at 01:09 PM
Put it in Glendale
Alex Daniels December 12, 2013 at 01:41 PM
I was at the SCNC meeting last night and when Father Dan of St. Michael's Church which is a neighbor and affiliated Episcopal of the school suggested the school possibly do something helpful for the community with the land, the Harvard Westlake parents laughed at his proposal...Shameful
Autumn December 12, 2013 at 02:02 PM
Because they only give back when it will look good on College Applications. Biggest example of L.A.'s elite breed of entitlement all in one location.
S. Taplin December 12, 2013 at 02:48 PM
The Neighborhood Council did the right thing last night by pointing out the inadequacies of the City's draft report -- and asking them to defend the numerous exceptions to city laws they would need to get permission for -- just for them! -- for such a massive project. There are serious safety concerns with the bridge (during an earthquake) and the huge retaining walls needed to carve out the hillside. The project is destructive and worst of all - unnecessary. The school needs to look for solutions on their current campus (on the EAST side).
bilko December 12, 2013 at 05:34 PM
Truly a wonderful letter. It would be nice, or should be required by the school, if we residents were informed of these meetings. Because no one knew about last night's meeting, I heard "our" attendance on our side was light. I'd like to add two reasons to oppose this monstrosity not mentioned in the letter. 1) I know many parents whose kids go to HW. This lot is because they are "sick and tired" of carpooling from Santa Monica, Bel Air and Pasadena. 2) HW will start renting out the school for functions (i.e. fundraisers), using it as a location for films with trucks taking the lots and the crew in the proposed garage. Please do not let them write a check to Council Members as is their wont.

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