Councilmember Ryu submitted the following letter to Mike Shull, General Manager of the Department of Recreation and Parks, regarding the proposed basketball court at Runyon Canyon:
April 21, 2016
Department of Recreation and Parks
350 S Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90071
RE: PROPOSED BASKETBALL COURT AT RUNYON CANYON PARK
Thank you for agreeing to halt construction at the tennis court site for the proposed basketball court at Runyon Canyon Park. Thank you also for agreeing to recommend that the Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners reconsider its prior approval of this project.
This project was initiated before I became the Councilman of the Fourth District and it is clear that community concern about this project needs more robust consideration prior to any further action. I ask that the Department afford the public and my Office the opportunity to weigh its merits against the other infrastructure needs of this important regional serving park.
Runyon Canyon Park is an important part of the Santa Monica Mountains and an iconic landmark of hiking and walking trails with sweeping city views. This much beloved park has about 1.8 million visits per year and 300,000 dog visits per year. It is one of the few parks that allows off-leash dog walking and a special space in the midst of urban Hollywood where visitors can clear their mind and focus on the view and nature.
This incredible city asset is desperately in need of improvements to address erosion, sanitation, water infrastructure, traffic and safety. The Department of Water and Power is currently replacing the more than 90-year-old, failing pipeline that runs up the main trail. which provides the L.A. Fire Department with emergency water supply, a critical public safety repair so serious that it necessitated the current temporary closure having nothing to do with the proposed basketball court.
When I took office, I pledged to restore trust in local government and one principle of that must include a public process that is not under the radar. Improvements and changes to park use must be determined with community input and advice from the many groups and individuals that love and use the park. Further, the donation for this project included the right of the donor to place their logo on the court. Many individuals have objected to this public display of a private company logo in a natural habitat and I take very seriously my constituents’ concerns about commercialization of our parks.
My request not to proceed in no way lessens my appreciation of the donor and nonprofit organizations whose sole purpose is to improve our public parks. In an age of limited budgets and resources, these groups are a real benefit to our City, and we shouldn’t disparage these volunteer-led organizations working to better their communities. However, the public deserves to have a say in determining the future of the park, and it is essential that residents and park users are able to trust decisions about our public resources like this regional park. Any new projects proposed by the City, nonprofits or individuals must go through a public process that includes all stakeholders, including neighborhoods councils, residents, and park users.
Finally, it’s critical to remember that Runyon Canyon Park is a regional park, used by neighbors who live next door, as well as hikers and dog-lovers from the City and around the world. We must protect Runyon’s unique and beloved qualities, its wildlife habitat, as well as access for the millions who visit the park every year. We look forward to working with your Department and our diverse community to discuss the infrastructure needs and potential opportunities to improve park access at Runyon Canyon park and all the parks of the Fourth District.
David E. Ryu
cc: Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council
Recreation and Parks Commission
Office of Mayor Garcetti