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Frontline Report


ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - The Los Angeles Times Utility Team wants to know "How can we be useful to you and your community?  Email utility (at) latimes.com or one of our journalists: Jon Healey, Ada Tseng, Jessica Roy and Karen Garcia.   OK.

We would like sweeping coverage including hard-hitting So-Cal connected like video interviews by Karen Foshay with various protagonists. 

Way out west, it’s common knowledge that Hollywood’s writers and artists have been out on strike. 

Studio City, CA is often described as -- a quaint, quasi-bedroom community that sits in the valley right over the hill from Hollywood. Studio City is the heart of Los Angeles and a vital part of the economic engine of the entertainment industry. 

Last month, mixed among the SAG AFTRA and WGA protestors, there appeared to be one more protest, roiling the community.  Out walking the line... the local residents of Studio City! 


So, why not a frontline report ...

In the battle raging across America between what Jimmy Carter called an "oligarchy" in which "unlimited political bribery" has created "a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors" and the people. {SFX: whack of a golf ball}

Harvard-Westlake School is an upscale private academy with an outsized appetite for high school athletics. The school backed by some of America’s most powerful people and contributors to the Sports Industrial complex, has picked a fight with the local residents of Studio City that have hosted their main campus for years. 

Without further set up here are several voices of the people from the 11 hours Zoom Only hearing on July 12, 2023, explaining what is wrong. 


Absent, are the voices of the big-money Trustees who are backing the School's proposed River Park plan. 

A reporter could request to interview the Private school’s Trustees and give them a chance to respond to legitimate questions from the Public about their robust plans to bulldoze the green space in Studio City.   

Nithya Raman's Letter:

She said in her letter to Samantha Millman and the other commissioners that she wished that the City had had the money... to buy the Weddington Golf and Tennis property when it was on the market.

Not sure if Council member Raman remembers or has been listening to testimony about how the imperious Trustees of Harvard-Westlake School more than once pelted Paul Krekorian with maximum contributions to get r done.  Or, if she was listening to Katy Yaroslavsky on Wednesday, sticking up for her people, while noting the millions and millions in lobbying money, attempting to jam through Retreat at Benedict Canyon dba Bulgari. 

I googled the location and you can see it’s not far from where Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker’s giant 49,300 square foot mansion.  He’s coughing up millions to install the giant toxic doormats and airplane hangar in Studio City’s open space.


Pritzker lives at 1261 Angelo Drive. Oak Pass Road is the site for the proposed Bulgari. 


Still, it was charming to see Nithya Raman, posting a Lachin Corridor support badge on Twitter.  This is a best practice when you are planning to vote on opposite sides of an issue from council president Krekorian.  In this case, it was Bulgari. 

Raman supported the freedom fighter from the city's richest district, Katy Yaroslavsky, while Paul Krekorian opted to give Yaroslavsky a small massage before voting against her anti-developer motion with Monica "I love the process" Rodriguez et al.  

If Raman wishes she had money to help, who, Studio City residents wonder, got Brad Sherman our congressman to shake loose millions for an unwanted build-out of the Studio City Rec Center?  How did they manage to pull that off with no public input? Flag on the play.

There was a Prop K project, that was a modest upgrade, but Paul Krekorian and his city family have twisted the Prop K mandate and more than quadrupled the budget to nearly $20M and turned it into a net zero experiment in our space.

Brad Sherman seems to have tossed $6 million on the pile, to install what can fairly be described as the Cadilac Escalade of unwanted high school regulation gymnasium projects.   

It may be a net zero building ... but any big building in an open grassy field is a bad idea. 

Sherman, get in here! 


Krekorian sent out a notice to his constituents about how great things are going during his historic reign as President.  Spoiler:  Not that great. 

At the very bottom of his newsletter was his second attempt to land the NEW information about what is recyclable and what is not. In a nutshell, it’s way too confusing. 

Politicians can also be repurposed. Once they've learned all the sneaky tricks and clever angles, they try to amortize their initial investment in public office and redeploy all the various deceptions. 

Across all levels of government,  from the hallowed halls of Congress where Adam Schiff or Katy Porter or Barbara Lee will take their place next to Alex Padilla as the second Senator from California, to little old CD10 where Herb Wesson stuffed Heather Hutt into Mark Ridley-Thomas' cell without getting indicted himself.  The rotation continues. 

Nithya Raman took over for David Ryu, the only council member in history who publicly supported Harvard-Westlake developments, other than Herb Wesson of course, and his boy wonder and chair of planning, Marqueece Harris-Dawson.  

Lindsey Horvath, the new supervisor took Sheila Kuehl's locker, and orders from Maria Chong Castillo.  

Incidentally, Chong-Castillo and the county need to provide public access to the proposed agreement or lease or whatever they are planning with the county flood control district land and elite private academy, Harvard-Westlake.

And buildings that get knocked down have to go to landfills.  We try to recycle the mid-century gems like the Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel and the simple but adequate old rec center that can easily be tuned up with clean systems rather than knocked down and sent to a landfill.  #Reuse

Nithya's letter link.

Just a little amendment: 

11) 15-0499-S2 PLANNING AND LAND USE MANAGEMENT (PLUM) COMMITTEE relative to the ongoing tree and biodiversity planning, strategies, and/or efforts to protect and grow the City’s urban canopy; requiring the placement of trees, and timing of any tree removals, at an earlier phase in the land use/environmental review, and permitting review process, and thereby maximize City efforts to grow tree canopy coverage; and related matters. 

Council member Nithya Raman:  I have an amendment on item 11.  

Ah, we circulated, the city attorney is able to read it.

Council President Paul Krekorian:  Ok, very good. Mr. City Attorney. can you please read the amendment into the record, please? 

Jonathan Groat, City Attorney:  Yes, Mr. President.  The motion reads that item number 11 be amended to adopt the following additional recommendations. 

Five, request that the city attorney with the Bureau of street services and the Board of public works, and any other relevant department to report and provide recommendations on the following proposed amendments in the city's protected tree ordinance as denoted in sections 46 and 46.06 in the municipal code. 

  1. A) Under municipal code section 46, expand the definitions of remove and removal to include any act that will cause substantial damage to the central leaders of the tree including but not limited to removing more than 25% of live canopy material, acts that inflict damage on the root system or other part of the tree or shrub by fire application of toxic substances, piling up of materials on top of the critical root zone, operation of equipment or machinery, or by changing the natural grade of the land by excavation or filling the drip line area around the trunk.  
  1. B) under municipal code section 46.02 clarify the intent such that the permits granted from the board of public works to comply with the section must specifically be for the purpose of protected tree relocation or removal.  
  1. C) Under municipal code section 46.06 clarify the process for the Bureau of street services to revoke or withhold building permits in response to violations of the protected Tree ordinance, including creating a standardized policy by which the Bureau of street services has the authority to suspend building permits  The ordinance should be updated to specify the number of trees subject to removal beyond which the bureau of street services shall be compelled to uphold or revoke such permits.  And then instruction number 6. 

Instruct the planning department, the Department of Building and Safety, the Bureau of street services, and the Board of public works with the assistance of the Department of public works, to prepare a report with recommendations on the current process for permitting protected tree removal, and how to improve the process so that the department of building and safety provides the department of public works with sufficient opportunity to address potential impacts on protected trees in advance of final project approval and prior to the issuance of a permit to construct. 

And, so this amendment only asks for a report back and then recommendations so it does not require us to re-open public comment on this matter, Mr. President. 

Clerk:  Is there a second to this motion? 


Council President Krekorian: Council member Ms. Raman, anything further?

Council member Nithya Raman: These are amendments designed to pay a little more attention to protected trees and enforcement as we move through this report. 

Council President Krekorian:  Thank you.


Date: Wed, Aug 16 at 11:35 AM  

Fr: Eric Preven

To: Holly Wolcott Cc: Karo Torossian , [email protected] , Strefan Fauble , [email protected] , David Michaelson , Paul Krekorian 

Dear City Clerk: 

Cure and Correct and re-agendize item 11 special for Friday. I don't understand on what basis City Council feels it can amend item 11 in detail and then claim that because the item calls for a report back, somehow the city is exempt from dutifully opening the item, as amended, to public comments on the detailed amendments. This is unfortunate.    

Cure and Correct and re-agendize special for Friday.  Please confirm receipt.  

Eric Preven 


Caddy Shack or Groundhog Day: 

Smart Speaker:  Did the human torch materialize for Mr. Blumenfield? 

The El Grito stuff is well represented, we currently have a robust Latino caucus... and therefore we need to roll out all of these $5000 grants to get the party started, but why not also submit the presentation; the way it's written up on this agenda to the ACT or SAT examiners as a possible reading comprehension exam question. 

What is the total expenditure for El Grito in 2023?  a, b, c, d, e

It really does not inspire confidence when the agendas are so bloody cryptic, Avak. Even if nothing is wrong, the feeling ... the appearance of shadiness, hurts the brand. 

Bless your heart, and we are going to have the greatest celebration ever... when you finally embrace your much-deserved retirement and vacation accruals. Will you write a book, like Ray Chan?  I digress.  Thank you! 

Still, it's never a bad time to celebrate Latino culture, however, if I may, why are only 22.5% of UCLA students identifying as Latino? The reason I bring it up is because I know UCLA prioritizes moolah... and if the University had maintained 25% Latino student body, in a city of 58% … it would be enough to get more federal money.  Down, Blumenfield! 

I blame Pritzker for that one. 

And what a shameful, shameful group, UCLA and USC,. In addition to destroying the good feeling and expectation of quality gynecological care at our major LA universities, the Bruins and Trojans together managed to destroy the Pac-12 conference, as we know it, for money!   

Anthony Pritzker and the various tailgaters from Harvard Westlake who follow his lead with "millions and millions" to have experts pop over the hill to Studio City to tell us rubes that it's a great idea to tear down all the tall trees and canopy to build two giant toxic doormats next to an 80,000 square foot hangar complex with arena!!!  

Jonathan Groat, City Attorney:  Which Item are you speaking on?

Smart Speaker: El Grito, and mind your own business, Groat. My hat goes off to the in-house lobbyist from the ONE FIVE, Pat Mccosker. This man adores outreach and job fairs but this is great.  The question arises, "Why not do more outreach at a place called "The Enclave," a collection of premier office spaces, and curated restaurants...?"  One, it's vibrant, which means there's alcohol, and two, there's a sense of community, which means you can buy alcohol.  

Mccosker’s idea is to set up one more office for the One Five because the district is 13.1 miles long... and skinny. 

Any information about the cost of McCosker's new office space at "The Enclave?"

No, of course not.  Get him out of here. 

Smart Speaker:   By the way, it was very nice to see Nithya Raman and Bob Blumenfield linking arms to recognize the various young climate interns.

Councilmember Raman said the two of them did 10,000 door knocks during their time in her office. 

Kind of political, but we have to get the word out about the climate crisis... one way or the other.  

CD4 and Studio City do not want to take down our trees and change the zoning to accommodate an elite private school that wants to put an arena, with underground parking next to a fire station and on top of Weddington Golf and Tennis.  We don't care that Krekorian tee'd it up, and dumped it on you, we care about the land. 

Jonathan Groat:  Mr. Preven, please wait. 

Smart Speaker: That was an annoying interruption, but I did note that Bob Blumenfield jumped in early on item 1 to reduce a lien, like crazy from over $2000 to just $550...  Thank you.

Jonathan Groat:  You can go to your general public comment

Smart Speaker:  If Harvard Westlake would reduce their plan by the same percentage, it might be more palatable. They can build some sporty things on less than half of the property and leave all the trees, and open access to the public.  Calling it great purpose beyond themselves.

I would like to recognize that Clarance Avant passed away, he was sort of the black godfather of Los Angeles and he mentored many athletes, artists, and entertainers ...I am going to speed through this a bit to get to a lot of feelings some of us are having in CD4 and also in Supervisor Lindsey Horvath's Third district, around the gentle and infuriating letter to planning about Harvard Westlake's River Plan.   link

I think what we desperately need is the type of strength that Katy Yaroslavsky brought on Wednesday when she slay the mighty Bulgari Bear  (temporarily, the Bulgari boys are reloading.). 

Paul Krekorian went out of his way to do a weird thing by thanking Katy for her diligence in what he called a big "fight" and then pivoted to previewing that he would be a no-vote, on Bulgari, so supporting their right to CEQA. 

During all the hoopla, someone said, "Zev must be very proud of you right now, Katy."

Incidentally, where the hell is Zev as his Greenway in Studio City is about to be manscaped by Ari Engelberg and Edgar Khalatian of Harvard Westlake School, with a giant backup swimming pool and an 80,000 square foot gym complex with two giant toxic rubber doormats to cover up all the stumps of the beautiful old trees they plan to cut down. 

On Wednesday night, following Katy's historic rejection of Bulgari,  Zev was out riding the wave of rich hillside people who adore him.  The whole city was invited to Book Soup to grab a copy or six or two dozen of Zev's new book. 

For the same reasons that the studios and streamers won't reveal their numbers, the Notebook cannot confirm how many books Zev may have sold, but let's be clear, stock in the Yaroslavsky brand went up a little on Wednesday. 

The old-fashioned way. 

We don’t back down. We get ahead.

Kevin De Leon took a moment on Wednesday to recount going to the Pacific dining car that had the most expensive blueberry pancakes he could remember. He would go with former President Ricardo Icaza, who passed away recently.  Rick started as a rank-and-file box clerk and became a 64-year member and President of UFCW 770 for 36 years.

"We’re UFCW 770. We don’t back down. We get ahead."

Like Katy. 

(Eric Preven is a longtime community activist and is a contributor to CityWatch. The opinions of Mr. Preven are not necessarily those of CityWatchLA.com.)