Neighborhood Council Proposed Name Change Sparks Heated Community Debate

GREATER GRIFFITH PARK? - At a special meeting convened solely to decide whether or not one of Los Angeles’ oldest neighborhood councils would keep its original name, GGPNC board members debated for nearly three hours before approving ‘Los Feliz Neighborhood Council’ in a 13-3-1 vote.

The resolution required a two-thirds supermajority (12 votes) to pass. 

The issue has been simmering since last summer when the Governing Board initially debated the name change and then conducted a public opinion survey at the October 2012 election poll.  When asked which name would help the Council be most effective, survey respondents indicated nearly two to one (327-170) that they were in favor of using the neighborhood’s name, Los Feliz, over Greater  Griffith Park 

Before acting, the council deferred the vote for more than 6 months allowing for additional public comment, which saw various community organizations rally organized protests against any change.  Particularly vocal was the Franklin Hills Residents Association (FHRA) who maintained the Franklin Hills area was separate and distinct from Los Feliz and would be “disenfranchised” by any new name, and the Los Feliz Improvement Association (LFIA) who argued using the “Los Feliz brand” as part of any name would confuse the two organizations.  Both FHRA and LFIA organization members were instrumental in forming the council in 2002. 

Former council board members, some of whom originally helped choose the “Greater Griffith Park” name, wore t-shirts and caps emblazoned with the council’s original logo as a show of solidarity. 

Council President, Linda Demmers, said, “It was a tough call and I do think people went back and forth before voting.”  An amended motion to use the name “Neighborhood Council: Los Feliz” failed. 

Demmers noted she did not believe the Greater Griffith Park brand was as strong as some might think.  An 18-year area resident, she had not heard of the neighborhood council until three years ago.  She confirmed LA City Councilman Bernard Parks, Chair of the Education and Neighborhoods Committee, had asked at a City Hall meeting where ‘Greater Griffith Park’ was?  When told it’s in Los Feliz made the connection.  The council’s boundaries contain most of Griffith Park but its residential districts comprise all of Los Feliz. 

Nelson Bae, the Council’s Treasurer, added, “Going by a map, ‘Greater Griffith Park’ could mean Burbank or Glendale or Atwater Village…  Beachwood Canyon or even Lake Hollywood, we know who we are, but do they know who we are?” 

Ranking Boardmember Mark F. Mauceri, who initially proposed the change, said, “Clearly there’s an awareness problem when a woman saw me post a GGPNC election flyer in Starbucks and said, “I might be interested in running, except I live in Los Feliz.” 

Former longtime GGPNC President, Charley Mims and his wife, Shirley, adamantly disagreed submitting a 35-page appeal along with a 1000+ signature petition to not change the name, arguing the Council’s October “Los Feliz Votes” election campaign was flawed, intentionally designed to mislead the public into thinking the name was already ‘’Los Feliz Neighborhood Council’’ and there was little public support for it.  Other speakers against change cited ‘New Coke’ as an abysmal failure and that name changes generally confuse more than coalesce any identity awareness. 

In her summary, Demmers asked board members how many had changed their name after being married, and if it caused huge amounts of confusion—aside from at the DMV?” 

Mauceri added “New Coke was a new recipe, not a re-brand and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Muhammad Ali, and Cape Kennedy all got along fine after changing their names.   I mean, do people confuse the Clippers and the Lakers?  Even though they’re both in the L.A. basketball business?  I don’t think so.” 

While adopted by the neighborhood council, the change is not official until EmpowerLA, the City’s neighborhood council oversight department, reviews the bylaw amendment and processes it.


(Julianna Arnold is Chair, Outreach Committee Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council (GGPNC)

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Vol 11 Issue 47

Pub: June 11, 2013