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Around the Foothills

Saying it was time to "have a little fun," Bradley asked for questions.

January 26, 1989|DOUG SMITH

The city's oldest homeowner association began its work for 1989 this week with a stroke of clout and class.

The Los Feliz Improvement Assn., founded in 1916, held the first meeting of its 73rd year in the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage, which opened in November. About 200 members came to the Monday night event, which christened the auditorium in the Griffith Park museum.

Their guest for the occasion was Mayor Tom Bradley.

The idea was for residents of the old but still glistening Los Feliz area to grill the mayor on everything that's bothering them. Not surprisingly, quite a few things came up.

The meeting was to begin at 7 p.m. On the hour, the smooth voice of Gene Autry, singing "Back in the Saddle Again," filled the handsome beige and green auditorium. Soon after, without fanfare, the unmistakable figure of the mayor--tall, gracefully stiff, a wisp of a smile on his face--walked down the aisle.

There was a delay as technicians worked on the sound system. Finally, about 7:30, program Chairman Marilyn Bush said the show would go on without amplification.

"We'll just have to do our best to project," she said.

It was hardly necessary. The acoustics were so good that not a word was missed.

Philip Homsey II, president of the association, introduced Bradley with a comment about vision.

The association had vision 75 years ago, he said, when it planted the deodar trees that stand majestically along Los Feliz Boulevard.

In his vision for the future, Homsey said, he sees a new branch library, a new high school rather than a shopping center on the former Franciscan ceramics property, a new road going directly from the Golden State Freeway to the Greek Theatre, a Griffith Park free of crime, and blue water in the reservoirs that the Department of Water and Power is now planning to cover.

Homsey praised Bradley for making Los Angeles the greatest city in the United States.

"With his vision, and God willing, he will guide it to the year 2000, and make it the greatest city on the face of the earth," he concluded.

Bradley took the praise in stride and used humor and polite conventions to avoid conflict with ideas that were not in line with his own.

"I know you are concerned about traffic to and from the Greek Theatre," he said. "Well, that's an easy one to solve. . . . From now on I want you to just direct your concerns, your complaints, your problems to a member of the Greek advisory committee that I have appointed. And Phil is the man."

As to the demand for a new branch library, he urged all to vote for the library bond on the April ballot.

Then he said it was time to "have a little fun." He instructed the questioners to speak up so all could hear.

"Mr. Mayor," the first said, "I've been married 40 years, so I'm pretty good at yelling."

Bradley already knew Osa Jensen, who had worked energetically to promote the Los Angeles Police Department's mounted patrol headquarters, which opened late last year.

"Osa, I've heard you yell," he said in jest. "I know you can."

Bradley thanked her for the support for the mounted unit but didn't offer much hope for her desire to have more officers assigned to Los Feliz. Assignments are made by formula based on response time and that probably won't change, he said. Some questions were easier. The mayor took notes as a man complained that the city promptly tickets cars on street-cleaning day, but ignores rush-hour parking violations.

"We'll get those tow trucks up there," he said.

Sometimes he used a question to promote an only obliquely related proposal.

To a man's expression of fear about gang violence at the community's junior and senior high schools, he replied that the city was funding an after-school care and tutoring program at ten elementary schools. He said he wants to use redevelopment funds to expand it to all elementary schools.

"I know that this plan will have a tremendous impact on gang activity," he said.

Bradley interrupted a man's convoluted question, apparently soliciting his opposition to the covering of DWP reservoirs.

"Without wishing to cut you off in your excellent presentation," he said, "may I give you some good news?"

It was that the president of the DWP board had promised him to put all plans on hold and conduct public hearings.

"I think we need some political clout as well," the man persisted.

Bradley gave the name of someone on his staff.

"You can call him," he said.

For more than an hour, he couldn't be shaken from his confidence in the ability of rational government to manage all problems, until the next-to-last question.

An elderly woman asked what to do about a teen-ager on a skateboard who played chicken with her car and told her, "I want to die anyway."

"I don't know how you deal with that," he said softly. "A teen-ager, who has no respect for anybody, including himself. It's part of our times, part of our society. Last question?"

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