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A Plea for Better Supervision of Parks

July 29, 1990

Hopefully, the state can buy Sage Ranch for parkland (Times, July 19). The vast areas of the Santa Monica Mountains the conservancy has gathered need more than hiking trails and mountain bike paths. The Westside needs an attraction and facility comparable to Griffith Park.

However, any park requires monitoring and supervision. This is lacking in both the city's Santa Ynez Park and Topanga State Park, which have entrances inside the Palisades Highlands. They have become fire hazards, a gang playground, with a night life of their own for campfires and drinking parties. And when our security patrol seeks police or park ranger assistance, response time is such that the culprits have taken flight because the private guards have no arrest powers.

For years, many of us in the Highlands have sought gating and monitoring rights. But the general reaction from the park authorities is "unhindered" use and no closing hours. Resident Highland hikers periodically clean out the trash that piles up, and are on constant alert for smoldering campfires lit the night before. The area fire chief is aware of the danger, but has NOT been able to enforce or implement fire protection procedures.

At the July 18 meeting of the Highlands Home Owners Assn., I was directed, as its current chairman, to seek community support for monitoring, expanded use of the security patrol, gating for entrances, posting of rules and regulations and legislative action to mandate supervision of park use.

Unless the latter is done at the city, county and state level, the responsible authorities and government put us at risk and may be leaving themselves open to liability claims.

HYMAN H. HAVES

Pacific Palisades

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