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Another View of Public Access to Escondido Canyon

June 17, 1993

In an attempt to deny that racism exists among the homeowners in Escondido Canyon, Julian J. Maltese merely defeated his argument through a series of offensive comments in his May 16 letter. His description of Hispanics as people who "roam the Santa Monica Mountains" conjures up visions of hunters and gatherers scouring the hillside. Was Mr. Maltese attempting to make a connection between Hispanics and nomadic tribesmen? I also find it hard to believe that graffiti is a "virtually monolithically Hispanic etiology." If graffiti is solely a Hispanic disease, as Mr. Maltese seems to be claiming, then how does he explain the graffiti problems that exist throughout the Los Angeles area. Are we to believe that these East Los Angeles Hispanics are responsible for the graffiti problems in Barstow, Phoenix and other cities?

I do not wish to contend that all of the Escondido Canyon area homeowners are racists, but Mr. Maltese's theory that allowing Hispanics into Escondido Canyon, a publicly owned park, will bring with it "urban blight" is ludicrous. Not only do the residents of the Eastside of Los Angeles, regardless of their race, have just as much right to enjoy the beauty of the Santa Monica Mountains as the fortunate who live in Malibu, but the importance of escaping to the mountains is especially valuable to them. Many of the children who visit the Santa Monica Mountains through conservancy-sponsored programs such as the Mountains Education Program are seeing nature for the first time. These children leave the parks with a renewed sense of hope and wonder, and an immense appreciation for nature.

Escondido Canyon Park is a rare gem in the Los Angeles area. Its stunning falls and lush vegetation provide one of the most fascinating hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains. I take great offense at Mr. Maltese's belief that Hispanics would ruin the scenic beauty of this canyon. Mr. Maltese claims that connecting East Los Angeles with graffiti and other problems "is not empty-headed prejudice but informed metaphor." The only "informed metaphors" I see in Mr. Maltese's letter links his statements with in-your-face discrimination. It would be a crime to restrict public access to Escondido Canyon Park, especially based on race or income, and that's a plain and simple fact.

JOHN A. DIAZ

East Los Angeles

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