In 1896 Colonel Griffith J. Griffith donated land that became Griffith Park in order to provide a respite from the pressures of urban life for all people of Los Angeles. Unfortunately – over the years – much has been done to turn this gift into a cash cow. The most recent attempt by the Los Angeles Zoo (“Zoo”) will destroy 16 acres of Griffith Park’s native California chaparral habitat in order to develop the California Planning Area. While some aspects of this Project provide for improved animal habitat and enhancements consistent with the Zoo’s education and conservation purposes, much of the Vision Plan is centered around increasing the use of the Zoo as an entertainment venue and event center.
Inspired by the spirit of Griffith’s generosity to the people of Los Angeles, Friends of Griffith Park, and the Griffith J. Griffith Charitable Trust have filed a lawsuit to address and stop portions of the Zoo Vision Plan from becoming a reality.
Click here for FoGP’s accompanying press release.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION & LEAD-UP TO FOGP’S LAWSUIT
UPDATE: AUGUST 3, 2023
Now that the Los Angeles Zoo Vision Plan has been approved at City Council, FoGP is considering options. We greatly appreciate all those who attended/spoke at meetings, or submitted comments to the Council File. We continue to take the position the Zoo seems to ignore — that the Zoo resides in Griffith Park — not the other way around.
Thank you to all who received our eblasts, and reached out to ask about next steps. Moving forward, we will continue to alert our membership and the community regarding decisions made in coordination with other environmental organizations.
Agenda item 21-0828 CD-4
for LA City Council / Wed., Aug. 2, 2023
REVISED FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT (EIR), ENVIRONMENTAL FINDINGS, STATEMENT OF OVERRIDING CONSIDERATIONS, and MITIGATION MONITORING PROGRAM (MMP); NEIGHBORHOODS AND COMMUNITY ENRICHMENT COMMITTEE REPORT relative to the certification of the Revised FInal EIR and Project approval for the Los Angeles Zoo Vision Plan.
Recommendations for Council action:
1 CERTIFY that the Revised Final EIR was completed in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act; that the Revised Final EIR was presented to the Council, as the decision-making body of the City; that the Council reviewed and considered the information contained in the Revised Final EIR; and, that the Revised Final EIR reflects and expresses the City’s independent judgment and analysis.
2 ADOPT the Findings and Statement of Overriding Considerations detailed in the June 8, 2023, Zoo report, attached to the Council file.
3 ADOPT the MMP, detailed in the June 8, 2023, Zoo report, attached to the Council file.
4 SPECIFY that the documents constituting the record of proceedings in this matter are at the Office of the City Clerk, 200 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, California 90012; in the files of the Zoo Department (Zoo) located at 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027 and at the Department of Public Works, Bureau of Engineering, 1169 South Broadway, Suite 600, Los Angeles, California 90015; and any other relevant City department.
5 APPROVE the Project as described as Alternative 1.5: The California Focused Conservation Alternative in the Revised Final EIR and the 2022 Los Angeles Zoo Draft Plan: Alternative 1.5, attached to the Council file.
6 DIRECT the Zoo, and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, in consultation with Council District 4, to establish a formal Vehicles Miles Traveled (VMT) monitoring process within 90 days. This formal process should cover all phases of the Vision Plan, and should outline achieving the aspiration of a 15 percent reduction in VMT’s and targets for modeshare split.
Fiscal Impact Statement: The Zoo Department reports that approval and certification of the Vision Plan, and Revised Final EIR, do not have a direct fiscal impact as there is no obligation of funding. Implementation of early phases will facilitate increased attendance and revenue, ensuring a financially sustaining operating model for the Zoo into the future.
Community Impact Statement: Yes
Against unless Amended:
Los Feliz Neighborhood Council
Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council
Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council
Atwater Village Neighborhood Council
Hollywood United Neighborhood Council
For if Amended:
Atwater Village Neighborhood Council
Palms Neighborhood Council
Elysian Valley Riverside Neighborhood Council
For Current Plan:
Pico Union Neighborhood Council
Silver Lake Neighborhood Council
Neighborhoods and Community Enrichment Council Committee Meeting — June 28th, 2023
In late June, Alternative 1.5 was moved forward by the Neighborhoods and Community Enrichment Council Committee. Full Council sign-off is the next final step. The Committee’s approval with only two Council Members presiding seemed preordained. During just the week prior to the hearing, nearly 350 comments were submitted into the Council File in opposition to Alternative 1.5, as written. A Sierra Club petition tallied another 300-plus in opposition. Comments added in support were a mere handful. There was no mention of this intense level of public opposition at the meeting. Instead, the hearing was a victory lap with lavish accolades for people responsible for the Zoo Vision Plan.
As several have wondered… Was the public even heard?
As the newest iteration of the Los Angeles Zoo expansion is being dissembled to the public, Friends of Griffith Park would like to clarify some points.
Friends of Griffith Park has been incredibly involved in analyzing and providing thoughtful feedback at each stage of the LA Zoo’s Vision Plan EIR process to date. We are now being presented with a new Alternative 1.5, as articulated by the Focused, Recirculated EIR (FREIR). FoGP is encouraged to see a number of major changes to this new plan and feel that it is significantly better than the Proposed Project. Notably the recognition that the presence of native species in the Africa Area merits conserving and protecting this hillside against future development. Unfortunately, we can still NOT support this Alternative 1.5 as it has been presented.
Sadly, this new Alternative 1.5 plan still includes the proposed, massive development of the California Area, which encompasses a currently undeveloped, largely native habitat. Beyond just developing this hillside, the prospect of a massive excavation project to create “Condor Canyon” would have an everlasting and unnecessary impact on Griffith Park. We have provided a detailed letter of feedback directly to the FREIR team and would encourage you to read it for more granular details about how we arrived at our conclusion regarding Alt. 1.5.
- The enormity of habitat destruction of the Condor Canyon is staggering. Excavating more than 74,000 cubic yard of earth/rock will leave permanent scars on this pristine ridgeline. Dump trucks clogging the roads, noise from blasting rock away, razing and bulldozing the land — all for what?
- The new plan also calls for more event space to be constructed near the entrance, on top of 73,500 sq ft. of visitor centers planned. We can imagine late night parties with excessive sound and lights. Is this appropriate use of the space?
- LA Zoo animal space would increase while areas for residential wildlife would decrease. Overall, 16.1 acres of land is targeted for development that will displace native trees and plants. Required mitigation does little to offset loss of an entire ecosystem.
We fully support the Zoo’s mission of conservation, outreach and education, and look forward to supporting their plans for modernization and evolution in the future; however, this cannot come at the expense of razing undeveloped lands and disrupting the wildlife (native species) that currently call it home.
The Zoo can meet their objectives of animal care excellence and fulfill their important mission of educating as many people as possible about conservation without destroying this hillside. An updated version of Alternate 1.5 that models its California Area development along the lines of what was proposed in Alternative 1 is a concept we would fully and enthusiastically support.
If, after attending the Zoo public hearing on Aug. 15th at 6 PM, and reading the FoGP response letter, if you would like to provide your own response to this Zoo expansion, please respond no later than August 29, 2022 / 5 PM.
PLEASE NOTE: RESPONSE DATE HAS BEEN EXTENDED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 23, 2022, so please weigh in!
Either mail or email your response and include this information: LA Zoo Vision Plan Focused Recirculated EIR Comments on the subject line to…
Norman Mundy, Environmental Supervisor II
Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering, Environmental Management Group
1149 S. Broadway, Suite 600, Mail Stop 939
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Tonight (Aug. 15, 2022) the LA Zoo held a public forum and for many who tuned in via Microsoft Teams, it was a frustrating experience when folks attempted to weigh in with public comment. This recording will be shared in the next few days but in the meantime, there is another way to voice your opinion.
More information on the LA Zoo Alt. 1.5 Plan can be accessed HERE.
For Media Contact Information:
Rachel Schwartz / PR Advantedge, Inc.
firstname.lastname@example.org / 310.990.2764
Several areas of concern for FoGP…
Construction along the ridgeline (indicated in RED) to create the huge 18,000 sq. ft. California Visitor Center (1) and creation of Condor Canyon (see second image) would have huge impacts.
FINAL EIR PDF can be accessed here.