Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Griffith Park Fire

Originally uploaded by Atwater Village Newbie.
Last night at John Marshall High School, I met with families who had been evacuated and helped them get situated. The evacuation center was very well organized. When I arrived, there were about thirty-five people there, although it could have easily run at capacity (200). Some had brought pets: dogs and cats, some fish in plastic bags and, reportedly, a chicken. I ran into my friend Chad, who lives in Los Feliz; he wasn't sure if he was going to stay or not.

Shortly after midnight, I went with Tom LaBonge up to the Griffith Observatory. Tom's passion for Los Angeles in general and for Griffith Park in particular is well known--he tended Dante's View for decades, long before holding office. I've marveled to hear the depth of his knowledge of the park as he communicates to reporters exactly where the fire has been and what damage he's done. We spoke to firefighters who were exhausted after 12-hour shifts, slumped at picnic tables a few dozen feet from still-visible flames.

Councilmember LaBonge isn't alone in his love for Griffith Park, but I think he represents for many Angelenos the deep and emotional connection that we feel towards spaces. This morning, shortly before touring the back roads of the park, I spoke to a woman who had walked up from the neighborhood to the south. "This was my park," she said, through tears.

Tom and I started from Vista del Valle and wove through the devastated moonscape. We saw logs still smoldering and pockets of green that had been successfully protected.

Griffith Park is not lost, of course, but it is damaged. We'll rebuild it, where we can, and it will grow back lush and green. It's the single largest urban park in the country; few other parks compare to it in its size and wildness.

For now, we take our hats off to the emergency responders, from Los Angeles and from our neighboring cities under mutual-aid pacts, who are continuing to successfully protect life and property. We wish them speedy containment of this fire.