Griffith Park to be historic monument?

GRIFFITH PARK, LOS ANGELES Griffith Park -- It's a place of rest and relaxation in the middle of the concrete jungle of Los Angeles. Griffith Park stretches out over 4,000 acres in the Santa Monica Mountain range. Parts of it are still wilderness; others are made for families on a picnic. There is nothing else like it.

"There's nowhere else in Los Angeles that you can go and see that, up in the mountains up there, all the chaparral, how wild it was back then in that time," said Griffith Van Griffith, descendant of the park's founder.

Griffith Van Griffith is the great grandson of Colonel Griffith Jenkins Griffith, who donated the land, and one of those who wants to make the park a historic cultural monument. He and others came to this meeting Thursday of the Cultural Heritage Commission Thursday.

"How lucky are we in Los Angeles to have this fantastic place to go to?" asked Claire Darden, Griffith Park Trust.

"I want the park to be just what Griffith Jacobs Griffith wanted," said L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge.

LaBonge loves the park, but says not so fast. He worries if it's designated a historic monument, any changes in the future would be either impossible or very difficult, and that could cause problems.

"In Griffith Park, I want to make sure we don't handcuff ourselves to where we couldn't make modest improvements for the park, for the recreation, for fields, for sports, for girls and boys, young and old alike, to enjoy the park as Griffith intended it to: a park for the masses," said LaBonge.

LaBonge believes parts of the park and some of the buildings could be historic monuments, but not necessarily the entire park. Right now the Observatory and other areas such as the Hollywood sign are historic monuments. Griffith says his great-grandfather would want all of it protected and doesn't want to see it commercialized.

"He always wanted it to be a free park, and 'free' meaning most everything in it free, not rides and attractions," said Griffith Van Griffith

Thursday, the Commission voted to take the proposal under consideration. It's the first step in a process that will take months.


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