Windsor Square Association
Minutes to Town Hall Meeting
Thursday, November 11, 2021
Due to the continued uncertainty surrounding large-group gatherings at The Ebell of Los Angeles, the WSA annual “Town Hall” meeting was held via Zoom. Larry Guzin called the meeting to order at 7:04 p.m.
After introducing himself and welcoming the residents and guests in attendance, Mr. Guzin presented the mission statement excerpted from the WSA Articles of Incorporation (“The… purposes of the Windsor Square Association are to promote public safety, social welfare, community education, and the quality of living of the residents within the area and the City of Los Angeles in general”).
Mr. Guzin then acknowledged and thanked the following attendees: 1) Councilmember Nithya Raman, Council District 4 (CD4); 2) Kevin Sanchez Morales, Field Deputy, CD4, Greater Wilshire and Mid-City Area; 3) Charles D’Atri, President of the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association (LVNA) and member of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council (GWNC); 4) Senior Lead Officer Joe Pelayo, LAPD Olympic Division; 5) Patty Lombard of the Larchmont Buzz; 7) Representatives from the private security companies servicing Windsor Square: Terry Segraves of SSA Security, and Mike Ball of ADT Security.
Larry Guzin concluded his introductory remarks by presenting the officers and board members of the Windsor Square Association (WSA) and thanking those members who were unable to attend. Before commencing the evening’s agenda, Larry acknowledged the passing of long-time Windsor Square resident and advocate — and former WSA president — Michael Cornwell, whose many contributions to the community were commended and whose presence and friendship would be missed.
Councilmember Nithya Raman, CD4, was the first speaker of the evening. Recalling that her remarks to the virtual Windsor Square Town Hall in 2020 were among her first activities as a newly elected Councilmember, and lamenting the pending loss of Windsor Square within the reconfigured Council District 4, Ms. Raman highlighted her accomplishments over the past year, which directly or indirectly impacted Windsor Square. She also commended the high-level of volunteer community involvement by the Windsor Square Association as being inspirational to her office, and serving as an effective communication model, which all neighborhood organizations should adopt to express their interests and concerns.
First among her achievements were additional cleaning and sanitation services provided throughout the district, such as street sweeping, weeding, bulky item pickup, despite the budget shortfall for sanitation services. Councilmember Raman’s continued focus on homelessness and housing issues resulted in the introduction of a motion to improve trash pickup around homeless encampments throughout the city. The Bureau of Sanitation has been working with Councilmember Raman to identify better trash receptacles. Phase I of a pilot project for District 4 will have no immediate impact on Windsor Square, but the efforts to establish cleaner streets should be felt in Windsor Square in the future.
Councilmember Raman cited the shortage of affordable housing in LA as the key contributor to many problems within the City, and accordingly, remained the primary focus of the various city departments that were working together to address the issue. Councilmember Raman cited her efforts not only to improve affordable housing, such as the proposed “Encampment to Home” initiative program designed to provide funding to house persons living in 17 major encampments within the district, but also to speed up the timeline for housing availability, thus allowing individuals to move from encampments. These efforts may not have an immediate and direct impact on Windsor Square due to its HPOZ status, but residents would notice the positive impact of more affordable multi-family units in other neighborhoods.
Additional homeless resources recently introduced were an outreach team from Ascencia (paid through discretionary funds) and a multidisciplinary team making mental health and substance abuse services far easier to access than County services. Councilmember Raman cited the successful housing of former encampments at 6th Street and Rimpau (Norton Avenue) Boulevard (although the addition of new tents needed to be addressed), and in front of the Wilshire Branch library.
Finally, the councilmember’s office has been working with the Department of Transportation (DOT) to resolve the speeding and safety issues at the corner of 6th Street and Norton Avenue; as a result, a speed feedback sign had been placed at 6th Street and Bronson Avenue; a reduced-speed sign (when children are present) was placed outside the school on 6th Street at Norton Avenue; however, given the low incident rate, DOT could not provide a restricted turn sign at Norton Avenue.
Ms. Raman concluded by asking Windsor Square residents to stay in touch with Council District 4, by signing up for both the district newsletter on her website and the neighborhood newsletter published by Kevin Sanchez Morales. In closing, Ms. Raman thanked the attendees for the honor of serving them, and promised she would continue to do so in whatever capacity possible from her new district.
Hospitality: Steve Tator, WSA board member and Chair of the Hospitality committee, welcomed all present and extended an especially warm welcome to all new neighbors in attendance. Recalling the neighborhood connections and activities that were so beneficial to his family’s enjoyment of the neighborhood many years ago, Mr. Tator has composed a hospitality letter on behalf of the WSA, which he intends to send to all new Windsor Square neighbors. The letter describes the WSA activities designed to protect, enhance, and benefit the neighborhood experience; invites new neighbors to become active participants by joining the Windsor Square Association; and asks that they even consider joining the board or becoming a Block Captain. Along with the letter, new neighbors will receive a copy of the Hancock Park Garden Club brochure, “Your Next Front Yard,” which reinforces the importance of open front yards and the Tree Canopy, which would be discussed later in the meeting.
Public Safety: Larry Guzin presented pertinent information regarding neighborhood safety and reminded all residents as citizens to: a) be aware of their surroundings and observant of suspicious activity; b) be community-minded, by paying attention to activities on their block and reporting incidents to the Block Captain network; and c) report criminal or suspicious incidents and share information with the LAPD, which is statistics driven.
Senior Lead Officer Joe Pelayo, LAPD Olympic Division, discussed an Area Safety Bulletin that was recently released as a result of increased criminal activity on Melrose Avenue: suspects looking for expensive items such as purses, watches, etc. have been following individuals home. Office Pelayo advised anyone who suspects he/she is being followed to go to the nearest police station, or call 911; if confronted, to surrender all items and do not engage with the perpetrator. It is most effective if an incident is reported to LAPD immediately. Contact information is available on the WSA website, as is crime prevention information.
Emergency Preparedness: Five years ago, the Windsor Square Association spearheaded a drive to provide 55-gallon water barrels to interested neighbors. Larry Guzin reiterated that WSA’s commitment to neighborhood safety will be a focus of Association activity in 2022. Gary Gilbert has been named Chair of the Emergency Preparedness Committee for the purpose of preparing the community for a major disaster.
The keynote speaker was Crisanta Gonzalez, Emergency Management Department, Chief of Community Engagement for the “RYLAN” program (“Ready Your L.A. Neighborhood”), who explained the program’s structure and plans for its implementation in Windsor Square. Following a major disaster, City responders would be understaffed and unable to provide sufficient assistance, hence the need for neighborhood assistance and involvement. After presenting an introductory video, Ms. Gonzalez explained the three preparatory steps:
- The initial step is to organize the neighborhood into identifiable blocks. This step has already been achieved through the Windsor Square Block Captain network. Once the involvement of block captains and/or other volunteers has been identified, RYLAN will provide workshop materials needed to prepare and organize each block.
- The goal of the workshops is to develop a communication plan and a list of available resources within each block (i.e., equipment; professional skills). Resource information is not shared, and is collected for the sole use of the residents of each block. Workshops are normally conducted in home or virtually, but a pilot program has been proposed for Windsor Square, whereby a joint workshop will be held for multiple (3-4) blocks within Windsor Square; at some point during said workshop, individual blocks will meet to collect the required information. Following the workshop, practice drills will be scheduled to allow the residents on each block to practice their communication and coordination abilities.
- It is important that households sign up for NOTIFY LA: Type “Ready” to 888-777, which is the system used by the City to send large-scale or smaller messages. If residents wish to receive notices that focus on the Windsor Square area, the profile must be completely filled in; otherwise, only city-wide messages will be received.
Crisanta Gonzalez concluded her remarks by reminding viewers about the Golden Hour: the first 60 minutes following a large event are critical: the READY workshop teaches the nine steps needed to be prepared. For information, contact: Readyla.org. Crisanta Gonzalez may be contacted directly on her cellphone at 213-505-5467, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gary Gilbert reiterated that, while the idea of introducing the RYLAN program originated with the GWNC, Windsor Square was selected for the pilot program, with the expectation that the program would spread to the other Greater Wilshire neighborhoods.
Land Use: John Welborne highlighted three recent developments impacting Windsor Square:
1) State Bills 9 and 10 both passed in the California legislature and were signed by the governor. A lawsuit against SB10 was immediately filed, while the Our Neighborhood Voices initiative was submitted to the legislature, in an effort to provide that local zoning decisions remain a local issue. For the time being, there was nothing for Windsor Square residents to do other than stay informed. Information can be obtained on the Our Neighborhood Voices website.
2) City Redistricting: After providing the historical configuration of Council District 4, for which Highland Avenue provided a recent western boundary north of Third Street — and of which CD 4 Windsor Square has been a part for sixty years — John Welborne reported that ,under the preliminary redistricting maps proposed by City Council, Windsor Square would be included in CD13 (Hollywood) and separated from Hancock Park, which was to move into CD5 (Westside, including Bel Air, Westwood and Beverly Grove / Fairfax). The dividing line between CD5 and CD13 runs north/south between Arden Boulevard to the east and Rossmore Avenue to the west.
3) State-wide Redistricting: The newly configured districts were determined by an independent redistricting committee. In the reconfigured district maps for U.S. House of Representatives, and the State Senate and Assembly, the GWNC would be reunited within the same districts, stopping the split that had previously separated the area.
Larchmont Village 2021: Gary Gilbert, a member of Larchmont 2021, along with Patty Lombard representing the Larchmont Boulevard Association; Heather Boylston representing the Larchmont Village Business Improvement District (LVBID); and John Kaliski, community member and architect/city planner, reported that the committee was on the verge of releasing a survey intended to ascertain the community’s feelings about topics related to Larchmont Village. Once the “listening phase” of the survey was concluded, the committee would be enlarged to share results of the research, and viable short-term suggestions would be submitted to the City in an effort to improve the overall Larchmont experience. The Committee hopes to reach interested residents through its website, the local press (Larchmont Chronicle, Larchmont Buzz), and homeowner associations. Any information related to the process can be obtained on the website: Larchmont2021.com
Canopy: Helen Hartung discussed the planting of the 36”-box African Fern Pine on Larchmont Boulevard, which coincided with the 100thanniversary celebration of the original Larchmont Village shopping district. The planting was the result of efforts by the City of Los Angeles, the LVBID, and WSA, among others. The WSA provided funds for the tree, which will be maintained by Todd Warner and his staff at Tailwaggers.
Mailing List and Newsletter: The WSA has embarked on a program to publish a monthly newsletter, providing information gathered from the minutes of the monthly WSA board of directors’ meetings. Given that the Block Captain network was deemed too cumbersome for effective communication, Jason Greenman introduced the use of an e-mail service to communicate with community members; there are currently 540-550 recipients on the mailing list, proof that the centralized email system is capable of reaching a broader audience. WSA does not plan to issue more than approximately four emails per month. Block Captains remain an important component of neighborhood communication efforts and were encouraged to forward their neighbors’ emails to increase the number of recipients within Windsor Square. Information can be obtained by emailing: email@example.com. Interested parties can subscribe directly at: Windsorsquare.org/subscribe.
2021 Squeaky Wheel Award: After reading the list of past recipients, Larry Guzin presented the 2021 Squeaky Wheel award to Dimitris Houndalas and Nora Sullivan-Houndalas of Le Petit Greek for their perseverance and persistence, emblematic of all merchants who “stayed the course” for the benefit of Windsor Square residents during the pandemic.
Election of 2021-2022 WSA Directors: After the addition of Gary Gilbert, whose name had inadvertently been omitted, the proposed slate of Directors was voted upon and approved by a majority of eligible (paid) members of the Windsor Square Association. Votes were counted from among those in attendance, along with proxy votes previously submitted.
a) One resident questioned why a podocarpus tree was planted on Larchmont Boulevard, given that ficus trees had historically been planted. Helen Hartung explained that the African Fern Pine (Afrocarpus gracilior) was one of two trees allowed by the City of LA; this species was selected for two reasons: they are less prone to disease than ficus, and their features resemble those of a ficus tree, providing a consistent look with the other trees on the block.
b) The vacant property located on the southeast corner of 3rd Street and Plymouth Boulevard is slated for development, including the addition of a second story. Architects designing the project planned to be on-site to present and explain the proposed development on Saturday, November 13, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and on Sunday, November 14, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The proposed development was also scheduled on the agenda of the upcoming HPOZ committee meeting. Additional questions could be addressed to Caroline Moser or Lydia Chapman, whose contact information is listed on the Windsor Square HPOZ website.
c) Neighbors were invited to view the restored historical lighting on “Little Bronson” (Bronson Avenue between 5th and 6th Streets). Residents commended the City for its efforts to restore and/or reproduce the lights, including LED bulbs.
D) One neighbor expressed frustration over the increased number of southbound drivers at the corner of 3rd Street and Plymouth Boulevard, who are ignoring the right-hand turn only signs during peak rush hours, prompting irate drivers to engage in prolonged honking. It was suggested that only the LAPD could enforce compliance by issuing tickets.
Since there were no further questions or comments, Larry Guzin adjourned the meeting at 8:57 p.m.