The first official "Save Los Encinos" task force meeting took place Wednesday at the , where local residents, business owners and political representatives met to discuss a stategy to keep an historic Encino landmark open to the public.
is on a list of 70 California state parks set to close in 2012 due to a $22-million cut in the state parks budget agreed to in March by Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature.
State Sen. Fran Pavley to discuss the best ways to move forward.
Pavley's district director, Rebekah Rodriguez-Lynn, chaired the Wednesday meeting. Among the attendees were Craig Sap, the Los Angeles district acting superintendent of the state Department of Parks and Recreation; Louis Krokover and Kathy Moghimi-Patterson of the ; Michael Crosby, president of the Los Encinos Docents Association; from Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz's office; Esther Azal from Rep. Howard Berman's office, and John Popoch from Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield's office, as well as local residents and chamber members.
The park's financial needs and operating costs
Sap said the park would cost $150,000 per year to keep operating with its current hours; the figure included money needed for electricity, water, phone lines and staffing.
If the park were to close, said Sap, it would still cost between $15,000 and $30,000 to maintain. The exact figure would depend on various factors, such as whether the turf would continue to be irrigated and whether a deal could be negotiated with the city Department of Water and Power.
With fundraising a component of the group's efforts, Krokover and others raised the possibility of falling short of the $150,000 mark. If that happened, Sap said, the state Parks Department could investigate whether anything could be done with, say, $100,000.
“If you raised $100,000, could we keep it open? That’s something we’d have to investigate," he said.
Ebenstein of Koretz's office suggested that the Los Encinos Docents, who are currently tasked with collecting the funds, do so in partnership with the . A member of the chamber agreed to investigate the feasibility of this.
Task force to send letter of intent to Parks Department
Sap said the first step for those wishing to save the park would be to send a "letter of intent" to the Parks Department, stating that they were actively fundraising to get the park taken off the closure list.
Pavley's office agreed to work in conjunction with the Los Encinos Docents to draft a letter of intent. They agreed to deliver the letter by Monday.
According to Ebenstein, Koretz's office has approached Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's office to ask whether the park could be included in the mayor's campaign to open 50 new parks in Los Angeles before he reaches the end of his term.
Other ideas floated included having a jazz festival in the park and renting it out for special events, such as weddings. One Encino resident, Amy Zidell, has already drafted ideas for a Save Los Encinos store, with proceeds going toward the park fund.
Two subcommittees—one for marketing and one for fundraising—were set up to focus the efforts. Anyone wishing to join should contact the Los Encinos Docents or the Encino Neighborhood Council for more details.
The task force plans to meet again during the second week of January. Check back with Encino Patch for details.