David being marginalized by Goliath…in Encino Village.

Update:  May 18, 2010

Well, the shortened and moved batting cage is back up.  I haven’t been able to get a view from the gardens of the affected residents.  It does look lower and it was moved further away from homes.  Jury is still out.  The rest of the ball park is very lovely.  I’ll keep you posted.

If there is one thing that really gets my goat is marginalization.  Everyone has a voice and if they have something to say, we should take the time to listen.  Have you ever noticed how older people are marginalized?  They are talked over, around and through.  It was very apparent to me when I joined my mother for her publisher junket at a book expo a few years back.  At 70 she had written a compelling novel (Cryokid) that included the story of my life.  I can’t tell you how many editors turned their attention to me and spoke as if she, the author, wasn’t even there.  Now, at 74, my mother is a rabbinical student.  When she is in class with her fellow students, she is considered a valuable team member.  And outside of the classroom, she often finds herself dismissed.

Because of this hyperawareness, I can’t stand to see marginalization in any fashion.  I am lucky to live in a lovely community in the San Fernando Valley called Encino Village (EV).  It has historic significance in that it was architected by Martin Stern (who later garnered fame as the originator of the concept hotel…the MGM Grand), with lovely 1950’s style homes – most well-preserved.  Designed to be a modern, efficient and quiet, family-friendly enclave, we all enjoy the privileges of living in this well designed community.  It allows our kids to ride their bikes to and from each other’s homes, travel along the bike paths, enjoy gorgeous Balboa Park and best of all, has an active, vibrant neighborhood association.  With fantastic police relations and an abiding respect for the safety and community orientation of the neighborhood, there are few places in the valley as sought after as a place to grow a family.  And yet, EV and quite a few of the 460 or so homeowners are finding themselves marginalized in a battle to preserve the north end of our community.

We have experienced a really sad, really annoying disruption to this peaceful place  — a  well-known private high school’s (Harvard Westlake) baseball field “upgrade” has literally and monstrously [Ed. note: conceding that a commenter has made a valid point about my wording] included a very large, very high batting cage that has sprung up as part of an overall field renovation in the Army Corps property fields behind one block in the community.  I’m including this pic, because no one would believe it if they didn’t see if for themselves, but this is the view from one of our resident’s home.

I would assume that part of the allure for this homeowner when they bought their home, was the unobstructed view they had of the San Gabriel mountains.  Aside from completely destroying the view of the mountains, this structure greatly devalues these homes.  But even worse is that the Encino Village Neighborhood Association (EVNA) has tried, in vain, to take part in the process from before any structure was ever built.  No one knew what was happening until Francie Zamir, an EV resident, happened upon work being done on the field and was told the field was being upgraded.  That upgrade has turned into a batting cage and structure that overwhelm the skyline because of their proximity to EV homes.  One resident, Scott Vaughan,  shared with me that “Home Plate is closer to a back patio on Bullock than it is to Second Base.”  Now that can’t be right!

I’m certain I don’t have all the facts right in this very convoluted chain of events, but it does seem that there were no initial public hearings, and emails and letters are often ignored.  Nor am I an investigative reporter ready to turn over every stone…but I do have opinion and in this instance it is a strong one.  EV is being marginalized for sake of a batting cage.

Public officials (from councilman Greig Smith [who was going to ensure “no parking” signs were posted to alleviate traffic congestion in our ‘hood, although he was instrumental in getting a locked gate across one portion of the street adjacent to the ball field],  to Brad Sherman to Barbara Boxer) seem to have stepped away from their initial involvement in helping find a fix to this insult on the community.  The structure and batting cage (20’ tall!)  are taller than most batting cages (around 14’)  and it took  the voices of a community to have the cage lowered from the initial 22.5 feet.

Sue Wilschke, an EV resident,  received this response from Terri Kaplan, Chief, Asset Management Division, “The Mighty” Los Angeles District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

I have not responded to your April 2 email because my decision as to the batting cage, articulated in my letter of March 30, represents my “final decision” as the real estate Contracting Officer.  The Sepulveda Basin, in addition to being a very large facility with many interested stakeholders and a variety of ongoing activities, is one of 14 flood control projects owned, operated, managed and maintained by the Los Angeles District Corps of Engineers.  Regrettably,  the totality of our workload does not allow me (or my staff) to individually address every concern raised by every constituent — particularly in cases like this, where I have issued what I believe to be an equitable decision, based on input from a variety of stakeholders including EVNA.  Circumstances require that we turn our attention to the more overarching matter of administering the lease between the United States and Franklin Fields, Inc.  This is particularly important because the matters that must be addressed and resolved are not confined to the one field being redesigned by Harvard Westlake School.

Hmmm.  Is it just me?  Or is EV being marginalized here?  Ummm….yes.  I think so.  And I’m not pointing fingers…I’m just sayin’…

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Everyone is hoping that the little David in EVNA will eventually silence.  But after reading a few replies to one of our affected residents, Mary Marks, I’m adding my own squeak to the wheel (my own stone to the slingshot?)  I’ve never met Mary.  I don’t know how old she is or what she does.  But she has been very diligent in communicating with Ms. Kaplan.  She’s articulate, well-informed and makes compelling commentary.  Last weekend there was a parking issue.  Those attending the baseball games have designated parking not in EV.  However many attendees parked in the streets of our community, creating just the type of congestion that was originally feared.  Mary Marks informed Ms. Kaplan about the parking violations.  This is the response she got from Theresa Kaplan:

Mary:

I would like to illustrate to you how there are two sides to every story. You acknowledged in your message dated April 27 “Harvard Westlake had an event this afternoon attended by dozens, possibly over a hundred vehicles. I was gratified to see the efforts made by Harvard Westlake to mitigate the parking and traffic nuisance by closing the gate at Oxnard and Aldea, and putting up signs directing people to park in the lot at Franklin Fields.”

Yet I am informed that ON THAT SAME DAY, three times during the game, a gentleman from the house believed to be yours, came out at least three times yelling at the HWS security person who was manning the Oxnard gate — informing the Guard that he had no right to keep the gate closed. The Guard was in fact allowing people who wanted to use the park (not the ball fields) to park down at the end closer to the park.

As I have told you previously, parking restrictions on city-maintained streets are outside the Corps’ jurisdiction. So long as local ordinance does not prohibit or otherwise restrict parking, the Corps (as well as Franklin Fields, Inc, and Harvard Westlake School) can enforce parking requirements only within our own property boundary. Encino Franklin Fields, Inc and Harvard Westlake School have made a commitment to encourage their students, players, guests and families to park only in the on-site parking lots — however they cannot guarantee that people will comply, nor can the Corps mandate that they do so.

Mixed messages from the community, such as is described at the beginning of my message, will likely serve as a deterrent to any attempt to dissuade ball field visitors from parking on area streets.

Best regards

Terri

Terri Kaplan
Chief, Asset Management Division
“The Mighty” Los Angeles District
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Except that Mary doesn’t have a man living in her house.  And except that councilman Greig Smith had said he’d look into getting no parking signs put up in the areas of concern.  Is it just me?  Or was Mary just marginalized?  I’m thinking…yes.  And, again,  I’m not pointing fingers…I’m just sayin’… that it is our fault that the baseball field is now affecting our community?

How is it possible that no traditional media has picked up this story?  Surely a tiny neighborhood association fighting city hall has some appeal?   The residents mentioned in this article are but a few of those who have emailed, called, sent in letters,  showed up at meetings.  In a short time from now, the field will be finished and then officials will say ‘…well…it’s already built.  Not really fair to make the high school spend more money to retrofit the cages.”

Well, they aren’t finished building yet.  Seriously, if this were your backyard, how would you feel?  We have national and international problems that are very, very important.  But surely there is some energy that can be allocated to local issues?  In this economy, wouldn’t you think that the devaluation of community homes, in a market where they’ve already been devalued, is kind of serious?

Martin Stern, the architect who prized modernity and efficiency, would not be happy to see the ballpark in the backyard of his lovely Encino Village.

**

Note: A couple of articles for past reference:
The Daily News – 12/25/09
The Daily News – 12/28/09

42 thoughts on “David being marginalized by Goliath…in Encino Village.

  1. Money money money. Peter O’Malley’s. Trumps everything. They’re here for short spans but are not at all interested in being decent neighbors to the people who live here. The government rolls over every time when they smell monied special interests. A plague on their house.

  2. I am a homeowner who lives directly behind the batting cages. From the time we discovered (purely by investigating on our part as there were no public hearings on this very public army land…)that a structure was being built, we have appealed to both the school and the Army Corps of Engineers. The concrete pad that was laid for the structure is 100’x80′. The structure is made of corrugated metal and is as tall as a two story building. The proposed height for the cages was 16′ tall, was increased to 22.6 and has now been reduced to 20′.

    Further investigation has revealed numerous irregularities and even illegalities with the use of this public land. I approached Katie Parks who originally approved the construction and is responsible for overseeing army land in the Sepulveda Basin. I expressed my concern regarding the structure and was informed that she was unaware of any structure being built,that the field was only being “upgraded”.

    When my husband and I were considering purchasing our home, we investigated crime in the area, plans for the park, army land, the proposed bus line and city plans for future streets. We had a beautiful view of the mountains on three sides of our property. Unfortunately, we didn’t forsee this construction on army land. Our view of the mountains has now been replaced by the view you see in the article above.

    Please do not misunderstand… We do not object to children playing ball. We do object to an oversized, unnecessary structure behind our homes. Most ballfield batting cages are wire mesh with a maximum height of 14.6′. So, what’s with the corrugated metal and 20′ height?? Additionally, there is room on the property to have built the cages to the rear of the field away from the homes. Since there were no public hearings as is required by law and the architect was from out of state, no one from this very affluent school thought that we might object as they would have done if such a stucture were built in their backyards…. A simple case of David and Goliath….

    1. Frances, there have been children playing in and around Balboa Park, as they should, so I’m glad you brought that up — the community has no problem with the fields being used for sports at all, in fact, it is one of the things that residents love about the community — it is the height and closed construction of the structure and the proximity to the homes that has created a real eyesore, affecting quite a few homes in the north end of Encino Village.

  3. Janet, thanks for taking the time to write this much needed article. Sometimes it feels like an overwhelming task to get anyone to recognize the collosal failure of the Army Corps of Engineers to manage and protect the Sepulveda Basin and particularly Franklin Fields from inappropriate development. As a result of this failure, our community has been impacted so negatively, that the quality of life has been significantly reduced, not to mention the reduction in the value of our homes.

    I am a disabled senior living on a fixed income. My home represents my life’s savings. The USACE has stolen something tangible from me by allowing the deterioration of Franklin Fields through overdevelopment. What represents an “upgrade” to Harvard Westlake school, is a “downgrade” to our community.

    I will not stop trying to get the USACE to take responsibility and fix the many complicated problems at Franklin Fields. My ability to support myself in my old age through the equity in my house depends on it.

    1. Mary, until I actually saw the cage and have seen the overflow of parking, I wouldn’t have believed it. But pictures don’t lie. I agree with your assessment — the “upgrade to Harvard Westlake schoole, is a “downgrade” to our community.”

  4. having grown up in encino village since the age of 3 i can say that, without a doubt, this neighborhood used to be a fabulous place to grow up. lots of kids. balboa park and the fields so close. it felt like a kid’s paradise. and now, with the construction monstrosity being erected by harvard westlake, it feels more like a commercial/private lot for priviledged kids….no longer the “open for everyone’s use” feeling that i grew up with. forget that parcels of the fields are being leased to private entities. i get that. time marches on. but the behemoth construction project that HW is erecting is just plain grotesque. it is an eye sore. obtrusive. and the fact that they continue to do so despite the residents’ objections (and shamefully, much of that was done on the weekends when residents couldn’t do a thing about it) is just plain old mean. HW is a bully. franklin fields entity is a shonda. army corps of engineers is a jelly fish without the backbone to stand up to HW and fix this problem. yes, time marches on. but residents shouldn’t be made to lick the boots of those who care only for their bottom line. are you listing HW, FF, and ACOE?!?

    1. Daughter of EV resident, I only moved here 10 years ago, but I can imagine that for anyone who has been here for a lifetime, it must be even more shocking so see such aggressive development. Once the new cage is complete, residents new to the ‘hood, won’t even know that there was a difference, but who will readily buy all the homes that back onto the ball park? They’d have to be willing to have the view of a large batting cage against their horizon.

  5. Every time I see that monstrous batting cage, the frustration of a wealthy school’s desires trumping the local homeowners values just ties me in knots.

  6. Harvard-Westlake honor code states:
    I will not steal or violate others’ property, either academic or material.
    Sadly they do not consider the negative effect their batting cage has on the views and property values in Encino Village as a violation. What they are teaching their students is that wealth and political connections are what really matter.

  7. Lynn, also interesting is to read some of the comments in response to the Daily News articles. The commenters assume that EV residents are opposed to the noise and activity that results from play on the ball field, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Most of the homeowners chose this enclave because of the proximity to the park. Literally it is the size/height of the cage (which you can see in both the pic & diagram in the post), and the traffic overflow because of attendees not parking in the designated Franklin Fields parking lots.

  8. If there is one thing that really gets my goat it’s self-serving articles……like this one. Crucify me for borrowing the first sentence from the author of this article.

    I can’t disagree that the batting cage would make any of you upset. It was an afterthought, not well planned and the issues to rectify the mistake have been addressed. Even the parents we’re surprised. But to codify this baseball field renovation as a personal affront to the neighborhood and make it about Goliath vs. David, privilege, political power, wealth, etc. is just over-the-top ridiculous. Quite the cheap-shot, in fact. This was an EXISTING baseball field that was badly in need of repair: exposed sprinkler heads, holes in the outfield, torn netting, outfield walls filled with graffiti, a broken septic system that the players sloshed thru, no security fencing, etc., etc. It was a danger to the players and an eyesore to the neighborhood.

    I don’t find it strange, however that neither the author of the above article, nor a single homeowner has acknowledged the positives. Yes, you had to put up with some noise and some dust, but now that it’s complete: an unsightly 40 foot Green Monster of a wall that stretched over 175 feet as well as an even taller black net of the same length (which blocked everyone’s view, btw) was taken down and replaced with a see-thru 20 foot fence. Tens of thousands of dollars of new landscaping behind said fence and along the bike path have been planted. What was an ugly pit of a place is now neat and clean. It is a vast improvement on what used to be there, both functionally and aesthetically. Yes, close to $1 Million was spent in your backyard. You really think this is going to decrease home values? Did any of you see what used to be there?

    Framing HW as some Goliath who rolled over the homeowners…that’s just nonsense. HW leases the space from the government. They have as much right to be there and make improvements as any of the homeowners. I’m not surprised HW didn’t come knocking on folks doors. Ask yourself how many times your neighbor comes by to have you sign-off on the second story addition he’s putting on his house next-door or across the street?

    The field is across the street from the BACKYARD fences of seven homes in the neighborhood. If any of you we’re to come around and take a look at the backs of these homes, you’d be shocked: dilapidated fencing, graffiti, weeds, garbage. It’s as if the neighborhood association decided that the neighborhood stopped with this line of back-fences. If the homeowners take so much pride in the neighborhood then come on out and clean up your properties.

    So yes, GEN Plus 50 blogger…..there are two sides to the story. One, your sensationally concocted, overblown and overly dramatic article about “the battle for the North end of or neighborhood” and something quite closer to the the truth: an overdue upgrade to a dilapidated field where a few mistakes were made and which HW is making every effort to fix. Ah, but the truth wouldn’t make for good copy, now would it?

    1. HW Baseball Parent: First of all, even though you are upset, thank you for taking the time to bring your position to the table. Of course the article is self-serving. I’m an opinion blogger, writing about the community in which I live. The issue of the batting cage has become big, in part, because of the challenges of residents in this community getting heard. Whether the field was previously in need of repair or not is irrelevant to this discussion, although you are right in saying that it hasn’t been well-maintained or beautified for quite a few years. I realize the field has been leased by HW for their use — it’s not a public field. No one has issue with the $700K investment HW has made into the renovation and upgrading of the field for the use of the school. It is the obstruction of the view for the homeowners as well as increased traffic to a quiet residential area that is the problem. I haven’t interviewed anyone from HW, nor have I made any mention of their communications with anyone in EV, other than including links to the Daily News articles. Army Corps (the land owners), however, have had discussions with the homeowners on one hand about the batting cage, and then, on the other, allowed concessions that were not what was discussed. Regarding your point about a neighbor adding onto their home: under normal circumstances, a neighbor undertaking a home improvement has to abide by city permits. I may be mistaken (and if I am, I’m sure a reader will correct me), but my understanding is that because Franklin Fields is under the jurisdiction of the Army Corps, they don’t have to fall under the city ordinances – which would allow a 14 and some-odd foot high batting cage. Not 20 1/2 foot (which was originally 22 1/2 feet and lowered to 20 1/2 feet.) As well, the batting cage would have to be a see through structure, not a metal structure with corrugated tin roof. Most residents have been to the backyard fences of the homes. In fact, the reason the street was assigned a gate was to stop the parking, graffiti and littering that were taking place there. HW has been given a key to that gate and has taken on responsibility in controlling access to that area as well as the parking for the fields — which is a work in progress.

      It’s not a question of who has a legal right to build or not build on army land. The reality is that the batting cage is unsightly for neighbors who back onto the path and the traffic has changed for the worse. Both of these issues have upset the balance and nature of our neighborhood. My question to you is how would you feel if the view from your garden, which once had an unobstructed view of the San Gabriel mountains, now looked like the picture in the post? I think you’d have something to say about it, too.

      Janet Spiegel
      http://www.GenPlusUSA.com

  9. Baseball parent is wrong in believing that EV residents are opposed to the Harvard-Westlake ball field. In all conversations with the Army Corps of Engineers and H-W staff, we considered only those issues that affected our daily lives and property values. Those issues are the traffic and litter on our lawns, when we thought that H-W had agreed to confine parking to the ample space in Franklin Fields and away from our homes. And the batting cage was erected without any agreement whatsoever. Sepulveda Basin is park land, and that structure is an affront to everyone who visits the area.

    As for the “backyard fences,” your complaints are our complaints. Graffiti deface our property, and the garbage and litter are the very reason we asked the city to install a gate to keep auto traffic out. That garbage comes from cars parked adjacent to the ball field on Oxnard Street. The graffiti comes from vandals who deface every possible surface. We do what we can to protect our property, just as I’m sure HW Baseball Parent does.

    Yes, Harvard-Westlake made a “few mistakes,” but without concerted action by Encino Village homeowners, those mistakes would become a permanent blight.

    And those fences are cement walls, largely ivy-covered, not “delapidated fencing.”

  10. I read the BLOG, viewed the photo, plus the comparison drawing.

    First, let me say that I am a retired Registered Professional Engineer in the state of California.
    In my opinion, the drawing looks more like a commercial warehouse structure than like a batters cage.
    In my opinion, kids don’t play baseball on a concrete pad.

    Second, let me say that I have a great deal of experience with games that entities play.
    We currently live in the Information Age. As in all previous ages, Information started out as a tool, and ended up as a weapon.
    I have never experienced as much misinformation, disinformation, blatant misrepresentations, etc., as in recent decades.
    The longer these actions take place, the more emboldened the actors become.
    When they go too far, they cannot undo their creation.

    Third, the clock is running. The ball is in play. I suggest that you get an appraisal which quantifies the loss of value that you will incur unless a conventional mesh batter’s cage (of standard height) is substituted for the building currently under construction. You might add pain & suffering, plus potential medical bills. That is what inaction will likely cost you, in real money. Next, find a good, honest attorney, and have him estimate how much it will likely cost to take reasonable action: restraining order, law suit, etc., also in real money. Identify any other alternatives, and price them out too. Then make a rational trade-off decision.

    Does the Department of Building and Safety believe that its a batter’s cage ? Move immediately to get their input.

  11. For the moment, the batting cage is gone, although it’s only temporary. The 20′ high cage will soon go up I’m sorry to say; there doesn’t seem to be any way to stop it. But for the moment, I’m struck at the difference in the view. We can see the mountains and sky again! But we will only have it snatched away again.

    As for HW Baseball Parent, “I can’t disagree that the batting cage would make any of you upset. It was an afterthought, not well planned and the issues to rectify the mistake have been addressed.” Nice to know it was an afterthoughtfor HW.

    But I would not say the mistake was addressed, more that the homeowners were dismissed. We were not brought into the loop of the redesign, even after we made our concerns well known.

    HW grossly mis-represented statements made to them by EV during a meeting regarding possible changes in the design of the batting cage. In a letter sent to Franklin Fields giving her approval to HW proposed changes to the batting cage, Ms. Kaplan of the ACOE quoted HW along with the special notes they made stating that the changes they would make to incorporate a roof and solid walls were at the resident’s request! Without verifying the information, MS. Kaplan apparently took HW’s incorrect statements as EV homeowner’s approval of their “compromise” plan.

    The HW compromise also took the newly proposed solid roof from 22′ 6″ down to 1′ less than 20′, and was said to “split the difference”. The existing batting cage was 14’6″. Splitting the difference would have taken the height down to 18′ 6″.

    The issues to correct the mistake may have been addressed, but they certainly were not addressed to the EV homeowners concerns.

    1. EV unhappy resident: I had quite a pleasant shock this morning to see the cage gone, but realized it was a temporary move as well. I can’t imagine that Harvard-Westlake is fully aware of the unhappiness of the EV community. They are a school with such strong commitments to the greater good. I prefer to hope that the communications from EV have not been clearly understood by the HW baseball field renovation committee due to the tangled relationships in regard to Franklin Fields leasing agreements, and that HW will rise to the challenge so that there is no dark cloud hanging over their considerable investment in the field renovation.

  12. I would like to clarify a few points from HW parent.
    – The batting cage was an after thought. When we met with ACOE and HW on 12/28/09, HW reviewed their orig. plans and the changes they were making. The batting cage was part of the original plan. Perhaps someone in EV knows the date of the original plans.
    – HW leases the space from the goverment. The ACOE lease is with Franklin Fields who then sub-leases to HW. If the field was badly in need of repair than that was the fault/responsibility of Franklin Fields not of EV homeowners. I doubt any EV homeowner would be surprised that FF was not living up to its obligations.
    – The field is accross from the backyard fences of 7 homes. Please look again at the picture from inside one of the homes to the HW batting cage. It doesn’t matter if it is 7 homes or 70. These homes were built in 1956, long before HW began using these fields. We are a small, tight knit community that supports each other even if our homes are not directly affected.
    ACOE has notified HW that they may only use this location for baseball. How many days of the year will the batting cage be used vs the 365 days of ruined homeowner views. We are not trying to keep your children from playing baseball. We are asking the HW community to become good neighbors to the EV community.

  13. Janet- Thanks for publishing this- especially the photo. My husband and I are sad for our neighbors who now have to see this from their yard every day. It is so out of place. We feel extremely lucky to live in such a wonderful neighborhood and hope that HW does the right thing here.
    -Amy Horn
    Wish Ave

  14. Janet: Thanks for your reply. Let me be specific on what I’m frustrated with (upset is too strong a word):

    You named your article “David being marginalized by Goliath……” even after you knew that the batting cage in question was being moved and shortened. So what did you get? The opportunity to stir up more ill will between the residents of EV and the HW community after the issue was handled? Congratulations, mission accomplished.

    The residents of EV are very frustrated with the Army Corps of Engineers and especially the Franklin Trust, not specifically with HW……even I recognize that. But HW’s O’Malley Field (nee Franklin Field) renovation was too perfect a stalking horse not to take advantage of and you, my dear, fell right into the trap. It was oh too easy to make the the “wealthy private school” and “children of privilege” of Harvard-Wetslake the bad guys as you did here. That much is obvious. But let’s be honest, it’s not HW these folks are upset with. I attended the hearing…Number 1 issue: Security Number 2: Inconvenience (parking & noise) Number 3: Trash. If you had simply talked to some of these folks as I did, you would have discovered this. Instead, you chose to show some pictures of a batting cage that obstructed the view from a person’s yard that’s NO LONGER THERE. Shall I come over and show you some pics of the 50 foot wall and netting that used to be there that nobody complained about?

    So now that we have people responding to my post (thank you very much), we have new players like “BOB the engineer” who is so obviously clueless when it comes to training facilities. Hey Bob, what do you think they glue the artificial turf to….the dirt? Oh…and BOB….in case you haven’t heard…THE BATTING CAGE IS NO LONGER THERE so I’d definitely have that homeowner dial up the lawyers in a hurry so he/she can start a lawsuit concerning the view that “used to be blocked”, I guess.

    Homeowners….please stop insinuating that the HW players throw trash or may have caused damage/vandalism as I have read in some of the responses in the newspapers. I’ve been in your neighborhood on a Saturday afternoon when a full slate of Soccer and Softball games are scheduled. I’ve seen your neighborhood jam packed with cars, but it’s not HW and you folks know it. I realize it’s convenient for you to blame the HW kids, parents and/or opposing team’s parents, but I assure you none these folks are rolling up to O’Malley field with a can of spray paint while throwing empty McDonalds bags out the window. In fact, now that the HW players must park in the facility (thanks to the renovation I might add)and the parents of both teams must park in the lot off of Louise, you’ll be able to pinpoint the source of the trash and vandalism…good luck talking to City Hall and the Parks Department!

    So Janet….where’s the follow-up article? You still have some poor confused people like Amy Horn, who are still, well, confused. She’s sad that a homeowner has to look at a batting cage that’s….ok, I’m laughing now…..no longer there..

    I realize all you folks care about your neighborhood….so what the heck is up with Oxnard Street and the main thoroughfare of Louise? All this upset about a baseball field and you folks let these two streets go to hell like that? No wonder people are throwing trash out the windows…looks like a dump. If I were you, I’d start throwing some of this energy towards the folks whose homes back-up onto these streets….looks as if they’ve just given up.

    So please, come on out and take a look at the beautiful new O’Malley Field…..you folks should be very proud to say that you have what is probably the finest High School Baseball facility in the country right in your backyard. Peace.

  15. HW Baseball Parent,

    I see where you are upset with some of my wording. I lumped the batting cage as representing the whole renovation. The batting cage is the one part of the renovation that is currently of great concern. The Goliath I refer to is the tangled web of Army Corps, Franklin Field and Harvard-Westlake. Nor do I ever make reference to HW as “wealthy private school” or talk about the “children of privilege” of Harvard-Westlake.

    Many of the issues have been worked through. My understanding is that the batting cage is down temporarily (not permanently) while the height is shortened from 22 1/2 feet to 20 1/2 feet instead of the original 16′ that HW engineers proposed. Perhaps it will go back up at 16′ and perhaps there will not be a corrugated roof as was also initially communicated.

    But, as far as EV residents know, and from communication I’ve read from Terri Kaplan’s office, it’s going back up at 20 1/2 feet and not being moved from its present location…unless there is something new that has happened today that I’m unaware of — if you know, for a fact (perhaps you are on the baseball field committee?), that the batting cage is permanently down, I’ll retract everything I’ve said, and post an update commending HW on their excellent efforts to work with and support a community.

    If the batting cage doesn’t go back up, then, of course, there will be nothing to complain about but a beautiful field and a vista to enjoy.

    Let me be clear: Not a single resident that I’ve heard of has a problem with any of the renovations, the ball field, or with games on that field — the main issue is the batting cage height — no batting cage was ever discussed as part of the initial plan. Even you concede that “I can’t disagree that the batting cage would make any of you upset. It was an afterthought, not well planned and the issues to rectify the mistake have been addressed. Even the parents we’re surprised.”

    Any other concerns have been worked through (like plantings on the outside of the fence) and HW has promised to have parents and buses parked in Franklin Field parking.

    That is a work in progress — last week 2 buses were parked on Oxnard and the gate was apparently not manned. HW has a key to the gate so if they are going to unlock it, they should continue to monitor who parks there. Otherwise, better to leave the gate locked, direct parents to the parking lot and there will be no problems. But that is an issue that is easy to work through with continued efforts and communication.

    I realize from your comments that you are frustrated with the EV community and also very proud of Harvard-Westlake efforts to fix the field they’ve rented for a quarter of a century. I don’t read any comments that take potshots at you personally — only that refute your points. No one is making fun of you or your position — however, residents have a valid point — one that was considered by Barbara Boxer’ office, Brad Sherman’s office, and Greig Smith’s office (he was instrumental in getting the locked gate installed). The reason that residents are making noise is because while they may have been given an opportunity to voice concerns very late into the game, it appears they weren’t heard and construction plans are very different than what was initally presented at the public hearing.

    Contrary to what you state, I’ve not fallen into any trap. I live in EV and have been reading communiques regarding this development since November 2009, including many communications directly from the Army Corps. HW is doing what they are being allowed to do — but that is very different from what is right. It doesn’t even matter what facts are exactly right or exactly incorrect. Two articles have been published in main stream media (Daily News) and my post has gone up in an effort to bring attention to a frustrated community AND specifically because the concerns to one street of residents (and therefore to all) in this tiny community is very real.

  16. Regarding the comment from HW parent:
    I attended the hearing…Number 1 issue: Security Number 2: Inconvenience (parking & noise) Number 3: Trash. If you had simply talked to some of these folks as I did, you would have discovered this.
    -I was also at the hearing. The EV residents were open to hearing what HW had to say before coming at the ACOE and HW with a list of demands. To state that items 1-3 were the only things that we were interested in is a falsehood. Janet has spoken to and read emails from EV residents since this issue arose and is correct in saying that the batting cage is a major issue. You made several comments regarding the cage not being there. I believe the structure came down in the last few days. If it is not going back up then I would applaud HW for doing the right thing. Perhaps you can enlighten us as to the plans for the batting cage? As to having the finest high school baseball field in the country in our back yard; I am not aware of any EV residents with children at HW so that is not a gain for the neighborhood beyond improved appearance.

  17. To rude Harvard Westlake Parent who won’t even use their name- That cage was just up over the weekend. Just because I can’t drive past there and don’t montior this every day does not mean I am poor/confused…
    Thanks though.

  18. It appears that the “parent” is the one who is misinformed and confused. If he/she had been following the trail of all the emails, making the phone calls, and attending the meetings as the Encino Village homeowners have done, he/she might not be so confused. This parent would know that the “batting cages” have simply been dismantled to be moved 25′ to the north with a slightly lowered roof….

    If anything, we are now enlightened by the information we have gathered in this process and we have become quite knowledgeable regarding the apparent irregularities and illegalities that have occurred on the land belonging to the Army Corps of Engineers.

    So, Mr. Parent, stop being so condesending and sarcastic in your tone. Harvard Westlake is merely leasing property on public land and when the games have ended and the day is over, we are still here having to live with the monster you have created. Yes, you have renovated the field and it is a shining example of what $700,000 can buy. So why when we looked at the neighboring ballfield that was renovated with far less funding, did we not have a single objection, complaint or concern from this community? The simple answer is that it is a ballfield that was built for children not for the parents or the alumnae who can now boast that it is the “finest High School Baseball facility in the country.” Peace to you as well.

  19. Hey HW Baseball Parent. Did HW ever think of giving back to the community where the field is located? That would have been the win win situation. The cost to beautify Oxnard and Louise would have been pennies to compared to the $700K to improve a field that was already good enough to play on.

    You say “WE” should be proud to have the “Finest” field in our back yard. Really!!! visually it’s just another field; Can our kids play on the field without having to pay $27K a year to attend the school?No!… So again Explain to Encino Village what the benefit of having the field is?

    Would love to hear your comments.

  20. Janet…to your credit, you did not classify the HW parents or kids as privileged. I stand corrected. I was quoting some of the posts here and attributed them to you.

    So now we’re not happy that you got what you wanted? The batting cage is being lowered and is being moved (I highly doubt that it will not be re-erected). HW Security is out there at every game directing folks to the parking lots. The kids and coaches now have enough room to park on-site. Yet you folks continue to gripe, grip, gripe.

    Amy, I was using your note to show how Janet’s article misinformed the public to the situation, not to attack you. Sorry if you took it personally.

    Lynn S…we actually do play public schools at this facility including the public High School that encompasses your community. In fact HW and Birmingham have a very close relationship. They’re a wonderful group…played them four times this year. We play many other Public High Schools as well.

    The area around that field is now fully fenced in. Landscaping is in, security has been upped, parking is redirected. All of this is a positive for your community yet none of you are willing to admit it. Call me condescending for thinking you’re a bit crazy to be feeling this way, but whatever. I realize that you feel none of these positives would have happened if you hadn’t gotten upset and angry and involved, but you did and things changed for the better, so be happy.

    Now you can turn your attention to the City and the Parks Department who let the folks who gather at Balboa use your neighborhood as a parking lot, not to mention the heaps of garbage they leave behind on your door steps. And maybe you can get the Velodrome to stop holding those mini-motorcycle races and while we’re at it, what’s with Franklin Fields allowing third parties to use the complex for private business and tournaments outside of Little League and Pony? You folks have a lot of issue you need to attend to: good luck!

  21. HW parent,
    I am sure Birmingham High enjoys playing on your field but 4+ games a season is not exactly a win for the neighborhood. Regarding the batting cage you stated that “you got what you wanted”. As per the latest info that we received from the ACOE; we did not get what we wanted. Yes, the cage is being lowered and moved. The change is as per the ACOE and NOT what the residents asked for. If we had gotten what we wanted we would have said “thank you” and moved on. We do appreciate the improvements HW has made but that does not mean that we will roll over and accept a batting cage at an unacceptable height. In addition, you keep trying to change the subject. Since you are not part of this community you are not aware of the countless hours spent and emails sent to officials regarding Franklin Fields, the Velodrome, sub-leasing, etc. We are not idiots, we are well aware of these problems and are trying to address them. I am not sure why you feel the need to be so condescending toward the EV residents. If this was to happen in your neighborhood I am sure you would take action.

  22. Harvard Westlake (HW) may be subleasing the land from Franklin Fields, Inc. (FFI) but HW is directly but not solely responsible for creating this private nuisance and most likely has deeper pockets than FFI.

  23. As to the size of the batting cage, maybe we should call it the batting warehouse. While the frame is temporarily down, the building is not really being moved. It will rest on the same existing 100′ X 70′ foot concrete pad. They will just rebuild the structure positioned a little further back from Oxnard.

    What was so wrong with HW’s original plans for the batting cage? They were to be 70′ X 56′ with a height of 16′. Apparently not grand enough, because it was re-designed to 70′ X 100′ and 22′ high. The HW “compromise” that will now be built is still bigger than their own original plans!

    BTW, What’s up with the dirt driveway into the park? HW added a 20′ gate to their plans on the east side facing into the park. This gate opens directly onto park grounds. HW uses this gate to drive their equipment to and from the bike path on Oxnard onto park grounds and then into the gate. Their actions have created a dirt driveway directly on park lands outside the HW fence.

    Who’s going to clean up the mess? Or will they be allowed to make it a permanent annexation to the ball field?

  24. To the HW parent: It is pure arrogance for you to tell Encino Village what we “should” be proud of. We don’t need a self serving, condescending outsider to tell us what we should accept and when we should be grateful for.

    Your scattershot and woefully ignorant accusations about Encino Village residents is an obvious attempt to obfuscate the real issues here: the downgrading of a wonderful neighborhood by narrow private interests.

    Too bad you didn’t ask us, your neighbors, for input before you built your temple to the O’Malley family. Because in your arrogance you never even considered the possible effects on your neighbors, you have to listen to us now. And by the way? This is far from over.

  25. Ever since we have lived here we have opened our bedroom blinds each morning to a beautiful view of the mountains. Now the first thing we see are the walls of the batting cage structure which totally block our view.

    For years we have listened to the noise of children playing ball in the field and we have felt like we were in the park every day. We have never complained.

    The design and size of the “batting cages” and the accompanying noise level from the constant pinging sound due to its close proximity to our homes, will have destroyed the peace and tranquility of our neighborhood.

    Now when I open my blinds each morning I want to cry. Why should we have to put up with your insensitivity? Have you people no shame?

    1. Frances, some people would think it isn’t a big deal that a sightline is blocked. If you had bought your home with the sightline including the batting cage, it really wouldn’t make a difference because you wouldn’t know any different view from that home. I purchased a home that is on a lower elevation than my neighbor behind me. He can walk over to his fence and look into my garden. I bought my home well aware that my garden would not enjoy the privacy that some people might find extremely important and so there is nothing for me to be upset over. Your case is quite different. You purchased your home because of the whole package, including the view from your window. I can understand why you want to cry and I empathize with your frustration.

  26. I’m a visitor of the ballfields and bike track. There are also other events held there as well. I know of a complaint from one party who says the noise lever from the other events bother her. We have had local law evforcement come out , I’m thinking that if there is traffic and noise issue’s from the area mentioned lets just see how bad the noise level is on a decible meter, I’m sure Encino has one if not lets get the corp out there to test. I would say in my opinion that there are a group of people that are upset that the money was not given to the city to beautify there streets and misc. With todays times and kids getting into so much trouble it would seem the residents of the neighbor hood would honor and support the events held there it keeps them from getting there house or property tagged by the graffitii bandits the local law enforcement patrols frequintly. I feel that the older generation does not care about the youth but there quiet surroundings is most important along with shutting down the facility in hopes the money would come to them in some way. lets get real.

  27. Dear Have no lifes

    It is because of people like you that we are in the economic
    crisis the world is experiencing. The haves believe that they are entitled to all that their moneies bought them. The age group that was most exploitive is that age group of peoples 60 years and older. Yes, Your group raped robbed and pillaged the entire world so they could afford their house on “Little house on the Praire”. Only now, after having way to much of their way they seemingly continue to bely their ownership of evberything even to the extent of depriving our children the ability to practise the sport of baseball. I cannot believe that a baseball screen is offensive. It is not nearly as offensive as the blood diamonds that drip from your cold selfish hearts and fingers./
    People like you disgust all of us who disagree with you. You are miserable excuses for a human being. I am grateful that I am not of this world you call earth or you earthlings. I must be alien because I am definitely not you.
    Nor would I want to be.

  28. Will somebody please forward me a contact number and contact name of the army corp of engineers so that we can have our legal department look into the solving of this loss of scenery that needs to be corrected and quickly before it is to late
    jimmy hawkins
    ev resident

  29. Boy the HW parent is over the top regarding the issue.
    How rude can you get!

    He must live breath and die by his sons baseball scores.
    Both my children went to Harvard and Westlake when they were single sex schools.
    I do not agree with the sports field causing property values to go down nor do I support blocking natures views.
    By the way I do not live in EV, I live in Brentwood.

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