Prodded by Northeast L.A. residents and groups, the City Council today voted unanimously to review a city parks commission decision to allow the Autry National Center to expand and renovate its Griffith Park museum. The vote is part of the most recent skirmish between the Autry, which owns the Griffith Park museum and the Southwest Museum on Mount Washington, and groups that say the Autry is only interested in expanding its Griffith Park complex at the expense of the Southwest.
Autry opponents were taken by surprise after the city’s Recreation and Parks Commission on May 20 approved a plan by the Autry to undertake the renovations. The Friends of the Southwest Museum and others feared the expansion would give the Autry even less reason to reopen the Southwest as a full-fledged museum with its prized collection of Native American artifcacts. Many residents who opposed the expansion said there had been insufficient public notice of the commission’s decision to take up the Autry proposal at the the May 20 meeting.
Today, the City Council approved a motion by Councilmen Jose Huizar, who represents Mount Washington, and Ed Reyes to have the concil take control of the matter in the wake of “legitimate concerns” about the park board’s action. Huizar, who has been pressuring the Autry to reopen the Southwest as a fully-functioning museum, said his constituents were given no notification of the meeting and that Autry’s request.
The issue will now be heard by City Council’s Arts, Parks and Aging Committee, headed by Councilman Tom LaBonge, on Friday.
Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Councilman Martha Benedict* said that about 25 people spoke in favor of having the City Council take control
of the issue. Said Benedict, who supports the council review:
The people who supported Huizar’s motion to vacate approval by Rec & Parks are concerned that the Prop. 84 money will be spent at the Autry facility to duplicate the Southwest Museum’s exhibitions, including the beloved outdoor garden, thus further diminishing the likelihood of the Mt. Washington facility’s reopening. Next Sunday is Lummis Day held at Heritage Square, which celebrates the legacy of Charles Lummis who founded the Southwest Museum.
Promises were made that the process would move forward quickly so as not to jeopardize the huge State grant Autry won to carry out their plans.
Friends of the Southwest Museum have demanded that the expansion of the Autry be linked to the reopening of the Southwest as an accredited museum.
- City Council claims jurisdiction over Autry expansion. Patch
- Los Angeles City Council takes control of Autry expansion. KPCC
- Plan for Autry upsets Southwest’s backers. Daily News
* Benedict is a frequent contributor to The Eastsider