Thursday, October 27, 2016

Moby On Board: New Silver Lake Reservoir advocacy group gains “Forward” momentum [correction]

Eastsider file photo, June 2012

Eastsider file photo, June 2012

Silver Lake Reservoir pictured earlier this year | Barry Lank


SILVER LAKE — Amid the saga of draining and someday refilling the Silver Lake Reservoir, residents may have noticed a new advocacy group involved in shaping the future of the neighborhood icon:  Silver Lake Forward. The new group has pulled together longtime conservation advocates, architects, activists, entertainment and media industry executives as well as electronic music performer Moby, who is a board member.

If you’d never heard of Forward before, that may be because they didn’t really form until this year. But in recent public discussions surrounding the reservoirs, they have been more prominent than the more-established Silver Lake Reservoirs Conservancy.

Craig Collins, former president of SLRC, joined to help form Forward because, he said, “SLRC would have to grow as an advocacy organization, and that was a larger project than it was comfortable with.”

Another member of Forward’s board, Catherine Geanuracos, said “as the reservoirs are changing, it’s a good time to have another organization to raise funds, engage the community, and support and collaborate with the city and other stakeholders as the plans for the reservoirs develop.”

Though the Forward’s web page mentions a few specific recommendations for the reservoir — removing the fences around it, removing the asphalt inside the reservoir basin wherever possible, and working out arrangements for restrooms – Geanuracos said the group is mainly just trying to keep the conversation going.

“Our core goal is to jumpstart a real planning process,” Geanuracos said. So if the LADWP makes good on its goal to begin refilling the reservoir next spring, that will only be the beginning for Forward. “Whenever water goes back in, we now are at the start of the process for determining how best to rehabilitate and use the public land that surrounds the lake,” Geanuracos said.

Collins added that, once the basin refills, there will be a lot of planning, a lot of engineering, a lot of discussion of what to do next.”

“Silver Lake Forward will definitely be around for much more,” Collins said.

CORRECTION: A previous version of the story said that many of the speakers at the June 30 meeting were from Silver Lake Forward. While members of Silver Lake Forward did address the meeting, it turns out many of the speakers the story referred to were from another group, Refill Silver Lake Now.

Barry Lank grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, then went away for a seriously long time. He has worked in TV and radio, and currently helps produce The Final Edition Radio Hour.

Screenshot 2015-12-10 at 3.10.51 PM

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  1. Unless I was at a different town hall meeting on June 30, person after person stood and identified themself as being a member of Refill Silver Lake Now. We formed recently to ensure that other voices in the future of the reservoir debate would be heard. Silver Lake Forward does not speak for the entire community. I appreciate their POV, and am always interested in hearing what they have to say, but in this case, I’d appreciate accuracy more.

    • Refill Silver Lake Now doesn’t represent the entire community, just the wealthy property owners who expect the residents of Los Angeles to pay so they can have a pretty, lakeside view that enhances their property values. The reservoir is obsolete. The only way it should be refilled at taxpayer’s expense is if the fences are taken down and the space is opened up so all residents of Los Angeles can enjoy it.

      • I own a home in Silver Lake and have lived here since early childhood. I am hardly what could be called wealthy. So stop with the rhetoric. As for the reservoir, it’s obviously empty and just as obviously a basin designed to hold water. Putting water back into the reservoir is the least costly transformation from its present state. The reservoir is also visible to anyone who walks, rides or drives within view and is a key element in the identity of the neighborhood. It is hardly obsolete with respect to aesthetics or with respect to wildlife. It needs to be fenced for safety reasons. Filling the space up with anything other than water would be enormously disruptive, costly and time consuming. Creative flights of fancy are one thing and civil engineering is quite another.

        • It’s no longer a reservoir. It has been removed from the city’s water grid. It is now a giant hole in the ground. You are the one indulging in creative flights of fancy if you think that precious water should be used to make a pretty view for your house. Say you and your NIMBY friends get your way and it is refilled. Why are fences needed for safety? Echo Park lake isn’t fenced in.

          • SLR is about 10 times the volume of EPL; much deeper and wider. The depth contours are much steeper. SLR drops off very sharply. Fall in and it will be a problem, particularly for children. Pretty view for my house? What do you know about my house? When you can’t come up with a good argument, you put a label on me.. What label should I put on you? There must be one. I was just walking around the reservoir last night. All I saw was a dusty hole in the ground. Everyone walking there saw the same hole in the ground, regardless of where they might live. Restoring the body of water would improve the view for all who come into contact with the space.. The DWP WILL put water back into the empty space. That’s not a flight of fancy. It will not be potable, It will be recycled and storm water.. Did you bother to listen to their presentation? That would be the least costly plan.. Sorry it’s not so novel. All these other ideas will be far more costly assuming that they are even feasible. Photoshop is easy. Engineering is not. Just take a look at the physical structure, the slopes, the depth. It’s not EPL. You’re not going to be able to truck millions of cubic yards of dirt of concrete any more than take out the dam. Creating shallows on the margins of the lake would also take some costly and time consuming modifications. So get real. The basin was designed to hold water and that will be restored in 18 months time. All this other stuff is just fluff.

          • The basin was designed to be a reservoir. It is no longer needed as one. Time to use the space as something else, like a park that all can enjoy.

      • Hear! hear!

      • Oh, Bill :reservoir…”a large natural or artificial lake used as a source of water supply” The DWP has stated that one goal will be to SUPPLY water to enable them to connect SilverLAKE to Echo Park Lake and MacArthur Park Lake to recycle and CONSERVE. SilverLAKE will SUPPLY water for Fire departments to use to help fight fires. SilverLAKE will SUPPLY water for the wild life to SURVIVE. SilverLAKE will SUPPLY water to return beauty back to the community for those who walk or run on the paths, or play at the Meadow, or take their dogs to the dog park, or their kids to the Recreation Center. I did not find one definition of reservoir that mentioned drinking(although I am sure there are some), and in fact, most such SUPPLYs of water are non-potable So, you see, Bill, SilverLAKE is still a reservoir…or, at least, will be again.
        And, finally, I think it is wrong to try and make me feel guilty to want my view back. NIMBY…you know what is in my back yard…dirt, as I am conserving water.

  2. Bruce Brook Pfeiffer

    Is “Refill Silver Lake” the group that wants to institute a private Gramercy Park style keyed access park at the reservoir? The idea of turning the reservoir into a private park for the elite who live in homes ringing the reservoir makes my blood boil the more I think about it.

    • Answer: No. We just want a return to the original state prior to the pipeline project, as agreed to by the DWP. I never had any idea that I was so elite by the way. I’m from the neighborhood, but elite? Hardly. I just live here and the sight of a still surface plane of H20 is a calming and pleasing one no matter where it’s viewed from.. So this private park idea that’s bringing your blood to a boil is yet another fantasy. Just keep it at 98.6.. A private park isn’t in the works.

  3. Moby? Electronic Music? On board? So what. That suddenly make this a credible cause? Karlheinz Stockhausen: electronic music, Moby: pop music Fitting..

  4. This article conveys the impression that the group called “Silver Lake Forward” wants to both own and dominate the discussion about the future of the reservoir. That’s incredibly presumptuous. Apparently they have the King’s ear. Being in the media business and having lots of novel ideas doesn’t automatically qualify for leadership in such a discussion. Living in this neighborhood and being impacted by plans past present and future certainly does. Silver Lake Forward is looking rather opportunistic at this point. I guess we’ll see how things develop as the saga unfolds. Blogs like the Eastsider feed on the novelty surge and it makes for good copy. A still body of water that has beauty and tranquility as its principal attributes is just not novel enough. But novelty, like vanity, will fade away, whereas the mirror like wisdom of the still surface of a lake is transcendent.

  5. Refill the reservoir; where else are the LAFD helicopters going to get water when there is a fire in the hills nearby?

  6. There will be water. Been that way for the 21 years I have lived all over Los Angeles. While it has never had public access, it has always been a little piece of beauty to behold. All you Grinches can rest assured that…there will be water.

  7. The DWP made a commitment in 2013 to return Silver Lake to historical water levels when the pipeline construction was complete. I personally am open to additional beautification projects (to be debated add infinitum in the future), but I am COMPLETELY opposed to delaying the refilling. One of Silver Lake Forward’s main proposals listed on their website is the removal of the asphalt rims of the reservoir. In theory, what a great idea – in reality, it would take months and months of constant drilling/hammering and trucking/bulldozing asphalt to the bottom of the basin to actually remove that rim. Silver Lake Forward also proposes multiple beautification projects – great – but those will take YEARS to solidify and years more to fund. Let’s get the reservoir filled up in December – get back to the historical status quo and then work out the details of improvement from there.

  8. As the co-founder and spokesperson for Refill Silver Lake Now, I find it shocking that the reporter was so inaccurate in his assessment of the meeting. I can only think that he got Silver Lake Forward confused with us, because this article makes absolutely no sense. We had hundreds of our members specifically wearing Refill Silver Lake Now stickers at the meeting and the majority who spoke identified themselves with our group, not SLF Which makes this article wrong and utterly biased–plain and simple. There was a collective boo (of our hundreds) when Silver Lake Forward’s Craig Collins stated publicly that he wants everyone to “think big” on par with the man “who designed the Lakefront of Chicago.”

    Silver Lake is a far cry from Lake Michigan. And our neighborhood homes and small businesses are nothing like the skyscrapers lining the Chicago waterfront. To be clear, our platform is the following and we sincerely hope that media outlets like the Eastsider will give us the time and press we deserve. :

    RSLN is open to a discussion of sustainable ideas for the reservoir complex, not pie-in-the-sky, theoretical ideas that would take years—potentially decades—to develop and figure out how to manage. When the DWP, in concert with other relevant agencies, presents a proposal to add more green/park space in areas that make sense, potentially change the fence, add walking paths, beautify, AND find a way to fund and manage it all—we are absolutely open to discussing that. But so far there are no specifics for that proposal.

    Here are the facts about the proposal to fill with reclaimed water:

    On June 30th, the DWP said they would “hope” to start filling it in May 2017 (which is already 6 months after they originally promised) with reclaimed water. But DWP’s Marty Adams and engineer Susan Rowghani have both said they aren’t sure which reclaimed water source would be used, what permits would need to be pulled and what regulatory agencies would have to weigh in. Further, they have no timetable in place to reach this May date, so it’s truly arbitrary. Until the DWP presents a real plan, we are demanding that they refill it to its traditional level with the pipes that exist now when the current project is complete–estimated December 2016. That is what they promised in the 2013 Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and until we see and hear otherwise, their reclaimed water plans are purely speculation.

    Remember, the DWP chose to drain it in the middle of a drought, despite skepticism from the community. They continually promised that no matter what, they would fill it to its traditional level at the completion of the pipeline construction project. Our community, our wildlife, and even LA County Firefighters depend on it.

    In closing, I would like to add that we are a passionate group of community stakeholders who care deeply about the environmental preservation and sustainability of our neighborhood. We don’t have our heads in the sand about the relevance of water during a drought. We acknowledge that climate change will affect our cultural and civic resources. We just want a future that maintains this incredible asset in our midst. Change can and will happen. But let’s not give the upper hand (or the last word) to developers and the Craig Collins’ of the world whose concerns and egos favor the bottom line—not the neighborhood.

    I’m giving a shout out to anyone else who wants to stand with us in this fight, It’s easy to join the cause on our website: http://www.refillsilverlakenow.org.

  9. I am not a wealthy homeowner. I am very fortunate to be a homeowner, and very lucky to have lived in this beautiful community for 67 years. It is strange that the people who have lived here the longest are being called NIMBY’s and elitists. Especially when most of Silver Lake Forward’s Board ARE rich, and have not lived in the community as long as most of our neighbors, and ARE the one’s who are trying to change the culture. They are lobbyists, architects, tv producers, multi-millionaires, etc. WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM? Why do they want this to be a world class destination, with parking lots, congestion, noise, amphitheaters,and a an unfenced, dangerous(although beautiful) lake. I am sure they feel they can design and build a really nice open venue, in a park starved area…oh wait, Echo Park is 2 miles, Griffith Park (one of the largest city parks in the country) is 2 miles. But, will they work for free?

  10. I have lived in Silver Lake, with a view of the lake, for 17 years. I am a renter. The lake was drained once before since I’ve lived here, and then refilled. It was drained for the current pipeline project because residents, especially those along West Silver Lake and Van Pelt at the foot of the reservoir, did not want the pipeline project construction taking place on their streets. So, the DWP altered the project to run the pipeline through the reservoir. However, even though we are currently in a drought, refilling the reservoir with recycled and runoff water has a benefit – the reservoir has a soft bottom, and stored water can percolate into the aquifer, recharging it, and therefore providing natural water storage for dry years. And we will again have years of normal or near normal rainfall. Think of all of the water that is going down the drain and out to the ocean every time it rains. Why not divert that into the reservoir?

  11. The Eastsider reporting on this article clearly shows bias by singling out one group and one position. I am a Silverlake resident not affiliated with any group. I attended the meeting and am appalled that this article didn’t include any of the comments noted by the RSLN group or any other opinions beyond SLF. It was also disconcerting that our elected officials and DWP would plan that meeting at such a small venue when so many community members want to participate. I had to stand by a door outside and listen because of the inadequate seating for all the concerned residents and other stakeholders. None of us outside were able to voice our opinions and many others simply left when they couldn’t hear. Shame on the organizers and shame on The Eastsider.

    • This story is NOT about the meeting. It’s about a new group, Silver Lake Forward. The story about the meeting was published earlier this month. A story before the meeting quoted members from Refill Silver Lake Now.

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