An Open Letter to Friends of Runyon Canyon (FORC)

Dear Friends of Runyon Canyon (FORC),

On behalf of your fellow Runyon Canyon friends, on behalf of the hundreds (thousands?) of citizens who have attended Emergency Meetings, who have called and written their Councilmember,Friends of Runyon Canyon Board of Directors who have been compelled to file a costly lawsuit to protect the park from your heavy construction, we ask you to do the righteous thing. On behalf of the enormous constituency who cares about Runyon Canyon as much as you do, we ask FORC to voluntarily terminate your Memo of Understanding (MOU) with the City.

It’s time for Friends of Runyon Canyon to step aside and let the healing begin.

We thank you, Friends, for your service. We genuinely appreciate the handsome new trash receptacles you’ve installed. We hope all of FORC’s Board Members, particularly the ones whose panoramic views you’re fighting to protect, will individually contribute to the preservation of the park by doing helpful things like picking up litter. But the Friends of Runyon Canyon organization has lost the trust and support of the community it wished to represent. Without credibility, you cannot lead. We ask FORC to withdraw voluntarily from Runyon Canyon.

What happened — and what didn’t happen — with your ill-conceived and badly executed plan to build a corporate-sponsored basketball court in the middle of the park (without an Environmental Impact Report, without genuine transparency) has been fully documented. And it reflects poorly on your judgment and integrity. Councilmember Ryu, who initially provided “positive support” for your efforts, called the process “a travesty.” Without recapitulating all that went horribly wrong with your stewardship, without cataloging the rapidly spreading legal trouble FORC’s covert actions have caused, let us all agree that nobody is happy with how things have turned out. Instead of uniting the community, you have divided it, pitting neighbors against neighbors.

lawsuit because of FORC

The facts of the situation are not in dispute. You have violated your MOU with the City. You have alienated and enraged long-time residents. You have triggered at least one lawsuit, and probably more. To stay in a management position at this point will lead to nothing but unpleasantness for everyone.  To continue would make Friends of Runyon Canyon a kind of occupying force (or FORC, if you prefer). An organization whose very legitimacy has been called into question cannot guide, they can only invade.

Please do not inspire further litigation. Please do find a great generosity of spirit in your heart. Please show your love for Runyon Canyon and your respect for the patrons of Runyon Canyon by graciously retiring from service.


Michael Konik, 24-year-resident of Vista Street and volunteer Runyon Park litter cleaner


Mayor Eric Garcetti

Councilmember David Ryu, CD4

Michael Shull, Department of Parks and Recreation




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8 Responses

  1. Cheri says:

    Great letter. Totally agree that FORC needs to go. Your other articles have so much I site on the park. I am on an advisory board with one of doers and he never spoke of this issue. Guessing he didn’t give much thought to what FORC was doing until the HHWNC meeting and how pissed off everyone was and still are. Runyon is just fine as it is.

  2. Scott says:

    The ramifications of this sell out of Runyon Canyon are greater than even the real friends realize. This corporate intrusion into the wilderness park for a commercial establishment was just one of the beginning gambits to commercialize the wilderness parks. People fought against commercialization in Griffith Park as Ryu well knew. While the logo placing was being held in check, the City is installing a baseball diamond at Crystal Springs in Griffith Park and soon there will be follow measures for commercialization.

    Knowing the opposition to commercialization, Ryu closed Runyon Canyon on the pretext that everyone had to stay away from this section of the park, but they could go for yoga near the Fuller entrance — too far from the basketball court for anyone to see what was happening. The plan was to have the professional quality basketball court installed with the corporate logo by the time the parked opened.

    If Ryu thought a basketball court was what the neighbors wanted, then he would have told everyone that one reason to close Runyon canyon during the fixing of the water pipes was to install the basketball court. But that is not what Ryu said. Instead he said that people hiking would interfere with he water project. Hiking would interfere but the construction of a professional basketball court would not? We can all see that Ryu was silent about the basketball court for the same reason he wanted everyone barred from the park. He did not anyone to know what he was doing. But, he got caught and then he lied to cover-up his deception.

    The long range plan is to convert wilderness parks to community parks, one baseball diamond, one basketball court, one volley ball court, at a time Then, we will have the extra bathrooms and then the snack bars which will grow into small restaurants. And all these wonderful goodies will be brought to us by generous corporations and their ubiquitous logos.

    Ryu knew exactly what he was doing when he tried to secretly install a professional basketball court in a wilderness park and he won’t let this one set back deter him. After all, he’s already fooled most people into believing he didn’t know.

  3. Courtney Reid says:

    Thank you SO much for shedding a light on this issue, you’re doing a fantastic job for all of us!!

  4. Gino says:

    As a user and nearby resident of Runyon Canyon, I feel that something needed to be done with that dilapidated area. Michael offered no solution to the existing sport court. While not necessarily in favor of a basketball court, this area needed to be improved and also not necessarily opposed to public-private partnerships. Whether it be a tennis court, basketball court or multi-sport court, the area existed as a damaged facility and has precedence..To do nothing, simply ignores the problem. Runyon Canyon needs to be a place for all, not the select few in a part of the city seriously lacking parks and recreation centers.

  5. Will says:

    This is how the city does things. And as much as FORC ‘s hearts may have been in the right place, bring O’Farrell/Garcetti into the mix and figure on secrecy, behind closed door lack of transparency deals that shut out communities. Campaign contributions are always responsible for every law suit brought against the city, usually developer this is probably campaign contributions too. Not hard to find out..but could be under other names, employees, friends, families, etc.
    It’s sad Ryu got on board with this, so opposed to these secret tactics and what his campaign platform was. But he is certainly not the worst.
    Garcetti/O’Farrell the developer corrupted go to boys are the worst. And Commissions, in this case Rec & Parks, are polluted, because all are appointed by Garcetti, and serve at his pleasure.
    Ofcourse there should have been proper outreach and that is exactly why neighborhood councils were set up, since communities are ignored by the city, NC’s were to be the voices of ignored, dismissed communities, and this deal even bypassed the NC, which did a valiant job to make sure the communities did finally have a say. Town Halls like that should have been occurring regularly between FORC and communities..They should have been heard from before any decisions were made.
    Anyone who doesn’t like the outcome..tough..The communities have spoken..
    That’s how the city is SUPPOSED TO operate. EIR’s, hearings..etc.
    With O’Farrell being in charge of Parks & Rec one can’t help but suspect he was behind this.
    Garcetti put him in charge to ‘assure Millennium’s (the developer that got theme elected) Hollywood Cap Park in east Hollywood all goes smoothly’.
    Look up all the corruption already occurred to get that thing done, controversial Govt. Promise Zone/Funds and it’s parallel version, Millennium’s Highline in NYC and what it transformed that whole community into, as Millennium’s Cap Park ruse, supposedly for park poor families will do…nothing but wealthy luxury real estate investment opportunities/luxury skyscrapers/gentrification..those families will not survive Millennium’s Cap Park as Chelsea multi generational families and businesses could not survive Millennium’s bagillion dollar Highline..) and one must ask, is the commercialization of Runyon Park a sign that development opportunities are on the way for that area. Is LeFrak (one of the biggest NYC developers, like Millennium), project on the northwest corner of LaBrea & Hollywood Blvd. (where Mosaic Church was recently designated a Historic Cultural Monument..LeFrak would have demoed it as they recently demoed the famous 1800’s Mansion, fought for and lost Rizzolli Book Store, 57th St. NYC for their massive skyscraper. See N.Y, Times editorial..Tyranny of the Glass Boxes), proposal for their three obscene skyscraper glass towers and changing the area/corridor from a residential to commercial zone (saveresidentialhollywood born out of this), just the beginning for what the city plans for the rest of Hollywood Blvd. West of LaBrea?
    Zone changes..Good bye Residential..Hello Commercial.
    Commercialization of the Park ties in with that.
    O’Farrell should be recalled for many issues, Millennium , Target, not representing his constituents EVER, elected by Hollywood Chamber developer funded PAC, and again being supported by them..He is nothing but a developer puppet massacring CD13, with illegal obscene usually sued projects, (see Coalition to Preserve L.A./Neighborhood Integrity Initiative that was born out of this ), caring not one iota about SNAP plans that was his constituents (and Garcetti’s constituents when as CD13 councilman he told Target to IGNORE HIS CONSTITUENTS SNAP PLANS), area Plan where Target built illegally. O’Farrell stands against his own constituents as Garcetti did before him, for his developer bosses and now Garcetti CHANGED SNAP PLAN laws to accommodate Target’s illegal project, so now the whole area can be overdeveloped with massive oversized projects he loves so much but the communities do not want. .
    The point is this Mayor ignores law suits and Judge’s rulings.. So good luck with this one. He ignored three Hollywood Community Plan Law suits, won against the city, he ignored city’s legal council warning him there would be law suits and pushed that illegal thing through, against overwhelming opposition across LA for the overdensification of Hollywood, in spite of even city’s own legal council’s warnings, he ignored the SNAP Laws and told Target to ignore them (Target brought it to the State Supreme court BTW, and Garcetti changed those SNAP laws), he ignored Sunset Gordon deals and law suits, he ignores them. If he doesn’t like Judge’s ruling he manipulates ways around them, or just changes laws.
    O’Farrell is his apprentice..he has taught him well.
    So, does anyone expect sleazy corrupt politicos like these to do the right thing on any issue? Sell outs to developers and any co. that fills their campaign coffers. Even when lives are at risk (Millennium/Vine skyscrapers/active EQ fault line shut down by a Judge, Garcetti/O’Farrell will still green light it..Millennium got them elected)
    And as far as commercialization, as if the basketball court was not bad enough, that company logo… it’s very disturbing, that that logo would be approved, the gross street slang that many had to look up the meaning of, but kids ofcourse would not have to look up, and there it would be, and that is beyond offensive, a nature preserve being not only polluted by commercialization, but by obscene street slang logos to boot.
    As angry as many are with FORC..the Cancer of City Corruption needs to go….
    Garcetti’s Rec & Park Commissioners should be fired, O’Farrell has to be recalled, Ryu..not so sure about yet..
    But above all. Do NOT ever vote for Garcetti again. The city honestly can’t afford any more law suits his lousy, corrupt leadership is responsible for. And the people of L.A. can’t afford any more law suits WON that he ignores and finds ways to get around anyway.

  6. Michael Lohr says:

    People today are afraid of any change. They create rules to enforce the status quo and cry foul any time others do not follow these arbitrary rules. The EIR process is a perfect example of how people try to kill any project they find objection with. In this case, a retaining wall in severe disrepair is also being fixed along with the former tennis courts. The impact to the environment is virtually unchanged. Well, some may argue a few dozen more people would come to play Basket Ball. But the same argument can be made that picking up the trash and maintaining the park draws more people also negatively impacting the surrounding neighborhood. There is always a greater good. Fixing a wall that may collapse and hurt someone has a positive effect on our environment.

    Asking people to resign when they had the best of intentions because they didn’t play by rules that were never meant to be applied to situations like this is at best petulant.

  7. Susan says:

    Great letter. Runyon Canyon should remain as a place designated for hiking and as an off-leash dog park. Parks and recreation centers can be built on any vacant or delapidated lot in the city if they really wanted to. I didn’t vote for Garcetti because I didn’t trust his intentions based on his ties with developers.

  8. Robert says:

    My comment is “thank-you”. Thank-you Michael for taking your time to investigate and write about an issue that is of importance to many people; all of whom will benefit from your selfless efforts to inform the public. Thank-you for taking an interest and caring about a public resource.

    I did a quick count of the articles that Michael has written about Runyon over the past several years and I found 10 articles. It represents an investment of time and effort that is impressive, admirable and laudable. Michael has provided us with the transparency that FORC had failed to furnish. All of us are in his debt for that effort.