May 30, 2024 Your Source for Brentwood News

Brentwood Beat: New Leadership – and an Old Question

I attended the recent Brentwood Homeowners Association annual meeting. Like all BHA meetings, this one didn’t disappoint.

One reason for my enthusiasm: This was the first I’d ever been inside the new buildings at Brentwood School. Brentwood School, as everyone knows, is on the south side of Sunset as you approach the 405. Barrington Place is the cross street. 

The event was held in an auditorium in the new Middle School that is truly first class. This new gathering place is part of the big upgrade on campus that took place a few years back. The new building is highly visible as you drive north on Barrington Place, heading toward Sunset. 

This new addition to the school is totally first class. There is ample underground parking, and the football/soccer field was built on top of the underground parking structure. This is an excellent use of space. Kudos to the architect.

As I walked in, I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a spread of sandwiches, salads and soft drinks. I don’t recall experiencing this before at a BHA meeting. Maybe this was a way of celebrating the elimination of Covid restrictions. People appreciated it, I could tell. 

The meeting itself was packed – over 300 people. The agenda was devoted to introducing LA’s new political leaders to Brentwood residents. 

Mayor Karen Bass was there, as was Traci Park, CD11’s city council member. Brad Sherman, our new congressman (thanks to redistricting), was also there, as was our new LA County Supervisor, Lindsey P. Horvath. 

The evening went quickly, as elected officials took turns talking about homelessness, crime, development, fire safety, the VA and more. There was little time in the program for attendees to talk about potholes, trash pickup and other day-to-day concerns.

One question started with “The Brentwood Post Office is a disaster,” which got a lot of reaction. When asked about dealing with nuisances like removing trash from street corners, Councilwoman Park urged people to try MyLA311, an app that alerts officials when there are problems in need of solving. Park said she and her staff were finding MyLA311 quite effective. 

The BHA annual meeting took place a couple of weeks ago, but my main recollection remains Brentwood School’s wonderful setting, which leads me to bring up an idea I’ve written about a few times in the past. It’s that time again. 

When Brentwood School proposed expanding and upgrading its facilities several years ago, school leaders had to win over the community in order to get approval. 

Brentwood School also had to win over the VA when the new Brentwood School athletic facility went in (much of Brentwood School is on property leased from the VA). 

One way of smoothing things over was to invite veterans to use the pool and gym during hours when the students aren’t using the facilities.

All our schools – especially the private ones – have amazing facilities. I wonder if there is any way to get these schools to open their swimming pools, tennis courts, playing fields, gyms and meeting rooms to residents of Brentwood – especially in the summertime when things slow down for the schools.

While many in Brentwood live in mansions and own their own pools – or live in apartments with pools – many don’t. There is no obvious place for the non-pooled to go and swim. AYSO Soccer could surely use a few more playing fields in the area. Those who live in apartments especially might like a place to go picnic, since they don’t have big backyards. 

Nearby residents often complain when schools upgrade their facilities and expand their enrollments. The fear is always that there will be more traffic. Or that the construction-related noise, dust and pollution will be too much to bear. 

I’ve always thought these concerns are overblown, and that the community actually comes out ahead once things settle down. For example, Archer School helped finance the widening of Sunset at Barrington and improved the streetlights and crosswalks there. 

While there is still a lot of traffic at that intersection – this is LA, after all – I think the improvements made a positive difference and that gridlock would be far worse had the improvements never been made.

But if local residents truly think they are put upon by Archer, Brentwood School and possibly others, maybe there’s a way the schools could give back by opening themselves up to local residents more. 

If I live near a construction zone and don’t like it, if I get to swim in the pool or use the gym or the tennis courts once in a while for the next 20 years, maybe things aren’t so bad, after all. 

Maybe our private schools could host lectures now and then that would be open only to the neighbors. We could turn these gatherings into social events. Instead of viewing nearby schools as a nuisance, local residents might instead be proud to live near such magnanimous neighbors. 

We had something like this going at Brentwood Science Magnet School, at San Vicente and Bundy for several years – the grounds were open on weekends – but then that sadly went away. Kenter Canyon Elementary and Paul Revere Junior High offer possibilities. We should talk about opening these schools to the public more. 

Something to think about.

Got ideas of your own on this or other matters? Let’s discuss. Send me an email to jeffhall@mirrormediagroupla.com.

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