One of Brentwood’s oldest community groups convened for its annual meeting at the University Temple on Sunset Boulevard, as about 500 homeowners met March 10 to hear Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Mike Bonin address the area’s most pressing issues.
Members of the Brentwood Homeowners Assoc. (BHA) filled the main auditorium at the University Temple for nearly three hours last week, meeting to hear updates on local crime, news, and policies impacting residents of the Los Angeles enclave.
Yet the highlights of the evening were the two guest speakers from City Hall.
After waiting for about an hour, the BHA members welcomed Garcetti, who spoke of the overall progress Los Angeles as a whole has made since he took office last year as the City’s top policy-maker.
The theme of Garcetti’s address was “getting back to the basics” as a means for City Hall to properly provide core services to all of its residents.
“People are looking for a city that is safe, a city that is livable, a city that is prosperous, and a city that is well-run,” Garcetti told the BHA membership. “Those are the four pillars of my administration.”
Among the areas where Garcetti claims to be addressing or making inroads included putting together a plan to keep entertainment industry jobs in the Los Angeles region, bringing reform to the Dept. of Water and Power, and expanding the City’s public transit operations.
Garcetti also acknowledged the death of a Los Angeles Police Dept. officer Nicholas Lee. He was the first LAPD officer to die while on active duty in five years, Garcetti said.
Representing the City Council’s eleventh district, which includes Brentwood, Bonin spent some time addressing traffic.
The councilman said while an imminent solution to Brentwood’s consistent traffic woes would not be solved overnight or in the near future both he and the mayor were making every effort possible to find ways to eventually alleviate some of the gridlock in the area.
Both Bonin and Garcetti boasted a handful of transit projects impacting the roads in Brentwood and the region. For example, the expansion of the 405 Freeway and modernization of on- and off-ramps at Wilshire and Sunset Boulevards could help make for more efficient traffic flow, both civic leaders stated.
Also, the Expo Line would be arriving in 2016, allowing Brentwood residents to potentially take the light rail system to downtown Los Angeles or LAX Airport, among other destinations in and around the City.
Finally, Metro has been working on Wilshire Boulevard improvements near the Veterans Administration Hospital and other stretches of the thoroughfare, potentially allowing for greater access to public transit.
Of course, as BHA president Robert Rene stated it, the three biggest concerns on the minds of Brentwood residents: congestion, gridlock, and traffic.
Prior to introducing Garcetti, Rene jokingly told the crowd of 500 BHA members the evening’s keynote address was supposed to be about “Aggressive Strategies for Traffic Management,” expect the person who was supposed to be the delivering the featured speech cancelled at the last minute.
The punch line of the joke: the cancelling speaker was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Jokes aside, traffic was definitely a hot item throughout the BHA annual meeting.
Rene showed the audience several photographs of key street intersections across Brentwood at various hours of the day, be it a.m. rush hour, mid-morning, lunch, mid-afternoon, or the evening drive home. Each of the intersections presented displayed significant gridlock and volume, driving home the point there is rarely a time to drive in Brentwood without being stuck in traffic.
As to drive the point home even more, Rene showed two photographs of when the roads of Brentwood were wide open: a stretch of the 405 freeway at Sunset Boulevard during Carmageddon; and, a portion of San Vicente Boulevard in the 1940s.
Rene also presented a few crime statistics. For example, violent crime in Brentwood remained the same for 2012 and 2013. According to Rene, there were seven reports of violent crime in both 2012 and 2013, respectively.
Auto burglaries were down in 2013 compared to 2012. Rene stated there were 68 reports of auto burglaries in 2013, down about 25 percent from the 91 reported in 2012.
However, home burglaries were up 31 percent in 2013 compared to 2012, with 64 reports last year versus 49 two years ago.
Founded in 1946, the BHA represents more than 1,000 members who own single-family residences in Brentwood. The BHA’s mandate is to protect “the interests of our homeowners and the greater Brentwood community.”