Critters, Conflagration & Crime
The FHRA’s winter meeting on Critters, Conflagration and Crime provided a good education for the dozens of Franklin Hills residents who gathered in a King Middle School classroom on February 24, 2004.

First on the curriculum, a crash course in critters from cats to coyotes (aimed at making the former not dinner for the latter) plus tips on other four legged residents from skunks to possums…one of whom made an invited appearance, but didn’t have much to say.

What the two legged experts from the Opossum Society and Camarillo Wildlife Rescue had to say was that residents were not doing any of the wild critters a favor by putting out food for them and that leaving food for your pets…or even having a koi pond…can be the magnet that brings the uninvited to your property with the result that such animals are less fearful of humans actually placing them at greater danger.

Officer Gregory Randall, Wildlife Investigator from the LA City Department of Animal Services, talked about high-tech ways to keep critters from your property such as motion detector lights and sprinklers activated by the critter’s approach. He also explained that trapping by his department “is coming to an end.” He noted that most of the infrequent attacks by coyotes on humans resulted from attempts to feed the coyotes… something that is actually a misdemeanor in Los Angeles. He even offered to come out and advise homeowners who are seeking ways to keep unwanted critters from their property. (see "community contacts")
Even more unwanted in any neighborhood is fire, but we have dedicated firefighters stationed 24/7 nearby on Rowena (Station 56 handles the area east from Ronda Vista) and Hillhurst (Station 35 the rest of Franklin Hills). Captains Robert McMasters (right) and Robert Vowels, both 29 year department veterans, mixed stories of the heroism by local firefighters with some of the do’s and don’ts of hillside fire safety for areas like ours classified as a “Very High Fire Hazard Safety Zone.” During spring inspections the LAFD looks for unsafe amounts of native vegetation, trees that don’t have lower branches removed at least 6 feet or 1/3 up the trunk, and of course dead material. Brochures are sent out each spring and info is online at www.lafd.org/brush. Both captains agree that this area and station 35 on Hillhurst is a “great place to work.”  

The meeting finished with two familiar faces around the Franklin Hills our two LAPD senior lead officers Sam Salazar and Al Polehonki. They had good news…a continuing drop in crime in our area. In 2003 Northeast Division led the LAPD with the biggest drop in crime and in the first few weeks of 2004 the trend continued with a further 19.9% drop. The biggest problems in Franklin Hills remain auto related
crimes. There have been vehicle thefts and several breakins to steal items like cell phones and other small valuable items left on car seats. Graffiti also remains an ongoing problem.
 A few lucky meeting attendees came away with more than just a whole lot of useful information and some tasty snacks. Throughout the evening there were drawings for wonderful prizes such as dinners at Palermo’s, tickets to the Los Feliz and Vista Theatres, a gift certificate from Skylight Books and even a Franklin Hills T-shirt. Despite the cold evening everyone came away with a warm neighborhood feeling.
Although Jeanne Chang, Councilmember LaBonge's field deputy, got excited at having a winning door prize ticket, she declined her prize and another drawing was held...proving public integrity lives.