Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Hancock Park HOA Board Asks CD4 Councilmember Raman Why She Wants to Represent the Neighborhood

Hancock Park Homeowners Association conducted their annual meeting Monday evening. A recording of the meeting can be found here.


Hancock Park Homeowners Association President Cindy Chvatal-Keane opened the association’s annual meeting Monday evening with a statement and a pointed question for the meeting’s main guest, CD4 Councilmember Nithya Raman:  “Why do you want us in your district?”

In her opening statement at the meeting, Chvatal-Keane said the association had recently been “vilified” as a powerful group of homeowners in a national news article on the city council redistricting process. She explained that the group is organized and vocal on issues of concern to the neighborhood (such as safety, street repairs, street trees, and work with city departments and previous council offices), but said it now seems like they’re being ignored by the district that represents it. Because of this, the HPHOA has lobbied to be placed in CD 5 during the current city council redistricting process, and the current redistricting map recommended by the City Council Redistricting Commission has all of Hancock Park sitting in a revised CD5.  But Raman has said she doesn’t like the current map and is fighting to keep Hancock Park in CD4.

“Why do you want us?” asked Chvatal-Keane introducing Raman at Monday night’s meeting. “We have tried in good faith to work with your office. For an entire year you have never returned a phone call or an email.”

Chvatal-Keane said the association presented Raman, after her election, with a detailed notebook on neighborhood issues…which has been ignored and in some cases even undermined.  For example, Chvatal cited the city’s recent repair of a section of concrete street that was not on the association’s requested repair list, while street segments for which repairs were requested were ignored. Chvatal concluded her remarks by saying “you have spoken in great detail about disenfranchisement for your district, but when our representative ignores us and our issues, and displays animus toward us, what you are doing is disenfranchising this neighborhood, so I’ll ask the question again. Other than for political purposes, why do you so want this neighborhood in your district?”

Raman responded, “Well, that was quite an introduction. Thank you so much Cindy and the entire homeowners association for having us today. It was great to see many of you yesterday at Larchmont’s Centennial celebration.” She continued by saying she is happy to be part of the community, and assured Chvatal-Keane she would address the question after providing some updates and addressing some other area issues she’s heard about recently.

First, Raman said she wants to assure everyone that controversial SB9 housing bill, recently passed by the state legislature, will not affect Hancock Park because it is protected by an HPOZ, and designated historic areas are exempt from SB9’s provisions. (Raman had formally opposed the SB9, which allows lot splitting and up to four additional units on a lot.  She did support SB 10, however, another controversial bill that would allow cities to allow up to 10 new units per lot in many currently low-density neighborhoods near transit.) Next, Raman aid her staff is also working on better enforcement of an illegal home-sharing operation that neighbors had complained about, and announced that she has recently added two more staff members her homeless team…and the multi-disciplinary response team is coming online soon.

Turning to the question Chvatal-Keane asked in her introduction, Raman said she ran for office because she loves CD 4, that she took an oath to serve it, and that she will continue to honor the oath. She said there is no animosity toward the HPHOA and that she has work worked side-by-side with residents on issues where there has been steady progress. And finally, regarding the city council redistricting process, Raman said she has only said that the process hasn’t felt fair to her, and that hers is only one of two districts that have been significantly re-drawn this time around.

Regarding her responsiveness to the community, Raman said she doesn’t write a lot of emails or make a lot of phone calls, but instead relies on her staff to do that.

“I feel like our office, which stands for me and speaks for me, is very responsive to you,” said Raman. “I am proud of the work we do.”

After a few further exchanges with the audience on this topic, Raman reiterated her previous sentiments.”I want to represent the district. We want to do that every day. I feel sad that you don’t believe it,” she said, closing the discussion.




Raman left the meeting shortly after her remarks, but the exchange took up 25 minutes of the one-hour meeting, and left many members of the group feeling an uncomfortable disconnect between Raman and the association on what working together looks like.

And later, after the meeting, Raman’s Deputy Chief of Staff & District Director Andrea Conant contacted the Buzz to let us know that she and Raman were taken aback by Chvatal’s blunt opening question, and surprised the meeting was not more cordial.
“We simply want to reiterate that our approach to Hancock Park, just like any community in our district, comes from a place of love and a commitment to serve, [and] that the Councilmember took an oath to uphold and takes very seriously and wholeheartedly,” wrote Conant in a follow-up email.

“We are all working for the same things. Our door is open, and as the Councilmember said, there is no desire to pit homeowners vs. renters, but to rather push for a City Hall that works for everyone. It is possible, and we only wish to work collaboratively and in good faith toward that end,” Conant wrote.

But Hancock Park Association board members told us they stand behind their president, who speaks for them and the neighborhood.

“Cindy was courageous to pose the question,” said Jennifer DeVore, who serves as the HPHOA’s block captain coordinator and represents Hancock Park on the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, where she also serves as secretary. “I think it needed to be asked, and it’s the feeling of a lot of people in Hancock Park.”

DeVore said Raman is really interested in Hancock Park in the fight for her seat, and wants to throw out the work of the Redistricting Commission, which has been doing its work in public for the last three months.  While she notes that process wasn’t perfect, however, she also said that having the city council draw now draw new maps behind closed doors won’t be any better.

“It’s disrespectful to Commission to throw out their work,” said DeVore.

DeVore also said the neighborhood has worked with several different CD4 staffers since Raman was elected last fall, which has been difficult.  And while DeVore said she appreciates the efforts of current CD4 field deputy Kevin Sanchez-Morales, she said it doesn’t seem like he gets much direction from the council office, including on that recent concrete street repair Chvatal mentioned earlier.

According to DeVore, the association has been working on this issue for years, and shared a well documented list of the most problematic streets in the neighborhood with council office staffers when they took office. But instead of approving a specific repair from that list, the council office instead approved repairs on a dead-end stretch of Hudson Avenue, north of 6th Street, instead of a much more well used, and in-need-of-repair section of the street further south.  DeVore said and Chvatal-Keane walked the area with Sanchez-Morales, taking the photos below, which show the difference between the two sections of the street, and the condition of each before the repairs.

We followed up with Conant about how this happened, since council offices are typically the gatekeepers for any city work, and city departments generally defer to the council offices for priorities and approvals. But Conant said the council office is now pushing for the HPHOA’s requested list of street repairs, and has provided the Bureau of Street Services with the list.

“We only want to advocate for the list the neighborhood wants,” said Conant. “There’s not the funding now so we are pushing for a line item in the Mayor’s budget.”

But DeVore said the concrete street repairs, and other community infrastructure issues, really frustrate residents.

“Who do we call when a water main breaks? We used to have phone numbers [for CD4 field staff]; we don’t have any numbers,” said DeVore.  “So

DeVore said she is more hopeful when it comes to working directly with the Bureau of Street Services, which is currently working with the association to repair broken sidewalks and install accessible curbs…which BSS Director Keith Mozee and two staffers, Elis Lee and Garbiela Ortiz, gave a presentation on later in Monday’s meeting.

“We really like working with them,” said DeVore. “They say, “Here’s my email, contact me.” It’s a stark contrast.”

DeVore also said she finds it ironic the association is being portrayed as very powerful and Chvatal-Keane is being vilified in the redistricting fight. “We have zero power,” said DeVore. “Our HPOZ is the only thing protecting us now.”

Hancock Park board member Martin Beck, who heads up the security committee for the neighborhood, echos much of the same frustration with Raman and her staff. He said he, too, was really irked by the street repair snafu, saying it felt like a hostile, deliberate effort to ignore the association’s priority list.

Beck told the Buzz that the neighborhood is lucky to have Chvatal-Keane, who puts in so much volunteer time as its leader. He said he felt Raman needed to hear the community’s frustration, and that he’s hoping it will improve the situation once Raman settles into her role and realizes she represents a larger constituency. He said he’s hopeful that confrontation with Raman will improve things.

“Everyone needs to vent and communicate,” said Beck. “We don’t want a negative future for ourselves, we want to make things happen in a positive way. We all have a common goal of making the city better for everyone.”

The Highland median, between Wilshire and Melrose, is another source of frustration for residents. The median is Bill Newby’s beat for the association because he lives close by and keeps an eye on the association’s investment of new trees and sprinkler repairs to keep the median, an official historic feature of the neighborhood, looking well maintained. Newby told the Buzz he’s has been trying to get city to enforce the no vending rules on the median.

“Lately there has been a plethora of vendors selling from the median,” said Newby. “It’s not safe, it’s destroying the grass, and it’s not legal.”

Newby and others have been emailing the council office to ask BSS to come out and notify the vendors to stop. According to Newby, it took CD4 staff a few days to figure out who to call other than the standard 311 complaint hotline, even though council staff are supposed to have contacts for each city department. When BSS inspectors finally did come, Newby said, they didn’t see any vendors, so they closed the file. Frustrated, board members sent Kevin Sanchez-Morales photos of the vendors in action, and requested that inspectors return during rush hour when the vendors are usually there.

When the Buzz asked her about this issue, Conant said she wasn’t given a chance to report at the meeting that CD4 had indeed gone out with inspectors on Friday afternoon, and gave notice to a flower vendor “that their activities were not permitted and what was required to operate legally, which includes not being located on the median. The individual did explain their family was experiencing financial hardship, due to an illness in the family. We connected them with supportive resources that can help them continue to operate legally.”
Also, yesterday, Sanchez-Morales wrote an email to residents (which we received a copy of) saying, he, too, had driven by and found new vendors working the median.

“As aforementioned, BSS was unable to connect with every vendor and we are continuing to request their assistance on this matter,” Sanchez wrote to the community.  “I have already requested that they re-visit the area again. If the community sees vendors on the median, you can request the BSS Street Vendor Department go out by calling their general number 213.847.6000 or by going to this website and following these instructions . I have also requested our LACC to drive around and pick up any trash they encounter on the median to maintain the community clean. They were out there last week and will be out again. Thank you!”

Newby and others told the Buzz that they appreciate that Sanchez-Morales is trying, but said they are still frustrated because the neighborhood has been accustomed to working with field staff in previous council offices who offered more help than calling an 800 number.  While Newby said he felt uncomfortable for Raman, he also said he was surprised that her staff wasn’t more prepared when they took over the Council office.

“I would’ve read the audience, said Newby of Monday’s meeting. “There are two of us who were actively involved in the recall. She should have read the audience; she had no preparation.”

After Monday’s meeting, HPHOA board members told the Buzz that the association’s frustration with the council office has reached a boiling point because the board unanimously believes they have been completely ignored, so they took the opportunity to confront Raman at the gathering.

But at least one other board member, who asked not to be quoted, said they believe the current acrimony is completely unnecessary. The vast majority of issues the board is pursuing are not in conflict with Raman’s main policy agenda to address homelessness, this board member said.  And further, these issues are, for the most part, really easy, bread-and-butter city councilmember things to do, like enforcing rules, picking up trash, fixing streets, etc.

Still, once againg citing the repair of the of the wrong section of concrete street, most HPHOA members we spoke to said it seemed like Raman went out of her way to pick something that wasn’t on their list of a dozen or more streets that needed repair, that it felt like Raman’s office deliberately penalized the neighborhood because people there didn’t vote for her in large numbers, and that they stand behind the effort to move the neighborhood out of Raman’s district.

So the disconnect seems to remain. “We are proactive and responsive,” Conant told the Buzz after the meeting on Monday.  “We look forward to continuing to advocate for Hancock Park and CD4. The record shows we are engaged with the HOA on a very regular basis. What we didn’t get to share tonight is that we have made significant progress in a short time on many issues that have plagued the community for years and will continue to do so.”


Other HPHOA Business


With both sides firmly in their corners after Raman left the HPHOA meeting on Monday, there were additional reports from volunteer board members.

Deborah Trainer, chair of the association’s tree committee, reported the association has planted 50 trees. following the master plan for the neighborhood to increase the tree canopy. She urged any residents with questions to reach out the neighborhood arborist ,who will inspect individual trees and make a determination if a tree needs to be replaced. If it does, Trainer said, “we will set the wheels in motion to plant a new tree. The trees may look small, but they develop healthy roots and grow quickly.”

David Gjada reported on the welcome bags the association has given to more than 70 new residents in the last two years. The reusable bags are now available for sale for $20, if anyone wants one. Gjada also serves as the neighborhood liaison to John Burroughs Middle School, which has recently begun its five-year renovation project. Gjada said the project, which will be complete in 2026, will be done in phases, with students on campus throughout construction.

Mark Alpers reported on meeting with the developer of a new TOC housing project at the corner of Highland and Wilshire. Alpers said he also met with CD4 staff to share the Hancock Park and nearby La Brea Hancock neighborhood’s concerns. He is also watching another large office building project proposed at Seward and Melrose.

Susan Grossman, who serves on the neighborhood’s HPOZ board, reminded residents how fortunate the neighborhood is to have historic protection and she spoke highly of the city planner assigned to the neighborhood. She said residents should check with the city planner before doing any work they might be planning, even if they are not required to get a permit.

DeVore, chair of the block captain committee, reported that the block captains are critical for communications to the community.

“We send out emails to the block captains, and they are essential to creating community. We appreciate any feedback on how we can improve our system, and we invite everyone to be involved,” she said.

Finally, DeVore presented the results of the HPHOA’s annual election, which are shown below. The meeting adjourned at 7 p.m.

Election results presented at the Hancock Park Homeowners Association meeting on Monday evening.

Click here to view a recording of the approximately one-hour-long meeting.


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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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  1. I read every word of your article and a don’t believe Nithya Raman answered the question directly.
    Surprise. Surprise. We should all hope the work of the Redistricting Commission placing the remaining parts of HCP, Windsor Square, Larchmont Villiage and Larchmont Heights squarely in CD5 remains intact and is not tampered with by Raman or any of the other progressive operatives that seek to use our community for their own agenda. Nithya Raman serves Nithya Raman. She hasn’t served and won’t serve the majority of the residents of our community. [Comment edited before posting.]


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