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The Help Group's
Summit View & Village Glen School
Playground Noise Problem

I moved into my top floor bright and airy two-bedroom triplex in June of 2004, and still live here. Prior to moving in, our landlords had mentioned that there was a “playground” behind our complex, but we didn’t really think much of it, until September rolled around. By October and November, we realized that we had moved into a very high volume area because the “playground” was much more than just a few kids playing in the sand or sliding down slide—this playground was a very active all day activity sports center for children attending The Help Group’s Summit View School or Village Glen School for high functioning Autistic children. I talked with one of the principles from the school and her recommendation to me? To move if I didn’t like it. 

That’s what the previous tenant of 8 years did.  And maybe I should have too, except we had just moved in and finding a good place to live in Los Angeles is like finding a needle in a haystack, and our new triplex was one of those needles! I complained to everyone: the school, the school’s top officials, the City of Los Angeles planning department, city council members, the police department, the city attorney, everyone! It didn’t help that our property and their property are in two cities: Los Angeles and Culver City, complicating everything by a factor of ten. But to no avail, because, the screaming voices of children and yells of coaches cannot be regulated, I was told.  I talked with an attorney, who told me it would probably cost $100,000 to fight them in court, with no assurance of success.  Many neighbors complained, but nothing at all happened.

Then, one day, The Help Group decided to build more rooms and add 250 more kids.  They applied for a zoning permit, the neighbors and I got notified, and the fight was on.  We all complained loudly to the zoning representative and so we have been able to slow down the process a bit; and we have asked for a wall to be built. A couple things got changed around, but, for the most part, there are still yelling/screaming kids and shouting coaches every day, five days a week, and into the evening on some days. Recently The Help Group hired a company to measure sound levels, but did so on the last week of school when the sound levels were low. This was for the zoning commission, so it is just another example of how a business is able to work the system while a whole neighborhood is assaulted on a daily basis with noise above and beyond what any neighborhood should be subjected to.


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We heard they may build a wall that is 6 feet higher than the current wall, but for those of us on the top floors of the triplexes, it will do little good.  My neighbors and I requested a wall, but if one is going to be built, why not build it so that it is effective?  Seriously, I’m fed up with it all.  So, I’ve decided to post onto this web page all of the complaint letters my neighbors and I have written to various agencies and to the school—those letters which are on my computer, because there are plenty of complaints I don't have.  I will also be posting photos of the students from summit View School and Village Glen School, and most importantly, I’ll be posting videos of The Help Group’s screaming kids and shouting coaches.  The Help Group has done very little to mitigate their impact on this community, and if it weren’t for the planning commission being somewhat sympathetic to our plight, they would have done nothing, as they did for the first 5 years I lived here.  The following are various complaint letters and correspondence my neighbors and I have written over the years (almost all done in vain, but we have seen slight relief).

Also, I have an entire series of video interviews with parents, researchers and medical professionals about how to prevent Autism, the causes of Autism, and how to reverse Autism, and you can find those videos at my Biomedical Treatmet for Autism website.

**********

3/18/05

Katherine Hennigan
Field Deputy for Cindy Miscikowski, 11th district, L.A. City Council
7166 West Manchester Boulevard
Westchester, CA  90045
310-568-8772

Dear Katherine,
As I mentioned to you previously, my neighbors and I are assaulted with high-levels of very annoying playground noise on a daily basis from The Help Group’s Summit View School and Village Glen School, and the school administration refuses to discuss options that could reduce the noise level for this community.  They hide behind their City of Los Angeles Zoning Permit as justification to ignore the noise complaints and the discomfort of their neighbors. This package is our “last ditch effort” to hopefully convince The Help Group to move from arrogance to cooperation.  However, if they do not, then my neighbors and I will petition the Chief Zoning Administrator to revoke the conditional zoning permit that was issued to The Help Group, and we will petition the City of Los Angeles and the City of Culver City to enforce its noise ordinance laws. 

The key points addressed in this package are:
Prior to building the school, high-ranking officials from The Help Group lied to several members of this neighborhood when they said that the parking lot would never be converted into a playground; 

The playground generates highly annoying and disruptive noise on a daily basis which affects numerous residences in the vicinity; 

Multiple complaints to the administration of The Help Group about Summit View School and Village Glen School playground noise have been utterly ignored;

Attempts to get the children/teachers/staff to be more quiet results in indifference or insults from teachers/staff/students; 

Although it is true that most school playgrounds are located in residential neighborhoods, most of those playgrounds are separated from residences by a street—whereas the Summit View School playground is literally behind our back yards; 

The noise that emanates from the playground surely violates noise ordinance 116.01, since the playground “disturbs the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or which causes discomfort or annoyance to any reasonable person of normal sensitiveness residing in the area.” 

The Help Group was granted a conditional permit, not an unconditional permit, and the permit specifically states that unless the school playground activities are “conducted with due regard for the character of the surrounding district,” the Chief Zoning Administrator may modify or revoke the permit.  My neighbors and I will attest to the fact that the daily assault of highly irritating noise is most certainly out of character of this otherwise peaceful neighborhood.

My neighbors and I find it disgraceful that The Help Group—with all its hype about helping others—refuses to discuss possible solutions to the noise pollution it creates in this neighborhood.  We all hope that this package I have provided you with will initiate an immediate and acceptable solution to the surrounding community.  If not, then you can expect this entire neighborhood to be petition Cindy Miscikowski to intervene on our behalf.

Thank you for your time and help.

Sincerely, 

Larry Cook

***

3/17/05

Barbara Firestone
Chief Executive Officer
The Help Group
13130 Burbank Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91401

Regarding:  Excessive, daily, highly disruptive noise from the Summit View School and Village Glen School Playground 

Dear Ms. Firestone,
I have carbon copied the enclosed package to you because you are the chief executive officer of The Help Group.  When I tried to contact you regarding this matter, I was directed to speak with Mr. Soto, which I have done.  

Nevertheless, considering that numerous complaints to your administration has not resulted in any action to remedy the problem, I have chosen to inform you personally of the issues at hand (via the enclosed materials and this letter), since you are the assigned leader of The Help Group.

I must tell you that I am very, very disappointed that your organization—which prides itself on helping others—is utterly derelict in its duty to address, and remedy, the concerns of its neighbors. Just because you have been granted a conditional zoning permit does not mean you have license to ignore the needs of the community in which your school operates.  The fact that no one has had the wherewithal to initiate a complaint that can grab the attention of your administration does not mean that the noise generated by the Summit View School and Village Glen School playground has not been an ongoing, highly irritating and frustrating annoyance in this community.  Just as some communities have to live with drug infested gang bangers and therefore endure the situation until the right combination of forces come along to remove the infection, so too has this community been forced to endure a daily barrage of painful noise pollution—until now. 

Ms. Firestone, based on the proximity of my apartment to the basketball court, you might say that I am at “ground zero” of the noise issue.  And, to be blunt, I have had enough.  My complaints to Principal Ms. Rosenfelt—in her office of double paned sound proofed windows—fell on deaf ears.  My complaint to John Sotto, and through him to you as well, has also fallen on deaf ears.

Therefore, if this package you are reading does not initiate an immediate and acceptable solution to myself and the others in my community, then I will lead my community in a unified voice to vehemently petition the Chief Zoning Administrator of Los Angeles to permanently revoke your playground’s zoning permit, which he is legally entitled to do under L.A. Municipal Code 12.24-Z and AA, and which is clearly stated on page one of your permit.

I have spent plenty of my time on this issue over the last several days, and would be quite pleased if you and your administration will do the honorable thing and finally remedy the problem. However, my neighbors and I are willing to do what it takes to convince the Chief Zoning Administrator to revoke your permit if you refuse to heed this letter.

Thank you for taking the time to review this grievance, and giving it your due diligence.

Sincerely,

Larry Cook (and Marilyn Frazier, Roommate)

**********

Hello Mr. Daniel Green [L.A. zoning administrator],

My neighbors and I would like to submit to you a formal written complaint to give you the details of our grievance.  I have spoken with Javier Landores, Supervisor of Nuisance Abatement & Revocation, and he told me that I should contact you about our complaint, and mail you a formal complaint, which will be mailed to him as well.

Approximately 5 years ago, The Help Group, owner of Summit View School and Village Glen School, was granted a zoning permit by your office to convert a parking lot into a playground for the school that was built on the same property.  David Greenberg (213-485-3811), Assistant Planning Deputy for Cindy Miscikowski (City Council-11th District), pulled the zoning permit for me, which I now have a copy of.  It's Case No. ZA 19580(CZ)(PAD) issued on Feb 18, 2000 by Robert Janovici of your office.  Katherine Hennigan, Field Deputy for Cindy Miscikowski, has also helped me with this issue.  The schools are called Summit View School and Village Glen School, is located at 12101 West Washington Boulevard, 90066.

Prior to receiving the zoning permit, the vice-president of The Help Group, Thomas Komp, made his rounds through this community and assured the neighbors that the parking lot would NOT be converted into a playground.  Multiple neighbors will attest to these conversations.

Once it became obvious that a playground was in fact being installed at the parking lot (e.g. basketball hoops, etc.), neighbors complained to Mr. Komp and other administrative officials, but were then ignored. 

Once school began, the constant barrage of noise from the screaming students became so intolerable that neighbors again complained to The Help Group, and the essence of their response was that they are permitted (as in zoned) to be as noisy as they please.  In fact, the administration has been quite rude to our community members.

A prior tenant of this tri-plex—after a 9-year tenancy—had to move due to the unbearable noise of children screaming and yelling on a daily basis and The Help Group's refusal to take corrective action (see his letter below).

I recently submitted a written complaint, combined with the written complaints of multiple neighbors, to The Help Group, and again we were utterly ignored by the administration.  This detailed complaint was also CCd to Cindy Miscikoski's office (David Greenberg and Katherine Hennigan).

The police departments (Culver City and Los Angeles) have refused to investigate because our complaint involves children on a playground.

Mr. Green, my contention, and the contention of the rest of my neighbors, is that:

1.  The original zoning permit would have been contested had the neighbors not been lied to by the vice-principle of The Help Group (and therefore lulled into believing the lot would remain a parking lot), 

2.  Giving The Help Group a permit to convert the parking lot into a playground did not take into account that the playground is less than 75 feet from numerous residential buildings, making the noise generated by the playground MUCH LOUDER than what typically is found at most (public) schools wherein the playground is across a street from residential buildings/houses, 

3.  That The Help Group is in violation of their zoning permit, specifically, #3, which states "The authorized use shall be conducted at all times with due regard for the character of the surrounding district…", 

4.  Because of the closeness of the playground to our surrounding residential units, the playground also violates Los Angeles Municipal Code SEC. 116.01, which states in part:  "…it shall be unlawful for any person to willfully make or continue, or cause to be made or continued, any loud, unnecessary, and unusual noise which disturbs the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or which causes discomfort or annoyance to any reasonable person of normal sensitivities RESIDING in the area."  I can assure you that my neighbors and I are reasonable people and that the noise generated unquestionably disturbs the peace of this community! 

Regarding number 3 above, I'd like to point out that the character of this neighborhood——which is on a dead end street——is peace and quiet, except for the constant stream of highly disturbing noises by children playing and teachers yelling every day of the week. 

Therefore,
Mr. Green, my neighbors and I respectfully request that:

1.  Your department allow us to file a formal, written complaint to your administration regarding this ongoing noise problem which has plagued our community for the last five years,

2.  That you and your department investigate our complaint with due diligence, 

3.  That your administration hold a public hearing on the matter, and 

4.  Hopefully, either revoke the zoning permit your office has issued The Help Group, or impose additional corrective conditions (e.g. ban part of the parking lot from playground use), which you are entitled to do under L.A. Municipal Code 12.24-G, Z & AA. 

At what address may I mail you a formal complaint which will include the signatures and statements from neighbors in the surrounding community? 

Below my name I include a statement from a past tenant of this building who had to move due to the noise generated by the school, and another statement from a current resident, who has lived here for the last 20 years.  I hope you take the extra minute to read these statements. 

Thank you for your consideration and your time Mr. Green,

Larry Cook

************************

To whom it may concern,

In 1994, my wife and I moved into the rental property at XXXXX Sylvester Street, Los Angeles, CA 90066; abutted next to the Washington Medical Center facility and a women's eating disorder unit.  We settled into the pleasantly quiet neighborhood and soon became good friends to our neighbors living in the surrounding apartments.

It was well known that the Washington Medical Center was losing money and that it would soon go out of business.  When it did finally succumb, an educational organization purchased the property and set out to place a school on the property.

Prior to groundbreaking, I spoke with Penelope Katz, a representative of The HELP Group who was canvassing the neighborhood seeking to garner local support and acceptance of the proposed school.  During my conversation with Penelope Katz, I expressed my concern that the school's opening would increase the amount of traffic in the are and that the parking lot adjacent to the property I rented would become a playground and thus disrupt the pleasant quiet I lived in.  Ms. Katz was quite interested in my concerns and brought a Thomas Komp out to meet with me.  Mr. Komp identified himself to me as the head of the Help Group and assured me, and subsequently again myself and Renate Ramsey—my neighbor—that under no circumstances would there be a playground erected in the parking lot.  He assured me that the only disruption to my quiet would be the morning arrival of buses and cabs with students and the afternoon departure of busses with the occasional cab picking up students.

Shortly after that discussion construction began: day after day of jack hammering and construction noise.  When the project apparently got behind schedule, weekend crews worked; on the odd occasion when they played music louder than was acceptable, I would call Mr. Komp and he would speedily address the issue.  After some six to nine months of construction, it looked like the school would soon be opening.  One month prior to the school opening, basketball hoops were set in the parking lot and court lines were painted in.  I immediately called Mr. Komp and left him a message requesting to know what had happened.  I never received a return call from Mr. Komp or Ms. Katz whom I also tried to reach.

During the next year and a half, my wife and I endured screaming from the 'parking lot' daily, people singing karaoke during carnivals held on weekends, Rock bands blasting through my apartment and people peering into my bathroom from a Ferris wheel running at an unsafe proximity to the high voltage lighting installed in the parking lot.

Each and every time I sought to seek some kind of reconciliation with the HELP Group, my calls were never returned.  As a consequence of several years of disquiet and scorn from the HELP Group, my wife and I moved away from a friendly neighborhood, landlords that treated us as a favored niece and nephew and rich friendships earned in an often inhospitable city.

Tim Andaya and Elizabeth Hartigan

**************************

John Soto
Director of Special Projects, 818-779-5212
The Help Group
13130 Burbank Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91401

Regarding: Noise from the Summit View School playground

Dear Mr. Soto,

My husband and I have lived at XXXXX Sylvester Street for the past 20 years and had been happy with our neighborhood, until The Help Group took over the lot behind our property.  The noise that comes from the playground, which is directly behind our back yard, is unbearable most of the time.  On weekdays the noise begins around 8:15 am and continues off and on throughout the day until sometimes 7 pm or 7:30 pm, and we even have to hear noise on the weekends when staff bring their children to play at the playground.  The noise includes highly annoying sounds of buses unloading children, children screaming continuously, teachers yelling and parents cheering.  The noise is terrible and causes stress and discomfort in a home that used to be quite peaceful.

As if the noise wasn't enough for us to contend with, we also must deal with a constant stream of flying objects over our fence: balls of various sizes and density, along with food, garbage and other items.  Balls have hit our windows on numerous occasions, and it's a miracle they haven't been broken yet.  Since I tend to my garden on a daily basis, I have had my fair share of “narrow misses” from the balls flying over my fence.  Mind you, not just basketballs or “rubber balls,” but also hard baseballs which could knock me out!  I've had to pick up chewing gum, half-eaten sandwiches and oranges, soda cans and water bottles, among other things.  My back yard should not be considered a refuse dump for the children at your school!

In 1999 Penelope Katz and Thomas Komp came to our residence and told us that the lot behind our back yard would be used only as a parking lot to load and unload children, and they assured us that it would not be converted into a playground.  Unfortunately, we would later discover that we had been lied to, when we saw the basketball hoops being installed.  Our tenant at the time, Tim Andaya, who lived directly above us, complained numerous times to Mr. Komp and others in your administration about the fact that he (as the rest of us) had been lied to, and then he complained about the noise once the playground was completed.  Unfortunately, your administration utterly ignored his complaints and did nothing to rectify the noise problem.  The noise got to be so intolerable that he was forced to move, after living here for nine years!

Larry Cook-our tenant who moved into the apartment vacated by Tim Andaya-is spearheading the drive to get your administration to work out a compromise regarding the playground.   We support his efforts to create a mutually agreeable solution that is swift and permanent.  However, if a compromise cannot be reached, or if your administration refuses to discuss the options he has outlined, we will fully support Mr. Cook's efforts to get your conditional playground permit permanently revoked. We sincerely hope that Mr. Cook's efforts will be the wake up call your administration requires to understand that you must fulfill the obligations of being a good neighbor, or The Help group will suffer the consequences of its arrogance and indifference. 

Karl and Renate Sedlmeir

****************************

3/10/05

John Soto
Director of Special Projects, 818-779-5212
The Help Group
13130 Burbank Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91401

Regarding: Noise from the Summit View School playground  

Dear Mr. Soto,

In 1999, Ms. Katz and Mr. Komp came to our front door to speak to us about them wanting to build a school behind the property of our residence, located at XXXXX Sylvester Street.  We distinctly remember that they both said that the parcel of land directly behind our back yard would be the parking lot for the school, and that the only noise we would be hearing are the vehicles dropping off or picking up children.  So in good faith we signed the petition that they had with them.  If we had known that the parking lot was actually going to be used as a playground, which is its current use now, we would never have signed the petition.  We are disappointed that we have been lied to and that high-ranking officials from The Help Group betrayed our trust.

Since your administration installed the playground we have only had trouble:  never ending fire alarms that lasted for months, highly annoying noise on a daily basis, and even food being thrown over the fence and into our back yard.  It got so bad that last year before summer we had to call the police to intervene on our behalf because your administration refused to control the children who were throwing food into our back yard—which even included a full can of tuna!  Our young daughter plays in the back yard and I’m very concerned that one day she’ll be injured from the flying debris deliberately tossed into our yard by your students.

The constant, loud and intrusive noise from the children, teachers, coaches and parents is very aggravating for our family.  The noise is so bad that we frequently get headaches.  It’s not like we can just close the windows and the noise will go away, because it’s so pervasive that it floods our entire apartment.  It’s a daily attack on our senses which would never have happened had Ms. Katz and Mr. Komp told us—and the other neighbors next to this playground—your real intentions prior to building it.

Mr. Soto, like other neighbors in this community, we have had enough of the noise of your playground, and the disrespect The Help Group administration has shown us and the rest of our community.  Until Larry Cook came along, we had no idea that The Help Group had been granted a conditional permit for your playground, which we understand can be legally revoked.  Therefore, we are writing this letter to support Mr. Cook’s attempts to get your administration to expedite an acceptable solution, such as the one he proposes.  However, if your administration refuses to do so, we will fully support Mr. Cook’s efforts to get the playground’s conditional permit permanently revoked.  We truly hope you’ll finally listen to your neighbors who are adversely affected on a daily basis by the Summit View School playground.

Sincerely,

Michael & Monica Torres

The zoning rule that is ignored by the City of L.A.

***

TO:  Culver City Mayor Albert Vera
FROM:  Larry Cook

Regarding: Noise from the Summit View School Playground

Mr. Vera,
This letter is a carbon copy to you, and is written to Councilmember Carol Gross.  I talked with Ms. Gross earlier today and shared with her the noise problem that my neighbors and I have been plagued with for the last 5 years.  Her response, in essence, was that she saw no need to address the noise problem since there were public hearings held 6 years ago prior to the opening of the school, and that children need a place to play. 

The Summit View School and The Help Group (parent company) have utterly ignored all complaints filed by myself and numerous other residents.

Unfortunately, I was under the impression that L.A. City had jurisdiction over this matter (through contacts/permits pulled by the L.A. City Planning office), and we discovered today that that’s not the case.  Hence, why I’m now contacting you and your city council.

My neighbors and I will create a petition to request that the Culver City administration take the time to investigate our complaint and help remedy this highly frustrating problem.

Enclosed is a letter which I have emailed to Ms. Gross, the rest of the Culver City Council, and the officials I’ve been talking with at L.A. City.

Thank you for your time,

Larry Cook

***

9/23/05 

Nancy Rosenfelt, Director
Summit View School (subsidiary of The Help Group)
12101 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066

Ms. Rosenfelt,

As you are aware, my neighbors and I are highly disturbed by the ongoing noise that originates from your playground.  Our combined complaints to you, Barbara Firestone and John Soto have been ignored.  Our complaints about the noise problem to the Culver City Council, the L.A. Zoning Administrator and L.A. City Council members have also been unsuccessful. 

Since school has again begun, we’ve been assaulted by the noise of screaming children, and in particular, a very vocal coach who yells at the top of his lungs throughout the day.  His incessant yelling throughout the day is far above and beyond the noise generated by the children.  And, when he does yell, it seems to inflate the screams and yells of the children he’s coaching.  Therefore, I'm asking you to have his annoying yelling stopped, immediately.

I have talked with both the Culver City Police Department, and the Los Angeles City Police Department, and I have been informed that the coach, and you, can be cited for a violation of California penal code 415 (disturbing the peace), a misdemeanor.

Considering the utter disregard to our complaints that you and your administration has shown my neighbors and I, I originally planned to have the officers issue you and the coach a misdemeanor citation to force the issue in court.  However, the officers suggested I first request that you advise the coach that he is disturbing the peace, and that I will have the officers issue you and him a citation if he does not cease his practice of yelling.

Considering the amount of effort that I’ve invested in this issue which you have already seen, it should be obvious that I’m not bluffing.  This is your warning that I will have a misdemeanor citation issued to you and your coach for disturbing my peace (and the peace of this community).

Supporters of this endeavor include the following neighborhood residents:

Karl Sedlmeir            _____________________                       

Renate Sedlmeir            _____________________                       

Marilyn Frazier            _____________________                       

Lily Duran            _____________________                       

Michael Torres            _____________________                       

Monica Torres            _____________________                       

Thank you for treating this request with dispatch,

Larry Cook

CC:

All residents listed. 

Barbara Firestone, CEO
The Help Group
13130 Burbank Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91401

John Soto, Director of Special Projects
The Help Group
13130 Burbank Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91401

***

3/17/05

John Soto
Director of Special Projects, 818-779-5212
The Help Group
13130 Burbank Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91401

Excessive, daily, highly disruptive noise from the Summit View School playground

Dear Mr. Soto,
On March 3rd 2005 I called the main office of The Help Group and requested to speak with Barbara Firestone, CEO of your organization, regarding the highly disruptive noise that emanates from the Summit View School playground, located in the back of the school. I was informed that you are the correct person to talk with regarding this matter, and was transferred to you.  You and I talked, and I shared with you that the daily noise generated from the playground is highly disruptive to my neighbors, my roommate and myself, and asked that you take corrective measures.  I suggested you look into removing the basketball court and make that a no-play zone, and consider installing sound-proof windows throughout our tri-plex.  You said you’d have your facilities personnel look into the matter, that you’ll be gone the week of March 7th and that you would get back to me on Monday March 14th

You informed me today that you have talked with Barbara Firestone and another administrative official, and that The Help Group has decided not to take any action whatsoever on my complaint.  You stated that The Help Group had fulfilled all of its requirements to secure a permit for the playground, that The Help Group spent thousands of dollars to ensure that the playground conformed to city zoning standards regarding noise levels, and therefore my best option is to talk with my apartment manager regarding the problem. 

Mr. Soto, I’m writing this letter to you, and including additional documents for your review, because I am appalled that my noise complaints—and the noise complaints of many people before me—have fallen on deaf ears. My neighbors and I are being treated with arrogance and disrespect by your organization. I’m very disappointed that Barbara Firestone, CEO of The Help Group, has decided that The Help Group can ignore it’s neighbor’s concerns and act with apparent impunity to noise ordinance laws in this neighborhood because of a zoning permit that gives your organization a supposed carte blanche approval to be as loud as it desires.  Well, my neighbors and I have had enough of the noise, and of your administration’s indifferent attitude.

Therefore, I hope that this package serves to initiate an immediate, acceptable and permanent solution to the playground noise pollution that this community has been plagued with since the arrival of your school in our neighborhood.

Background
My girlfriend Marilyn, and I, moved into XXXXX Sylvester Street on June 1st, 2004.  Prior to moving into the upper triplex unit, we were informed that there is a school playground behind our residence, but we had no idea what that would ultimately mean.  Unfortunately, as it turns out, it has meant that we have been subjected to very loud, annoying and excessive noise on a daily basis, from 8:15 am until 5 pm or later during the weekdays, and often on Saturdays. This noise emanates from the playground of the Summit View School, located at 12101 West Washington Boulevard. 

The daily barrage of noise consists of basketballs being bounced on pavement, children playing, frequent shrill screams and yells from children, teachers yelling, coaches yelling instructions to students, parents yelling during basketball games and other activities, students swearing, parties with loud music in the evenings (infrequent), whistles blowing during games or training sessions, school horns buzzing during games, and other odd, loud, boisterous and unusual noises and shrills made by neurologically challenged children.

My apartment is adjacent to the basketball court, perhaps 50 to 75 feet away.  The noise from the playground wakes me up most mornings and disturbs my peace throughout the day, and into the evening.  My office faces the basketball court, making it difficult to concentrate on my business activities, even with the windows closed. There have been times when the noise is so loud that I cannot focus on my work even when the window is closed and I have music playing. The playground noise can be heard throughout our entire apartment, even with all the windows closed.  The daily barrage of this all-pervasive, highly irritating noise causes frequent discomfort for my girlfriend, myself and others in our neighborhood.

Two weeks ago I met with Nancy Rosenfelt, Director of the Summit View School, and though she emoted understanding to my plight, she effectively stated that your organization has been granted a zoning permit that allows a playground on the parking lot, that it would cost too much money to rearrange the playground to reduce the noise level, and that my best option would be to move out of this neighborhood.

Although I tried numerous methods to get cooperation from Ms. Rosenfelt to reduce the noise level, her primary response was that she would provide me with documentation that your school has been zoned to allow a playground where there was once a parking lot (which she never did).  In effect, she stated she had no reason to reduce the noise level generated by the students because the former parking lot has been rezoned to be a playground (e.g. she’s not legally required to do so).  You basically said the same thing to me today.

Enclosed please find a letter written by the former tenant of this unit, Mr. Andayna, who ultimately had to move due to the excessive, disruptive noise produced by the playfield. I would like to point out that he had lived in this tri-plex for nine years and was fond of the area, until your administration converted the parking lot into a noisy playground.  Mr. Andaya relates that he and the landlord, Renate, spoke with Dr. Penelope Katz and Thomas Komp, Senior Vice President, prior to the conversion of the parking lot into a playground.  Mr. Andayna states:

“Thomas Komp assured us that the parking lot at the back of the property was to be used to park buses and that an occasional cab would park there for those students not on the bus route.  The only noise would be the buses coming in the morning and parking. … He promised that the playground was to be on the extreme other side of the property and that I could [be] rest assured that there would never be a problem with noise from the playground or any extra-curricular activities. We are all very aware that we were lied to…” 

I have also enclosed letters from my landlords and my neighbors, all of whom have stated that Ms. Katz and Mr. Comp also told them that the parking lot would not be used as a playground.  Either Ms. Katz and Mr. Komp were unaware that the parking lot would be converted into a playground, or they lied about its use.  If they were unaware, then they should not have been representing your administration in these matters, as clearly this appears to be a classic “bait and switch” situation—bait the neighbors to agree to the school, switch to the real intent once the neighbors have been pacified not to object. 

Ms. Rosenfelt told me that there had been community meetings, and at these community meetings it was clearly stated that the parking lot would be multi-use: both a parking lot and a playground.  I’d like to point out that there is a significant discrepancy between what Ms. Rosenfelt has shared with me, and what the neighbors of this community have shared with me.

Although it is no longer possible to appeal the decision that led to converting the parking lot into a playground, I would like to point out to you that the City of Los Angeles Zoning Commission provided your organization with a conditional permit for the playground, not an unconditional permit. Los Angeles Municipal Code 12.24-Z and AA clearly gives the Chief Zoning Administrator the authority to modify or revoke your conditional permit, as outlined in the ordinance (abbreviated here):

12.24-Z. Revocation. (Amended by Ord. No. 173,492, Eff. 10/10/00.) If the conditions of any conditional use or other similar quasi-judicial approvals granted pursuant to this section have not been complied with, the Director, or the City Planning Commission if the approval or conditional use was granted by the City Planning Commission, upon knowledge of the fact of non-compliance, may give notice to the record owner or lessee of the real property affected to appear at a time and place fixed by the City Planning Commission or Director and show cause why the decision granting the approval or conditional use should not be repealed or rescinded, as the case may be.  … After the hearing, the City Planning Commission or the Director may revoke the conditional use or other similar quasi-judicial approval.  … [and]

AA. Additional Revocation Authority.  The Director may require the modification, discontinuance, or revocation of any conditional use or other similar quasi-judicial approval granted in accordance with the procedure in this section in the manner prescribed in Section 12.27.1.  In the event of a revocation, the property affected by the revocation shall be subject to all the regulations of the zone in which the property is located, as provided in this article.

Robert Janovici, Chief Zoning Administrator who granted the conditional permit to convert the parking lot into a playground, clearly outlined this law on your conditional permit (page 1 of your permit # ZA 19580, #3):

 “The authorized use shall be conducted at all times with due regard for the character of the surrounding district, and the right is reserved to the Zoning Administrator to impose additional corrective conditions, if, in the Administrator’s opinion, such conditions are proven necessary for the protection of persons in the neighborhood or occupants of adjacent property.” (italics mine)

Mr. Soto, I can assure you that the playground noise that assaults this neighborhood on a daily basis is quite the opposite of the character of this neighborhood.  If anything, the noise pollution from the playground is diametrically opposite to the peacefulness that living on a dead end street would normally afford residents.

Considering the numerous complaints lodged against your organization that I have been made aware of and the lack of any corrective actions on the part of your organization, if your administration does not satisfactorily rectify this noise problem, our neighborhood will take our grievances directly to the Chief Zoning Administrator and vehemently request that your conditional zoning permit for the playground be permanently revoked.

Mr. Soto, I hope that this letter will be THE letter that sparks you and the Help Group Administration to correct this highly annoying noise nuisance that has plagued this neighborhood for years.  If not, then my neighbors and I will:

Take our grievances directly to the Chief Zoning Administrator.  We will use letters and videotaped statements by every member of this community adversely affected by the playground noise to prove that your playground does NOT belong in this neighborhood, and

Insist that the City of Los Angeles (and Culver City) enforce the noise ordinance:

SEC. 116.01. Loud, Unnecessary and Unusual Noise.

Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter and in addition thereto, it shall be unlawful for any person to willfully make or continue, or cause to be made or continued, any loud, unnecessary, and unusual noise which disturbs the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or which causes discomfort or annoyance to any reasonable person of normal sensitiveness residing in the area. (italics mine)

Recommendations
There be no activity whatsoever, except loading and unloading or parking of vehicles, where the basketball court currently resides (from “hoop to hoop” and from “fence to building”), beginning March 28th, 2005,

Except for unloading or loading of vehicles, there be no activity whatsoever on any of the playground after 4 pm,

There be no activity whatsoever on any of the playground on Weekends,

The Help Group pays for installation of double paned “sound proof” windows throughout this tri-plex, preferably windows made of two different thicknesses, which reduces noise levels up to 37% (available from Window Master and which can be installed by Home Depot personal),

That the children may play south of the furthest basketball hoop, by an additional 50 feet, to the school building and everywhere in-between, up to that “east-west” line.

Conclusion
Lest you think I and the rest of the neighbors may be complaining over “a little noise,” I have prepared a videotape for you so you can hear with your own ears what I and my neighbors are subjected to every single day in our residence. Considering we must listen to the noise on a daily basis, I hope you’ll listen to the entire 8-minute videotape to hear a variety of the various annoying noises this community is assaulted with every day of the week.

Of course, the greatest irony of all is that my neighbors and I live on a dead-end street, which ordinarily would mean peace and quiet.  Unfortunately, that ideal was utterly shattered with the arrival of your playground and the continued neglect by your administration to implement corrective action. 

Mr. Soto, I hope you and your administration will take this letter seriously and move quickly to remedy the negative impact the school playground has caused our neighborhood.  It would be in the best interest of everyone involved if this matter is resolved quickly, efficiently and honorably, so as to repair the ill will towards your administration that your playground has generated within this community.

**********

Summit View Playground Noise & Planned Construction

4/6/08

TO: Sylvester Street Residents
FROM:  Larry Cook

Dear Resident,
I’ve lived at XXXXX Sylvester Street for nearly four years, and for that time during the each school year you might say that I’ve been at “ground zero” for the Summit View School Village Glen School playground noise behind this triplex.  Although it’s likely I get the maximum amount of noise compared to any other resident, I have talked with many residents and have found that they too are disturbed by the playground noise.  Therefore, I’d like to let you know that—if we band together—there’s a possibility that the Culver City Zoning Department may force the school to mitigate the playground noise as a requirement to (proposed) construction.

Specifically, I talked with Nancy Tahvilli of the Culver City Planning Department who is in charge of the proposed expansion of the Summit View School (see attached notice) and she has informed me that if she receives enough complaints that there is a possibility that the zoning commission may require additional mitigation steps to be performed to reduce the playground noise in order for the school to be permitted for expansion.

One solution I proposed was the construction of a sound wall that’s high enough to actually reduce the noise from the playground.  I have reviewed much of the construction permit and Culver City Planning Commission’s findings regarding the original construction and discovered that the school was required to build an 8 foot high wall (which they did) for the purposes of noise control; however, it appears that consultants were never hired who would have determined that an 8 foot wall would have little to no effect on screaming kids.  Nancy has informed me that it is within their authority to issue a waiver for the construction of a higher wall (8 feet is max in Culver City).  Although this is my suggestion, it does not mean it is the only solution to the Summit View School Village Glen School playground noise.

In any event, Nancy has made it clear that in order for the Culver City Planning Department to act on the behalf of the Sylvester Street neighborhood, a high percentage of the residents must write to her and explain to her how the Summit View School Village Glen School playground noise is a nuisance to the resident.  In other words, we ALL have to get involved if we would like to see a mandated reduction in playground noise.

To that end, please take some time and write Nancy a letter to explain:  what the noise is (kids screaming, coaches yelling, whistles blowing, etc.), how it bothers you (no peace in your home, can’t be in your back yard, watching TV is difficult, etc.) and what you’d like to see done about it (a reduction in noise, possibly with a sound barrier, etc.), or you will completely oppose any and all additional construction at the school (as per the notice).  Please be as specific and detailed as possible.  And, if you have more than one resident in the home, please have each resident write their own letter for maximum impact. 

One to two hours of your time could change the living environment of our entire neighborhood for years to come—we could have some peace during school hours!  Please mail your comments by 4/12/08.  Feel free to email me if you have any questions. 

Thank you,

Larry Cook

********** 

Summit View School Playground Noise & Proposed Construction

4/6/08

Nancy Tahvili
Culver City Planning Division
PO Box 507
Culver City, CA  90232-0507
310-253-5751
nancy.tahvili@culvercity.org

Dear Nancy,
You and I talked on the phone a few times regarding the The Help Group’s Summit View School & Village Glen School playground noise that disturbs the peace of our neighborhood.  As per our conversation, please consider my complaints and the complaints of my neighbors regarding the playground noise prior to approving (or not) any additional construction at 12099 Washington Boulevard (original notice enclosed).

As I explained on the phone, three years ago I attempted to get the Los Angeles zoning commission to mitigate the noise from the playground, but in the end—after months of work, research, letters and submissions—the L.A. zoning department said it was a Culver City issue.  I just didn’t have the energy to start up another plan at that time.  Hopefully this time around with your department my community and I will meet with more success.

Nothing at all has changed regarding the playground noise from the time I complained 3 years ago, and now.  To that end, instead of rewriting everything I wrote back then, I’m going to simply attach it here for your review.  In addition, I’m supplying you with several more letters written by residents at that time to give you an overview of just how problematic the playground is, how everyone was lied to by The Help Group Administration, and how no city official has ever intervened upon our behalf.

Today I informed the Sylvester Street community that you are accepting written comments and complaints regarding the playground noise and the proposed expansion at 12099 Washington Boulevard.  I have asked everyone to submit complaints to you in writing by 4/12/08.

I would like to point out that in reviewing the Culver City Planning Department’s original findings, that it was mandated that the playground noise be mitigated for the neighbors.  Specifically:

“The proposed use will not adversely affect nearby properties because all school activities will be located within the site and the project has been designed and conditioned to be compatible with the adjacent commercial buildings and provide attenuation to potential noise impacts.”

(Agenda Item 4, Staff Report, Oct. 13, 1999, General Map Plan, page 18)

And also:

“Staff is suggesting as a condition of approval that the wall separating the easterly play area and parking from the residential units be increased in height to 8 feet and augmented with sound attenuating materials unless a noise study indicates that the noise generated from the parking play area does not exceed levels acceptable in a commercial zone adjacent to a residential zone.” (italics mine)

(Ibid., page 14-15)

Clearly the Culver City Zoning Commission (originally) intended for the neighbors not to be severely disturbed by the playground noise, but did not have a realistic understanding of how screaming kids, yelling coaches, blowing whistles, cheering parents and other playground noise easily travels 20 feet to an eight foot wall and then right over and into the rest of the Sylvester street neighborhood.  I doubt a noise study was ever commissioned.

After the school opened, numerous residents had brought these noise issues to the attention of The Help Group (see enclosed letters), but to no avail.  The Summit View School & Village Glen School officials used a bait and switch method of getting the support of residents (see attached letters) to acquire their zoning permit, but once they had it, they’ve ignored us all.

As I mentioned on the phone, I believe that the only two options available are either:

Build an appropriate sound barrier wall (probably 20 feet high or so), or

Stop the parking lot from being a playground.

I can only suspect that it would be somewhat difficult for you to truly understand what it’s like to have a playground of 30 plus kids screaming in your back yard all day long, so I’ve enclosed a short 4 minute video for you to listen to.  Since my neighbors and I have to listen to the noise all day long, I hope you’ll turn up the volume and listen to it for the few minutes it runs—that’s our life during the daytime.

To close, let me state for the record that I adamantly oppose any and all construction, increase in staff, increase in students or increase in faculty at the Summit View School unless and until the playground noise is satisfactorily resolved for my neighbors and I.

I hope you and your staff will review all of our complaints with an open mind and with empathy and help craft a solution that works for this neighborhood, because when school is not in session, it’s extremely peaceful since we live on a dead end street.

Thank you for your time, 

Larry Cook

**********

6/16/08 

Hello Councilmember Mr. O'Leary,
I'm a resident of Los Angeles, but my property (and that of a couple dozen other neighbors) is right next to the Summit View School Playground (12101 West Washington Boulevard) and egress (for exiting traffic). 

In 1999 when The Help Group canvassed our neighborhood, residents were verbally told by high ranking officials that the parking lot behind our properties would not become a playground.  However, the school did convert the parking lot into a playground, and because both the City of Los Angeles Zoning Department and the Culver City Zoning Department issued a permit for the parking lot to become a playground, we have had an ***extreme noise problem*** ever since.

Complaints to The Help Group and to the Summit View School by numerous L.A. residents on Sylvester Street have been 100% dismissed by school officials because they have their zoning permits. 

We have also complained to a variety of city officials both in L.A. and Culver City (mostly in 2005 and prior), but to no avail.

The Help Group is now planning on an expansion of their school, which includes construction of more classrooms, and an addition of 250 students.  I, and other residents, have been in contact with Nancy Tahvili, Assistant Planner, Culver City Planning Division (310-253-5751), but so far, the only response I've had from her regarding any modifications to the zoning permit is a suggestion that students be staggered throughout the day--as if more constant extreme noise will make us happy.

Two days ago, over a dozen neighbors and myself met personally with our L.A. council member Bill Rosendahl's representatives (Field Deputy Len Nguyen and Constituent Advocate Jim Horwitz) and we have asked for their involvement in this issue, and it is likely that at least one of them will attend the public hearing, which is scheduled for July 9th at City Hall Mike Balkman Council Chambers at 7 pm.

I would hope that you and the rest of the Culver City Council Members attend this meeting as well because you will witness first hand how ***irate*** we are on Sylvester Street that this school has been able to significantly compromise our living conditions and that there are now plans to amplify the problems for us even more, without any meaningful mitigation plans on the part of the school or Culver City.

I would love an opportunity to discuss this further with you on the phone as the issue is not only complex, but it cannot be fully explained in such a short email.  I have literally over a dozen letters from various residents that have been written to various city officials and The Help Group about this issue, and I'd be happy to share them with you and the rest of your council.

Thank you for your involvement.

Larry Cook

**********

Tired of the noise pollution from the Summit View School’s use of 3 buildings and playground? Well, it’s about to get MUCH WORSE, unless you help!

From: Rick & Catherine, XXXXX Sylvester Street
To: All Sylvester Street Neighbors

Rick and I reviewed the file for the Conditional Use Permit Modification research and analysis done in preparation for the July 9th meeting.  We have read and made notes on the recommendations so that we can address our concerns at the meeting. We recommend that you do the same to truly understand the scope of what The Help Group (Summit View School & Village Glen School) is planning to do and how it will affect our living conditions here on Sylvester Street.  If we are all familiar with the changes in the school’s use—including the addition of 250 students (!) and construction of additional classrooms (!) and probable student overflow parking onto our street (!)—we can be united in our voice to denounce these intrusions upon our right to peaceful living on Sylvester Street, and hopefully change their course of action before it’s too late.  Consider yourself warned!!!   

We have an opportunity to express our specific concerns to the Culver City Planning Commission on July 9th at 7 p.m.  Please attend this hearing and voice your concerns to the planning commission—or, if you can’t attend this important meeting—please advise Rick or myself (Catherine) and we will arrange to submit your written comments during the meeting (attending is WAY better though).

This will be a NOISY REALITY for all of us if we do not attend this hearing and demand that they either stop the plans, or build a proper noise wall, or create another solution that Sylvester Street residents are happy with.  We have ONE (and only one) opportunity to let our voices be heard—and this meeting is it.  So if you want to make a difference and do your part to change the course of the plans now authorized, please review the documents at City Hall prior to the meeting and then attend the July 9th meeting—otherwise, plan on more noise and aggravation for the Sylvester Street neighborhood.

Culver City Planning Division
2nd floor at 9770 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, California  900232
Open every other Friday
Closed for staff meetings on Tuesday mornings
Open M-W-TH 7:30 A.M. until 5:30 P.M.
Parking is free under the building.

If you have specific questions after reviewing the plans, please talk with Nancy Tahvili, Culver City Assistant Planner, at (310) 253-571. Rick and I feel it could be a good strategy to have one person per triplex represent the concerns of that triplex.  He/she could be the primary speaker at the hearing so each triplex’s concerns are heard.  This individual could also collect and deliver comments on behalf of their triplex.  Please consider this if you cannot attend or you feel someone in your triplex can deliver a synopsis of your triplex’s concerns quickly during our allotted 3-minute presentations at the hearing.

Larry at XXXXX is planning to videotape the meeting so that there is a record of our concerns that could be used later if our concerns are brushed aside.

Please return this page to us with your comments so we can get an idea of how many people will attend the hearing. You are welcome to email your responses to Rick and Catharine Hedger; or drop them at XXXX Sylvester.

Thank you.

Rick and Catherine

Your Comments and Suggestions

Building address ____________________________

Name _____________________________________

My biggest concern with the addition of 2000 square feet to the school (250 kids and families) increased noise pollution / traffic in my life is:

Please check what you want to do:

_______I/We plan to attend and use my voice.

_______I/We plan to attend and give my some minutes to another to speak on my behalf.

_______I/We will write our concerns and have it delivered to the committee.

Please respond by June 28th to give us time before July 4th to prepare our position.
We hope that this effort with allow everyone’s voice to be heard on this issue!

**********

To: The Culver City Attorney’s Office
Leaf Blower at Summit View/Village Glenn School

3/9/11

Frequent Leaf Blower Use (Primary Noise Complaint)
In recent months the school behind our property - Summit View School & Village Glen School (owned by The Help Group) has increased their use of a leaf blower to a near daily frequency, which usually starts around 9 AM and lasts at least 1⁄2 hour and up to an hour.  As I am sure you are well aware, leaf blowers are extremely noisy, and have even been banned in some cities. 

This nearly daily use of a leaf blower is particularly disrupting and disturbing to me, and to other residents on my street as well. A few weeks back I talked with Tom Komp, VP at The Help Group about the leaf blowers running at least three times a week and he said he would “look into it.”  He never got back to me.  However, the very next week the leaf blower was out every single day of the week!

The Summit View/Village Glenn School is a private business that uses a very noisy device that creates a public nuisance for my neighbors and I. I hope you will do something about this annoyance.

Screaming Coaches and Children (secondary noise complaint)
I would like to point out that their playground is literally on the other side of our backyard (and the backyard of multiple properties) and that we are all assaulted on a daily basis with high levels of screaming—both from coaches and from children. I am not referring to typical child play that you might find at a park.  I am specifically referring to their organized sports where coaches yell at the top of their lungs, and the 20 to 40 children on the playground do so as well.  If any other business were putting out such high decibel noise they would be ticketed.  If my neighbors were doing this on a regular basis, they would be ticketed. Our peace is shattered every day, and yet we are told that because they are kids, nothing can be done. I don’t agree.  I think that the organized sports can be moved elsewhere so that the coach yelling and children yelling can be minimized.  I would very much appreciate it if you could investigate this specific noise complaint as well (coaches yelling/children yelling) — I’m not talking about “playing;” I’m talking about “yelling.”

Survey Form Addresses

I understand you’ll be mailing out a survey form.  For Los Angeles, please mail them to these triplex addresses (which are near the playground).

Additionally, there is an apartment complex on GrandView Blvd. which is affected by the noise (see map).  Please mail them a survey as well.

Thank you very much!

Larry Cook

********** 

Well, if you actually read all the way to here, I’m a bit surprised! There are plenty more emails and letters written by others which I don’t have on this web page.  But, I think you get the idea.  It’s a problem that will not go away, and even if they build a wall 6 feet higher, which would help some, it is not enough to truly help, especially once they add another 250 kids! I’ll be posting videos and photos to show just how disruptive The Help Group’s Summit View School & Village Glen School is to the neighborhood.

Larry