WILMONT — Imagine a Santa Monica park that would offer views of the Hollywood Sign, Getty Center, Downtown L.A., and the bay.
At tonight’s Recreation and Parks meeting one commissioner is proposing that City Hall open up the fenced-off Mt. Olivet Reservoir to the public.
“We’ve looked at it off and on for years,” Commissioner Phil Brock said. “There was some concern because, of course, the reservoir does sit underneath that. There might be a homeland security problem but the security right now is literally just supplied by a Santa Monica fence, basic chain-link. There’s no cameras. There’s no other security.”
Beneath the greenspace, the reservoir holds 5 million gallons of water. City Hall bought the space and built the reservoir in 1924.
Regardless of the fence, people are already drawn to the area, which is controlled by the Public Works Department, for the “spectacular views,” Brock said.
“Kids and teens have climbed over those fences for years,” he said.
In his 20s, Brock once hopped the fence with a date to “watch the sunset.”
The greenspace is divided into two portions by Franklin Street.
Brock believes, after meeting with Public Works officials, that City Hall could open about 60 percent of the east side and 40 percent of the west side. The northeast portion would have to remain closed, he said, because the city equipment and the reservoir doors are located there. The southeast portion could be opened, he said, and the west side views could be enhanced by a 1-foot-high platform.
Public Works Director Martin Pastucha said he would wait to hear Brock’s plans before commenting on the feasibility.
“We have concerns and we have no idea what he’s proposing yet,” Pastucha said. “Obviously, it’s a water facility site. Security issues will be a primary concern for us. And I’m sure there will be some neighborhood concerns as well.”
Out at the reservoir, even on a cloudy day, a group of men who were installing carpet in the neighborhood stopped to eat lunch at the edge of the fence. Downtown Los Angeles was visible in the distance. A woman jogged up an down the block, occasionally glancing at the views.
Rita O’Connor, who’s lived on Franklin Street just a few houses down from the reservoir for 18 years, said that she opposes opening it up.
“There’s no parking and there’s no bathrooms,” she said. “This is a residential neighborhood and you’re going to have all these people coming in but you don’t have any of the facilities you need. And why would the city spend all of that money just to bring the facilities to that little area?”
Brock envisions a “passive, serene vista park” opened from sunrise to sunset with a few chairs and perhaps a small raised platform on the west side.
“The views are somewhat obstructed because there’s houses and trees and bushes but we’ve been seeking more open greenspace in the city,” Brock said. “This makes sense because there are very few parks on this side of town.”
The area would not become a hangout for the homeless, he said, because of its location in the middle of a residential neighborhood.
Robert Curran, who also lives just down the street, supports the reservoir being opened up.
“People are already driving out here and parking to eat lunch,” he said. “If it’s a public space, I have no problem with it.”