April 19, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Brentwood Beat: Fly Catching

Last month I wrote a column in which I asked why people get so upset about Archer School’s expansion plans, but so few seem to care that Brentwood School is now proposing a major expansion in the very same neighborhood.

One e-mailer, Robert Jacobs, said it’s all about scapegoating. Another, from long-time community activist Evelyn Stern, said my methodology in making the comparisons was faulty. That led to an interesting exchange of emails between us. The emails felt chilly at first, but I think we ended on an “up” note.

Evelyn pointed out that Brentwood School and its neighbors have had a close working relationship for decades. If there’s a problem, they sit down and work it out. There are no protests, lawsuits, PR battles and the like. They just talk it through till everyone is reasonably happy. Evelyn argued that the process can be as important as the actual result.

I found this rather enlightening, actually. Maybe this really does explain the difference in attitude toward Archer vs. Brentwood School.

Over the years there have been plenty of disputes in Brentwood. They do have a tendency to become loud, angry and drawn out. Once the lawyers and PR people take over, it’s all about scoring points at the other side’s expense. It has always seemed to me most of these divisive issues could be figured out in a few hours with the right five people in the room.

It sounds like this is what Brentwood School and its neighbors do – they get the right five people in the room.  So this deserves some applause and attention from the rest of the community. Maybe we can all learn a thing or two and be more mindful of how to go about achieving consensus in the future as new issues arise. I hope to talk to the folks at Brentwood School and the school’s immediate neighbors to see how they did it.

So if you are thinking of proposing something that might impact traffic – and if you are the kind of person who might object to such an idea – let’s try something a little different next time. Let’s all agree to give all parties involved 30 days to work something out.  No lawyers, no PR people, no yelling, no threats, no promises of grandeur. Let’s just get the right five people in the room and give them some time to work things out – quietly.

As my friends back in Missouri like to say, “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” So here’s to more honey – and less vinegar. If for some reason the positive approach doesn’t work, people can always fall back to their default positions.

Quiet work behind the scenes can pay off.  Dodi Fromson, wife of noted journalist Murray Fromson, called one day to ask if I knew anyone who could get a bus bench installed in front of Chase Bank on 26th Street, about half a block south of San Vicente.

She had been trying for some time to get this accomplished. Murray takes the bus from that location and for the longest time, there was nowhere to sit. I told Dodi I knew Richard Bloom, former Mayor of Santa Monica (the west side of 26th Street is Santa Monica, not Brentwood).  Richard is now our representative in Sacramento.

Richard forwarded Dodi’s request to the people in Santa Monica. It took a while, but next time you drive by, look for the little blue chair that was just installed in front of Chase Bank. The transportation officials in Santa Monica couldn’t have been more helpful.

Dodi was very determined to make this happen. So there you go – a victory for the people – all accomplished with a drop or two of honey. Special thanks to Richard Bloom and Santa Monica’s transportation team.

When it comes to taking a positive approach to things, there’s one citizen in particular who represents all that’s good about Brentwood. That’s Tom Safran, the “patron saint” of Brentwood.  He pours all kinds of energy – and cash – into local good causes. He never seeks publicity for his good deeds – in fact, he avoids it – but his presence is felt daily.

You might not know this, but he helped pay for the big cylindrical trash receptacles along San Vicente. The city is supposed to empty them on a regular basis, but this is LA, and basic services fall behind sometimes. Tom pays to make up the difference, hiring people to empty the trash.  He has even been seen on San Vicente doing it himself!

Nancy Freedman is putting together a big dinner to honor Tom. It will be held the evening of Saturday, January 23 at the Luxe Hotel on Sunset.  Everyone who lives and works in Brentwood is invited. It’s a party to celebrate our 90049 community. Invites will come via email to pass around to others who may not have received one.

Remember the big “Brentwood Turns 100” dinner held at the same place back in 2006? It’s the same idea, only now it’s being called “Centennial Plus 10.” A group of noteworthy citizens is working behind the scenes to make this a great time for all who come.

Dress code is “business chic,” whatever that means. I think it means no black tie, but fancy enough.  I am interpreting this to mean coat and tie for guys (or suits); a dress or nice pantsuit for ladies.

We’ll learn more in the weeks ahead, I’m sure. The cost to attend is still being ironed out.  But set aside January 23 for a celebration of all that’s good about Brentwood.

Interested in getting on the list? Send an email to Info@brentwoodcommunitycouncil.org.

Event organizers are hoping to find a celebrity-type to act as emcee. Henry “The Fonz” Winkler performed in this role last time. If you know anyone who would be good in this role – maybe it’s you! – send me an email and I’ll pass it along to the right people: jeffhall@brentwoodnewsonline.com.

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