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Monday, October 5, 2009

A new school prepares to hop into Playboy's Glassell Park playground

The thought of Hugh Hefner arriving with Miss October for a Show-and-Tell session with a bunch of second graders might unsettle more than a few parents. That's why officials with the Los Feliz Charter School for the Arts were concerned when they discovered that the Glassell Park office complex they were considering for a new campus was also home to Playboy Enterprises. "Of course the red flags went up," said Kevin Mulcahy, an architect who is working with the charter school on their new home. That set off a closer look at the school site and Playboy's dumpsters.

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The charter school, now located in a temporary site in Hollywood, had looked at about a dozen locations for a permanent home before it settled on a large vacant building in a Glassell Park office complex near San Fernando Road and the 2 Freeway, Mulcahy told the Los Feliz Ledger. The 47,000-square-foot building needs some renovation, and the school still needs to obtain a special city permit to use the structure. Still, the building on Media Center Drive seemed ideal for the open classroom style the school favors, Mulcahy said. Then a quick review of the tenant roster turned up the name Playboy. The adult entertainment company has maintained offices here since 2002, when it began moving staff out of its pricey Beverly Hills offices into a low-cost office and industrial park located behind what is now Super King market.

Playboy does not produce any videos at the site and its offices are located in a separate building about 1,500 feet away from the structure that will contain the Los Feliz charter school. Still, the school was not taking any chances before it agreed to sign a lease. Mulcahy toured Playboys' offices to make sure no content was produced on the site and even inquired how magazines and other materials were disposed of (everything is shredded). "It's strictly [offices] and no content development," Mulcahy said of Playboy's offices.

Convinced that their kids and parents would be isolated from Playboy's activities, the school leaders went ahead and signed a lease. But the idea of a school located near Playboy still raises a few eyebrows. Even Councilman Ed Reyes, in a meeting with school officials, raised the subject, Mulcahy said. "People are aware of this." The architect said the school quickly contacted the Los Feliz Ledger when its story about the school's new home gave the wrong address on Media Center Drive to make sure no one confused it with Playboy's building. Despite Playboy's notoriety, the school is looking forward to the move.

"They are apparently good neighbors," Mulcahy said of Playboy, and their offices "are really nice."

13 comments:

  1. So the Los Feliz charter school is in Glassel Park?

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  2. My student attends Los Feliz Charter and I have to say the only thing that concerns me about this is the fact that I didn't know about it. The new site is fabulous.

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  3. There seems to be an under riding concern about charter schools and allowing them to open in any part of the city regardless of zoning laws. This area is a industrial/commercial zone. Not your typical school yard neighborhood setting. They seem to find any niche to get their school in regardless of safety and zoning. At least the schools at LAUSD can control the unwanted stranger at the school site. Wake up parents, would you want your children expose to industrial/chemical pollutants?

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  4. So is the name going to change to Glassell Park Charter or Los Feliz-adjacent Charter???

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  5. There is no plan to change the name. The school leadership has commisioned a study to make sure the kids are not exposed to an unsafe chemical environment. Although this is an industrial park, it is office space and not manufacturing.

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  6. It might be office space, but I wonder what the adjacent parcels are used for (if there are any). If there are, what happens in the future when a warehouse facility wants to lease space, if they will be deterred by possible friction from the school district or parents claiming their children should not be exposed to truck traffic and exhaust. Why let a school ruin perfectly useful industrial space?

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  7. When Playboy decided to move their offices there they did say, I recall, that no filming will take place there however, they do store their film there. Many of us were concerned then about what message that sends to our kids. Whose kids will attend this school?

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  8. LAUSD is building a high school less than a mile down the road from this site, and there is another private school across San Fernando. An elementary school is located very nearby as well. So, the person above who mentioned concerns about charter schools picking random industrial locations, this one doesn't seem to apply.

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  9. The other schools that are close by were chosen and built on specific sites for schools and built as functioning campuses. This is an office park. The school will be basically in a hangar. The playground will be under the 2 Freeway.
    Also, this school relies heavily on a lot of money donated by the parents. They also want to become a more diverse student body with getting Title I status for economically disadvantaged population. Wonder where the thousands of dollars per family donations will come from in the Glassell Park neighborhood.

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  10. adjacent parcels include a metal plating plant and coffee roasting facility, as well as other industrial sites. there is a school up the block at SF and the 2 ramp, but i find it hard to believe that between the massive traffic and the factory-like image (as well as the questionable air quality), this would be a good place for a school or kids playing outside. And the traffic on SF is already horrendous...

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  11. As a parent of two children enrolled in LFCSA (and very excited to move to this facility and the amazing educational opportunities this site and the school in general is affording my children), I give this sensational journalism (Playboy! Nudity! Wow!) and the superficial "what about the children!" knee-jerk reaction to a school set in something other than a rural green meadow or idyllic suburbia a big yawn. I could care less if Playboy was the school's next door neighbor or whether they generated magazine/video content inside. It seems very unlikely that naked people will be walking from the building to thier cars parked outside--or that filming will be taking place outside. Even though I've never seen Playboy's iconic rabbit logo on display during the several tours of the site, would that in and of itself cause the educational downfall of all of our children? I consider the dozens of billboards my children are subjected to depicing guns, sexual content, and other innumerable child-inappropriate content on the way TO school that I have no control over more of an affront. Maybe do a bit of research on the school's amazing arts-integrated project-based cirriculum (it's all there on the website if you're interested--see the many newsletters available online). "Children getting amazing education at local charter school"--now there's a novel AND positive headline that might garner some interest. Or maybe not.

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  12. Just as a side note, the Avenues Gang's territory starts literally across SF Blvd.

    I looked at the website and I guess the plan is to put 20+ classrooms into basically an echo chamber. Interesting to see if they can pull it off, and how much it will ultimately cost the parents.

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  13. Clearly, people who are concerned about this don't really understand what the offices of a smut-producer are like. I used to work for Larry Flynt and it was, by far, the most professional, rule-bound place I have ever worked. And I would guess that the Playboy enterprise is similar (and having taken a tour of their NYC offices, feel confident in saying so).
    All of the smut is very well contained. It's not like there are posters of naked women plastered on the doors. So, like the previous posters mentioned, the kids will get more visual smut from billboards, tv, etc etc

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