Vigilance at Silver Lake

In "Around the Foothills" (Nov. 3), Doug Smith begins "Just the rumor that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was drawing up a plan to cover the Silver Lake Reservoir brought 300 people out for a fight last week."

As one who was there, I was rather bemused by the account, which implied we were mollified out of our "pugnaciousness" by Ronald McCoy, assistant chief engineer of the water division.

Silver Lake residents may or may not be "pugnacious" but we certainly are vigilant. We have had to be as we have learned that "the price of beauty is eternal vigilance" in coping with civil servants. In my 26 years here, not only have we taken on DWP to save the lake in 1973, as mentioned in the article, we also were successful in a confrontation with the school district, which finally agreed to restore beautiful Marshall High School, rather than tear it down and replace it with a warehouse-like building. We also have won battles for low-density developments rather than high- density complexes.

What prompts Silver Lake residents to have this eternal vigilance about Silver Lake? It is an incredible neighborhood with relatively low turnover, only 3 1/2 miles from downtown by surface streets. It is a place where neighbors stop to talk in impromptu meetings at street corners and a place where joggers, bicyclists and people walking dogs say "hello" even though you don't know each others' names, just their faces.

There is a quiet force that unifies the neighborhood, which is, of course, the lake. It is an oasis which combines physical beauty with an emotional beauty in the way we accept each other, regardless of our status in life, what we believe or our racial or ethnic roots.

This is not just the fight of the Silver Lake residents. It is in the interests of all of Los Angeles' residents to preserve the Silver Lake Reservoir, which is the centering factor in a neighborhood hopefully to be emulated by the rest of Los Angeles in the 21st Century.


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