Popularity brings development and unease to a corner of Echo Park *

Rendering of Sunset Flats at Sunset Boulevard & Rosemont Avenue

Only a block away from the traffic, noise and trash at Sunset and Alvarado, the Echo Park residents northwest of the busy intersection  live in a relatively quiet  neighborhood filled with a mix of  century-old bungalows and apartments.  But some residents fear they will be paying the price – in the form of more traffic, noise and a shortage of off-street parking – from new developments on Sunset Boulevard, which  includes a 64-unit residential complex  and a 150-seat supper club. The developers of the housing project (pictured above) are scheduled to appear tonight before the planning committee of the Echo Park neighborhood council. “It is as if developers are proclaiming war on our normally relatively quiet street” said one resident via email.   “The biggest allure of our little pocket of Echo Park is that although it is so close to Sunset, it still has a quaint neighborhood feel.”

In addition, an affiliate of Angelus Temple, which owns the former Lyman Printing building at Alvarado and Elsinore streets, has notified residents it plans to demolish an adjacent bungalow it also owns but has not revealed what plans it has for the property.

The strip of Sunset Boulevard between Alvarado and Rosemont Avenue has in recent years attracted several new businesses, ranging from a wine bar to an American Apparel outlet, that have helped draw more foot traffic and attention to the western edge of Echo Park.  In addition to stores and restaurants, the animal rights group PETA, has announced it will relocate some of its corporate offices into a former mattress show room on Sunset. While many residents welcome the new shops and restaurants, others fear all that activity on Sunset will spill over into their quiet side streets.

In the case of the 64-unit housing complex, which would rise on the site of the former Echo Park Community Garden, the developer is proposing that all tenant vehicles would enter and exit the property via Elsinore north of Sunset Boulevard.  Meanwhile, the owner of El Camino, which recently began construction inside the former Studio One theater,  was able to take advantage of a state enterprise zone to provide a fraction of parking that the city normally requires. The restaurant owner has secured parking in other nearby locations, but nearby residents worry they will have to compete with restaurant and bar patrons for night time parking.  In addition, El Camino plans to knock out a portion of the roof , creating an outdoor dining space – and an opportunity for noise to be heard up the hill in nearby homes.

“The fact that they want to have live music acts is a whole other issue,” said one resident. “They say it will be acoustic, but we shall see how fast that changes once they begin.”

* Correction: A previous version of this story said the tenant garage for  the 64-unit housing complex would be accessible via Reservoir Street.  It’s actually Elsinore Street.


  1. 64 fucking units?!?! HELL NO!

  2. Call me Common Sense

    I trust that everyone involved in the decision-making recognizes that these developments promise to irreversibly change this calm and family-oriented area. I’m not opposed to these developments just to be contrarian; there is a lot to like about the way the neighborhood has changed in recent years. But, from the standpoint of a longtime resident at the intersection of Elsinore and Mohawk, I can say that a little common sense points to just how manic it is going to be when the traffic from these 64 residential units, along with the constant flow of street parking comings-and-goings from the club, turns these once quiet little streets into someone else’s playground.

    Visitors to the neighborhood, including employees of all the new local shops, already claim much of the street parking on these blocks. And making that left turn from Sunset to Mohawk is already a dicey proposition. These extant nuisances will get no better with these plans. How exactly do the developers claim that their traffic-management scheme is going to work? Reservoir Street runs two blocks away from this residential development. That just seems like a smokescreen for the reality, obvious to anyone familiar with the area, that it is going to be a total free-for-all out there.

    As a neighborhood, we really need to ponder our priorities and decide whether this plan is in our interests or merely in those of the developers. I submit that it is the former. I won’t be able to go to the planning committee meeting tonight (this is the first I’d heard of the Sunset development) but I hope someone will take the time to read out the above comments to the committee. Thanks.

  3. i’ve yet to see anything like this come to fruition. i wouldn’t worry about it.

  4. You can’t live within one block of Sunset and Alvarado and expect it to stay quiet and residential in the face of gentrification. Echo Park is gentrifying and getting denser. Where do you think that density will go- up in the hills? No, along the main arteries like Sunset and Alverado. You can’t be more in in the geographic center of Echo Park than this intersection.

  5. “Making that left turn from Sunset to Mohawk is already a dicey proposition. These extant nuisances will get no better with these plans. How exactly do the developers claim that their traffic-management scheme is going to work?”

    I agree with you on this point. But the solution isn’t to put a stop to new developments that will enrich the neighborhood (and its tax base). The solution is to demand street improvements. Measures like wider sidewalks, raised crosswalks, medians, and bulb outs would go a long way to prevent cars from zipping through at dangerous speeds, and would make the area safer for pedestrians (and that hairy turn you mentioned.) Echo Park is a community, not a freeway. Cars that are just cutting through to get Downtown or to Hollywood can take the 101.

  6. Actually, the driveway is planned for Elsinore. There is a lovely early 20th century home or 2 in the way however. The plan is to demo approx 6 houses from Sunset to Elsinore to provide the access for all of the residential units. By FAR averaging (Floor Area Ratio), they can increase the density by combining the C2 on Sunset with the Residential on Elsinore.

    Also they are taking advantage of the oft abused “density bonus” for providing affordable housing. They are i believe offering 10. They are in fact, demolishing last i looked, 12 rent controlled units in the houses to be demolished.

    So we get big, dense, overly tall construction with drastically increased traffic on ELsinore and Mohawk, and 2 less affordable units.

    Such a deal!

    Or, maybe they’ll just demo the houses, put up some rebar and timber like Chicken Corner and fold, leaving us another Wasteland?!

    So Echo Park. Where are the smart planners? Oh, right, South Pas.


  7. This development sounds like a bad idea. According to the Los Angeles Times neighborhoods project, Echo Park is already one of the densest areas in the city and the county. We don’t need more density, and as others have said, this part of Echo Park in particular doesn’t need more traffic, cars needing to park, and noise.

    Increased density is NOT inevitable, but rather is the result of hundreds of small planning decisions. As “Call me common sense says,” as residents, we need to consider what our priorities are, and not cave in to projects that only benefit developers. This is a nice, low-rise neighborhood. Let’s keep it that way.

    Can neighborhood residents speak at the planning meeting? Also, will there be other meetings regarding this proposed development?

  8. Batteries are charged & I have a 5 hour chip; ready to tape tonight’s meeting. Stakeholders, please attend tonight’s meeting & hope you can make Thursday’s budget meeting (never a dull moment, right cp007?)

    Cindy Ortiz

  9. Destroying homes like these is a crime?? Old homes built in the early 1900’s. Please come to the meeting tonight- 7pm and help stop the destruction of Echo Park charm.

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010 – 7:00 p.m.
    GEPENC Office and Community Center
    1572 Sunset Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90026
    (entrance off of Echo Park Avenue)

  10. Is that the correct address for the GEPENC office and community center? 1572 Sunset doesn’t appear to be next to Echo Park Ave…

  11. Never mind, my mistake. It’s 1572 WEST Sunset Blvd., next to Echo Park Ave.

  12. There was a great turnout of affected community stakeholders tonight. Hopefully they are heard, and their very real concerns are taken into consideration by the City Council. Density, without infrastructure is pointless. Where is the traffic study for this project? What idiot devised the scheme to ingress and egress all residential traffic onto tiny Elsinore Street?

    The original proposal for ONLY the Community Garden Space had all traffic on Sunset. This project is full of holes. Hello City planning? Oh, right, they are on furlough. enjoy the Game (s) Event (s) Antonio!


    Thank you Mohawk/Elsinore for coming out tonight.


  13. Hello Everyone,

    On behalf of the GEPENC Planning, Public Works, Parks and Land Use Committee Members, I would like to thank those who took the time to come out to our meeting last night and share your thoughts, concerns and ideas regarding the proposed development on Sunset/Elsinore.

    We really appreciate it when we hear from neighbors that are directly affected by developments because you know better than anyone else what impact it may have on you and your family’s quality of life.

    I would like to invite you to email me directly any comments/ideas/concerns about this project. You can send your email to jose_sigala@yahoo.com

    I also wanted to let you know that the committee last night voted to have our monthly meetings on the Second Wednesday of the month. Our next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 14th at 7 pm. This item will be on the agenda as a continuation item.

    Finally, we are looking for two members of the community to serve on our committee. For those who attended last night you had a brief opportunity to see how and what we do. The committee also deals with issues related to the city’s public works and parks.

    Please feel free to contact me at jose_sigala@yahoo.com or my cell 213-308-2826 if you are interested.


    Board President

  14. Where are all the “hipsters” and under 30 bearded folk who inhabit this neighborhood at these meetings?? Community Activism? Is it only for the “grown-ups” now? Very sad to see that the “types” of people who call Echo Park home are not choosing to get active in their community– even to save it. What is it going to take? Maybe when the developers from the Valley bulldoze enough gorgeous old houses and buildings, someone will start to notice and care. Hello. Wake up! The neighborhood is being destroyed by people who are coming here to knock down cool sh**t and build stucco’d monstrosities!

  15. good point, but I think all of the cool people who moved here will probably move on in the next year as Highland Park becomes the cool spot. they are already complaining about the bridge and tunnel crowd showing up at “their” bars.

  16. To all the neighbors of Echo Park. We as the developer are not asking for your support to build bigger and taller then by right. In fact by right we can build more units then we are proposing, this articles facts are not true. For the record we are building below the required hight, its the # of stories that we are asking for your support.

    For example if hight limit is 67′, but allowed 4 stories we are asking for 5 stories in the same 67′ restriction hight on Sunset. What does it matter as long as we are in the same hight restriction. The reason we are doing this, to keep the front of the building on Elsinore St to 2 stories when by right we can build 4 stories. To accommodate the hight of all the buildings on Elsinore, we then are shifting some units to Sunset side in-order to make all the neighbors happy. Again we can build BY RIGHT higher then we are on Elsinore.

    Regarding the existing units that will be demolished, they are NOT low income they are being rented at market rate. They have nothing to do with the proposed 10 low income units. Please do not get miss led by what we are asking here.

    Parking, We have allocated more parking then needed. So no one will need to park on the street. We are allocating more parking on Sunset as well for people to park when they go shopping.

    What is BY RIGHT means: A building can be build with in the jurisdiction of the law.

    In conclusion we have tried to be as diligent as possible to stay with the aesthetics and charm of Echo Park. If we didn’t care we would of built it BY RIGHT and it would of been even bigger then the proposed development. So we ask you to understand again on what we are proposing to build. If the proposed building will not be acceptable then we will build what is by RIGHT and then it will be bigger.

  17. So, Al, is your comment a call for community support? I ask, because my takeaway is that you are threatening that you’ll get your way, one way or another.
    Interesting tactic, if I am reading this right. Curious to hear how others interpret.

  18. @ Al. The public hearing will review a request to take advantage of incentives to build affordable housing, including a 35% increase in the floor-to-area ratio or F.A.R. (which is density) as well as the ability to build a five-story building instead of a four-story building.

  19. @ Al, Jay Vanos, etc, etc, etc: Do you plan to build, or sell with entitlements? I don’t believe that question was ever answered.

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