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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Developers losing their cool during heated neighborhood meetings

When pitching or defending their projects before skeptical and even hostile residents, most developers and their representatives usually bite their lips and remain polite even in the face of withering criticism. But a pair of  separate meetings last week in Echo Park and Montecito Heights show that some developers might no longer be willing to take it anymore. Casey Lynch, who is planning to build 18 homes near Preston and Baxter Avenues in Echo Park, expressed his frustration during a meeting last Wednesday night during which he complained about personal attacks. “If the community wants to be involved in dialogue with developers, then is an adult and productive way to go around it,” said Lynch.

Some of the residents present advised Casey to get a thicker skin.  “I sense that you are very hurt,” said Isa-Kae Meksin during the Wednesday night meeting. “You must learn to detach yourself and not take it personally.”

One night later in Montecito Heights, things got  testy at a meeting over  a proposed 36-home development on a Montecito Heights hilltop owned by the Church of the Foursquare Gospel.  During a meeting earlier this year, a consultant to the property owner, Vince Daly, pictured above, was visibly irritated during the lengthy meeting, with his face turning red as he engaged in heated exchanges with residents.  Last week’s meeting, which included Daly and church officials Greg Campbell, also had included some tense exchanges, according to an account in Patch. Campbell “snapped at a community member”  in response to specific demands:

However, despite Campbell’s stated willingness to explore all options, Thursday’s meeting turned testy when Highland Park resident Nicole Possert demanded that Campbell come to the table at June’s meeting with more detailed information about the property, and the possibility of preserving it as open space.  “We don’t need to be told what to do by you,” Campbell said. “I said I’m open to it, but I’m not going to be told what to do.”



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16 comments

  1. Did Greg Campbell pitch “the widows and orphans” bit?

  2. There was nothing about Casey’s presentation that suggested dialogue, even though the room was fully prepared to engage in such. Everything suggested was shot down with a condescension that was never missed by the audience. The only thing they are upset about is that they had there bluff called, as it was glaringly obvious there is nothing about the project up for discussion unless we wanted to discuss what American heroes of (self-perceived) moderation they are. “It could be worse” is not how you win the hearts of a neighborhood.

  3. Daly is the tool. The church guy Campbell came off very well i thought.

  4. Is there ever a re-evaluation of the small lot ordinance? It appears the neighborhoods are going to be overcrowded — and I’m mostly talking traffic — before someone stops to question the collective effect of these individual projects.

    I can’t speak for Monticito heights, but Echo Park feels like a developer land grab right now.

  5. Small lot projects don’t allow any more units/density than are already allowed under existing zoning. If you have to find a villain maybe the homebuyers (for creating the strong demand) would be a start?

    • I’m no pro on this, but isn’t the “existing zoning” relatively new? With most of it during a housing crisis when nothing was being built?

  6. I love that these debates happen. The more heated, the better.

  7. That the developers are having public meetings are a courtesy at best. Not a necessary part of the process AT ALL!

    If you want to influence a project you need to come to the table with
    1) feasibility
    2) practicality
    3) professionalism

    Why would someone subject themselves or their firm to useless rhetoric from a peanut gallery (at best) in the future?

    Please try to become the society to which you preach to others they should be!!

    • Again, not a pro here but I think there is more to it than that. There is a public process that is required, though I don’t know what influence it has on a project, though one was abandoned on echo park ave and avalon, I don’t know the reason though.

      • The public process has little to nothing to do with the green light.

        If the “public hearing” process comes up during the permit process, the developer brings out the tape of the asinine people to buttress the process.

        The imbeciles only help to discredit themselves!

        The prescience set for these meetings are secured by the mentality of the mob and thus the mob must act in a way that allows for intelligent interactions (professionalism),and offer suggestions that fit into the grand scheme and serve to improve (feasibility & practicality)

        The truth is that most people attending these meetings just have a bad case of metathesiophobia and only have objections. They rarely have solutions or suggestions (besides DO NOTHING) and NEVER want to compromise.

        Thats why the pubic hearing process rarely has an effect…

      • @Steven,
        It was commercially zoned, did not orient to EP Ave, maxed out the density for the lot, left no open space, Maxed out the hieght limit and did NOT have a private trash plan. If i remember it correct it was 6 or 8 shotgun style towers of townhomes, x3 cans each, leavingt Avalon a steady visual stream of trash cans once a week. ZA denied the tract map. If you search the eastsider archives there was a story….

        cp

        • i think any community that is experiencing an influx of development that will lead to over-crowding and traffic and an increase in the standard of living should be aggravated. Stop trying to make the eastside look like West Hollywood, Orange County, the Orsini, and 3rd Street Promenade. Calling the public “imbeciles” is not a good way of making them support your project.

  8. First of all – these probably should have been separate articles with more in-depth reporting on each.

    Secondly, it’s not clear from this article – how much power does the community have with regard to Casey Lynch’s project? Does he need community approval in order to proceed, or is it too late to stop it? And if it’s too late, how did he manage to get approval for such a controversial project without public input?

    • Stella,

      The process has not even started…….Nothing has been filed (for either project for that matter). The meetings were courtesy meetings for stakeholders to give input prior to filing…….

      Once a project is filed, then the public vetting begins, and people can weigh in on issues that are discretionary. For Flat Top considerable environmental review for any zone change.
      For Vestal/Preston, the only action required for property Zoned RD2 ( multi family apts and homes) would be the initial tract map, and presumably no setback adjustments would be needed for such a large piece of property. Currently each lot could house at least 4 units so 6 lots x 4 = 24 units. By right each lot can be developed into a 4 unit building as already exists across the street.
      The City requires 2 parking spaces per small lot unit. The “community” should have fought to downzone that street in 2004 when the Community Plan was revised. Sadly, most people don’t attend those meetings. Hence, the high density zoning prevails on Vestal due to the many multi unit apts on the street.
      Residents would be wise to work to influence the scale and density of the project prior to the filing with constructive and meaningful dialogue with the developer now, rather than later in front of a Z.A. Currently 18 units are proposed. Why not ask for 16? Thats 8 less than DR Horton could build a la “Chicken Corner” style, with no commnuity dialogue….

      But, that’s just my opinion. Some people just like fighting?

      E.

  9. Before this turns into a full scale community bashing, I’d like to add that Casey and his partner held a meeting last Tuesday that was understandably tense at times, but I thought well mannered and — for the most part — even tempered on both sides.

  10. The Montecito Heights meeting was extremely civil the entire 2 hours. Campbell lost it right at the end, when discussions moved to a next meeting. Everyone who spoke, signed up ahead for their 2 minutes. Most illustrated the benefit for the entire community to devote the large parcel of undeveloped hilltop land to park space.
    The area is among the lowest park to person ratio in the city. It is also part of the LA river watershed (LA river is right below). 38 private community houses vs park space for thousands? You choose.

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