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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

City may take a look at buying Silver Lake open space

Red Car right of way, Silver Lake. Photo by Diane Edwardson

The City Council today is scheduled to review a proposal to explore purchasing and preserving as open space a 1o-acre strip of land where Red Car trolleys once traveled through Silver Lake.  But a neighborhood activist and officials warn that a deal to buy the land is still in the very early stages and funds still need to be found to buy the former trolley line right-of-way  that cuts its way behind homes and apartments in the northeast corner of Silver Lake.

“Somethings are starting to come together,” said Becky Nielsen with The Trust for Public Land, a group devoted to preserving open space. But “its going to take a lot of time.”

Diane Edwardson, whose Corralitas Red Car Property blog is named after the trolley path, and other residents have been working for more than 20 years to have the Red Car property purchased and preserved as a park or greenbelt . While the land is privately owned,  the property is a popular trail used by residents and serves as an expanded back yard for many nearby property owners.

Interest in the Red Car property, which is located in the hills near the 2 and 5 freeway interchanges,  was renewed this summer when the owner put the ribbon of property up for sale for an undisclosed price as proposed development site.

The motion introduced by Councilman and Silver Lake resident Eric Garcetti recommends that the city team up with the Trust for Public Land and Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to “explore the possibility of buying the property and preserving it as a city park.”  The motion instructs the city’s Recreation and Parks Department and other city offices to “report with funding options” to acquire the land.

But the motion does not say when the report must be completed or what funds are available to buy and manage the land.  In addition, Edwardson said she was surprised to discover that Recreation and Parks was being instructed to explore purchasing the land. The agency in the past had resisted buying the Red Car property as parkland since its hilly location and narrow shape – it is about 100 feet wide in most locations – would make it difficult to build and maintain ball fields and other recreation areas, Edwardson said.

Nielsen, a project manager with the Trust for Public Land, said her group is negotiating a deal with the property owner to allow enough time to appraise and research the property as well as find money to buy it.  Given the city’s financial constraints, funds to buy the property might come from other sources, including grants.  Bryant Brislin with the Hoffman Co., a land broker representing the seller, said the property has not been sold.

Despite the many challenges, Nielsen said there are many factors at work in favor of preserving the land for public use.

“Everybody is talking about it. There is support out there. The seller is willing to talk to us. Although it is preliminary…  things are starting to become aligned.”

15 comments

  1. Hope this happens… we don’t need more housing in the hills, they’re already overdeveloped.

  2. Let’s make this happen. The dirt road which covers most of this property now is a really pleasant open space, offering a level expanse with a sweet view to the north. lined by gardened yards and old-growth trees. It’s a great place to walk as a pleasant Riverside Drive alternative. If it were maintained, it would be a safer and add value to the neighborhood. It is crucial to keep things green here– being so close to the freeway, any move for not worsening air-quality is welcome. Considering, especially, that the once hilly, densely-grown Semi-tropical Spiritualist Track neighborhood (just to the east of 2 freeway) has been ripped down to dirt to erect the Artis @ Echo Park monstrosity, swift action is needed before greedy developers set their greasy peepers all over our hidden hillside ‘hood.

  3. This is a beautiful area, and Silver Lake needs to keep some of its wildness and open space.

  4. It would be nice if they could incorporate it into the old vision (and I believe may have been part of the deal for the Griffith land grant) to have a trail that connected Elysian Park and Griffith Park.

  5. well why don’t you all get together, form a non-profit, raise some money, and buy the land at a market rate? The city is broke but Silverlake residents aren’t and they are the ones that most use the space.

    • It’s already in the works but the landowners need to be cooperative for it to happen (so far so good it seems but only time will tell)

  6. A private park for select homeowners seems like the last thing public money should be spent on.

  7. I really hope this happens. It’s a special place worth preserving as a park.

  8. Private park is an oxymoron, as this would be bought with public funds for public purpose. And what might those purposes be? For example:

    In addition to passive recreation (i.e. non-organized sports like hiking), this can provide valuable connectivity to create a bike path from the LA River to Echo Park and Silver Lake, as part of the repurposing of the terminus of the SR2 Freeway. It also can be a wildlife corridor for a variety of species. There’s lots of potential in this project, and it’s about time it got some serious attention.

    The posters who get all douchy about Silver Lake have obviously not visited this property, or they’d recognize it traverses an area that’s hardly the snooty Silver Lake rich crowd they’d like to imagine. It’s a remarkably diverse zone, on the border of Echo Park and Elysian Valley.

  9. This long, narrow parcel of open space has been a treasure of the surrounding communities for decades. It provides a vital connection between neighborhoods and a shared open space that’s otherwise in extremely short supply in this very densely developed part of the city.

    Kudos to Eric Garcetti for joining our effort to preserve this space for everyone to enjoy; we in the community are committed to its preservation regardless, and we won’t give up this fight.

  10. The city cannot afford it. The people cannot afford the taxes. SO….why should the small pay for the rich. Just buy the land. Leave everyone else alone…we do not want to pay for your life style.

  11. Why. Ugh, such a waste of funds if you ask me.

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