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Monday, April 14, 2014
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Ballot Box: Echo Park hospital development becomes a campaign issue

Barlow Respiratory Hospital has waged a years-long effort to transform its leafy grounds on the eastern edge of Echo Park into a major residential development, with the most recent proposals calling for more than 800 units of housing and a new hospital.  But that project has been opposed by many residents and neighborhood groups. Now, several key candidates running in the Council District 1 and Council District 13 races have joined the opponents.  In some cases, the same candidates who have voiced opposition  have also received major financial support from unions supporting the Barlow development.

Hospital officials says redevelopment of  their 25-acre campus on Stadium Way is crucial if the 101-year-old institution is to survive. Faced with a state mandate to build a new facility that meets modern seismic building codes,  the hospital’s  plan is to re zone  its property to allow for high-density residential development and then sell off most of the site to developers, using the proceeds to build a new hospital. That new hospital would be located on a parking lot on the western tip of the Barlow property.

As part of its campaign to win support for its new masterplan,  Barlow has gathered endorsements from major union leaders, whose members would likely be employed to build a new hospital and residential development.  Key among those labor supporters is Maria Elena Durazo,  Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the influential Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. “The proposed Barlow Hospital replacement plan will help increase the Echo Park community’s economic base by creating and retaining more than 4,800 good union jobs, and supporting local businesses and working families,” says Durazo in a statement on the Barlow website. “Neither Barlow nor the community can afford to let this opportunity pass.”

Yet, in recent days, two city major council candidates backed by Durazo’s union have come out against Barlow’s development plan. Last week,  Council District 13 candidate John Choi, a former Public Works Commissioner who  has received well over $100,000 in independent expenditures from the county federation of labor, joined many of his fellow contenders, including Mitch O’Farrell and Josh Post,  in opposing the Barlow project. In a press release, Choi said:

“While we must address the pressing issues of seismic safety at this historic property, we cannot allow it to be used as a Trojan Horse to sneak in an oversize and inappropriate development,” said Choi. “I oppose overdevelopment and destruction of green space. We must fix Barlow hospital, but we can accomplish it in a transparent way that involves the community, preserves precious open space, and protects the historic heritage of our city.”

Meanwhile in the race for Council District 1, which includes the Barlow property,  State Assemblyman Gil Cedillo has joined chief rival Jose Gardea in opposing the project.  In a statement issued by his campaign, Cedillo, who has received more than  $110,000 in independent expenditures from the county federation of labor, said:

“I do not agree with the proposal to build 800 new housing units at the Barlow Hospital site. I believe that Barlow Hospital is an asset to the community and wants to help preserve the hospital. As a Los Angeles City Council Member I will use a balanced approach to reach a resolution that is acceptable to all reasonable stakeholders.”

It’s not clear what type of development is acceptable for Cedillo and the other candidates running in the March 5 council election. But Margaret Crane, Chief Executive Officer of the hospital, said in an email that Barlow is working on addressing the concerns of residents and candidates. “We are a month or so away from communicating with the community about a revised master plan that addresses past concerns and will provided important  benefits to our immediate community and to the Southern California health care system.”

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13 comments

  1. NO on any development there!

  2. If you care about Barlow and the future of Elysian Park, I would strongly urge you to vote for Jose Gardea. NO TO MASSIVE DEVELOPMENT in Elysian Park!

  3. It’s nice to see that Cedillo has realized he should start lying about Barlow rather than supporting it outright, but that man’s a snake in the grass –

    He despises the public and likes to brag that meeting with constituents is a waste of his time, and his hair-splitting about “a resolution acceptable to reasonable stakeholders” seems to be setting up a “Not 800 units, but 600 units does seem to be reasonable” situation.

    This land is agricultural and hearkens back to the earliest days of Los Angeles –

    NO DEVELOPMENT IN ELYSIAN PARK!

    Vote for Jose Gardea, please, if you value having a councilman that actually represents his district and not moneyed interests.

  4. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!

  5. Echo Park Improvement Association hosted a CD1 & CD13 candidate forum at Barlow Hospital on Thursday, February 7th. On the many topics touched upon(including the proposed development of/at Barlow Hospital,) it is interesting to note that the 3 candidates (John Choi, CD13; Jose Sigala, CD13 and Gil Cedillo, CD1) that accepted impressive campaign contributions from those closely associated with Barlow were noticeably absent.

  6. This is a transparent move by greedy developers to create a false crisis to bully over anybody in their way – kinda like what’s going on with the clowns in Washington.

    They never invested in this property to benevolently run a hospital. They saw a way to make a quick buck without any consideration of anybody else – like people who enjoy the park, or the neighborhood, or traffic …

    If they were really concerned about the hospital they would just move it to a nice cheap industrial park. They are liars who deserve a nice costly financial bath.

  7. I rent nearby and have been saving for years.
    I don’t see the big deal? I can even see the area unless I gotta go to the freeways there.
    But if they build some nice condos or townhouses maybe I’ll be able to buy something.
    Not the crap I see for $800k that are a bunch of old houses with new paint.

    Man some people are just so bitter? That place was here before you and you probably rent like I do.
    Damn. I will miss taking chicks to the park for a little action though!

  8. You know. reading this article sounds really funny how can a facility like Barlow has the odasity of joining forces with Union leaders, when they don’t respect their own Union employees themselves, Management at Barlow has a way of getting rid of their employees with simple lies and despicable acts like excessive workloads to nurses and nurses Aides that have to deal with patients and families that are Rude, hostile and needy at times. I know businesses and Hospitals have to give good quality customer service in order to succeed in this economy, but where does customer service and caring for your employees come in between of being successful? Well hearing talks among my fellow echo park residents at my early morning breakfast at a local donut shop, I hear stories how Barlow treats their employees unfairly when it comes to deal workloads and patient complaints to management, Nurses are giving we 5 patients ( which I know is Illegal in California which the actual ratio should be 4 to one and as a Retired Nurse myself from the state of Texas I know too) Nursing Aides get 9 to 10 patients with a majority mostly total cares on vent support and those who are obese, what I heard it a constant struggle among all these nurses and aids to get work done even though they work as a team it can get very hectic and hearing all this management needs to Improve that with their staffing matrix system at Barlow> On complaints from Patients or family members to management about staff (nurses or Aides) are not properly investigated, Management will hear the complaint and sum it up to their own knowledgeable understanding, without even knowing if the patient making a scene or a story up just to get a staff in trouble in which 90% it results in the staff getting into trouble for small simple complaints which could be misunderstandings that patient and family members turn it into something big. An example of what I heard was when nurses are few minutes late with a patient medication. the patient would complain to management make up stories like they waited 1 hour for medication, and others are if patients don’t like a nurse or an aide they would give that staff a hard time and when the staff politely tells them that they are being rude they would complains to management about the staff makes a whole scene and make up about how the nurse or aide was rude and hurtful when in reality it was the other way around, management hears it staff (nurse or Aide) gets reprimanded without justification of because they want “good customer service” so Barlow treat your staff right and fix your nursing managing staff because what we here your employees are not happy at times.

  9. Barlow hospital should just renovate the hospital And not on 800 unit housing that will create traffic gridlock in this area and where are they all going to park especially during baseball season…longtime residents like my family had endured this gridlock for more than 30 years…..please invest in renovating a bigger and a more modern long term acute care hospital that the community need ………..

  10. It’s a respiratory hospital. I guess everyone will just hold their breath till the construction ends and even longer while the 1600+ people and their cars drive around looking for parking – the parking is inadequate, so they will be crusing the neighborhood looking for more spots.

    Wait for the bait-and-switch tactics. “We’re redesigning the plan” so it only has 600 and even less parking.

    To the guy who thinks it will be cheaper to buy a place – with rents at $1500/mo for one bedroom here in Echo Park I doubt there will be bargains at the new units. And these will be 3rd-party developers, so don’t plan on long-term maintenance, either.

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