Echo Park residents met with a city traffic engineer last week to discuss their concerns about how the proposed 18-home Blackbirds development will worsen parking and traffic congestion. The hillside development, designed by noted architect Barbara Bestor, at southeast corner of Baxter and Vestal Avenue will bring in 36 additional cars, not counting to vehicles from visitors, say residents. Adding 36 cars to the streets of Echo Park may not seem like much but neighbors say it won’t take much to increase congestion and reduce safety in a part of Echo Park with narrow streets barely wide enough for two cars to pass.
Charlotte Lipmam, who is part of a group that wants to reduce the number of new homes, summarized the concerns of residents in an email:
The addition of at least 36 cars on the hills of Vestal, Preston and Baxter will most certainly have a huge impact on the safety of these streets, the flow of traffic, access for emergency vehicles and furthermore will likely cause increase in traffic at the intersection of Baxter and Echo Park where there are two schools: Elysian Heights Elementary School and the Montessori school. So the ripple effect of such a development is likely to be very considerable.
Lipman was among the group that met with L.A. Department of Transportation engineer Tomas Carranza on the streets adjacent to the development site. Also in attendance was Casey Lynch, an Echo Park resident whose firm is seeking to build the homes. Lynch, in an email after the meeting, said his firm is designing a project “that is sensitive to the neighborhood in both scale and design” and would not significantly worsen neighborhood traffic:
An independent assessment of the project indicates that it will be a nominal trip generator and is significantly below the threshold required for further review by LADOT. We do, however, recognize the concern about the existing street conditions and are working closely with the CD13 office and LADOT to fund additional traffic safety improvements above what is required by the city.
A public hearing on the project has been scheduled for February 28. Details on the Echo Park Neighbors website.