Councilman proposes less dense development of Echo Park and Silver Lake hillsides

Echo Park home being demolished for new hillside development/Photo courtesy Echo Park resident

As builders ramp up construction of new homes across the area, newly elected Councilman Mitch O’Farrell has introduced a motion that would restrict the development of some hillsides across Echo Park and Silver Lake.

The proposal would reduce the number of building lots per acre based on the steepness of a slope in some areas covered by the Silver Lake-Echo Park-Elysian Valley Community Plan. “Generally, the steeper the slope, the fewer the number of permitted lots,” according to the motion. O’Farrell’s motion asks the city’s Planning Department to look into the feasibility of applying “slope density regulations” that are used in the Hollywood Hills to “appropriate areas” in Echo Park and Silver Lake.

“Slope density regulations are a valuable land use tool because it protects hillside residential neighborhoods by respecting aesthetics and community feel feel,” said the motion.

O’Farrell introduced the motion as developers seek to build more  projects under the city’s, small-lot ordinance, which permits more intensive development of lots for single-family homes.

The motion must still be approved by the full City Council.


  1. Excellent idea… keep the infill density on or near Sunset where there’s already the amenities and infrastructure required for smart growth.

    • Agreed. Growth should be directed along Sunset and transit corridors. But you still have NIMBY’s screaming about growth in the transit rich flatlands! No wonder growth is creeping into the hills. The SLNC has become a glorified Homeowner’s Association that wouldn’t understand sustainable growth and land use from a can of paint. They oppose any directed and guided dense growth and then wonder why growth is chaotic. There’s even a person on the board who ran on the platform of being anti-density???? That’s like being anti-air! No marker of what is appropriate density. No numbers. No stats. No findings. No observations. Just “no density”. I guess that means no people anywhere! And these are the folks that represent you. Great!!?

  2. Anyone know from which development site that photo was taken?

    • Story first published June 7th, 2013 on this very site. Location: Douglas Street. Developer: Planet Home Living (Newport Beach, Ca.) If you need a good laugh, look what this group did to three acres of an urban forest on the Semi-Tropic Spiritualists’ Tract.

    • see below: douglas st. north of sunset adjacent to elysian park.

  3. Great news!!! Councilmember O’Farrell is spot on. I was told a group of hikers (15 -18) paid a visit to the Semi-Tropic Spiritualists’ Tract yesterday. They marveled at the open space, the Paul Landacre cabin and the protected Coast Live Oak trees. They were dismayed at the pile of crap at the bottom of “The Hill” that was built soooooo close to a busy freeway. Many thanks to Eastsider LA on this tidbit and please continue to update your readers.

  4. Less is more.

  5. …..and this is why we all voted for Mitch! This guy has our back, NOT developers. You go, Mitch!

    • Mitch has our back? Not in bed with developers? Is this a booster publication or will you allow contrary points of view when it comes to the new CD13 Councilmember? He’s totally paid for by developers – Look at the Ethics Commission page. He’s a huge NIMBY by sending density to Vine & Hollywood but saying a resounding NO to development in his back yard. This is gross!

  6. Just to clarify, the small lot ordinance does not “permit more intensive development of lots” – it just allows what is already allowed by right to be sold as single family homes.

  7. we already have onerous land use restrictions in the hills based on slope analysis that have rendered the majority of properties unbuildable. But NIMBYs will always try to screw everyone else once they have theirs.

  8. Not sure how this works yet. I trust that cd13 will reach out to not only the neighborhood councils but also the established community groups to illustrate how this will benefit our hillside communities.

    My first question is will this even make any changes where the housing stck is old & ripe for tearing down, in areas with multi family zoning where the hills are steep, but the lots are flatter like Fargo & Baxter?

  9. photo credit: casitas on douglas st. being torn down, to be replaced by high-density cinderblock condos unpleasantly similar to 36 on echo, photo by jeanne wyshak

  10. Why is this limited to Echo Park/Silver Lake? Seems reasonable for all neighborhoods with steep hillsides on the east side (Mt Washington, Montecito Heights, etc.).

  11. Great idea! The hillsides are already very densely built-up. It makes sense that you cannot build as many houses on a steep hill compared to a flat area.

  12. Thank you Mitch!!!

  13. I was raised in the area where the Semi-Tropic Spiritualists’ Tract is located. From the “8-track” to “Kite Hill” to “The Plateau” the entire area was a great outdoor playground for poor kids who had few toys but a lot of energy and imagination. We would wage “war”, “hunt”, and “discover” new patches of vacant land all the way to Stadium Way. Around 1970, there used to be a large home on this site with a koi pond that bordered the sidewalk below. We used to walk by it every morning on our way to Allesandro Elementary. During summer we’d tear through the dirt-path at the top of the hill before flying off the drop at Rosecrans Ave. On any given summer day, 10–15 of us, ages 7–12, would be roaming these hills from the top of Whitmore, to Allesandro, to Riverside Drive, and everywhere in between, all day long. Packs of kids no longer roam and explore these hills like before. Indoor isolation prevails over outdoor exploration these days. Anyway, the home burned down in 1978/79 under suspicious circumstances and the lot was vacant for 30+ years. I wished they would’ve considered making it a pocket-park instead of the instant development that now occupies this space. It could’ve become the type of community anchor that is consistently overlooked in favor of corporate developments. This is the type of green space alternative that I will demand that Farrell begins to emphasize. After all, green is the prominent characteristic of this entire area. Let’s innovate new ways to keep it that way.

    • Wow, you nailed it on this comment!Took me back to the bamboo days on the hillside, or even the hobo trails! Our experiences may or may not be respected on this blog. But, I hope that no one knocks your rich experience on this one. 1970 something, with Schwin Stingrays, hitting the hillside. Not, for everybody but we’ve experienced this! I am hoping that all of those who have not at least would like there to remain some natural habitant, just in case they would like to indulge one day, or even for their kids sake!

    • Yep. The bamboo “wars”, the “cumquat trail” (aka Fellowship Way), and the “Schwinn Flyers”, which was the older group of roughnecks in our varrio with the “cherriest” Schwins, and that was just phase I. We all eventually graduated to firme lowriders and choppers. That was the 70s to 80-something scene in Frogtown-adjacent aka “The Hill”. Our own personal “Stand by Me”, Chicano-style, that I’m reminded of every time I visit familia in the area. It was far from paradise: winos, bullies, sniff-heads, locos, and arch-criminals saturated the area but it was our normal, which only seems somewhat abnormal(?) decades later. Anyway, it really happened. My familia and camaradas have the fotos to prove it. Those were our “gold old days” . . . Paz y Respeto to Scholaris. Keep up the good fight, carnal.

      • Your reminiscing reminds me of the Shrek movies… how he lived in the swamp but was so happy.

        • “Happy”(?) was for pampered and entitled marshmallows like yourself. We were the other American demographic. Struggle was normal and survival was satisfying. “Happy” was avoiding the worst trouble; holding on to your bike and pocket change; and keeping your parents in the dark about all of the details. Unhappy would’ve been them finding out and not being allowed to go out and explore; take your chances with everybody else; and learn to navigate the spectacle and challenges of the distinctly American environment that we grew up in. In fact, it was our big-city culture of gangs, lowriders, choppers, drugs, and “rock n’ roll” that made us so exotic to our peers south of the border. None of whom experienced a single one of those things beyond what they witnessed when they would come to visit with us. ultimately, I am grateful to have had these rich experiences and overcome all of the challenges that came with it. It’s what distinguishes us as Americans and native Angelenos. I must also concede a sense of superiority over Clueless Dumb-Chucks who never did or will. After all, there were kids who feared coming out to play with the rest of us back in the day. They remained clueless and nobody remembers their names. In fact, did they ever really exist?

        • Btw CLUELESS, you might want to consider boosting the sophistication level of your movie references. Judging by your posts, I’m confident that you’re ready to graduate beyond cartoons (albeit feature length) to a stroll or bike ride down any NELA Avenue of your choice. That’s-right! A FREE and unlimited pass to the “Clue Store” that will liberate you from your clueless condition. You’re welcome.

        • Clueless, talk about an Internet troll! You might need to get bombarded by loquats, or something . You are a piece of work, I don’t know where you came from, but please go back.

    • Btw, a correction is in order: During summer we’d tear through the dirt-path at the top of the hill before flying off the drop at Rosebud Avenue . . . a daring stunt back in the day.

  14. Very, very to me how an indoors life has taken over a lot of today’s kids.

  15. Sorry, ‘very, very SAD to me…’.

  16. Enjoy your LOW RISE…..Guess O’Farrell is councilman for the east side communities only. He voted to approve Millennium massive SKYSCRAPERS and dangerous HIGH DENSITY (UNPRECEDENTED 6:1FAR DENSITY)near vine willing to destroy thousands upon thousands in communities that cant even get in or out now. That EMS tells they wont be able to get to with millennium projects..high density and more traffic…so don’t have a heart attack. You will die. He is A real sell out, bought and paid for by Millennium (as garcetti was when he also occupied the CD seat in Millennium’s district) to do their bidding ignoring the six neighborhood councils and the over 40 organizations, the thousands of on line petition signers, hollywood heritage,The W Hotel, on and on. Ignored all to get his funders projects through. In spite of Caltrans UNSAFE traffic and State geologist’s (all IGNORED) ACTIVE FAULT LINE warnings of dangerous situations, LITERALLY warning the city and garcetti that Millennium projects are putting lives at risk. City Council was also warned and implored by these state agencies to NOT vote YET. Until they did THEIR investigations (not the rubberstamped city’s who are all paid off by Millennium too) Now, after O’farrell led the unanimous vote to approve, thus putting ALL lives in danger, the eastsiders too, if they take the 101 or ever visit the Vine St. area, NOW, all dangerous, possibly deadly situations are being inspected by state . He and his pal Garcetti can underplay the significance of this until they
    are blue in the face..But the STATE had to step in to PROTECT the LIVES THEY put at risk, by so willingly turning Hollywood and people’s lives over to Millennium, who helped both of them get elected. NOW, both of them should be RECALLED. The papers are on their way.

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