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Monday, October 20, 2014

Silver Lake residents challenge proposed Waterloo Street townhomes

Rendering of 10 new townhomes to built on Waterloo Street in Silver Lake

By Cecilia Padilla Brill

SILVER LAKE — A developer’s plans to demolish several  1920s-era bungalows  and replace them with 10 contemporary-style townhomes has drawn opposition from neighbors who have challenged the project as being out of place for the neighborhood on the border of Silver Lake and Echo Park.

A Planning Department Zoning Administrator is scheduled to review the project, which is located at 1425-1433 Waterloo Street, during a public hearing  today, Wednesday, July 2. The developers, PHL Waterloo, LLC, have proposed to build 10 small lot single-family homes with 20 parking spaces on a 15,130 square foot site, which is currently occupied by three vacant, 1920s California bungalows. If the project is approved, the bungalows will be demolished and will be replaced with modern style buildings.

Located west of Glendale Boulevard between Scott Avenue and Montana Street, the development has some neighbors questioning whether the new homes, which are high up on a hill, will overlook into the backyards of those who live on Coronado Terrace, which is the next block down the hill. Concerns about zoning and the population density on such a small lot, parking, increased noise level and compatibility with nearby buildings will be addressed.

Local residents have organized regular meetings to address the issues and have collected more than 300 names opposing the development as it stands. “We would like to negotiate modifications with the developers. We would also also like to obtain an environmental impact report,” said Connie (last name withheld), a local resident. The group claims that the mitigated negative declaration is insufficient.

The Department of City Planning will make the final determination at the meeting.

Cecilia Padilla Brill is a communications writer and journalist. She writes news, health, education and feature stories. Cecilia is currently working on her first novel. She has lived in Echo Park since 1999.

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22 comments

  1. We will be 10 homes closer to fixing our supposed luxury housing inventory crisis, I guess.

    • Damn those upper middle class people and their desire to buy homes.
      If only they would see the light and hold onto the rent controlled apartments of their youth.

      • Agreed. Holding onto a rent-controlled apartment in this inflated buying market would be much more of a sound decision than purchasing a new construction townhouse at top dollar, in a densely packed complex, with no backyard, on a crowded street, with neighbors who resent you. Good point!

  2. This property is zoned R3 – 1VL which allows one unit per 800 square feet of land area. 15,130 square feet / 800 = 18 units (rounding down). Technical arguments aside, this property could bear up to 18 apartment units BY RIGHT without any input from the community. Every project has unique characteristics that should be addressed locally, however I hope that the neighbors understand this straight forward land use concept.

    • “By Right” is a term that has beecome populr inthe past 10 years or maybe 15 years. It is a false right. “By right” merely means it is what the zoning allows. Butzoning is NOT the only law that msut bee follwoed. Among other lkaws that must be follows are the Califonria Environeental QualityAct — and that invovles a LOT of impacts of all knds on the surronding areea, not simply on threatened species. CEQA invovles imoacts on traffic, noise,, parking, even blocked views, on impact on classrooms and overcrawding, on impact oninfrstructure — lots of things. All that can override your so-alled zoing right. Taht termee “byright is simply used to lie,a nd onone assertting it should called on it.

      Of course, other laws apply too, such as proximity to earthquake faults or other dangers.

      That aside, one of the big problems of these oversized developments is that they are nearly always substantially taller than the rest of the surrounding area, completely failing the compatibility test. This one is at least thr4ee stories tall (actually it looks in thee picture like it might be 3 1/2 stories). That could easily be dropped to two stories by making the parking underground, in fact, more parking could be provided by making it a common lot underground, thus providing for all the visitors this many units will generate (especially when they have their housewarming parties!). Aha! Two problems fixed with one mitigation: lowering the height, and providing a realistic amount of parking.

      Yes, it will cost extra money to dig the hole and put in a little extra cement over what they were going to put in for parking spaces anyway — but these small lot subdivisions are going in EVERYWHERE because the profit levels the developers are getting from them far and away exceed the huge profits developers previously were getting from condos. The profits are so huge that even after some extra expense of making the parking underground, their profit will still be very handsome, quite huge. They need to be spending a small amount of that money on doing a proper job, not the cheap job.

      This is the new California gold rush, and it is why developers from all over the country and all over the world have been flooding in here. They are ready to outbid anything any owner occupant can possibly bid in order to get the sites, because the profit they will make by tearing houses down and building monstrosities is so huge that anything goes, any price at all that it takes to outbid owner occupants.

      This is why housing prices have been skyrocketing — these new units are not serving to bring prices down, as the simple minded think; they are causing prices to skyrocket. Economics 101 is not where economics ends. This is way beyond economics 101. This is the kind of situation that trumps the economics 101 theory. This is economics put on steroids, because of a bad and ill considered law providing for small lot subdivisions. This is how the standard of living is lowered by backhanded tactics. Generally speaking, more housing is desired. But how you go about that can make a world of difference, and the small lot subdivision is just that — and world of difference and rushing for the wrong world.

  3. I just got word the development is now ‘under advisory’ . Not sure what that means, but the Attendee who told me sounded pretty happy a about it

  4. This is Echo Park, not Silver Lake. If you are going to report on neighbor issues, please take a minute to confirm the neighborhood.

  5. Checking this place out on Google Street View it looks like the block is fairly rundown for Silver Lake – as if none of the neighboring property owners have bothered with improvements toward their homes in decades, which leads me to ask why they are throwing stones at this developer who looks to actually be constructing a nice, contemporary building?

    • Yes, thank you. If you’re not going to take the time to take care of your neighborhood before someone else wants to come in and make it nicer, then you don’t get to gripe about it when they do come along.

      It’s like the tale of the hen who asked for help every step of the way when she was preparing the bread. Only once it was done did anyone want any part of it, but since no one bothered to help with all the prep work by that point she just told them to bug off.

      If you’re not going to be an engaged part of the solution to improving your neighborhood, then you certainly don’t get to just step all over anyone else who does.

  6. If the neighbors can’t get on-board with density which is 55% of what is allowable by-right, what, exactly, is the level of development they WOULD be prepared to accept?

    • They want no development. To quote @Moody “…with neighbors who resent you.” Their tact seems to be as obnoxiously foul, angry and jealous hoping to scare any new blood and money away from our neighborhoods. Now they don’t want people to have new homes in Echo Park that may look down on their old homesteads.

  7. @moses….et others…..

    Density that is allowed, 18 “apts” at 800 sf vs 10 Townhomws at 2000 is a considerable difference….these idle threats from OC regarding height and density….(this is under the hillside ord so 36′ vs the threatened 45′ is allowed)., Makes 18 apts look quite attractive and affordble to the constantly besieged by “trustafarian” neighbors? No? I mean really-R3 against R1? What Planning genius let THAT go through??? R3 is the Highest density allowed in the ENTIRE plan area….hardly seen on Sunset,,,,nevermind tiny Waterloo…someone was smoking sumthin’ back in the day!

    E.

  8. These are not “townhomes”. They are single family dwellings.

    • If it looks like a townhome, smells like a townhome, sells like a townhome,,,,,,,It’s a townhome. This is an end run around the financing structure needed to build townhomes….the Small Lot guidelines specifically spell out VARIETY in form and style to delineate, single family homes. Doing Infill around the 3 existing homes, and restoring the 3 existing, creating an eclectic compound, would be Small Lot…..

      These are just another row of Townhomes, up for rent in a year or two, once the millenials decide they want to have kids and need a yard, and good middle and high schools!

      E.

      • This is such a stupid and uninformed comment. Small Lots are subdivided and then bought just as a traditional detached single family home. These are not townhomes. They do not share lots. They are legally subdivided just as every single family home in Silver Lake was originally part of a subdividing of land. If you fear them becoming rentals you should probably turn your attention to the myriad of detached single family homes that are being used as rental property on every block in Silver Lake. Go–amit NIMBYs are st-p-d!

  9. Haha “besieged by trustafarians”… At least you’re on board with the 18 unit low income housing project that could be approved with no planning review. And yes 45′ high since hillside regs don’t apply to multifamily.

  10. Let’s get this all in context; this is a 3-story building, much larger and taller then anything on Waterloo and even streets over, PHL is also proposing a rooftop deck. 10 units at 2,000 sq ft each, 3 bed 2 bath.

    That’s a potential 30 adults or more, and only 20 parking spaces. Waterloo, Scott, Coronado, Mohawk, already have parking issues.

    No on is arguing something shouldn’t be built “letting go of 1920’s rent controlled apartments”, which very few of the areas housing are apartments. But something that FITS in with the neighborhood.

    First it’s this block, next it’s yours.

  11. PHL is Planet Home Living. If you need a reference of their finished product, marvel at the caged rats (2400 Allesandro.)

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