By NATHAN SOLIS
El Sereno – The hillside across from El Sereno Park is undeveloped and dense with trees. But this open space would be turned into one of the largest residential developments to be constructed in El Sereno in recent years – a 43-home project that has raised opposition from neighboring residents.
Newport Beach-based developer Clearwater Communities held a a public meeting on Wednesday night to present their plans to grade part of nearly five-acre site at the corner of Eastern Avenue and Lombardy Street. About 30 concerned residents attended the outreach meeting at the El Sereno Library, where Clearwater Chief Executive Officer Dan Kassel presented a map of the proposed site. The approximately 2,000-square-foot homes would have two stories, two-car garages and be reached by private roads built on the hillside. The developer plans to ask the city to change the zoning to build homes closer together under the small-lot ordinance.
Concerns expressed by residents ranged from parking and pedestrian safety to increased traffic congestion. One resident called the project “a monstrosity,” saying it would saturate the hillside with homes. Others claimed that the development would change the character of the neighborhood. Resident Melissa Kellogg pointed out that the community should hold the developers accountable no matter what promises are made in these early meetings. Thirty-five-year resident Joanna Tinoco said she thought that building these homes would bring too much traffic to an area with two schools nearby and a park.
“You are not from this community,” Tinoco told Kassel. “Our children walk alone, because of our schedules. You don’t live here.”
Clearwater, which is in escrow to purchase the land, will have to deal with several ordinances and obtain variances to get their 43 homes in place. Residents fear that if this developer can change the zoning for this one project it would set a precedent for other developers to build on other hillsides in El Sereno.
“We value our open space,” said Manny Campos, who has lived in El Sereno for 27 years. “I’d like for my children to be able to see the hillside.”
Several residents said they wanted to see some compromises from the developers, maybe in cutting back the number of homes, installing fire lanes and more open space. This is the same site where a previous developer wanted to plant a school and apartments atop the hill, a proposal that eventually fell through.
- Clearwater Communities presentation at the LA-32 Neighborhood Council’s Land Use & Development Committee . YouTube
Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis’ stories, reviews and photos at Smashed Chair.