Highland Park development suffers another setback

2013 rendering of Highland Park Transit Village | /McCormack, Baron Salazar

HIGHLAND PARK —  It’s been three years since the City Council backed plans to build 80 apartments and condos on the public parking lots near the Highland Park Gold Line station. But a group of opponents, who said the Highland Park Transit Village was too big,  won a court ruling that essentially put the project on hold. This week, developer McCormack Baron Salazar sustained another blow when the L.A. City Council voted to suspend approvals and permits for the project until the developer resolves the issues raised in the lawsuit.

The Transit Village would have been built on three, separate, city-owned parking lots between Avenue 56 and Avenue 59.  The development would have included a 50-unit residential building, a 10-unit multi-family building reserved for residents with low and moderate incomes and a 20-unit condominium complex. McCormack Baron Salazar, which has built several large residential projects in Cypress Park and Lincoln Heights, said that it would replace the parking spaces in the city-owned lots.

However, city officials approved the project without an in-depth review of the impact the project would have on the area.  Friends of Highland Park, a group of opponents concerned about the additional traffic and density the project would bring,  sued the city for failing to require a full environmental impact report. As a result of the court’s ruling on the lawsuit, the developer and city must now conduct an updated environmental review to meet the court’s instructions.

An official with the Planning Department said the court did not reject the city’s decision to grant the developer the right to build a project bigger than what existing zoning laws allowed. But it’s up to McCormack Baron Salazar to decide if it wants to resubmit the environmental reports required by the court in order to move forward.

The office of Councilman Gil Cedillo, who represents Highland Park, continues to support the development.  “Our office continues to support the proposed mixed-income housing development, which is not only designed in an architectural style which fits in with the historic zone, but also replaces public parking on a one-to-one basis,” the council office said in a statement.

The Eastsider has contacted McCormack Baron Salazar for comment.

80 apartments and condos would be built on three public parking lots/McCormack, Baron Salazar

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  1. This project is way too big for that area and parking is needed more than ever along that corridor.

    • Greedy NIMBY. YOU are the reason L.A. is more and more unaffordable. Not more people moving in but because people like you refuse to let housing be built.

      • Having more housing does not make housing cheaper. It does not work that way at all, unfortunately.

        • literally every study on the issue contradicts what you just said, sorry.

          • My statement is not based on “studies” but 18 years experience in the Los Angeles area rental and real estate market. If you would like proof that simply adding units to the market lowers prices, take a look at developments like the Orsini and the like downtown. Many of those places have a running +15% vacancy rate, which is extremely high for LA especially with the demand of this time. Developments like this would prefer the units stay vacant versus lower the prices which is the contradictory model of what your “studies” would state. As a matter of fact, they not only keep the units vacant but also index them up each year with the CPI. They’re business model is not based on 100% occupation but rather yield. If you think that new developments such as the one(s) being proposed would be operated any differently, you are simply ignorant. peace and love, peace and love.

          • that might be because the orsini is an ugly pit! you couldn’t pay me to live in that thing.

            also downtown los angeles has a 97% occupancy rate for renters, see here:


            …and i doubt there’s that many vacant condos.

            the plural of ‘anecdote’ isn’t ‘data,’ ringo.

          • Your “experiences” don’t factor in the growing population in California, idiot. Everybody knows about supply and demand.

          • Oh you silly ignorant fools. Keep believing in your fantasy. I’ll be over here in fact-land making hand over fist with my real estate holdings.
            Sorry I even wasted my time trying to educate you. You can lead a horse to water…

          • prove there’s 15% vacancy in downtown la and i’ll let you buy me lunch at grand central market! otherwise you’re a smug rich guy who doesn’t care about data.

        • Thanks RIAI. Just wanted to see when the person going with their gut and name calling was going to take their ball and go home in the face of data and challenges to deeply held, and as of yet unsubstantiated claims. Have fun in your so-called “fact-land” and making so much money you feel the need to educate the readership of the Eastsider LA. Flip a few a properties and suddenly you are Warren Buffet, or better yet Geoff Palmer.

  2. Great Victory for the residents of hlp

    • Yeah, who wants taxpaying residents and productive land uses when you could have….. parking. That’s some victory.

      • Dexter,
        ‘parking’ is a very short sighted view albeit important and a quality of life and commerce issue.
        Who needs more frustrated angry drivers looking to park where there is already a parking problem. And who is going to support business when the parking is a nightmare.
        You forgot to mention how the city would also reap the dollars from residents and visitors on parking tickets.
        So, yes, the parking was one of the issues with this development. The reason the State of California through CEQA found in favor of the community is that the city and developer were side-stepping the law in this case. My feeling is they thought a working class community would not surmount the cost of a legal battle. Thank goodness they were wrong.
        Aint no power like power of the people
        cuz the power of the people dont stop
        say what! Si Se Puede!

        • Nope, you are wrong. Just because the lawsuit temporarily extinguished some of the supply doesn’t mean the demand will miraculously evaporate. These developers are playing the long game and in the meantime will continue to buy up existing properties for adaptive reuse. This is not a “if you don’t build it, they won’t come” city.

        • Lisa – did you read the article? If so you might have noticed this passage: McCormack Baron Salazar, which has built several large residential projects in Cypress Park and Lincoln Heights, said that it would replace the parking spaces in the city-owned lots.

          IF they are replacing the parking, there is no loss of parking. Frankly I don’t think we need it all given the proximity to the Gold Line, but it is a moot point, because the supply will STILL be there.

          I live in HLP and frequent this area. I usually drive and rarely have an issue finding parking, but then again I’m not of the opinion that I’m entitled to a parking space immediately in front of where I’m headed. Try walking a block or two.

          People don’t come to HLP for the parking, they come for the goods and services, and having or not having these parking lots is not going to change this at the end of the day.

          Finally, parking is not an environmental impact under CEQA, so parking has nothing to do with the environmental review or findings of inadequacy.

          Is this really about the parking? I suspect not. In any case we’ll see what you have to complain about now.

    • Yes, let’s keep the housing market as strained as possible. That’ll “chase hipsters out” amiright!!??

    • Actually it isn’t. These hipsters that were going to live in these places are now going to find housing in the regular crappy apartments, driving up prices there. The run down apartment across the street from me is now renting for 1900 for a regular 2 bedroom! It’s freaking crap too!

  3. uh……..I think the businesses on fig need that parking

    • Uh…………….you mean all those dope brunch spots, bars and coffee places?? Hell no, mang. I just grab my U-lock, twirl my mustache and hop on my track bike. See you at Homestate, Mando!

    • It is not a question of whether they need parking, it is a question of whether there is enough supply without the lots. Secondly, the supply will be replaced per the article so uh……. what the heck are you talking about?

  4. chasehipstersout

    you mean BIG BAD MANDO MEDINA your nightmare????

  5. chasehipstersout

    Make sure you use those brand new bike lanes on fig

  6. If you can’t build 4 story apartment buildings in the middle of a neighborhood shopping district well served by mass transit, than where the hell can you build them?

    Jeez… and people wonder why rents are so ridiculous? Hint: it ain’t the “hipsters” filing lawsuits to prevent housing from being built.

  7. chasehipstersout

    not in highland park

  8. those parking lots are usually half empty. Just a big empty parking lot – right next to a transit line! – is about the worst use of space possible.

    This is a bad decision.

  9. There is a development similar to this in south pas near the gold line stop. The effect on traffic and parking is barely noticeable and the neighborhood is thriving partly because of it. But I guess that’s ok as long as it’s in a neighborhood other than Highland Park. NIMBYs truly are the worst.

    • Exclusionary zoning is the name if the game.

      Constraining the local housing market means their property values will continue to skyrocket with minimal effort or investment. Meanwhile working class renters are priced out because demand continues to outpace supply.

      Basically, they’ve already climbed the economic ladder, and now they’re sawing off the lower rungs. The “me generation” in a nutshell.

  10. cranky renters: “we want everything to stay EXACTLY the same as it was in the 80s when we moved in. we love trash, graffiti, gang violence and illegal dumping. we expect our rent to stay $500 until the end of time. we HATE nice new things and we are TERRIFIED of change and anything outside of our crappy pawn-shop ghetto life experience. we have no problem with trashing the neighborhood and gangs killing people, that’s a price we are willing to pay to keep our rent cheap.”

    • Somehow I doubt that it’s “cranky renters” filing this lawsuit.

    • wow are you having a stroke? you just typed up a super disturbing and racist housing/nimby word salad and conflated two issues that literally have nothing to do w this topic

  11. Why are we trying to preserve a lifeless parking lot? Is it an historic Craftsman parking lot constructed by hand of river rocks carted up from the Arroyo Seco by Charles Lummis himself? There’s a severe housing crisis and its cause is the anti-housing NIMBY army who mistakenly think that it’s 1916, not 2016. There are already 3.3 parking spaces for every car in Los Angeles. If traffic and parking are nightmares for you, the solution is simple — scrap your car and get on the train, ride a bike, take a bus, walk, or some combination of all four — it’s 2016, not 1916. Los Angeles is the most populous county in the nation and the most densely-populated urban area and we should prioritize human beings over rolling smog boxes.

  12. People need to get over the home/rent increases. If I could afford it, I’d sure as hell rather live on the west side by the beach. NELA is dry, arid and hot. Boo hoo, poor people can’t afford to live here, go move further east then.

  13. These new units will not be under rent control. Only older apartments built before 1978 are under rent control.
    Rent control in LA does not apply to these huge, new, mostly corporate apartment buildings.

    • that’s misleading. some of the housing will be affordable housing, meaning they’ll be priced below market.

    • The councilman for this area is chair of the Housing Committee for the City Council. An update to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance has been frozen in his committee for (I believe) close to a year now. He is the reason post-1978 buildings are not part of the RSO. He has watched as countless families and individuals have gotten the boot while holding his thumb down on the RSO update in his council committee. Perhaps he’s stopping and expansion of the RSO because of some petty quarrel he has with someone in the horseshoe downtown? Or perhaps it is because of his continued support from large real estate interests in the city. It is shameful, really, given his $186,000 annual salary and the negative impacts his actions have had on the lives of so many.

      Also, to kermit’s point, the median individual income in this community is somewhere in the $35,000 range. “Affordable” housing is set to allow someone earning the the medianincome for the County, which would be somewhere in the $55,000 range. So, kermit is correct but also not really addressing the local affordability crisis question.

  14. Responsible development is what is needed in Highland Park. Sadly, our current infrastructure and City Services are inadequate….So, why in the world would we want an over-sized development/housing to take place in Highland Park. The City of Los Angeles must first improve its current infrastructure and City Services before permitting any new housing developments in Highland Park. Congrats to Friends of Highland Park for stopping this current proposed development by McCormack, Baron, and Salazar. What an AWESOME victory!!!

    • Truth be told, infill development actually helps in this regard. More tax revenue per acre for the city using our existing streets, pipes, utilities, schools, transit, etc. The alternative is just more taxes.

    • how is this development irresponsible? medium density housing five miles from downtown LA is totally reasonable. your mom is here to pick you up, dude.

  15. The law suit doesn’t kill the project, it only asks that developers follow the law. Submit an environmental report. Friends of Highland park seek to have the building adhere to zoning codes, i.e. Height limits etc.

    Pretty much just asking for the developer to do all the things any regular citizen doing work on their property is asked to do.

    L.A. Has become known as cowboy country for developers, where anything goes, just build whatever you want and hope no one notices you’re breaking the law. When citizens fight back their labeled NIMBYs.

    • Problem is the zoning throughout the city hasn’t been updated in decades. Add to that, CEQA, which is a well intentioned (but poorly written) law that just drags out the development process for years and years with studies and lawsuits, adding substantially to housing costs for developers and tenants.

      Do we really need to study the effects of a 4 story apartment building next to mass transit? This is bread and butter urban development. Virtually any environmentalist or city planner would agree this is exactly the kind of location we should be building housing in LA… where people have the option to walk for most local errands, and catch a train to work in Downtown or Pasadena.

      Cowboy country? Hardly! Regular citizens don’t build housing anymore. They’ve been priced out of the equation alltogether. Sounds great if you’re lucky enough to already own a home (or you’re a developer/flipper with deep pockets.) The market is handicapped in your favor. But it’s a total disaster for younger generations. Even if you have a decent job in LA it’s hella expensive to rent or buy.

  16. Congrats NIMBYs: you’ve successfully scuttled 80 units of affordable housing in the middle of a housing affordability crisis. I hope you are proud of yourselves.

  17. chasehipstersout

    VICTORY !!!!

  18. I can’t with these people. They’d rather have a dirty parking lot than housing for families. What the hell is wrong with them? The changes to HP literally cannot come soon enough. These people want the city to be frozen in time with not enough housing and rising prices for everyone else looking to buy or rent. Cities grow. Deal with it or leave.

  19. Something worth considering: this project is being done using public money.


  20. Yay! As a homeowner I’m glad these NIMBYs are working hard to drive up the cost of rent and housing. I’m gonna make a killing selling my place if they keep limiting development and pushing out longtime residents who can’t afford as much as those well paid hipsters. Thank you NIMBYs for helping hp get one more step closer to a rich white hipster enclave. ???

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