It’s official — Echo Park is great

Echo Park Lake’s morning regulars, the joggers and walkers wearing shorts and iPods and the homeless sleeping on cardboard sheets set out on the grass, were joined today by some visitors: Mayor Villaraigosa and Co. The mayor, standing behind a podium plunked down near the north end of the lake, accepted a planning award naming Echo Park as one of the nation’s 10 Great Neighborhoods in 2008. He noted it was the first time a Latino-majority neighborhood had received the award from the American Planning Association and ticked off a list of the neighborhood’s attributes, ranging from the diversity of its residents to its public stairways and art galleries.

Echo Park “sets an example of smart planning and strategic development,” Villaraigosa said to a crowd of camera men, journalists and City Hall staffers dressed in suits.

Of course, one day earlier at at City Hall, a City Council committee approved a motion to allow the demolition of two older buildings just a short walk away from this morning’s media moment at Echo Park Lake. On the site would rise a 75-foot high parking structure with room for more than 500 cars. This is smart planning?

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