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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Council office wants to see less of proposed Echo Park housing project

Echo Park residents who oppose the development of  eight, four-story townhouses at the corner Echo Park Avenue and Avalon Street picked up some support from the office of Councilman Eric Garcetti, who wants  a shorter and less dense project. In a meeting with the developer, Jeremy Paige, and residents on Tuesday, officials from Council District 13 indicated that Garcetti would withhold support for Paige’s effort to split the corner property to accommodate eight homes – each less than 20-feet wide – if changes were not made, according to a review of the meeting posted on the Echo Elysian Forum.

“The Council Office voiced their opposition to Mr. Paige, in support of the community and asked that he resubmit a new plan for development which would include less height and density than the current proposal.  They also asked that he include a commercial component (small business space) in the new plans, as was intended for that property in the original Echo Park Community Plan.”

A spokeswoman for Garcetti  confirmed that the posting accurately portrayed the council office’  position on the project.

Paige has been seeking to split up  a pair of lots totaling 8,000-square-feet  into eight separate house lots under the city’s small lot subdivision ordinance. The developer has Sept. 20 meeting to review the request.



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19 comments

  1. Something commercial would be nice. The retail on Echo Park Ave is so intermittent.

  2. This stance by Garcetti is far too little. Chopping it to three stories will NOT make it any less a horror. Garcetti should be taking a stance against the city code that allows for such small sized units!

    Garcetti’s stance leaves every last lot in the city fair game for such crappy development.

    Multiple story trailers — and at the kind of width of these small units, that’s all this kind of development amounts to — do not belong any place, not even in a trailer park!

    With Garcetti’s stance, be ready for more and more and more fights over such development — because you are going to be seeing a LOT more such proposals. After all, why would a developer who can make a lot more money selling these horribly undersized units ever propose to build something of reasonable size? That is, ALL lots out there are now subject to these kind of units but should not be.

  3. Just out of curiosity Henry, what is a reasonable size?

  4. If rowhomes are now “multiple story trailers”, does that make Brooklyn the world’s biggest trailer park?

  5. These are MUCH narrower and smaller than a row home! They are not at all like a row home. These are trailer size, unlike a row home.

  6. More narrow than a row home.

    That would make them a narROW home.

    🙂

  7. You all don’t get back east much eh? 20′ feet would be a really wide rowhome! The rowhouses I know are best are in DC- and they’re usually about 15′ feet wide. That’s one room wide plus a corridor/staircase. Their space comes from their depth and height- usually 3 stories plus a basement. A 15′ foot wide rowhome is actually much more space than most people need (and can afford), so they are often split into 3 condos, plus an “english basement” apartment.

    I can buy the “Its too tall” argument or the “its architecture doesn’t blend with the neighborhood” argument, but narrowness? Really? No.
    Incidentally, rowhouses get a lot smaller. There’s even a really cute one in Alexandria, VA that’s only 7′ wide (the blue one, below)

    http://i.imgur.com/SoKH4.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/JEnL8.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/32PAi.jpg

  8. @Henry: It’s all well and good for you to play NIMBY on this development. But please consider the following facts:
    1. The city needs more housing
    2. There is no more land to develop (unless you prefer exurban sprawl)
    3. To get more housing, you need denser development of existing land

    Believe me, the developer of this project would prefer to build nice, traditional houses (b/c people would probably prefer them to these more vertical structures). However, the numbers simply do not work.

    If the developer can’t make money, then he won’t build the project. And if he doesn’t build the project, there’s no more housing being created.

    Am sure @Henry loves that idea, since he probably already owns. But everyone else – young families, immigrants, etc. – get priced out if there’s no new supply.

    Do you want to live in a city full of rich people, or people who happened to buy before your NIMBY-ism stopped development?

  9. @Jonathan – I don’t follow how young families, immigrants etc are helped w/ housing if these 8 units are built? I mean, clearly these are not being built to house any of those demographics. Did that long vacant Sunset 5 project help an immigrant find affordable housing? I think it just aimed to make a developer richer…
    I think I already live in a city full of rich people.

  10. Re Jonathan, your presumptions are all wrong. I don’t even live in Echo Park (although I did some years ago) much less near this development, I live a couple miles away. I oppose such development no matter where as being ugly, too small and crammed, too tall for such a narrow building, too close. These are NOT the size of or like row houses. These also are not condos per se, instead will be individually owned LOTS.

    I also don’t own, I rent.

    So, all your presumptions are wrong.

    Yes, the city needs more housing. But good, livable housing, not this crap and eyesore.

  11. Freakin hysterical NIMBYs!! You live in a city of millions of people but scream when anything near YOUR place is threatened! Typical. This is exactly the type of development urban areas need to be sustainable. They are dense but well thought out. The developer has every right to build them and succeed or fail and if you don’t like it, move to Montana or a small town in the midwest. And shame on Garcetti for caving in to a bunch of shrill NIMBYs! More density is inevitable. At least do it smartly, which this project seems to be.

  12. @boombala:

    More supply is more supply. The people who buy these houses will move out of others, thereby opening them up for other people to live in and so on.

    This argument gets a little tenuous when applied to ultra-luxury houses, but these places will be selling for around $500k (I would imagine), which makes them affordable for a family making around $9-10k per month. That’s basically two mid-career teachers or something.

  13. The developer does not have a right to build
    this god awfull project if the zoning has to be
    changed. This means that the land use is ment for something else.
    The developer is asking for a change and the answer
    is now no. We deserve to have housing in our community
    which is quality and fits Echo Park’s charm.

  14. @Jonathan
    I hear people say this, but I think the totality of the argument is tenuous. There are vacant spaces all over the area. Orsini? The new development at Sunset/Alvarado? The Sunset 5? Hollywood/Vine? All over downtown? And yet, immigrant families and the working poor are still living 6-8 to a room in Westlake – which is the most densely populated area of Los Angeles, if not the country. No one is talking about truly affordable housing options. There are variances granted to developers who add a small number of low-income units. Who really thinks this solves, or even dents, the issue of affordable housing? If you made the argument that building these places opens up housing for more middle income folks (without kids), I’d agree with you. So, you are right – they won’t be moving into the Hollywood/Vine apartment. But, your argument of a trickle-up occupancy in housing doesn’t really work out to truly affordable housing.

  15. @boombala

    The vacancy you see at those higher-end projects is temporary. One of two things will happen: The economy will improve, or the prices (rents) will go down. There are some peculiarities in how construction loan docs work that sometimes prevent the owners from lowering prices, but reality always wins out (even if by foreclosure). Then you will see that the properties fill up and the effect I described above will take hold.

    If you want affordable housing, you need to agree to higher densities and reduced parking requirements. If I could build big apartment buildings in Westlake without providing parking, I would be able to deliver units at approximately $150-20k for a 1,000 sq ft two bedroom place.

    I could make money by renting them for $1200-1700 per month. That would be affordable for a family making $3600 per month – which is not poor-poor, but is certainly lower middle class.

    Incidentally: That’s why those big buildings in Westlake exist in the first place – they would never have been built had the developers been required to provide parking.

  16. Bottom line is that Garcetti acknowledged the neighborhood’s position. Hopefully people will stay involved and work towards a resolution — and not assume that anybody knows their interests and what they are willing to live with.

  17. Why the surprise on this one? – the lot has been zoned for a 45′ high structure since the beginning of time. Not so much a concern about townhomes as much as just bulk – but they never would have needed any public review if commercial – would just show up with the bulldozer…

    And the economic theory is simple enough – people get tired of living in dilapidated old house make some money and move to nice new house. Then people without money move into the run down old house – 6 to 8 people at a time if need be. It may not be as direct as boombala likes – because there are alot of steps between a $2300 mo new unit and what a day laborer wants to spend – but it’s how markets should work – if not distorted by wacky govt rules as jonathan and the parking day people will point out.

  18. They cannot do this project without a special waiver of the zoning requirements. They can’t even meet the parking requirements in the law without a special waiver to allow tandem parking, which otherwise is not allowed because it will never work.

    Unfortunately, this city gives out the waivers (variance) as if they can’t wait to do so, rather than only rarely, for truly exceptional circumstances that deserve one. The way this city approaches variances undermines the zoning laws. This project is a prime example. Variances should not be used to squeeze even more units onto a location than otherwise would be allowed, which is what is being done by allowing tandem parking and setback reductions.

  19. Henry, the reason the city hands out variances is because they can charge ridiculous fees for them. The simple fact is variances, and all other entitlement requirements, are tools to create revenue. It’s pretty simple to understand that when a city is as broke as LA, they are going to do whatever they can to generate revenue. Everyone from the department head to the person behind the counter signing off on the variance knows that the fee they are getting just might save their job. I think you should look at the city with the same level of criticism you direct towards this developer. After all, if the entitlements weren’t so outrageously expensive, he could probably afford to build less units – and then they would be wider.

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