Timber! Developer seeks permit to cut down protected Elysian Heights trees*

Echo Park 15 @ Allesandro/ Rendering courtesy Planet Home Living

A developer planning to build 15 homes on a wooded hillside on the northern edge of Elysian Heights will seek permission on Friday to cut down 43 Live Oak and Black Walnut trees on the three acre parcel.  The home builder, Planet Home Living, would be required to plant more than 180 trees to replace the ones it cut down. The trees fall under the city’s protected tree ordinance that requires the Board of Public Works to approve the cutting down of native trees that meet certain criteria.

Many area residents have waged a years-long battle against the development of the hillside near  Allesandro Street and Rosebud Avenue  and to protect the trees.  Earlier this year, Planet Home Living purchased the site from the original developer as it prepares to start construction on a project called Echo Park 15 @ Allesandro.  Michael Marini with Planet Home Living said his firm has no choice but to cut down the trees:

Most of the required tree removals are a result of the removal and recompaction of the old unstable fill located at the upper pad, which has zero direct impact and is not actually necessary for the construction of the 15 homes below.

Marini said construction on the site won’t begun until financing is secured, most likely by the end of the year. The first homes, which are expected to be priced in the low to mid $600,000 range, are expected to be completed by summer of 2012, he said.

Diane Edwardson, a Silver Lake blogger who has opposed the project, said that many other trees not covered by the ordinance will also be leveled.  “The site will be cleared of all except 5 trees per the original plan, approved over the appeal of neighbors who were supported by Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy in 2009.  The plan identified 60 trees for removal,” Edwardson wrote on her blog today.

* Update on Friday, Sept. 9: Residents who attended the Public Works meeting said the commissioners postponed a decision until Sept. 28, perhaps a later date.



  1. Would the mayoral candidate, Eric Garcetti, care to comment? And please spare us the political rhetoric. You failed your community once again.

  2. Damn. Such a beautiful site. Should be parkland.

    Give the number of failed construction projects around town – and the number of unsold condos — I was hoping the economy would slow this thing down enough to maybe kill it.

  3. I love how these folks always have such a “green” sounding name as they destroy nature.
    Such bullshit. I hope they are stopped. They don’t even have financing yet! Who needs another $600,000 condo project overlooking the 2 freeway?

  4. I agree this should be a park. Better yet: connect this parcel to the recently completed Elysian Park extension off of Riverside by clearing residents out of this sad corner of L.A. Then we would have a nice open space of fields, surrounded by trees, trails, maybe a dog run–

  5. Garcetti has already approved it. He is very pro development. That’s why I hate him!!!

  6. Parkland is this parcels highest and best use. But, don’t deny the next-in-line developer the opportunity to get a charitable deduction on his tax return for the charitable donation!

    Once developed, we lose the natural beauty, never to be seee again, and get more congestion in return! Would that bother the developer? HA!

  7. Here is a quote from the developer’s website. http://www.planethomeliving.com/Echo_Park_15_%40_Allesandro_st..html
    “The market in Echo Park and the surrounding area remains strong with an urgency created surrounding this community due to a wave of local gentrification and the severe housing shortage in the immediate neighborhood.” Where is the severe housing shortage? Is this an example of developers using SB1818 to argue in their favor to increase density?

    I live in Elysian Heights and I see quite a bit of available housing in Echo Park and Silverlake, FOR ALL INCOME LEVELS. I walk past the blight (failed development) on EP Ave near Morton everyday.

    I’m not anti-development. I’m just tired of developers feeling like they can come to a community, Tear down already existing houses or, in this case trees, take a crap on it and just walk away. That is honestly what this feels like.

  8. Calling Darryl Hannah. I have much respect for her, she is willing to get arrested for this cause. She will protect these trees. Help!

  9. This is a good example of why people are anti-development in Los Angeles. We should be adding infill density to streets with rapid transit and walkable amenities (Vermont, Sunset, Hollywood, etc.) But building apartments up hillsides where 95% of trips will require a car is just backwards thinking.

  10. Well, at least they are filing permits instead of just cutting them down and paying the fines.

  11. In addition to what Corner Soul states, I keep hearing that MTA is eliminating a lot of bus routes. How are we supposed to support public transportation in areas considered transit corridors when routes are being eliminated? From this standpoint, infill density doesn’t sound so good anywhere. Echo Park and Silverlake are dense enough.

  12. can someone advise us how we might still oppose this travesty?

  13. @ @ Corner Soul: Metro recently cut service on lines that were superfluous or lacked adequate ridership, but this was done in order to increase service throughout the city. The way I see it, development is probably going to happen in this community whether you or I think it’s appropriate so it’s better to encourage mixed-use projects along major transit corridors, than auto-centric developments like this.

  14. The Dept. of Public Works today at its regular meeting postponed consideration of the removal of these trees required by Dept. of Building and Safety until Sept. 27, 20ll. Cindy Ortiz, Ida Talalla, a resident near the construction site and I submitted emails and public comment; Christine Peters submitted a letter for the CCSEP.

    The position taken by all of us was that we, the community, needed to see the required landscape project design and the necessary building permits acquired prior to any action.

  15. We will submit emails as well. Where did you send them to? Thanks!

  16. Letters can be emailed to the Board of Public Works@
    Office of Council District 13

    This is a tricky issue. The developer has no desire or interest in removing the trees. It is a requirement by Building and Safety to “secure” the “Hill of Fill” above the project site along the flat area on Allesandro. So, what you would be requesting of Garcetti’s office is to convene a public meeting with Building and Safety to mitigate this issue of tree removals to accomplish slope stabilization. What if the developer did not own the Hill? Would Building permits be denied, or become just a risk?

    What you are asking of the BPW is to decline any action until the slope issue is resolved and actual financing for the project is secured. As there is no point in allowing tree removals should the project not move forward (as so many do not-See Chicken Corner, Bertco Property, Union and Temple, and so on). The City in general needs a better policy to sync demo permits with project start dates.


  17. Thanks for all the info and everything you do around EP!

  18. This will be esoteric, but it is important to understand the difference between the terminology.

    The project at 2400 Allesandro has only received a “Soils Report Approval Letter” from the Grading Dept. This is not the same as getting their permits from the Grading Dept. It is one step closer.

    I checked the B&S website: http://www.ladbs.org/LADBSWeb/public-home.jsf for the “Parcel Activity Report.” No permits have yet been applied for.

    So yes, it is premature to cut down all the trees before they’ve even applied for their grading permits. The history of failed development on this parcel demands extra scrutiny before they denude an entire 3 acre lot of trees and abandon the project once they start digging into hillside.

  19. Several of us are drafting a letter to the city asking the developer be required to install fire hydrants on Montana, Douglas and Elysian Park Drive. If you would like to see the letter and add your name, please contact Tamaroland@att.net by Jan 20th to be included.
    Thank you,
    Tamar Halpern

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