L.A. Times editorial comes out against giant Echo Park housing development

There are many real estate developments brewing across Echo Park, but a proposal to build hundreds of housing units on the grounds of Barlow Respiratory Hospital is by far the biggest and most contentious. On Sunday, the L.A. Times weighed in with an editorial saying that the city should not change its zoning to permit such high-density development next to Elysian Park. While Barlow officials say they need to sell rezone and sell off  most of the  property to finance the construction of a new hospital on the site, the Times editorial said it’s not worth it:

As regrettable as it would be if Barlow were to close, that possibility does not justify an upheaval of the zoning and land-use plans for the Silver Lake, Echo Park and Elysian Valley area — the community plan for which was updated nine years ago.

The editorial added that it would be ideal if Barlow, which specializes in the treatment of patients with respiratory problems, could build a new hospital on its grounds  but that “shouldn’t change the character of the neighborhood for that to happen.”

Click here to read the full editorial.


  1. Wow. LA Times finally got something right.

  2. I cant wait for that damn Barlow Hospital to finally be out of business! Let those sick people die already!

  3. Wow, they only have 49 beds now. And they’re asking for 600 new houses to finance building a facility for 56 beds. The ratio seems way off, like a not-very-resourceful hospital administration was offered this hail mary by a developer.

    • You’re right! Let the patients suffer and/or die!

      • Trying it again because no one took your bait the first time? Ok, I’ll bite…the article clearly says the closing of the hospital may be an inconvenience for some, but will not be a public health scare. None of the 49 patients will die if moved to another facility. So there.

        • Why are developers killing sick people?????? This is an outrage.

        • Totally agree. There are other facilities where these people can receive treatment. It hardly seems worth damaging neighborhoods where thousands of people live for the sake of a small and apparently poorly-managed facility.

  4. Glad the Times took a stand – that raises the visibility of all this.

  5. This is good for the cause against the overdevelopment of that hospital site. And I support that cause. It is very surprising to see the LA Times editorialize on this project, as it pretty much never takes an editorial stand on a neighborhood development. And when it does, its stance is always very contrary to that taken on this development.

    But as an aside, another matter, that of journalistic ethics, I am disappointed in the Times. Many members of the Times staff live in Echo Park and Silver Lake, as near to where they work. On its face, it appears that is why the Times has taken a stand on a project it normally would not do so, a project in many of its staffers’ neighborhood. That is, this opinion, while good for a cause I support, is strictly a selfish NIMBY opinion, and as such a violation of journalistic ethics — and I want to call the Times on that, let them know people take note.

  6. Nora’s observation is astute.

    The Los Angeles Time editorial board has recently awakened to the fact that the City and communities spend enormous time developing zoning plans and then that community consensus is upended by project applicants who simply ignore the zoning and begin greasing palms to override it with massive variances and exceptions.

    Eric Garcetti has been an almost complete sell out of these plans. He is wrong. His vision of a dense Los Angeles everywhere is misguided. He is imposing great hardship on existing residents who he has disrespected and refuses to work with. His actions have encouraged Barlow to even consider such an outrageous proposal to sell land with huge variances in order to finance at hospital rebuild that should have been financed by a competent hospital board.

    Currently, other hospitals are closing in this area. I wonder if those hospital buildings might offer an opportunity for Barlow to relocate to a seismically compliant facility and then work with the Council office to find a sensitive way to re-purpose the existing Barlow site. That, in my opinion, would be a win-win.

    • Give me a break. Nora’s observation may be astute but yours is not. I also strongly oppose the proposed development at Barlow Hospital but I don’t think it is fair to blame Eric Garcetti for every bad development in this neighborhood. Eric Garcetti started serving Echo Park at a time when the neighborhood still lacked many amenities. Since then, he has brought more amenities and services to this district. But yes, the pace and quality of development in Echo Park is going to continue to be a challenge. You can’t have improvement (i.e. change) without pissing off somebody. If anything, I give Eric credit for navigating the crazy politics between people in the neighborhood who strictly do not want any development at all — at any costs (NIMBY’s), and those who want and demand new changes, new services, new amenities. That is never easy line to walk but he has walked it better than most. But it sounds like we all agree that this development is poorly thought-out.

      • Eric has been a disaster regardless of what the apologists for the little wimp say. The man has given away $1.5 billion of our tax dollars to his real estate developer supporters in Hollywood and what do we have to show for it? Gridlock. Tens of thousands of people moved out. Massive losses of affordable housing units.

        He has no backbone to support the people he supposedly represents.

        • I’m always puzzled at the way people talk about affordable housing as though it is an entitlement. You are responsible for you. If you cant afford the rent where you are, you either have to come up with more money or move to a cheaper place. Market rent is CALLED market rent because the owner of the property will receive what the market decides is a fair price.

          Politicians have tried to usurp the authority of property owners with programs like rent “stabilization” aka rent control where they attempt to suppress rent. This has created a multitude of unintended consequences that would be corrected by the free market had they not attempted to “fix” the market.

          The market, especially when left alone, will always decide correctly.

          • Not to burst your bubble, but a major achilles heel of pure market theory is that utility is equal to willingness to pay in classical microeconomics. However, willingness to pay is largely determined by the initial distribution of resources prior to entrance into the market. Utility is therefore an a priori determination to a functioning market. Not saying that rent control is the answer, but I suggest you research some of the work done in behavioral economics before saying that a pure market is an answer to determining the greatest good in all circumstances.

          • “You are responsible for you”. WRONG. I am my brother’s keeper is the credo of those who believe in community and would rather not sandbag themselves in wealthy isolation. Thoughtful development that emphasizes affordable housing is an investment in a society that reflects human diversity NOT diversity of wealth and wealth alone. That’s what Pacific Palisades is for NOT an urban center like Los Angeles. Act like you Know, newbie.

          • Btw, that “free market” mantra has been so thoroughly discredited in the past 10 years that nothing but intentional sabotage and class warfare can explain anybody still clueless(?), gullible(?), cynical(?) enough to continue repeating it.. Otherwise, the only true certainty of an unfettered free market is clever individuals gaming the system for personal gain. Even if it comes at the expense of disposable neighbors and fellow citizens. In fact, why the hell would anybody with that philosophy insist on living in N.E.L.A.? Like Superman relocating to Krypton and just as impotent.

          • @prociop The rent stabilization ordinance keeps rents artificially low in some units which forces the others artificially high. Therefore the ones paying higher rents are subsidizing their “brothers” as you say. How is that fair? I’m for a community where everyone pulls his own weight. You don’t have to “act” like you know, when you KNOW.

            @ep gurlla
            Did I say it was good in all circumstances? No. I said that the I have first hand knowledge both as a renter and as a landlord of the unintended consequences caused by the RSO.

          • “I’m for a community where everyone pulls his own weight”. That is your prejudice about people in EP. Otherwise, I assume that everyone IS already pulling their own weight, which shouldn’t have to include additional sacrifice to pad the pockets of carpet-bagging developers, i.e., outsiders who care nothing about the long-term viability and prosperity of our community. Only the tipping-point where they can cash-out and target another community’s green space to satisfy their one and only priority: profits. You’re as gullible as they come if you believe that their primary motive is enhancing and contributing to the culture and character of the surrounding community.

          • There goes procipoi, the walking contradiction!

            If everyone is pulling his own weight why do you need subsidized housing? By definition and topically, this is exactly the point. Those receiving these subsidies are not pulling their own weight. There is no “prejudices about the people in Echo Park”! You are the one that brought up the need for “affordable housing” aka subsidized housing aka section 8 or (RSO).

            Secondly, you need to understand that private property is not “public green space” the lot you are referencing will be developed unless you can come up with the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to pay off the owner. Put up or SHUT UP!

          • “If everyone is pulling his own weight why do you need subsidized housing?” Because pulling your own weight shouldn’t become a criteria of wealth that excludes the working-class who have always been the core of neighborhoods in N.E.L.A. How is it fair that all of N.E.L.A. become Silverlake and Los Feliz? The contrast between those communities and neighboring EP, EV, CP, GP, and LHts combined with location has always been the appeal of N.E.L.A. and the defining factors of its quiet yet vibrant culture and diversity, e.g., Hyperion and Rowena compared to York and Figueroa. N.E.L.A. has always been “hip”. Act like you Know, newbie.

          • Keep wishing as you pack your bags to move east…

      • “Eric Garcetti started serving Echo Park at a time when the neighborhood still lacked many amenities”? What specific amenities are you referring too? I can’t think of a single additional service or “amenity” that didn’t already exist prior to Garcetti’s tenure as councilmember. Face it: Garcetti is a play-along to get along type of guy and has a well-earned reputation for playing softball and avoiding hardball.

    • I haven’t been able to find any information about Eric Garcetti’s opinion on the Barlow development plans. As far as I can tell, he is in favor of increased density near the Red Line, with some decreased density in parts of Hollywood that are far from the Red Line (at least, that’s what was in the community plan, for better or worse). Given that the Barlow site is about as transit-inaccessible as anything in Echo Park could be, it doesn’t sound like the sort of thing he’d support.

      • Nobody in the mayor’s race would come out against this project – both need the labor vote to win, and labor loves this project. Garcetti’s office re-tweeted the LA times editorial but that’s hardly coming out on record. It’s a shame, considering he used to live right near this area, but the guy won’t take a stand on anything of substance when he could kick the can down the road.

        • Kenny and EP Guerilla: you will never be able to pin Garcetti down on anything…. too risky in case some of his $$$ donors don’t like it….. hope he and his were well-paid for their integrity…. they have completely sold out the community in favor of the developers…..

        • I wish Eric would come out against it. But, yes, it has everything to do with it the Mayoral race and it being risky to do so with labor going full-hog on this project. I think it really will come down to who wins in the Council District races. If John Choi wins in CD 13, Labor will get the project it wants — and then some. If Mitch O’Farrel prevails, he will owe Labor nothing and will do what the community wants and I do believe he will stop this monstrosity. Same in CD 1 — Gardea has already come out against it and Cedillo is all in with Labor.

  7. DONT VOTE FOR ERIC! He is a sell out, and he has sold you out already!

    supports the hollywood towers but not as big is the original plan… yes no maybe? cant make up his mind unless there is a big sitcker price on it for him to make money on…

    • Yeah, because what we want in office is another Mayor in the pocket of the unions.

      If the unions bankroll the election to buy the mayoral seat, who is there to represent the taxpayers when it’s time to negotiate?

      Vote the lesser of two evils. Vote Eric.

  8. Can someone please enlighten me as to why everyone is against this project? And stating that this project will “kill the character” of the neighborhood isn’t sufficient. Why will it kill the character of the neighborhood? Because more people will be able to live in Echo Park? And yes the zoning will have to change, but right where you are right now was once desert land. The zoning laws changed, and have always changed to accommodate future residents/projects. Why are people so anti-development? I understand fighting a Walmart or Costco, but this? Nothing remains the same – EVER. Including Echo Park – which is drastically different today than it was 10 years ago. I wonder if the people who were priced out felt that the “character of their neighborhood” had been diminished and replaced by vegan restaurants and bars.

    • @Carlos: You don’t say anything specific to this project, only generalities that would apply to any development. I don’t live in EP any more (I live elsewhere in NELA) but here are three specifics about this project: (1) its scale — 822 or 600 homes is very big by EP standards; (2) the fact that it would take over open space adjacent to an existing park (as opposed to an already built-up area); (3) the hilly area where it is does not have very good traffic flow.

      Add to this the whole hospital angle, and you’ve got quite a volatile brew.

      • I’m speaking in generalities on purpose, Whiny. That’s precisely my point. “We’re afraid of lose the character of our neighborhood” “We don’t want more traffic” “The scale is too big for Echo Park”. What people don’t realize is that Echo Park HAS ALREADY LOST its’ old character, and has reinvented itself. It still has character, just a different type now. As for traffic, well, we all contribute to traffic. It comes with living in Los Angeles. If you drive to work, you create traffic, when you go pick up your kids, you create traffic. This idea that traffic should stop because I LIVE HERE is absolute nonsense. Write to Metro instead and ask for better options. I haven’t seen much strong support of the bus system in LA. It actually works pretty great, it’s just people are too scared to ride it. And of course it will take up open space, the houses nearby did too ONCE UPON A TIME. Traffic flow in Los Angeles is non-existent. And those of us that live here know that. It’s one of those LA euphemisms. Stop being so scared of it.

        • “Traffic flow in Los Angeles is non-existent” exCept in the street currently flowing through the Barlow facility. It’s a great and flowing shortcut for those anxious to avoid Sunset, Alvarado, or Glendale Blvd. to reach the 5 or simply the other side of the hill. Way too many L.A. stereotypes in your post to take it very seriously.

        • The scale of the proposed development would change EP materially. It’s worth debating.

          Change is inevitable, sure, but that does not mean that all proposed change is OK.

          I find your comments about traffic equally vacuous. Nobody is proposing that “traffic should stop because I LIVE HERE”. And saying that “traffic flow in LA is non-existent” is manifestly false. I got to work today somehow.

          I’m also surprised at your comment about the bus system (“I haven’t seen much strong support of the bus system in LA.”). Are you aware of the Bus Riders Union (http://www.thestrategycenter.org/project/bus-riders-union/about)? Their lawsuit was one of the things that prompted modernization of the MTA’s bus fleet, which is now second-largest in the US, and arguably the most modern. The BRU was highly effective, using a consent decree operative from 1996-2006 to force purchase of a *lot* of new buses.

    • “Including Echo Park – which is drastically different today than it was 10 years ago.” The only “drastic” difference is safety, which has improved dramatically over the past 13 years. It’s the primary reason that a previously obscure N.E.L.A. became a destination for the current overflow of new residents. Otherwise, places like EP were more diverse and quietly vibrant before 2000. Increased density of population and the looming diversity of wealth and wealth alone is what threatens the traditional culture and character of EP not the new and relatively exotic businesses that emerged after 2000 to replace some of the truly funky businesses that existed before but did NOT cater exclusively to the wealthy and wealthier.

  9. Im most concerned with the potential traffic impact, please see: http://saveelysianpark.org/faq/

    I am a regular user of Elysian park’s trails and other amenities, and a concerned resident who bears witness daily to dozens of racing cars up and down my street (going like 45 mph with kids and pets all around). The last thing I want is to see even more cars and density here… IMO, This has potential to become like the nightmare fairfax area. Ugh!

  10. You are all undeniably guilty of the acts that you are trying to stop and you are ignorant in your denial of this. Fascinating. Like a blissful herd of naysayers, locked into rederict that feels righteous because you are inherently selfish. How pathetically human of you all.

  11. your conscience @ ep

    Can you say irony, hypocrisy, and a double standard! Now all the sudden all the new comers are worried about the same things all of us long time residence have been saying all along. Wow, I am amazed at how all of the sudden we all have a different opinion when it is not a coffee shop business opening up or a vegan spot, taking up all the parking in ones residential neighborhood. I oppose both,the influx of people that congest our area and the Barlow Hospital. Everyone has their own ulterior motives when it comes to their own conveniences, correct me if I am wrong!

  12. Folks, instead of carping about Garcetti’s stance on this issue, which he’s not on record as being for, how about putting the focus in the City Council District in which this resides? Gil Cedillo IS in favor of this. Jose Gardea is NOT. If you want temporary-job-producing, neighborhood-destroying, Big Labor-backed projects like this, Cedillo’s your man.

  13. The Times nailed it… density and development throughout central LA is inevitable, but it should be infill projects built along our transit corridors (not hillside developments that destroy open spaces and are difficult to access without a car).

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