Councilman pushes for more notice of demolitions as old Echo Park buildings bite the dust

Bulldozers and other pieces of heavy-duty construction equipment are putting on quite a show this week as they tear down several older buildings – including an 1899 home – on Temple Street to make way for a new, 49-unit Echo Park apartment complex with swimming pool.  But not everyone is thrilled with the demolition derby taking place across the area as the pace of real estate development picks up.

On Wednesday, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who represents Echo Park,  introduced a City Council motion that would “enhance” the city’s demolition process to require greater public  notice and feedback.   Says the motion:

Demolition permits are issued without a public process. When a property owner decides to demolish an existing structure, it can significantly change the character of the surrounding community. There is no  recourse for community stakeholders who are concerned about the character of their community because  they do not have the opportunity to be involved in a public process prior to demolition.

The motion, if approved by a majority of the City Council, would have the city’s Building and Safety Department develop a public notification process – including the posting of signs 30 days before tear downs are scheduled to begin.  In addition, fees would be charged to cover enforcement of any new regulations overseeing the demolition process.


    The 5 percent run an control Echo Park so the truth is the other 95 percent are not involved.

  2. Sad to see such an old building be torn down, but I’d love to get my hands on some of that old grown lumber they’re throwing away.

  3. It might not have stopped this one, but it certainly would’ve put the neighborhood on notice in a case like the Different Light Bookstore & the surprise Saturday demo of buildings on Sunset Junction (a few years back). Most people don’t pay attention till the bulldozers show up. But if the notice has to be clearly posted in more than one location on the lot (as it should) someone will take notice and rabble rouse if needed.

    • Worse than the demolition is the fact that nothing has been built there yet. It’s a shame to lose an old structure, but if there’s a new one that is helping lots of people live their lives it’s not always bad. But when we lose a building and just get a fenced off lot (you can’t even use it as a temporary park!) it’s just a tragedy.

      • And the minute something is about to be built there, I can assure you that the same neighborhood groups that like these types of motions will fight that, too. Doesn’t matter what it will be, they will not want it, even if it’s a park. That Sunset Junction area is dead space at its center, with lots of activity going on along its edges. Tear down the Jiffy Lube, close off that short stretch of Manzanita between Sunset and Santa Monica, create a plaza, and build mixed-use to define it.

        • Thank you Jerry. This motion, though well intentioned, is just lighter fluid for the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council Homeowner’s Association Glorified NIMBY’s. There is so much conflict of interest going on with that board the whole thing should be scrapped, begun again and the current board barred from running in the first election.

    • madeleine huttenback

      So true, people scratch their heads when the bulldozers show up. And they’re showing up! Frost Chaddock, the developer who tore down the Different LIght Bookstore that Saturday morning have their draft Environmental Imparct Report completed and we only have til August 15th to comment! For more info see the facebook.com/stopjunctiongateway.com

  4. Does this mean 49 people will live where one family used to live?

  5. No like.

    Do not like seeing my hometown’s character rips to shreds, eliminated. Disappear.

  6. No like.

    Do not like seeing my hometown’s character RIPPED to shreds, eliminated. Disappear.

  7. I think this is a great motion. Any extra notice the public can receive about possible demos, the greater chance they have to make their concerns known. Demo surprises are such a bummer, as we all have felt at some point when we see the hole in the ground and think — when did that happen?

    • I don’t see what this changes. Even if you get public notice, how will you be able to thwart an approved building permit? At best you have a 30 day warning so you’ll know when to start shutting your windows. At worst, the developer will have knuckleheads chaining themselves to a building that will ultimately come down anyway.

      I see the attempt being made by Mitch, but he’ll have to go to an earlier point in the B&S approval process to change anything.

  8. Glad to see Councilman O’Farrell addressing this issue. Would it be possible to incorporate a notice of protected tree removal? Not a single notice was posted on the Semi-Tropic Spiritualists Tract when 43 protected Southern California Black Walnut trees and Coast Live Oak trees were massacred on February 1, 2012. Now, a piece of crap development (“Artis de Crap” as we snicker) displaced a 3 acre urban forest. Most readers don’t know this but the day after the trees fell, Mitch O’Farrell drove up to “The Hill” in his red pickup truck and personally surveyed the destruction. I’ll never forget the look of disappointment in Mr. O’Farrell’s face. We never forgot that act of kindness, Mitch, and we thank you. Finally, I would like to point out that no one, no one from then-Councilmember Eric Garcetti’s office took the time to personally witnesss the devastation despite numerous phone calls. Hell, you couldn’t get anyone on the damn phone.

  9. I hope there is a special place in HELL for these type “developers”

  10. Echo Park resident

    Why isn’t Echo Park protected by a historic overlay provision yet? It’s about time. My hometown had a law on the books stating that historic structures could not be demolished (with very few exceptions) and even restricted the types of colors certain victorian/craftsman homes could be painted!

    Come on, Mitch! These beautiful old homes need our help! No more ugly apartment complexes, please!!!

  11. On a different note….kudos to the photographer.
    They are all good but the american apparel/mannequin pic is fantastic.
    Big truck, Little truck….nice.

  12. What a waste…..I could have salvaged that clapboard. I bet there were windows, flooring, sinks, hardwood lumber. Not a good sign. Clearly not a “green” contractor.

    missed opportunity to promote sustainable development..


  13. This is a great idea but I’ll bet the council will not pass it.

  14. O’Farrell showed up too late, the motion he made is too late in the process..It is useless..This should tell you something.. Just like his mentor, garcetti he is now sadly beholdin to developers like Millennium, and The Developer funded Hollywood Chamber of Commerce who helped him get elected.
    Garcetti never responded to communitie’s pleas for help as councilmember..especially when developers were involved. And constantly lied about being accessible and ‘knocking on everyone’s doors’ . After two years of our Hollywood community groups chasing him..the one ‘supposed’ meeting he never showed up for and sent an underling who had absolutely no knowledge of the issue to be discussed. He goes into hiding..he ran off to his navy service as the most important contract talks were being discussed here..If it was not his service he would have figured out another way to slip away.. This is the Mayor he will be..’people can all tweet him their support of his position’, he was quoted saying in the news. LA will hopefully catch on soon about this elusive slippery absent NON representative that Hollywoodians endured for years… hiding out and not responding to anyone. Nowhere to be seen or found.
    He and O’Farrell were funded by Millennium the big Vine st. wealthy NYC developer, and The Hollywood Chamber. So, although O’Farrell may have cared about people’s lives and concerns, he is now owned by them..and takes his lead from his mentor Garcetti. He got Millennium’s unsafe and now being investigated projects approved on his first day as councilmember..he had to for his funders. He claimed he studied these dangerous projects and they are safe. WHEN did he study them? It was tragic watching him stand up that day doing Phil Aarons, Millennium head’s bidding.. as Aarons sat smiling. He had to do what he had to do. And now Millennium, Garcetti and the city are being investigated for covering up and leaving out of the EIR the active fault line information, as per letters back and forth, prove they knew about it and the State has stepped in forcing Millenniun to let them investigate the fault line under their building site.
    Garcetti is a lost cause..This higher density, tear everything down for new high rises and skyscrapers vision, is his. He manipulated the passing of the illegal high density Hollywood Community Plan to assure his developer funder’s projects get done. This is why things are coming down all over the city now and cranes are everywhere. He is recreating Hollywood and surrounding areas into his skewed higher density vision. So older buildings will be coming down everywhere.
    Will O’Farrell ever get his own voice back and his own good heart and stop taking instructions from his mentor Garcetti who is on his way to ruining our city? Can he say no the developers and the high density proponents, developer funded Hollywood Chamber, who helped get him elected?
    People need to be aware, become pro active, and know what is going on before it is too late.. This city, as we know it, is about to disappear into Garcetti’s mega developments, high rises and skyscrapers, and no area is safe from this transformation. No one will be able to get anywhere, either, in this kind of higher density and more congestion. And that is very sad.

    • Why is high density bad? How does it factor in with realities like economic development and strength, the need for more housing, and mobility and transportation? Or with the fact that it’s virtually impossible to move around Los Angeles? People with urban planning knowledge and ideas are needed to fix LA. I’d rather have a mayor with vision that correctly sees the need for a comprehensive, regional approach to planning than a neighborhood fiefs of obstructionists who want to keep everything exactly the same for no other reason than that they don’t like change in their balkanized neighborhood city-states. Density is needed. CEQA needs to be reformed. Urban dwellers in LA cannot be suburban. There are suburbs for that.

  15. I’m so glad to hear that Mitch is on top it! We’ve had so many buildings torn down in Silver Lake and Echo Park, only to have the developers go bankrupt. We don’t need more vacant lots, we need housing and retail that works with the small scale of our community. I worried that all of North East LA is going to lend up looking like Santa Monica or SF’s South of Market: boring “Live/Work” lofts.

    • madeleine huttenback

      hes on top of it alright! He pretends he not pro out of control development but how can anyone believe that at this point.
      Please see facebook/stopjunctiongateway.com

  16. Councilman O’Farrell, stop making ‘knee jerk” motions and offer educated and logical solutions. You should really think about the ramifications that this type of regulation would have on any land owner who wanted to demolish a structure on their property. Not all structures are worth keeping. Just because its old does not mean its worth keeping.
    Urban and City Planners should be consulted in creating such regulations. Smart and intelligent policies are required and necessary for the inevitable change and growth of our city.
    To place a blanket notice of demolition regulation across the city is not only regressive but irresponsible.
    Nostalgia for “old” is not a good policy for positive growth.

    • I suppose you’d call Bunker Hill “positive growth”.

      Mid century, art deco and older buildings should be protected because they are gracefully optimistic and humane as opposed to the generic bland dehumanizing “positive growth” you are talking about.
      And the venerable handcrafted buildings from the early years of LA should have extra protection.

      New architecture should strive to match the surviving old in grace, and integrate with it, not destroy.

      • Jay
        One could argue forever whether or not Bunker Hill was positive or negative. Some form of densification was necessary in that area to accommodate the rapid growth and denisification that LA was experiencing. Bunker Hill and other similar areas of LA that were denisified have since contributed greatly to the population and economic growth of LA.

        If you are a student of history, more specifically to architectural history, what we now call so fondly the “Mid-Century” movement and the Art Deco movement, both were avante garde for their times and were reactions to what currently were being built during their respective times. They did not have as many fans of their styles as they do today. Ironically they had the same reactions to their construction as you see in the comments here. Modernism too was called “bland” and “dehumanizing” when it was first introduced yet now we fondly refer to that period as “Mid-Century”. If Architecture were to “strive to match the surviving old in grace”, we all would still be living in stone constructed homes. Because even the old hand crafted wooden Victorian structures replaced something older than itself.

        Growth of cities are organic and evolutionary. Growth of a city does’t mean demolishing everything old and building new. Historic preservation is necessary for any city, that is why we have Angeleno Hts. However, if the whole city was preserved like Angeleno Hts, we would be constantly stuck in the past and that my friend would not be optimistic.

  17. Who can afford a studio at $1700 a month? No really, who are you because clearly Im hanging around with the wrong people and need richer friends. Most of my friends are scraping by to live in Echo Park, even with working full time jobs, its still difficult to get by. Ok maybe not scraping by, but its not exactly like Im living largel I totally scored on my 1 bedroom $950 old Spanish style apartment with 3, count em’…3 huge closets!! Its still nothing compared to most 1 bedrooms here starting at $1300! Its just a disheartening to see that eventually we really will not be able to afford this place because of these high end developers taking out all the great old building and building more ‘artist lofts’. Which is funny because my friends are artists….no way in hell they can afford that. Guess its just a label to make business people feel a little more bohemian I guess.

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