Monday, October 24, 2016

Small-lot developments popping up all over Silver Lake

Tony Cella

Small-lot developments, which allow multiple, single family homes to be packed into the same lot, are the big thing right now all over Silver Lake. In fact,  three separate projects – on Glendale Boulevard, Lucile Avenue and Waverly Drive – proposed under the city’s small-lot ordinance came up at a Wednesday night community meeting.   Here’s a run down of each project and the reaction from the neighborhood council members and residents:

Nine Houses Proposed For A Glendale Boulevard Hillside

Glendale project rendering/Marcus McInerney

The Silver Lake Urban Design and Preservation Advisory Committee approved a property owner’s plan to carve out a hillside along Glendale Boulevard to build nine houses on an approximately 21,500 square feet of  as long the developers come back with a design for further approval.

Architect Hunter Leggitt asked the committee to support their request to ignore a street widening measure that would create 17 feet of sidewalk and a retaining wall – in case the city decides to turn the boulevard into a highway –  in favor of  allowing room to provide front doors and steps, or possibly a front porch area, which the committee suggested.

An exemption to the measure would also allow the property owner to preserve a historic staircase running adjacent to the property along the non-existent stretch of Loma Vista Place, which the city planned, at some point, to run alongside the development site, which is located in the 220o block of Glendale between Earl Street and Cove Avenue.

Each house would have three stories, two bedrooms,  a two-car garage, rooftop deck but no visitor parking. The property owner owns a single house on the lot, which will remain after the construction. The architect guessed the estimated 1,800 square foot houses will sell for around $700,000. The dwellings will share a common recycling area and garden.

One neighbor raised concerns about building the houses on the hillside. “That’s a crazy steep hill,” he said. “It’s essentially a cliff.”

Leggitt countered the builders would use a combination of shoring and retaining walls to bolster the structures.

Five Homes For 2925 Waverly Drive

Waverly Drive project renderings/Marcus McInerney

A developer plans on building five, single-family homes at 2925 Waverly Drive through the small lot ordinance has stirred opposition from neighbors.

The size of each home will fall between 1,700 to 1,950 square feet,  with each squeeze three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a two-car garage into the three story structures. The project for the lot, which  at present hosts one single- family home,  may require an exception from the city for guard rails enclosing the building’s rooftop terraces. The top of those guard rails  will exceed the height limit for the area, according to developer Sam Trude who has occupied a home adjoining the property since July.

Trude claims the project won’t affect neighbors’ views or impact parking because it isn’t quite the largest structure on the street, which he says is already home to dense condos in addition to smaller homes.

Neighbors dispute his claims, pointing out that many Ivanhoe Elementary parents in the area are already heated about the influx of traffic.  A woman who lives next to the potential development raised concerns the three story homes will block her “panoramic” view of the hills and Downtown, thereby hurting her property values.

Trude believes the homes, which he estimates will sell for between $700,000 to $900,000, are a “high quality” product, which will only enhance the price of adjoining lots.

The Waverly Terrace Homeowners Association, at a meeting of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council Urban Design and Preservation Committee, announced they had passed a resolution opposing the development.

Trude said the homeowners never invited him to speak at their meeting and did not respond to door-to-door outreach efforts, which the group denies happened.

Committee Chair Scott Plante, who introduced a successful motion to table discussion on whether to support the project, called on both groups to have a conference to discuss their issues. If the neighbors ignored the developer’s attempts at outreach, Plante said, they were disrespecting the committee’s process.

Grandma Stays In Silver Lake, If The Lucile Seven Are Built

Proposed Lucile Avenue project/Marcus McInerney

A developer plans on building seven single family homes at 722 Lucile Avenue, one of which will be occupied by a local sports coach and his mother, in her 80s, who own the lone house on the property. “I want my mother to live the rest of her live in a clean comfortable home,” he said.

The firm, Green City Building Company, said the three-bedroom houses will rise two stories with rooftop terraces. As part of the title agreements, the owners will be forced to store garbage bins in their two car garages.

When pressed, the developers said the buildings will probably sell in the $700,000’s, but cited the volatility of the housing market for providing general estimates.

The board raised concerns that the architectural style was “incompatible” with neighboring homes.

Dorit Dowler-Guerrero, who sits on the Urban Design and Preservation Advisory Committee that approved the plans, also described the subdivision, where houses will be only three inches apart and lined with five-foot passageways, as “claustrophobic.”

Green City Building Company representatives said the close quarters were typical of developments permissible under the small lot ordinance.

The developer countered that the market drove the aesthetics of the homes and that surrounding houses were old, “falling apart” and suspected most were not up to code.

Although he claimed not have heard complaints from any neighbors, the developers didn’t expect a lack of critique. “It’s Silver Lake. I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to make everyone happy.”

Tony Cella is a freelance reporter who has covered crime and grime in Los Angeles, New York City and the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. Click here to contact Cella with questions, comments or concerns.

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  1. Wonderful looking homes. Only bad thing is they don’t seem to be family friendly and have no yard space for the kids to play around.

  2. I like the look. Remember, density is inevitable. I prefer small lot developments to giant apartment buildings. personally speaking of course.

  3. It’s worth clarifying that each new home will sit on its own “small lot”. What is currently one large lot will be subdivided to become many small ones.

    This allows the new homes to technically comply with the neighborhood’s low density zoning. The ordinance did away with the former minimum lot size requirement (5,000 ft, I believe) and the usual setbacks which would make the new small lots unbuildable.

  4. In the neighborhood

    Is this the same lot where old California oak trees were cut down and the eastsider had reported about?

  5. It seems like a lot of people forgot that less than one year ago all the Californian Oak trees have been cut without permits on the Glendale Blvd project.
    Needless to say it is a nice design for a complicated side.
    The city should request serious gardening design,including trees on the sidewalk .

  6. The Lucile project is simply lacking creativity. Go back to the drawing board.

  7. These are TOO small and narrow to be three stories tall. (They also are just to plain small and narrow.)

    Since they all have parking on ground level, and then two stories above that (this is the approach of ALL the small lot subdivisions that have been built) — I propose: require that the parking be underground, with the two stories above that. That will serve to not interfere with views of surrounding neighbors, and will not appear to be oversized for the area. And all it requires is digging a little hole, not a bit deal.

    At the enormous profit level these builders are planning for these lots, the small price of a hole is negligible. That hole also would provide more space for parking, allowing room for even some visitors, not simply the minimum two parking spots per building. This would be a win-win situation. This should be required of ALL small-lot subdivisions. Going for massive profit maximization even as you cheap out to the max is not acceptiale planning.

    The neighborhood council should demand this of ALL small lot subdivisions — it has negotiating power. And the city should make this a legal requirement. Otherwise, the impact of bad planning will plague us for the rest of our lives.

    • “And all it requires is digging a little hole, not a bit deal.”

      I’m not saying your concerns are misguided, they are very understandable. However, your thoughts on how easy it is to add underground parking are misconceived.

      Underground parking is s a huge deal that will add tens of thousands if not more to the prices of each of the homes. Digging a hole (especially on uneven ground like some of these sites are) is incredibly expensive. Also, they’d have to build ramps to the underground garages, which is a lot of ramps to be putting into a small lot development. A major selling point of these homes is having your own private garage, that goes away with a massive underground community garage. It’d be a mess.

      please read this: http://grist.org/cities/parking-rules-raise-your-rent/

    • Very valid point. If the parking was either below ground level, or at least partly below ground level, this would help make less of an impact on neighbors’ views.

      The 2925 Waverly Drive development was before the Urban Design & Preservation Committee again this week, on October 9. As some residents expressed concern about their panoramic and mountain views, one Committee member (will not name here) had the gall to say to them, “Your views are not guaranteed [as a property owner].”

      Yes, of course that’s true, but that’s a flippant response to those living in houses and condos that were built 40+ years ago. People don’t buy property to live there, with the expectation that their views will drastically change. And I’m sure that particular committee member (who is himself a home owner) would sing a DIFFERENT TUNE, were that development go up right next to him…!

  8. Wake up people! These small lot projects are bringing hundreds of new cars into our neighborhood, congesting Silverlake, reducing green space and ruining the vibe that made this community desirable in the first place. LET WHAT HAPPENED IN VEGAS STAY IN VEGAS! Parking in Silverlake is already a nightmare and developments like these are making it much worse. Be prepared to kiss goodbye the bohemian chic that gave Silverlake its edge. Artists are being driven out by high rents and so are historic Mexican restaurants and bodegas. Sure, property values are going up for now, but is the quality of life? These faux eco homes with starting prices of $700,000, concrete footprints that span an entire lot, and roof decks marketed as garden space may be fine along the boulevards. But when they are built on residential streets, they destroy the property values, privacy, views and peace of their neighbors. Gone are yards large enough to plant an avocado or pepper tree. And the old Fig, Persimmon and Plum trees, the 50-year-old Cypress and Firs that grew on these properties? Bulldozed. Our community likes to think of itself as bike and bee friendly, but not if it allows these monstrosities to be built along our quiet streets. If you care to preserve the true spirit of Silverlake, send protest emails to Councilmen Mitch O’Farrell and Tom LaBonge and sign these petitions on change.org:



  9. There is a bit of confusion or disinformation on the Glendale Blvd small lot subdivision. The rendering above shows about 6 units, spread out with setbacks, varied facades and ample separation. The variance requested by the developers is for 9 units, with NO setback, NO separation between units, and would result in a solid block 36 feet tall.

    I’m not at all opposed to density infill, but this is a hideous project and we already can see signs the developer is attempting to gain approval without truthful disclosure of the proposal.

    Time to send this one back to the drawing board.

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