Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Silver Lake neighbors launch counter-attack against small-lot development

Waverly Drive project renderings/Marcus McInerney

Waverly Drive project renderings/Marcus McInerney

The current owners of the 2925 Waverly Drive view the 1959 ranch-style house in Silver Lake as a tear down, with plans to replace it with five, three-story single-family homes.  But some of the neighbors view the same mid-century property designed by noted Chinese-American architect Gilbert L. Leong, who created numerous buildings in Chinatown, as a historic-landmark worthy of preservation. On  Thursday, the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission, over the objections of the owners,  decided it will consider declaring the approximately 2,000-square-foot house with a  pool  a city landmark, a move that  for now would prevent its demolition.

The commission will now take  closer look to see whether the home is indeed worthy of landmark status.

Land-use consultant Robert Cherno, who was hired by a group of neighbors opposed to the project, said the focus of declaring the house a landmark is to “save L.A. history” and not deter development.

The home’s architectural pedigree when it was promoted for sale earlier this year at an asking price of $947,000.  Leong designed the house for Dr. Miguel Tirado and his wife, actress Matildi Lion-Peligri, according to the monument application. The Tirado family owned the house until it was sold this year.

“It is virtually unaltered since construction and comes with a swimming pool that was part of the original design,” according to the application. “The house is significant as an intact example of mid-20th Century ranch style.”

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  1. It is such a shame that some extreme reason must be found simply to stop these overdevelopments that are completely out of character with the rest of the neighborhood and are ruining Silver Lake and other areas.

    These are NOT being built for the people who live in Silver Lake. These are only pushing out the people who live in Silver Lake. People who live here did not come here to live next to anything like that! Building it only causes surrounding neighbors to flee, pushing them out.

    Transforming the Silver Lake that we all came here for into something else instead, something completely different and packed like sardines in a can is NOT good for the people who came here and made it the good community people like. Packed that tight is not good for anyone — except the developers who will build and then leave.

    Why is the Neighborhood Council not screaming at Councilman O’Farrell to stop these, to change the laws that provide for this?! Why is O’Farrell not doing that on his own without being screamed at — is it because he was too involved as the culprit creating these laws to provide for this when he served as an aide to then-Councilman Garcetti — this was Garcetti’s baby to push through the council?

    Stop this crap! Stop it. We can build more housing without trying to solve the entire Los Angeles metropolitan region’s housing issues in this one neighborhood! There is an entire region out there to build REASONABLY in, rather than destroy this area by putting way more than our fair share here. We’re already denser than most areas!

    Building more housing will do NOTHING to bring prices down — unless you also stop more population growth. You MUST stop screaming for everyrne all over the country and all over the world to come here. We don’t want publicity to get people come here. We don’t want an NFL team. We don’t want the Olympics here. We don’t want the mayor and city councilmembers traveling all over the world trying to get people to come here. We don’t want publicity. We don’t even need all the TV and movies filmed here — they will take the actors to wherever they film, and the editing will be done here anyway. And they will keep the headquarters here — where everyone in the industry is.

    What we need to do is learn to manage what we have, not be addicted and dependent of endless massive growth to bail us out of the problems we don’t want to manage properly or just divert our attention from them. Gee, they want us to start drinking toilet water now so they can have more water to build more and bring in even more people.

    Stop it. Stop it. Stop the madness.

  2. @Mark: So, it was cool for people to move to Silver Lake when you moved here, but it’s not cool for people to move here now?

    • Moses, no one said that. You are twisting it and distorting it. Let people move here, for course — even you. That doesn’t mean this has to be destroyed with overdevelopment and overdensity. This neighborhood is a lot more than just square footage to destroy and undermine — it is a neighborhood with real people here who don’t need or deserve to be trampled over in the worship of Mammon.

    • @moses : It’s cool for you to move to Silver Lake… it’s just NOT COOL for developers to build stack and pack to accommodate your desire to move to Silver Lake. Here’s what those who want to move to Silver Lake need to do… wait for a vacancy.. then apply for it. Till then, live somewhere else.

  3. According to the MLS listing, this house sits on a 16,184-square-foot lot and is zoned RD 1.5, which allows for one dwelling unit per 1,500 square feet of land, so according to my amateur calculations, the owners could potentially build a ten-unit condo complex or apartment building on this piece of property. It does seem a shame to knock down what seems to be a well-maintained, attractive house to put up five single-family homes, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable on that size of a lot.

    • So, the real issue is not the small lot development ordinance, but rather the existing high density zoning.

      Was the density zoning always this high? In that case, people really can’t complain.. because doing your homework would mean that you’d know you were moving into an area that could build high density apartments sometime in the future. I bought in an area that can only have SFR on minimum quarter acre lots, but in a hillside overlay, so chopping existing large parcels to quarter acre and building new is nearly impossible.

      If the zoning changed, how was this allowed to happen without some compensation for existing homeowners or without their approval?

      • I don’t think the zoning has changed; if memory serves me, there are other multifamily buildings on Waverly. It seems that developers are building very few condo developments, maybe because they’re harder to insure due to construction-defect lawsuits, while small-lot developments are less risky for a developer because the buyers don’t have a Homeowners’ Association and they own the land underneath their homes. I’d rather see five single-family homes than ten condo or apartment units.

        The fact is, most of Silver Lake and Echo Park is composed of R-1 or R-2 lots, which are in no danger of being redeveloped under the small-lot subdivision ordinance. Lots that are zoned RD1.5, RD2, R3 or R4 are potential sites, but I don’t think there are many R-3 or R-4 lots on suburban streets. If anyone is curious about these small-lot subdivisions, there’s an architectural firm that has a 48-page document on their website. I got it and it’s pretty informative.


        • Wow, where were all the neighbors when 2929 Waverly got built right on top of it? A small lot development may be more appropriate for this lot right next door. That building is about as “dense” as it gets for a neighbor…..

    • James –

      Incorrect re: the size of the lot — or, in truth, *usable* size of this lot. A healthy portion of the land cannot be built on, as it’s on a hillside. Their proposed size of 5 units is about their max, without spending a half Million (or more) to build units on a slope. If that’s even allowed here. Probably not.

  4. The alternative to densifying our existing city and core neighborhoods is to induce sprawl at the fringes of the county. I’d rather see some small, economical homes be added to silver lake than let more McMansions be built in the Inland Empire or San Gabriel Valley.

    We can’t preserve everything…. I really dislike how NIMBY’s are abusing historic preservation and CEQA in their attempts block these kinds of projects.

    • i love that you think these will be ‘economical’ – these developers are not building these as a community service my friend…. the goal is to extract profit.

      • Economical means small, that’s what they would be since this is a small-lot development. Yeah, developers want to make money… but by adding housing, and adding small housing, they are making the area more accessible and affordable.

        We should encourage smaller developments and greater density in our historic core and neighborhoods. I don’t think this developer is going over the top with this proposal.

        • @Salts: You are not understanding the response Colin gave you, on your mis-guided post. And you then essentially repeat yourself, claiming this will give the area more “affordable” housing. Does $1 Million dollar homes qualify as “affordable” to you? Seriously?

          The developer intends and expects these homes would sell for at least $900,000. They said this at one of the meetings. Most people would not call this “affordable housing.”

  5. Other aspects to consider: Traffic density is already high in that area of Silverlake. Let’s not tempt higher traffic density and a degradation of environment and the ergonomics, already somewhat compromised, in Silverlake or in any other urban environment. The home is also beautiful and a historic structure that will enrich us and generations to follow when left standing.

    It is important to respect the past so that we have a comfortable future. Let the developers build sensibly and with limited structure size and density on lots that are empty or are already bedecked with a structure that is in significant disrepair and, in the best case situation, vacant due to unlivable conditions therein.

    I am particularly relieved and applaud that two homes on Park Drive recently sold and will be preserved and loved by a new generation, and, let us hope, by generations of homeowners to follow.

  6. I’m all for dense development, but this house is a gorgeous example of architecturally significant mid-century design. It should be saved. The owners who bought it to simply tear it down should be ashamed of themselves.

  7. Many months ago, I was approached to consider taking on a land use case on behalf of neighbors adjacent to 2925 West Waverly Drive. During my initial research on the case, I discovered that the home was built by a famous Chinese-American Architect named Gilbert Lester Leong, who’s niece, best selling author, Lisa See, wrote a book about her family, including her Uncle Gilbert, entitled “On Gold Mountain” I also discovered that the home had been owned by the Tirado family since it was built over fifty years ago, until recently being sold to the current owners. The MLS listing clearly indicated that the home in question was built by a famous Chinese-American Architect and had been lovingly preserved in it’s original condition by the Tirado family all these decades. I was very bothered by the fact that this information was provided to the current owners, prior to them purchasing this historic home. I attempted to meet with the current owners representative Samuel Trude at the home in question, to gain a better understanding of the motivation of the new owners plans to destroy a historic property. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to sit down and discuss the matter with Mr. Trude, because, when I informed him that I was considering taking the case on behalf of the neighbors, he threatened to call the police and have me arrested for trespassing, if I didn’t immediately leave the property. Mr. Trude’s behavior convinced me that I needed to help save this historic home from being destroyed by greedy developers, and I informed the neighbors at a meeting which several neighbors attended, that I would handle their case in order to assure that this historic property was not destroyed We began the process of filing an application with the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission for Historic-Cultural Monument Review. Because of budget cuts, staff at the Office of Historic Resources have been reduced, and it took several months to finally have the matter placed on the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission Agenda. Earlier today, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission passed a motion to have the Tirado House reviewed for Historic-Monument Distinction, whereby protecting the Tirado House from being destroyed. Until today, very few people were aware of what we were doing, because of great concern that the current owners would find out, and apply for a demolition permit, and destroy the property. Fortunately, now that the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission has passed their motion for review of the Tirado House, the property is now protected, and the current owners will not be able to obtain a demolition permit to destroy this historic property. If the Commission confirms our claim of historic value of the Tirado House, the home will be permanetely protected.

    The City of Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Ordinance, enacted in 1962, has made possible the designation of building and sites as individual local landmarks, called “Historic-Cultural Monuments” in Los Angeles, providing official designation and protection for properties with historic value, such as the Tirado House. Now that the Triado House is being protected from demolition, we can now publicly discuss our intention to protect this historic property designed by Gilbert Lester Leong.

    • Robert, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! Los Angeles needs more people like you.

    • Yes, Los Angeles needs more people like you!!! THANK YOU!!!!

    • Echo Park resident

      Thank you, Robert! Where can we find out more information on the status of the petition and the Commission’s decisions?

      • The Los Angeles Department of Planning has a website which you can access at lacity.org, scan down to Planning Department/meetings. Thank you for your interest

        • The Small Lot Ordinance is currently under review. This might be of interest for those of you interested in these projects and the impacts they have on neighborhoods. If you go to the website Mr. Cherno referenced, look at the Ordinances section. There is a meeting with the City Planning Commission on December 19th where they are proposing “corrections” to the Ordinance that would streamline the process for Small Lot approvals.

          Various Neighborhood Councils have weighed in, but Silverlake has not. Echo Park NC will be presenting a letter which will likely advocate for some level of stakeholder review for Small Lot proposals to continue. According to the Staff Report, the revisions to the Ordinance would eliminate the requirement for the Tract Map recording variance, which is the primary reason why these proposals now come before local stakeholder groups for review.

          With all the issues surrounding Small Lot projects in our area, perhaps Silverlake has a position they would like to take to the CPC? For Echo Park, the stakeholder review process has caused substantive beneficial improvements to some projects that likely would have been missed by a purely internal “by-right” review.

          Staff Report here http://cityplanning.lacity.org/Code_Studies/Misc/SLO_CPC_%20FINALPACKAGE.pdf

    • THANK YOU, Robert!!

  8. According to the public records, the owners are Michael and Yiffat Rublevich.

    • Their mailing address is a home in Beverly Hills – and a man with the same name (Michael Rublevich) donated $2000 to Bush-Cheney in 2004. (Not to stir anyone up.) 🙂

      • Echo Park resident

        Oh, typical. Rich folk from out of the area who have no ties to the area and, as a result, see no intrinsic value in keeping the area from becoming over developed.

        $10 that this couple lives in a tacky, pre-fab Beverly Hills McMansion.

    • This house was purchased and is controlled by a consortium of people, regardless of what that paperwork you got says. This was confirmed by Sam Trude (one of the owners/developers) at a recent committee meeting of the SLNC.

      • Oh, and none of those people who own/control this property lived in Silver Lake. One of them is in the house now, temporarily.

  9. I appreciate the support of Caorl, James, and others that have left comments in favor of protecting the Tirado House from being destroyed. by the developer that recently purchased the property. Both Mayor Garcetti and Councilmember LaBonge have lived in the neighborhood for years, and have previously expressed their concern for protecting properties like the historic Triado House.. Representatives from several Chinese-American organizations and a representative of the Los Angeles Conservancy were present at the Cultural Heritage Commission public hearing earlier this week, and expressed support for saving the Triado House. Surprisingly, no one from Mayor Garcetti’s office or Counclimember LaBonge’s office were present. I urge anyone that is as concerned as I am, to contact Mayor Garcetti’s and Cuncilmember Labonge’s offices and ask them to protect this historic property from being destroyed!

  10. Contradictions All Around

    It’s funny how there are so many comments from current residents about greedy developers building just for profit. I ask you this. Do you think when your home was built the builder built it with the intention of losing money? Do you think when the hills of Silver Lake and Los Feliz and elsewhere where undeveloped, should they have remained that way to preserve the natural environment at the time? Are you current residents not displacing the natural environment that once existed? When you sell your home one day. Will YOU sell it for what you bought it for or will you look to sell it for the highest price to maximize YOUR profit — you want a return on your investment too huh? I agree that there should be monitoring of the density and type of housing built in the inner city — unfettered free markets only allow cut corners and what we can get away with mentality.., When you look around there is already a mix of single and mult-family dwellings of all types (just look at a google map) in the LF/SL/HW/EP areas. If a developer wants to build a 20 story 100 unit tower, smack dab where single family homes are, where maybe only a 10 unit townhome should go – of course that should be fought.If the home has some type of historical significance, then of course that too should be a consideration. Otherwise, If you wanted a gated community, where the types of controls you want are inherent to that type of development, you should have should have moved to one.

    • see Oliver Peters above. I think he addressed your concerns perfectly.

      • Contradictions All Around

        Hmm – kinda sorta. Trying to build an Orsini type development would be a nonstarter. That faux Italianate Fortress-stype architecture is such killer of streetlife it should just be outlawed. but I’d like to see evidence that the small lot ordinance, or at least buildings built since the small lot ordinance have harmed neighborhoods — either the quality of life, the property values, something more concrete than the conjecture constantly being blasted in the comments section — if it is so harmful. where is the proof.

  11. Look what Garcetti allowed on the Semi-Tropic Spiritualists Tract. He and his staff were aware that the city made mistakes and their were misinterpretations. And he just grinned away as if all was right in the world. Coward!!!!!!!

  12. This is not a “significant” example of mid century modernism. Neighbors, stop fighting on this front and put your effort into improving the proposed project so that it’s architecture is as least as good or better than what currently exists.

    • Echo Park resident

      Are you a historic preservationist or a scholar of architecture? If not, you’re really not qualified to say whether or not this home is a “significant” example of the MCM period in Southern California. If you’d bother to read the filing, you’d see someone with a lot more knowedge than you specifically broke down why this house is worth preserving.

      • Echo Park Resident,
        I have decent experience in the areas you note and have both won and juried local and state preservation awards. I don’t have a PHD so maybe don’t meet the “scholarly” definition, but like many, have a Masters in Architecture. I have worked with all the entities listed in the filing – Planning, OHR and Council Offices as well as the Cultural Affairs Commission. This home is by a significant Chinese architect, however there are many more well noted examples of his work in Chinatown. There are many well known examples of MCM by even greater architects in the area most on R1 lots. This lot has long been zone RD1.5 (1 Dwelling unit per 1,500sf) so likely intended to be the proposed density. It is not an R1 zone where “Small Lot” is prohibited. I am merely trying to give some short, informed and unbiased advice based on experiences.and knowledge. I am not a nearby resident., but a I do have an appreciation and understanding of architecture and urban design be it old or new. I love the history of our city as much as I appreciate the smart opportunities the future brings.. Anyway it’s one opinion, that’s all.

    • Spoken like a true mouthpiece for the Developers, lol!

  13. I’m on the fence on these “over development” issues. It is a fact that density is the best antidote to overuse of energy, whether we are talking houses that are larger than they need to be, the fact that there is a direct correlation between density and use of public transport, etc. etc.

    I am not against urban infill at all. When done well which in general is what is happening in Silver Lake, it is a boon to vibrancy and local business owners. I am not opining on this particular house, but the nimby-ism in Silver Lake is often overzealous and short-sighted.

  14. Garcetti only cares about MORE DENSITY. He loves increasing density. Just ask him! He has approved the new 80 unit apartment building on Elsinore to reach all the way down to Sunset (basically making Elsinore a driveway for this apartment building.) To build this they have had to destroy 6-8 turn of the century homes and nobody cares. Stop commenting and show up to some meetings and get involved. But don’t look to Garcetti– he won’t help you with this.

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