Saturday, October 22, 2016

New developments have Silver Lake residents sounding off about noisy rooftop terraces*

Rendering of Griffith Park Boulevard development | Tony Cella

By Tony Cella

Rooftop parties with amplified noise was a big concern of residents and some committee members of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council‘s Urban Design and Preservation Committee as they recently examined a proposed new small-lot development.

Eleven  homes are proposed  for 1933 Griffith Park Boulevard,  with  each three-story home containing between two and three bedrooms, two bathrooms,  a two-car garage and rooftop terrace. The project  will also host three guest parking spaces.

While some in attendance were concerned about the amount of traffic the subdivision would splurge into the street (“The traffic is already unbelievable,” said one resident), many were opposed to including rooftop terraces because of the potential for noisy partiers aggravating neighbors. The proposed terraces would occupy a variable amount of less than 300-square-foot  rooftops.

The developers, Bulldog Partners, defended the terraces as an opportunity for the owners  owners to enjoy an outdoor space, in addition to the small patios or backyards on each lot. The architect for the project explained the plans to use pseudo-organic materials for the driveways to replicate the outdoors.

Developer Matthew Evans pointed out many buildings in the area had rooftop terraces or balconies, including homes and apartments on the hills above the project site. “We have thousands of people looking down on us,” Evans said, in reference to privacy concerns.

“You can’t have huge parties on balconies,” countered committee member Jerome Courshon.

The committee voted to postpone the project until the developers were able to provide more proof of outreach.

After the meeting, Evans said he didn’t plan on revising the project.

853 Hyperion Avenue Project

The committee also reviewed a proposal to build  five new homes in the 800 block of Hyperion Avenue in Silver Lake; each house will come with three bedrooms, two and half bathrooms, two parking spots, and the lot will accommodate two guest cars in the additional parking.

The homes, laid out in a row perpendicular to Hyperion, will vary in height; the first and last house will be 28 feet high, with the three middle houses reaching 32.5 feet in height. The three middle houses will also sport rooftop terraces.

The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council Urban Design and Preservation Committee praised the developers for removing the terraces from the houses on either side as a concession to the neighbors, who were concerned about privacy.

Despite the praises, some neighbors and residents had concerns about the project and, more importantly, how construction will impact the neighborhood.

Neighbors originally objected to the project because of the potential to exacerbate existing street traffic. One neighbor described a recent traffic accident, where a car rammed through a fence, as “terrifying.”

Residents had many questions, concerns and suggestions on how to alleviate construction woes. One stakeholder, who lives nearby the new homes, asked developers to build a wall in place of a proposed fence bordering the property before construction started to prevent winds from carrying noise and dust into his house.

Residents were also worried about contractors’ trucks and dumpsters blocking traffic. “If you put so much as a garbage can in the street, it shuts down traffic,” said one resident.

The developers responded that would consider building a wall in place of a fence, but it would not go up before construction unless it was a retaining wall. Workers would park in the red no parking zone area during the day and leave at night, he added.

* Correction: A previous version of this post said that Adaptive Realty was the developer of the project. That’s wrong. Adaptive Realty is an adviser. The development group is Hyperion Partners LLC.  Sunia Homes is the project architect.

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. NIMBYs. LA is the second largest city in the US. There are plenty of sleepy communities right outside the city for people who complain about traffic and noise (a part of life when you live in a city).

    • Yes, there is definitely some aspect of NIMBYism. However, it is not helpful to say that you should expect unlimited noise and unlimited traffic just because we live in a city. Silver Lake is not downtown. The streets are not built as wide as Figueroa, and are not meant to accomodate the same amount of traffic.

  2. So much of the rich architectural legacy of Silver Lake and southern California embraces the idea of indoor/outdoor spaces. But now because people are afraid that future residents MIGHT have a party on a rooftop terrace, design ideas should omit these spaces. Now, that’s TERRIFYING.

    I guess it’s comforting to know that the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council serves the community as a receptacle for gathering community complaints, just like a homeowners association does. A complaints board. Now that’s leadership. All they need now is the actual power or public support to force everyone in the neighborhood to their standards of compliance, just like a homeowners associations does. AirBnb, restaurants staying open after 9pm, private property owners building walls, yoga in the Meadow being bad for the neighborhood, outsiders coming in, road diets, building crosswalks or pedestrian paths, traffic-causing trash cans—all incredibly TERRIFYING stuff.

    The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council. We’re TERRIFIED. Just like a homeowners association.

    Of course, this is all just my opinion.

  3. What’s being torn down on both of these site to build these projects? Are we losing neighborhood charcter for more giant stucco boxes? There are some lovely hidden courtyard apartments in that neighborhood that have large trees for shade. The site plan on that Hyperion project looks really tricky to navigate the parking – is it really practical if you don’t drive a mini car?

  4. I live right off Griffith Park Blvd where this development would be.
    The traffic is not “unbelievable” there. In fact Griffith Park Blvd moves really well, has a decent bike lane and is very walkable.
    This lots backs up to commercial property on Hyperion. Its not in the middle of some bucolic residential hill.
    There are a lot of similar town homes all up and down Griffith Park.
    If they are going to build density in the neighborhood, that is one street that seems to make sense.

    • Correct, douglas. Griffith Park Blvd. is usually as clear as possible of any traffic. Unless you get one of those people who like to go 10 mph, in which case you’ll get up to three angry motorists behind that car. Major traffic jam.

      Several of the people who come out to these meetings do so only to complain. They get hysterical at the drop of a hat, and don’t want to see any changes to SL. They’re the same folks who railed against the reservoir path and the open meadow. Look, the city has to expand because it doesn’t have enough housing for the amount of people who live here. So a project like this makes sense, as long as they’re not tearing up truly architecturally significant buildings. And the fear that people might have parties on the roofs – hysterical. How is that any different from them having a party on a deck of a house in the hill above the street, of which there are many? Let’s focus on the quality of the project and insure it will enhance the neighborhood. As long as they’re sensitive to the issues with blocking a street with single lanes in each direction and have plans to mitigate traffic, I’m good. I can also just take Hyperion …

    • I live just off Griffith Park Blvd also. The traffic during rush hour backs up from Gelson’s for quite a few blocks. This creates people zooming and cutting through small residential streets in order to save a couple of minutes. While I think the project looks fine, people and the city need to be sensitive to the fact that more people means more cars not only on the main roads but also more crazy drivers cutting through the small residential streets. Griffith Park Blvd is only one lane each direction. It is not a highway and should not be used like one.

  5. Neither of these projects seem particularly dense for their locations.

    If I were living there, I’d be more concerned with the cut-through commuters speeding down narrow residential streets then with traffic congestion. They should be fighting the DOT to get speed bumps installed (and the speed limit reduced on Griffith Park Blvd. — 35mph is too fast for that stretch with all the stop signs and the bike lanes.)

  6. Kevin (not the one above)

    Regarding the project at 853 Hyperion:

    Unfortunately, the report here is very cursory, missed lots of points and didn’t understand others — and comes in the middle of the discussion as the large amount of issues about this project were brought up in the first meeting on it, and didn’t need to be repeated, so this reporter didn’t even know what they were.

    For one, the developer misstated at the beginning this time that all we cared about was the parking — absolutely false, and he was called on it loudly. The parking at this location is a serious issue, but just as much a complaint and probably more is the height — more than all the rest of the neighborhood. Three stories plus rooftop decks, and surrounded on both sides by single family one-story houses (who are irate about their loss of privacy from this hovering and looking down into their yards and windows).
    The street is all one- and two-story buildings.

    This is steep hillside terrain here. This project is so tall that it completely blots out the view from the homes across the street that are significantly uphill from it — they lose all view and instead get this big, in-your-face ugly square box to stare at. Downhill from it, the people behind on Sanborn see it as more like 5-6 stories!

    This is situated on a very narrow street, and accordingly no parking at all allowed anywhere on its side of the street, and very little on the opposite side. It is about 110 feet just past a dangerous blind curve (really blind, not like some other curves around here that people have wrongly called blind).

    Multiple people at the meeting asked that the parking, which is what is on ground level, instead be made subterranean, leaving two stores above. The developer simply gave deceptive answers to repeated questions, but when harshly called on it, acknowledged it wasn’t that it wasn’t a possibility, it was just that he refused to consider it.

    I also note, the COMMITTEE absolutely did NOT “praise” the developers for “removing the terraces from the houses on either side.” Scott, the committee chair did, but he is not the committee, just one member. Whatever other committee members feel about it, there was no praise from the committee as a whole.

    In fact, Scott is a real problem! He was determined to cram and rush this project through no matter what, with or without any recommendation from the committee, just get it out of committee and to the full NC and on the fast track. And in the end, he made sure that is what happened.

    This design went before the committee with no advice ability for anyone to see it (except Scott), not even the committee members ever saw it. That is, there was no chance to consider anything, it was crammed through on a snap decision. We had only the developer’s presentation to depend on, never had a chance to look over plans and details ourselves, other than from across the room at a rendering. Still, we did catch the developer for failing to mention some things, like that the front setback had now been reduced from 13 feet to 6 feet — something he chose not to mention. We still have not seen any plans, so who know what else has not mentioned. (In the face of great compliants about no chance to consider it, the committee did require the developer to have another meeting with the neighbors, but not before the committee, and that is pending. And meanwhile. the committee moved the matter to the full NC.)

    Scott even acknowledged that he had not passed along a packet of materials, which he had been presented in advance with petitions of hundreds of signatures and other materials opposing the project, to any of the other committee members — so they knew nothing of what we had put together in that.

    Overall, this project is seriously out of character with the street and neighborhood — which is against city guidelines (unfortunately, guidelines are just that, are not enforceable). Gee, if he would at least make it two stores above ground by having subterranean parking (which would also provide the ability to have more parking to accommodate visitors), we could deal with that. But he refuses. He bought the house there for $711,000, and says he expects to sell for $3.5 million (5 x $700,000)! Even adding in his construction costs, that leaves plenty of money to simply dig a hole for subterranean parking (all the support walls and foundation have to be put in regardless of whether it is subterranean or ground level) and still have a seriously handsome profit. But to hell with good design and the neighbors when gouging profits are at hand.

    • Take away quotable quote:

      “You can’t have huge parties on balconies,” countered committee member Jerome Courshon.

    • Take away quotable quote 2:

      “If you put so much as a garbage can in the street, it shuts down traffic,” said one resident.

    • You know these come in 3s.

      Take away quotable quote 3:

      “It is about 110 feet just past a dangerous blind curve (really blind, not like some other curves around here that people have wrongly called blind).” Kevin (yes, the one above)

    • The Los Angeles Department of City Planning established areas where high density residential development should take place where 3-4-5 story Type-V multifamily construction could be placed over commercial use and subterranean parking. What is happening along La Brea is the clearest manifestation of this policy. In the Silverlake community this would be along major corridors like Sunset Boulevard and Glendale Boulevard

      The Sunset and Silverlake Corridors have a few examples of recent high density multifamily housing that reflect this policy, but there is still a lot of property that could be developed with rich, urbane, higher density and Transit Oriented Development. That is where the high bulk type of development proposed by this developer squarely belongs. The developers originally wanted to acquire the adjoining two parcels – with the one-story single-family homes, and place over forty units at the same 32.5 ft height on the expanded parcel. Fortunately, the neighbors on each side refused to sell.

      The Urban Design & Preservation Committee is implementing a defective small-lot subdivision ordinance that Tom LaBonge has identified in need of reform. The Committee is so developer friendly and so eager to get these new projects on the City tax rolls that they are ignoring the public safety concerns cited by other residents in the comments above and the inappropriateness of the project bulk for the existing street frontage. 10+ cars will be risking getting T-boned every time they come out of their driveway into our high speed cut-through street with a blind curve. The reduced front setback variance makes this even more dangerous because it reduces the angle for even seeing speeding oncoming cars. The Urban Design & Preservation Committee is failing to carry out its mission here: The proposed project is neither about sound Urban Design and nor Preservation of the the scale and context of our neighborhood.

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