Councilmen have different views on how high you can build in Echo Park*


Photo by Scott Fajack

ECHO PARK — The skyline of Echo Park is pretty much a low-rise affair, with only a few notable buildings, such as the dome of Angelus Temple and the Citibank office building, rising above two or three stories. Councilman Mitch O’Farrell would like to keep it that way and has proposed reducing the height limit in central Echo Park to 45 feet from 75 feet. The 75-foot limit that applies to a chunk of Echo Park along Sunset Boulevard is “completely out of scale with the neighborhood,” says his council motion. But fellow Councilman Gil Cedillo, who also represents a portion of Echo Park, apparently is not afraid of heights. He has backed an amendment that would keep the 75-foot height limit in his part of the neighborhood.

Last week, when Cedillo was in charge of the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee, he voted in favor of amending O’Farrell’s motion so that property owners would still be able to build as high as 75 feet on a single block that basically stretches on the south side of Sunset Boulevard from Echo Park Avenue on the west to Laveta Terrace on the east. It’s a block that contains the Bank of America branch and also the former Barragan’s restaurant, which closed and was sold last year.

Why did Cedillo support the amendment and who came up with that idea? It’s not clear but neighborhood activists who follow planning matters say Cedillo’s office introduced the motion. The Eastsider has contacted Cedillo’s office to get more information on his motion.

The motion, as amended, still needs to be reviewed and voted upon by the full City Council.

View Cutting down Echo Park’s building height in a larger map
The building height limit in the yellow areas would be reduced to 45 feet from 75 feet under the motion by Councilman Mitch O’Farrell.  The area in blue, however, would retain the 75-foot height limit under an amendment supported by Councilman Gill Cedillo.

* Update on Tuesday, July 8: Fredy Ceja, spokesman for Councilman Cedillo, said the councilman requested the existing 75-foot height limit be be preserved within his district:

There is an existing Community Design Overlay Zone in this area that ensures any future design changes are compatible with the commercial district. The Bank of America building (which is in CD1) is already a designated City Historic-Cultural Monument which provides for its preservation. The property owners in this area did not reach out to my office asking for a reduction in allowable building height. The Council Office would like to see the revitalization of the former Barragan’s restaurant building and the continued economic revitalization of Sunset Blvd. in CD-1.

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  1. Sounds like Mr. Cedillo has some friendly relationships with developers.

    • Cedillo has cozy relationships with anyone with money… but not with the constituents. He clearly does not give a damn about anything else but $ and corporations.

  2. I wonder if it has to do with this property on the corner of Echo Park Ave and Sunset that Eastsider wrote about a couple of weeks ago —


    • According to the map above, that property is still in the ‘yellow’ short zone because it’s on the north side of sunset. Maybe someone wants to tear down barragans for something tall?

  3. I commend Mr O’Farrell for listening to community concerns and working on this issue of keeping the Echo Park main street to scale. And that fact that Mr. Cedillio opposes it does not surprise at all, but is very disappointing.

  4. Bring on the 75-foot Leaning Tower of Patra!

  5. Cedillo would sell his mother to the taliban if he thought it would benefit him politically. Many thanks to O’Farrell for actually caring about his neighborhood and constituents.

    • For a woman in her sixties or early seventies who can cook and tend to bullet wounds, the going rate is half a ton of unprocessed opium poppies, four goats, and two Kalashnikovs. (Courtesy of Craigslist Waziristan.)

      • That was unnecessary (truth) we’re having our differences in opinions, and it looks you don’t have experience in communication but trow cheap words, that don’t fit here or the private life of this person, “His Mother” John the photographer ….

  6. I am going to make a wild guess and say the Cedillo will “not make a decision” but will work to ensure that thus 75′ height limit stays in place. His office will make no comments to the press or anyone not deep inside his political camp and anyone trying to even figure out which way the wind blows on the issue who does not have “access” (i.e. shit load of campaign cash or a large voting block) might as well ask the wind and the trees about why Cedillo did this.

    My guess? He hates Mitch O’Farrell and just wants to mess with him.

  7. There’s no reason that the heart of a thriving neighborhood needs to be low-rise. A 75 foot structure here wouldn’t damage the neighborhood, and would give a few more people a chance to live within walking distance of it all, and will give all the businesses a few more customers without increasing issues for parking and traffic congestion. The really important thing is that it would relieve some of the development pressure on the hills (especially at that Barlow site).

    I’m slightly surprised that O’Farrell has been pandering to the nimbys on this one, but maybe there are further reasons why this neighborhood is a bad one for more people to live in that I’m not understanding.

    • Echo Park resident

      Do you wanna know how high 75 ft is? It’s as high as the Citibank building. Why does Echo Park need more skyscrapers? People who desire that type of dense, sky-sucking living already live in Hollywood and Downtown. I moved to Echo Park to avoid skyscrapers, not get them forced on me.

      • Jonathan Kleinbart

        Perhaps others would like to move to Echo Park as well. Oh wait. They can’t, because there’s no housing available! Should have built those 75 foot residential towers, I guess…

  8. @kenny……

    “Soylent Green is people”!!! Really…..75 foot towers can only happen if you knock down the existing Historic Resources,,,,,save your pro-density dribble for downtown, please….maybe even a transit corridor with rail acccess. kids these days….one course in Urban planning and this is what we get….


    • “Heart of a thriving neighborhood”… blech..

    • I agree that for the existing historic structures, something should be done to preserve them. I don’t necessarily think every single lot should have a 75′ tall structure on it. But can you honestly tell me that a full block of surface parking between Logan and Echo Park, right on Sunset, is so historic that it can’t be replaced with a 75′ building without destroying the neighborhood?

      Right now the Echo Park skyline is dominated by the Citibank building and the parking structure of the Angelus Temple. If we could allow a few 75′ buildings that actually have some architectural sensitivity to the community, and provide good housing and retail spaces, then the neighborhood would no longer be overshadowed by cars and a bank, and would feel more like the historic neighborhood that it is.

      • Agreed with you. There’s definitely historic buildings to preserve, but an arbitrary height restriction isn’t about preserving the history of the neighborhoods – it’s about preserving neighbors’ views out of their homes from the nearby rolling hills.

        This is just plain stupid. I thought Councilman O’Farrell was smarter than this. Perhaps Cedillo has his transactional relationships in mind; but, in general, there’s no good reason to arbitrarily restrict heights along one of the city’s most transit-dense corridors in a walkable community. It’s just stupid.

        • Is preserving the views – a big selling point – of residents not a valid enough concern for you? It’s a pretty big deal if you bought a home largely predicated on that.

  9. 75-feet is appropriate around the “downtown” area of Echo Park. As Kenny said, would take pressure off of the hills.

  10. Newsflash for the uninitiated: opposing development doesn’t stick it it to the developer, it sticks it to the local renters. A scarcity of housing in a desirable neighborhood leads to higher prices. Duh.

    All you anti-development zealots are the reason housing is so unaffordable in the walkable, desirable neighborhoods of the city.

    Not only should the 75 foot height limit remain in place, it ought to be geographically expanded…perhaps doubled or even tripled in size, with the lots surrounding the lake dramatically upzoned.

    • ^ This guy gets it.

      DTLA seems to be the last refuge of us non-NIMBYs that see the value of building out a neighborhood with more housing, shopping, services, and restaurants.

  11. Its 75 Feet people…. They aren’t building the Empire State Building lol you’re living in LA, the second largest city in America… if you want low-rise move to South Dakota or something. LA’s population is growing and there’s no room to spread into the desert… who would want to anyways?? Only way to go in LA now is up… don’t like it?? leave… someone else will happily take your spot.

  12. If they want 75 feet, they should propose 90ft. Whist 75ft is low rise for a major city and should be permitted, we know the final figure will be 60ish feet. Some NIMBYs will not be assuaged, others will declare victory. It’s an old game that always plays out the same.

  13. The NIMBY’s are at it again. They just squelched an affordable housing development in San Pedro, too. All to keep “them” out.

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