Silver Lake housing development stirs up opposition

Rendering of proposed Coronado and Marathon development

SILVER LAKE — Plans by a developer to build 11 townhomes near the corner of Coronado and Marathon streets has raised concern among residents who say the project of three-story buildings is out of scale in an area of primarily one and two story homes and apartments.

The Department of Planning is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Wednesday, August 20 to review the developer’s request to carve up an approximately 15,000-square-foot, block-long property into 11 separate lots under the city’s small-lot ordinance. The ordinance allows owners to squeeze more single-family homes on to a site than would normally be allowed under current zoning.

In addition to 11 homes, the developer also plans to include 27 parking spaces on the site, located between Coronado and Merwin streets.

The construction of numerous small-lot projects across Silver Lake and other neighborhoods have raised criticism that the developments are often too big and intrusive in many older residential areas. Anne Hars, a Silver Lake resident who lives near the Coronado site, said neighbors have begun to circulate a petition against the development.

“One wondered if the architecture firm had even been to the location since it is stylistically so at odds with the adjacent 1 and 2-story duplexes and 4-plexes,”  Hars said via email. While dense development makes sense in places like downtown, “the opposite is true for medium density zoned neighborhoods such as Coronado Street in Silver Lake,” she said. “When large scale developers come in, medium density neighborhoods are destroyed, residents disempowered and property values often fall when the inevitable economic downturn occurs.”

Wednesday’s hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. at City Hall. Click here for details.

View Marathon St & N Coronado St in a larger map

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  1. There are a lot of ‘dingbat’ (stucco box) apartment buildings in that area, including one right next door to that lot. The renderings look nice – better than the stucco shoeboxes.
    So it may be more dense then the homes in the area, but it doesn’t seem any denser than some of the existing apartment buildings. I can’t say it would actually be bad for the neighborhood; more homeowners may actually help that little section too.

  2. Oh boy, more traffic.


    • Seriously DarrellKuni?

      • Yes, SERIOUSLY. ‘One more development…’. Ho, ho, ho, my young and callow friend. I remember The Beatles and Thee Midnighters and can confirm I am not only a native Angeleno with and E, but clearly and wonderfully remember when ‘rush hour’ in our fair city was indeed ONE HOUR. Of course I digress at this point, and add that just a blocks away from proposed site in question, south on Coronado — which is by the way one the greatest N-S acceses in central city region — the old Texaco gas station peddled petrol at 25 cents a ga.

        So don’t bug me on this — I remember a far less crowded, friendlier and cleaner Los Angeles, and you perhaps don’t. ‘Course, you’re a deprived modern person, and didn’t have the benefit of cheap gas or Tommyburgers at 50 cents.

        • And get off my lawn!

        • I, too, remember these things………with great fondness, I might add!

          • Carsmakepeoplestupid

            So why didn’t you and your generation act responsibly and begin to build a comprehensive metro/subways system like San Fran (BART) DC and EVEN Atlanta (MARTA) did 40 years ago so that we wouldn’t now be burdened by your shortsightedness or provincialism…(Choose one).

  3. Looks like “medium density” to me… 27 parking spaces seems rather excessive though, is there retail storefronts too?

  4. Proposed building is actually four stories, not three. If built, it would be the tallest building in the area. I don’t mind the density, but 22,000 square feet of structure (11 homes @ 2000 square feet each) on that little space is way out of proportion to the rest of the neighborhood.

  5. This project is not right for this neighborhood. It will be 45 feet tall. There is nothing even close to that height nearby. True, the owner can do what he wants with this property. He could start by cleaning it up, instead of using its rundown condition as a reason to build this. If built, it will change the neighborhood and severely impact the quality of life for the current residents. This project does nothing to help the ” housing crisis” and serves only one purpose: profit. There’s a better way, one which doesn’t destroy this neighborhood and takes into account those who already live there. Come on, be a good neighbor!

    • What about the Dream Center up the street?

      • Dream Center is not within 500 feet. For zoning purposes, 500 feet is what is considered ‘neighboring.’. Plus, the Dream Center was not built as residential property, but as a hospital.

        • The building next door is either 4 or 3 stories (hard to tell if that is two apartment buildings or just one; if two buildings then the tallest is 3 stories).
          So 4 stories isn’t that different, especially since it’s on a hillside (parking that goes into the hill and then 3 stories above it).
          I don’t see how this will change the neighborhood and severely impact the quality of life – just seems to be general NIMBYism / zero change.

        • It’s 3 blocks away for chrissake, and hundreds of people stay there. Besides, residential draws far less traffic than commercial.

          It’s baffling to me that anyone would choose to live so close to downtown LA, and than complain about traffic, development and growth… what did you expect?

          • This area was never built to be a dense neighborhood. It was a suburb of Downtown. Remember, people didn’t do ridiculous things like commute and hour to work back in the 1920s.

            Dream Center is raised and on a hill occupying an entire block. it is less obtrusive than this would be. I suggest you go look at the developments going up on Glendale near the 2 freeway and see how these monstrous, ugly townhomes are dwarfing the last surviving Craftsman homes on the same property. One home is completely shaded and covered by the new development. How is that exactly in tune with the area? Would you like a 4 story building eclipsing your home?

          • When I look around Echo Park and Silver Lake, I see a number of mid-rise buildings from the 1920’s, or thereabout… from my understanding, when the neighborhood was built, people in LA didn’t feel the need to micromanage every parcel of land. I’d love to see 4 story buildings and businesses interspersed within our urban residential neighborhoods.. just like any other city (even much smaller ones than LA.)

            A bit of density is a small tradeoff to not have to get in your car or walk a mile every time you want to run a few simple errands. Driving everywhere in the city is just annoying.

          • Carsmakepeoplestupid

            The 2 dwarfed and fucked that Craftsman a long time ago. And if it weren’t for Beverly Hills (believe it or not) would have been demolished long ago to make way for the extension of the freeway clear to the beach. Density isn’t the problem, freeways are!!

  6. We aren’t opposed to developing the lot or even opposed to small lot conversions. We are opposed to this particular design. Our hope is that the developer spend more time on the design and come back with something suitable for the site and the existing infrastructure. What looks like shop windows are actually not. This area is not zoned for commercial use. The spirit of the small lot conversion ordinance is to create more small and affordable homes on smaller lots. We aren’t opposed to this at all! Unfortunately, the language of the ordinance has a lot of loopholes being exploited by developers to create expensive new homes on tiny lots. City council has gotten so many complaints their is a movement to reword the ordinance. I would be all for small affordable houses on this lot. But this development is not it.

    • Your points on design are spot on. Silver Lake has seen these small lot subdivision come in and they seem to all have the same architect or design from a catalog. They never try to blend in and ultimately the neighbors tend to loose as the council office falls in line with the developer. It is a large building compared to the local homes but this is what is happening and the political establishment does not care what the neighbors think. Then of course there is the parking element and the increased burden on the local infrastructure.. Where is some local park space to offset all the extra people. The city wants to turn alleys into parks, a concept to be sure. but what about using some of the development fees to buy a couple lots and put in some real parks. Oh well back to business as usual.

  7. GOOD GRIEF folks. This is “high density”? And just what do we mean by “medium density,” if not something like this?

    Consider that the developer has to get lending to do anything. And banks have been stingy on the lending. You want to tell a developer to go shorter, but if they can’t get the funding assembled to do it, then you’re effectively telling them to hold onto that makeshift junkyard in perpetuity.

    Just who do you think built your “medium density” neighborhood? Fairies and unicorns? And do you think it was ALWAYS “medium density”? Because something tells me that, even just a few decades ago, it didn’t have the dingbats or some of the hillside homes that now occupy nearly every available parcel.

    If you have a beef about design aesthetic, that’s fair. Push for a more neighborly-design that embraces the characteristics of the area. But in terms of footprint and density, there’s really little to add beyond what I and others have said. This is one of LA’s most popular neighborhoods, with people clamoring to raise their families here, and you’re effectively saying “nope, not here thanks.” While we won’t ever be able to accommodate everyone who wants to live in Echo Park, at least we could be a bit more welcoming. Otherwise we just force folks to live further and further out and then drive their cars on their miserable commutes up and down our city streets.

    Too bad that even something as small as this proposed development (in the grand scheme of things) is just more fodder for citizen complaints, rather than an impetus for a community conversation about what we want our neighborhoods to look like 20-30 years from now, when our children will be trying to find a home in a city with a half-million more residents.

  8. I think this is going to be great addition to the neighborhood. It’ll be a facelift to this often ignored border of SL and Echo Park. Plus maybe other property owners in the area will be inspired. Especially the abandoned burnt out eyesore on sunset and Coronado a block away. The alley behind it is currently host to dealers and crackheads. More foot traffic, more premium renters, more police called about suspicious activity. I think that is a win for this part of the eastside.

  9. while I think these small lot subdivisions are not pretty, I think that there is no way we are going to have anything close to reasonable housing costs in LA is we keep saying NO to development. we need to increase density to promote additional public transportation options. I say build it!

  10. Those who opposed Gareth Kanter’s red wall at his Cafe Stella presciently saw that just this sort of future development would be the result of his breaking the floodgate……

  11. Now that we have heard so many comments from the developers and from the consulting firm representing this developer in particular, it would be good to hear from people who actually live in the neighborhood. Supposedly 170+ people living within a 500 foot radius signed a petition against the disign and size of the project.
    Zoning policy goes way back to the 1940’s and 50’s when land was valued and zoned according to only one factor: the race of the inhabitants. This is simply a historical fact which you are welcome to research. Low density and R1 status was designated to all white neighborhoods. Neighborhoods like Coronado and Merwin street were Redlined (Meaning banks would not grant any homes in this area government guaranteed but privately issued mortgages from fanny and freddy probably up through the 1980’s) They were labelled”hopelessly heterogeneous” by the mortgage surveyors. In a sense, these are the very neighborhoods that maintained much of the original architecture from the early 1920’s- even if it is buried under stucco. Now these same neighborhoods are under attack from big developers who are not, my dear concerned writers, getting traditional bank loans to build these generic monstrosities we see going up all over town. This is off-shore and chinese money. Alas! And what of the families who live on the lots scheduled for demolition? This is displacement of poor people for rich people.
    Let’s consider another point about this issue of the “new housing stock” argument to justify this building project. Unfortunately, this is exactly the type of housing getting bought up by large corporations and then rented out. None of the current residents of this neighborhood can afford the 800,000$ price tag of these giant luxury units. This development will certainly not help any local families find homes.
    But a consulting firm for a developer would be remiss in his duties if he were not flooding the local news blog with pro-developer comments. He is obviously earning his fee.
    To bad one cannot tell from the lovely architectural rendering just how wildly out of scale it is with the rest of the neighborhood.
    One thing that is coming out of this project is the need for neighborhoods in LA to have more rights as to what can be built in their neighborhoods, no matter what it was historically and racially zoned for.
    We are also waiting for a new kind of developer to emerge, one who will build for the values of today and actually care about LA and its various communities. If an honest developer were out there he or she would be a new kind of hero. And LA could really use a hero in housing development right now.

  12. Zoning was a practise long before the 40s and 50s.

    You’re thinking of restrictive covenants.

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