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El Sereno residents pushing back on 43-home development

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By NATHAN SOLIS

El Sereno – The hillside across from El Sereno Park is undeveloped and dense with trees. But this open space would be turned into one of the largest residential developments to be constructed in El Sereno in recent years –  a 43-home project that has raised opposition from neighboring residents.

Newport Beach-based developer Clearwater Communities  held a a public  meeting on Wednesday night to present their plans to grade part of nearly five-acre site at the corner of Eastern Avenue and Lombardy Street. About 30 concerned residents attended the outreach meeting at the El Sereno Library, where Clearwater Chief Executive Officer  Dan Kassel presented a map of the proposed site. The approximately 2,000-square-foot homes would have two stories, two-car garages and be reached by private roads built on the hillside. The developer  plans to ask the city to change the zoning to build homes closer together under the small-lot ordinance.

Concerns expressed by residents ranged from parking and pedestrian safety to increased traffic congestion. One resident called the project “a monstrosity,” saying it would saturate the hillside with homes. Others claimed that the development would change the character of the neighborhood. Resident Melissa Kellogg pointed out that the community should hold the developers accountable no matter what promises are made in these early meetings. Thirty-five-year resident Joanna Tinoco said she thought that building these homes would bring too much traffic to an area with two schools nearby and a park.

“You are not from this community,” Tinoco told Kassel. “Our children walk alone, because of our schedules. You don’t live here.”

Clearwater, which is in escrow to purchase the land,  will have to deal with several ordinances and obtain variances to get their 43 homes in place. Residents fear that if this developer can change the zoning for this one project it would set a precedent for other developers to build on other hillsides in El Sereno.

“We value our open space,” said Manny Campos, who has lived in El Sereno for 27 years.  “I’d like for my children to be able to see the hillside.”

Several residents said they wanted to see some compromises from the developers, maybe in cutting back the number of homes, installing fire lanes and more open space. This is the same site where a previous developer wanted to plant a school and apartments atop the hill, a proposal that eventually fell through.

Related Link:

  • Clearwater Communities presentation at the LA-32 Neighborhood Council’s Land Use & Development Committee . YouTube

Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis’ stories, reviews and photos at Smashed Chair.



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23 comments

  1. Please just don’t make them section 8. I’m sorry I’m being 100% wrong but keep the low life ghetto out of here. We need to clean up this community.

  2. Let me guess, the same people complaining about the “safety” of their children walking around the neighborhood are the ones asking for street widening… gotta love the irony!

  3. this is good for el sereno –that strip on huntington will get silver lake like cafes… this could finally be what puts el sereno over the top and makes it like HP, ER, and GP.

  4. no variances. Just let them build what the land is currently zoned for. Don’t stack/pack 43 homes in 5 hilly acres.

    • El Sereno has already hit the map, and is already appealing to buyers outside the area that bring diversity, creativity, and tenacity to our neighborhood like never before… Check out NELA Homes who are setting the trend on modernizing existing properties in the area while maintaining the charm and Craftsmanship that the Community needs. Bringing in this type of cookie cutter development from an outsider who has the arrogance to seek small lot rezoning for his own personal gain is an insult and doing so will only bring the properties values down on the high end of the market.

      • You lost me at the profit seeking part. Is the builder so suppose to build out of altruism?

      • Wut?

        New construction costs a lot more than doing a nela homes rehab on an old house.

        Nobody is going to pay 1-2 million dollars for a craftsman style custom home in El Sereno.

        NELA needs affordable starter homes and small lot developments are how you get them

        • Newly constructed 2000 sq ft homes will not be affordable, unless it’s a government subsidized project.

        • There are plenty of affordable starter homes already in El Sereno. One thing the area has is plenty of supply at affordable prices compared to nearby neighborhoods.

    • The zoning variance would actually allow them to build fewer homes, not more. That’s what the small lot ordinance is all about. Instead of one big ugly dense apartment building (which they can do by right) they can ask for a variance for the small lot ordinance and creater a more appealing, less dense space.

      • Jonathan, you’re incorrect in just about every piece of your statement. Sometimes stating the exact opposite of what is factually accurate.

        The zoning variance allows the builder to build MORE homes. This is from the developers own mouth. By right he can only build ~30 homes. With the variance he can build upwards of ~43 homes. 43 is more than 30.

        The small lot ordinance is about… small lots. For an area that is zoned R1 (that means you can’t build apartment buildings) the small lot ordinance allows property owners to split a large lot into untraditionally small lots to fit more houses into a given area, by reducing the frontage, access and footprint requirements.

        The variance isn’t “for the small lot ordinance”. The variance is for the zoning, to allow them to construct more homes than they’re legally allowed to right now (with or without the small lot ordinance).

        http://cityplanning.lacity.org/Code_Studies/Housing/Townhouse176354.pdf

  5. 739 Milford St. LA 90042 (Hermon) 3 bedroom, 4 bath. 2667 SF. Built 2004. Asking price $788K. 150 days on Zillow not selling.

    5048 Ladd Ave. LA 90032 – 2 bedroom, 2 bath. 1383 SF. 5635 SF lot. Built 1954. Sold Sept. 2014, 595K

    When you compare older homes against newly consrtructed homes that will be selling at 700K, it brings the price down on an older home selling 1/4 mile from this proposed development on lots half the size of this NELA home.

  6. 739 Milford St. LA 90042 (Hermon) 3 bedroom, 4 bath. 2667 SF. Built 2004. Asking price $788K. 150 days on Zillow not selling.

    5048 Ladd Ave. LA 90032 – 2 bedroom, 2 bath. 1383 SF. 5635 SF lot. Built 1954. Sold Sept. 2014, 595K

    When you compare older homes against newly consrtructed homes that will be selling at 700K, it brings the price down on an older home selling 1/4 mile from this proposed development on lots half the size of this NELA home.

  7. Is it already too late to save Oakland…..(or El Sereno, Highland Park, Boyle Heights, East LA)? Are they being saved now?
    http://kernelmag.dailydot.com/issue-sections/staff-editorials/10935/oakland-silicon-valley-gentrification/?tw=dd

  8. Sad news, the hills are what make El Sereno (The Serenity).

  9. Please let me know when the next meeting on this scam there trying to pull off,to fill these hills with little box houses on top of each other. We have been in the area since1947……..2700n.eastern

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