Thursday, October 27, 2016

Glassell Park’s Walnut Canyon gets attention from developers


Tagged trees in Glassell Park’s Walnut Canyon | Photo by Marino Pascal


GLASSELL PARK — A group of residents in Glassell Park are concerned about a residential development proposed for Walnut Canyon. Still in the early stages, the developers plan to build 32 single-family homes on the hillside property now covered with lush green grass and trees.

Several trees on the hillside have metal tags attached to the trunks and have been spray painted red, triggering concern about their fate. Resident Marino Pascal noticed the red paint and tags on the trees starting January 18 and contacted NELA Greenspace, a website devoted to preserving open space. “Our undeveloped  canyons and hillsides provide a connection with nature, they provide a sanctuary for wildlife … and they provide open greenspace in an otherwise concrete city,” says NELA Greenspace.

But a representative for the developer said that the markings do not necessarily mean the trees will be removed.  “The markings are simply from a surveyor. The developers intend to do an-depth review, and will comply with the specific plan.”

The property owner, Boston Associates Investment Fund, is still in the early phases of the project, which would be constructed near Haverhill Drive above Division Street. “Our application [with the Planning Department] allows for a more holistic view of the property,” said the developer representative,” and intends to recognize that though there are separate lots that are already subdivided, the construction of the project really constitutes a larger project.”

Several company names have been assigned to the project, as the project has several investors with a roster of LLCs. The project is overseen by Adam O’Neil and concept designs are by KTGY Architecture Planning.

The Glassell Park Neighborhood Council says no representatives from the developer have attended the Planning and Land Use Committee about the project.

A conceptual rendering of homes submitted to the Glassell Park Neighborhood Council

A conceptual rendering of homes submitted to the Glassell Park Neighborhood Council | KTGY


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 Avenue Meander.

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  1. Oh yeah, they’re gonna come in and destroy this beautiful stretch of land. Where are the NELA Alliance protesters when you actually need em to get busy with a real issue?

    • Everyone who is interested in protecting the last remaining natural hillsides in Glassell Park should check out our
      website: nelagreenspace.com good info, action alerts etc

  2. Nooooooo! I’ll volunteer to help save this land in any way. Keep us posted. This is actually crucial to the large amount of wildlife that lives in that area.

  3. Thank you Eastsider for covering this and I just wanted to share a few more photos. It’s truly a beautiful landscape. There are so many ugly things we could bulldoze in Los Angeles to build more housing before we bulldoze this. http://share.pho.to/8fsI8

  4. This is creepy. It’s hard for me to judge whether or not the Protected Tree Ordinance (http://cityplanning.lacity.org/Code_Studies/Other/ProtectedTreeOrd.pdf) is enough to prevent this. Can we deter inappropriate development with regulations or have the city buy the land for open space?

    • Yup, you read it correctly. The protected native tree ordinance just gives drveloper’s license to cut down trees as long as they replace them with pathetically small trees that are 1. Unlikely to survive the first 3 years. 2. Will not reach the same size as some of those huge walnuts in our lifetimes. 3. Unlikely to get planted at all if the the developer runs out of money or no one from the community rides herd on the city councilmember. (note its in CD1 start questioning those candidates now!)

      It’s time to revise the protected native tree ordinance to actually protect the native plant communities recognizing these species of trees are significant to the native ecosystem as mature native trees.

  5. Forget about Sunset Junction… THIS is the kind of development people should be fighting in Los Angeles.

    We have so much underutilized land in the flats, this just makes no sense.

  6. I was under the impression that the Mt Wash/GP Neighborhood Specific Plan prevented developers from building more than 4-8 (can’t remember which) units. Also, the plan champions unique and diverse architecture. Without saying anything about this specific design it seems that having 32 variations on a theme flys in the face of the plans intention.

  7. Where is Walnut Canyon? Is it the section above the Pool/Recreation area?

    • There is a map link in the article. Elyria Canyon is on one side of Division and Walnut Canyon on the other side of Division. Easy to see from a distance, hard to access on foot. It’s accessed at the end of a couple of cul-de-sacs.

      • And it’s not directly above the pool/recreation area (where the glassellland sign used to be). It’s further up the hill.

        I live very close by, and I walk the hills. If I want to get involved in protecting the open space, I’m assuming I should support http://www.nelagreenspace.com/ ?

  8. This is in violation of the spirit of the Mt Washngton /Glassell Park Specific plan.
    The intent was to stop the area from looking like a 35 home development
    Each home must be different under the law. And only 8 homes are allowed to be built.
    They have provided this one modern style rendering.
    They will try to make each home look different with slightly different finishes to pass the plan check.

    Unfortunately, 2 empty abandoned developments of 8 houses each sit abandoned on Lavell and Parish Dr.(nearby this proposed developement)
    Squatters have come and go. But they sit empty rotting to this day.
    They been sitting there from the last building boom. Some bad apples at the planning department were somehow involved in a bribery scheme and one of the developers had finance issues.
    This shows the city Department of Building And Safety has let us down before ,
    not protecting the public and
    Upholding the law of the Mt. Washington Specific Plan.
    35 homes is not 8 Homes of different styles.
    This is not Small lot ordinance. And the specific plan was crafted to protect our neighborhood.

    • . Notice the developer is publicly telling The Eastsider that he will “do an indepth study” of the project in accordance with the Specific Plan. This is a lie. The developer is waging a cheap attack on the Specific Plan by submitting paperwork that shows:

      1. He is asking for a categorical exemption from environmental review when house projects exceeding three specifically require environmental review under state law. He is currently asking to perform no review at all.
      2. He wants to have only 4 or 5 designs instead of having to design 32 significantly different houses to be consistent with Specific Plan requirements for architectural variety. This requirement of the Plan is intended to avoid projects that will look exactly what this developer wants to build — cookie cutter Santa Clarita-like subdivisions (with a faux modern front).
      3. He wants to excavate massive amounts of uphill lots so that the house can be built on top of the garage instead of the history of detached garages with housing constructed uphill that makes the neighborhood more connected to gardens, open space, and allowing wildlife places of refuge in cohabitation with humans.
      4. He refuses to design houses in ways to avoid the mass destruction of a mature threatened Walnut woodland that operates as a key remaining wildlife corridor.

      The EastsiderLA should ask the developer’s spokeshole if he is going to voluntarily withdraw his current application sitting down at City Hall.

  9. Shoot. In the words of my boss, this is no bueno.

  10. The shelf-life of these boxy multi-unit developments is already near expiration. They will be so inexorably linked to 2010 development that I anticipate they will become “afforable housing” by default by 2025, if not sooner. By then (if not sooner) we’ll be able to determine the quality of workmanship but the basic no-frills design is already a strong indicator of maximum assembly and minimal workmanship never mind craftsmanship.

    I plan to start giving O’Farrell a bit of hell for the surge of assembly-line development taking place in District 13. Especially what’s sprouting up at the end of the 2 freeway, which is already resulting in increased traffic congestion on a boulevard that could barely handle existing traffic. In fact, I have no idea how these new residents are going to be able to 1) enter their driveway in teh face of oncoming freeway traffic 2) exit and merge with oncoming freeway traffic. Seems like O’Farrell completely sold out to developers with anything but quality of life on their agenda.

    • Hey, would you please return to “not making sense”?
      It makes me a little uncomfortable to agree with you 🙂
      But on this post, I agree.

      • I wholeheartedly commend your capacity for intellectual growth but growth can sometimes be painful. I suggest you cling to this moment of lucidity and the growing pains will become increasingly less upsetting.

        You’re welcome!

  11. I’m not sure what I think of O’Farrell, but blaming him for the small lot project going up next to the 2 is really crazy. He was not in office when that project was entitled… the CD 13 council-member at that time was Garcetti.

    • Nothing “small” about it. It’s the biggest new development in the area second only to the mega-developments along Riverside Drive. Whether or not O’Farrell was directly responsible, I don’t hear him expressing the same concerns or discomfort at the increased traffic congestion and overpriced goods and services saturating our neighborhoods. He must address this issue in the next election or lose the votes of those who are becoming increasingly concerned about being crowded into their own community.

  12. Very disappointing meeting with Cedillo’s people last night. These people have no vision. Their vision is that the developer will do a bunch of work, architectural draings, soil reports, EIR and the community will oppose them and then they will negotiate some type of compromise as if building 24 houses instead of 32 and painting them one color instead of another means anything.

    Walnut Canyon is worth saving because it’s a beautiful piece of open land. Why not use that vision and find funding to buy the land and turn it into a park instead of this dog and pony show where we delay the developer as much as we can until they run out of money or the market crashes again?

    And what if the market crashes while the buildings are half built? Then we end up with a bunch of half built houses like the ones on Lavell & Yorkshire. https://goo.gl/maps/J50r1 Everybody ends up a loser.

    • Seems to me the zoning is just super outdated… there’s way too much development up in the hills of LA neighborhoods, and not enough of it in the flats where the infrastructure can better support it.

      Sure, some will argue that central LA flats are “overdeveloped”, but if that were true we’d already have the tax revenue needed to buy up green spaces like this and preserve them.

  13. There really is no point in going to Cedillo’s office for help. Honestly, they just do not put any energy into actually making the community better. I don’t know WHAT they do other than produce a fun outdoor summer concert. That’s it.

    • Alex – Did you notice that “fun outdoor summer concert” was underwritten by a major bank in Los Angeles? You give Cedillo too much credit for even organizing that. It looks like Cedillo’s staff leaned on the Recreation and Park staff to spend major bucks replacing the seating for the Sycamore Grove bandshell in the weeks leading up to the concert. Does anyone know where that money came from? Does anyone know what the bank is getting in return for “sponsoring” this jazz festival? It must have cost the bank a lot of money.

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