Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A trio of townhouse proposed for Echo Park’s Morton Avenue [updated @ 3:44 p.m.]

Three homes would be built on the site of this 1909 bungalow.

Three homes would be built on the site of this 1909 bungalow.

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ECHO PARK –– As construction of the 18-home Morton Village project enters the final stage, a new – albeit smaller – residential development is in the works for the same block of Morton Avenue.

An entity known as Rocking Horse Development LLC is planning to build a three-home, small-lot project on the site of a 106-year-old bungalow at 1625 Morton Avenue, according to online city records.   Rocking Horse is seeking to carve up the the approximately 7,000-square-foot lot, which also contains a smaller home built in the 1920s,  into three separate lots. The property sold last year October for about $612,000.

It’s not known if Rocking Horse Redevelopment plans to keep the bungalow, one of the oldest on a block with several homes built more than a century ago, as part of the project or demolish it.

The townhouses would be built under the city’s small-lot subdivision ordinance, which allows for more intense, single-family home development than typically allowed, primarily by reducing the spaces between each home and the boundaries of the lot. Supporters of small-lot developments say the projects are often smaller and less dense than what existing zoning would allow. But the same projects have also triggered concern and opposition in Silver Lake and other neighborhoods over increased density traffic congestion and loss of privacy.

Rob Anderson of Rocking Horse LLC appears to be part of Rocking Horse Redevelopment, which has built and remodeled homes in Silver Lake, Denver and Phoenix, according to its website.

Update @ 3:44 p.m.: Anderson of Rocking Horse said the bungalow will be demolished for the new homes, which will have three bedrooms (one of which could be used for a den or office) and two baths. The homes would take nine to 12 months to complete but said the start of construction will be determined after the necessary city approvals and permits are granted. Anderson said he agrees with those who say some small-lot developments don’t fit into their surroundings:

Some of these projects are out of place in the neighborhoods they’ve been built in. As a eight year resident of Echo Park (literally steps from 1625 Morton Ave) I’ve watched how a lot of these projects have come together. Some are just plain misfits. That aside, our project will integrate well with the surrounding properties.

They’re flanked by properties that are MORE dense than ours will be: downhill from us is an apartment complex with 17 units, uphill is a fourplex. We’re following the lead of those properties by having a similar frontage setback. We’re not asking for an variances or exceptions by way of height, density, or setback. We’re using the existing zoning and planning guidelines. This latter fact further further ensures that the project isn’t overly dense and will integrate well into the neighborhood.

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  1. I am not anti smart development, but we have got to figure out a way to integrate history with new housing. This house is lovely and represents a historic period in LA. Why can’t this house be integrated into the new project? I’m totally opposed to the builders demolishing this piece of history! They would be well received in the neighborhood if they find a way to respect our past while reaching their goals too.

    • Its very sad that Los Angeles seems to always demolish the old to bring in the new. The new buildings and homes have no character, they are just 4 walls.

    • The seller could have sold the property for less but required the new owner to preserve the structures. The seller chose to get as much money as possible.

      Personally I have no problem with small lot development. But if anyone is to blame here, its the seller.

      • I agree, it is the seller, Dave, but you have to look around the Small Lot developments that have taken things OUT OF CONTROL. They are putting these MASSIVE Structures up against these gorgeous homes and destroy their views, integrity and don’t even care about it. As anything, if it is done in moderation with taste and integrity it is all fine but if NOT, then it can destroy a neighborhood and the character that it is known for.

      • Such a deal is only legally enforceable already has been given some sort of historical designation.

        It’s really sad. Myself and many others moved here BECAUSE of the historic architecture and it is being systematically destroyed. If I wanted to live near a bunch of soulless townhomes, I would have moved to Hesperia.

      • I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone willing to sell their house for less than full market value, just to score a few points with preservationists.

      • Savvy property owners know that historic designation actually adds value.

        I just sold an income property in Angeleno Heights for more than I would have otherwise because of the Mills Act property tax reduction (about 50%) that came with place.

        This program is available for properties in historic districts or houses like this, if it was successfully designated as a historic landmark (HCM).

    • Eastsiders, if these issues concern you (and they should) please sign the petition addressed to Councilmember O’Farrell in whose district this project lies. We are over 1000 strong combining electronic and paper signatures!

      We are asking for design guidelines that preserve neighborhood character. This is a perfect example of a project where neighborhood character could be preserved (by keeping the bungalow) while also allowing for some appropriate infill around it that BLENDS with the neighborhood and doesn’t not tower above it with imposing tall structures with rooftop decks.

      Help stop the greed-driven madness and stand up for small lot design guidelines that work to blend this infill into the existing community context.

      Sign here at this link to the Change.org petition:

      • In the meantime, why not designate this and other properties of concern as historic landmarks?

        Big changes like new planning tools take lots of time, money & effort.

        Why not use some of the many tools already at hand?

        • We’re already doing that, just haven’t started on this one yet. OHR wants planning tools, so that’s what we are struggling for. Chasing demolitions is costly and time consuming for everyone, even the city. We need a comprehensive strategy that addresses neighborhood character. It shouldn’t rest on whether or not the particular property, standing on it’s own, could get landmark status.

          • So, best case, let’s say that a moratorium is put in place.

            What design guidelines would you propose?

          • The petition has the proposed guidelines. It’s pretty much the same guidelines written by city planning, and paid for with out tax dollars. It’s just that they don’t enforce the guidelines– they claim they can’t. That’s the frustration with small lots. The guidelines are there, yet everyone ignores them. They are nothing but a false construct to deflect criticism. Look at the petition, its all there

    • My first thought is, maybe the house could be relocated onto a single family lot that has room for another unit in the back?
      My second is, the house might honestly not be worth it given the history. I live on that block and that house was notorious—every inch of the porch and front yard were crammed with all manner of junk. I have never seen the inside, but there’s not a lot I would be surprised about given the condition of the outside. There’s a chance that the owners looked at keeping it as an option and when they saw how much work needed to be done to remediate the conditions within, realized that it just wasn’t worth it.

      • I remember walking by that place and thinking, I hope children don’t have to live here. Junkyard hoarders parardise.

        • Now, no one will ever live there again. Is that the improvement you were hoping for?
          @erin, shilling for developers– shame on you. The “condition” of the house is what’s called PERFECTLY RESTORABLE. Neglected yes, trashed? Absolutely not!

          • Have you seen the inside? Not really hoping for any improvement, just remember walking by that place full of junk for years. Does not bode well for old homes. Deferred maintenance, etc.

          • So it’s basically going from two on a lot to three:


            And you’re thinking: this guy is a liar!

            “Some of these projects are out of place in the neighborhoods they’ve been built in. As a eight year resident of Echo Park (literally steps from 1625 Morton Ave) I’ve watched how a lot of these projects have come together. Some are just plain misfits. That aside, our project will integrate well with the surrounding properties.”

          • Eastsidearts: What is it exactly that I was lying about when I responded to Jesus’ request for comment? Are you claiming that by saying the project will integrate well into the neighborhood AND that there is a density increase that I’m dishonest?

          • I have no idea what the condition of the inside is and it sounds like neither do you. I’m just speculating on what could make someone who seems more sensitive to the neighborhood than most of the developers around here make that choice, based on the bit I could see walking by it every day. Genuine hoarders lived there, and there is a huge amount of damage that can come with that situation. I may have been perfectly restorable, it may not have been. It may have been possible but not fiscally responsible—if you want to push for something like that to get restored, then you should buy it and restore it yourself, not try to dictate what other people do with property that you’re not willing to deal with.

          • Municipalities limit the parameters of building projects all the time. It’s called planning– which this city practices haphazardly. 5 HPOZs and 15 RFA districts were just approved last month.
            Whether a project is profitable directly relates to the amount (over) paid. These developers outbid everyone because there are no rules in place to stop them from building oversized, incongruent projects. Greed reigns without guidance.

  2. I implore residents to start demanding a moratorium on these proposals. It is tragic that this history and flavor of the neighborhood will be destroyed. Not to mention, the residents who will be displaced. PLEASE SIGN THE MORATORIUM and make your Council start to listen to the residents who love their neighborhood.
    I do not want to live in a homogenized cookie cutter type neighborhood. Echo Park needs to be preserved.

    SIGN THE CHANGE.ORG petition that demands the City protect our neighborhoods

  3. Historical homes should not be permitted to be torn down. Unique historic architecture are what make this city and its neighborhood special.

    Everybody in the city, not just in Echo Park (the currently affected area) needs to sign the moratorium in order for city council to hear the voice of the people. *Please* take a minute to fill it out.


  4. Gonna 3rd this.

    Sign the Small Lot Moratorium to prevent our homes and apartments from being turned into a Edith Masefield’s house or locally speaking, the sandwiched house on West 2nd near S Lucas:

    It’s only a matter of time before a developer decides to build an apartment complex right next to your abode and completely blocks out the sunlight and obliterates your parking.

  5. How on earth does the project that tears down an existing 106 year old home fit into the neighborhood?at least Morton village preserved the three historic bungalows that face the street.Sad that this house is finally looking to be fixed up after years of neglect, just to be torn down. I live just up the street and this really bothers me. sad to hear about this new development.

  6. what was that link again?

  7. That just doesn’t seem right! Tearing down that bungalow to build townhouses. I feel bad for the people who live next door. Just signed the petition!

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