Developer and environmental groups at odds over Elysian Valley property zoning

Property at left fronts the L.A. River path.

Property at left fronts the L.A. River path.

ELYSIAN VALLEY — Two environmental groups are at odds with an L.A. real estate developer and philanthropist over his request to change the zoning on a piece of riverfront property that has been designated as open space.

Representatives for Morton La Kretz say the city made a mistake when it rezoned the property, which is occupied by a small manufacturing company, as open space more than a decade ago. He and other family members want the error fixed and the site near Marsh Street Nature Park re-zoned back for commercial manufacturing.  La Kretz, who has donated millions of dollars to numerous causes and is seeking to build a residential development in nearby Atwater Village, has the backing of Mayor Eric Garcetti  and the director of the Planning Department.

Under city law, only land that is publicly owned can be designated open space, said Elizabeth Camacho, an attorney representing LaKretz.

“The mistake likely was the result of a clerical mapping error that occurred when the City re-zoned nearby property that was purchased by a governmental agency for park purposes in 2001,” Camacho said in an email.  “In addition to the fact that the Open Space designation is inappropriate under the zoning code, it is interfering with the owner’s ability to manage and finance the property.”

The proposal to make the zoning change came up last week before the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee but was postponed after attorneys for the National Resources Defense Council and Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority objected to the zoning change without a public hearing.

The conservation authority, which has been involved in purchasing and managing parkland and open space along the river,  issued a follow up statement:

The Revitalization of the Los Angeles River and the creation of public parkland adjacent to it is a key priority of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA). Any zoning change from open space along the Los Angeles River should include a public process for public participation.

The Planning & Land Use Management Committee is scheduled to hear the zoning request at this afternoon’s meeting.

The issue has come as the city Planning Commission voted in favor of restricting the size and height of new riverfront development in Elysian Valley.



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