Quantcast

What will fill the empty lots around Echo Park Lake?

ECHO PARK —  The few remaining vacant lots near Echo Park Lake are attracting the attention of developers and generating concern among residents worried about what will be built and how it will change the vistas surrounding the lake.

Later this week, a public hearing will be held to review plans to build five, contemporary-style townhouses on a Belmont Avenue lot overlooking Echo Park Lake under the city’s small-lot development ordinance. The ordinance 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.

The Belmont Avenue project of three-story homes is smaller than would be allowed, says Noah Ornstein, a Silver Lake resident with the development firm Ark LOF. How the homes will appear from the lake below was a “preeminent consideration” in the design of the buildings, which Ornstein says will feature a lot of glass and attractive exterior lighting.

“We worked hard to have less density than other small-lot projects,” said Ornstein, whose project will be reviewed by the city’s Planning Department on Thursday.

Still, some neighbors are worried that Ornstein’s project will still be too big and out of place on the bluffs west of the lake.

“It’s too much for the space, and it’s not in keeping with the character of that part of Echo Park,” said Daniel Ferranti, who posted renderings of the townhouses on Instagram. “And since it will loom over the lake, it directly impacts the many thousands of people who take succor there every day.”

More new development may be in the works for several other empty parcels surrounding Echo Park Lake, which reopened a few years ago after a $45 million cleanup. Earlier this year, Downtown developer Fred Afari paid $18 million for several properties near Echo Park Lake, including some empty lots on Park Avenue and Glendale Boulevard.   A source told the L.A. Business Journal that Afari would build “high-end” multifamily buildings on the vacant lots.

That worries residents like Ferranti.

“In light of things like the recent massive sale of properties surrounding the lake, I think we need to take a moment and decide what kind of Echo Park we want to be living in,” he said. “It’s a question of imprint and profile – we can encourage development that is reasonable without becoming slaves to the maximization of profit without any regard to the community.”

Eastside Guide Small Logo

The Eastside Guide Business Directory is designed to help readers find the services and products they need.

The businesses and services in the directory have not been reviewed nor are they endorsed by The Eastsider. Users are responsible for taking care to investigate any offers, products or services provided by businesses listed in the directory.

Want your business included in the Eastside Guide? Click here for details



Eastsider Advertising

18 comments

  1. It’s more than a little disingenuous for Mr. Ornstein to say, “We worked hard to have less density than other small-lot projects.”

    The zoning for his land only allows for four homes. He plans five. While it may be less dense than other small lots, it’s more than what is allowed on the land he owns and he is hoping the city will GIVE him the additional land he needs to meet the zoning requirements by vacating the excess public rightaway that runs along Glendale Blvd.

    • But still much less dense than if he just built apartments by right, no?

      • While a higher density apartment building is the alternative in many instances, it is not in this one. The Small Lot Ordinance does not change the underlying zoning of the land, and it is the zoning that controls the density. Density rules do not distinguish between apartments, small lots, duplexes, etc. as it is based on the number of people the land will be holding.

        RD2 zoning requires 2,000 square feet of lot area per dwelling unit, regardless of the kind of unit built. So even if it were apartments, this developer only owns land that allows for 4 units. The developer is asking the city to give him land the public owns so that he would have enough land to build 5 units. Without that gift, it’s 4.

      • No. RD2 zoning requires 2,000 square feet of lot area per dwelling unit, regardless of the kind of unit built. So even if it were apartments, this developer only owns land that allows for 4 units. The developer is asking the city to give him land the public owns so that he would have enough land to build 5 units. Without that gift, it’s 4.

        • Noted, thanks for the insight.

        • What’s interesting to me is there’s already several older apartment buildings in the immediate neighborhood that look to be much more dense than that. Doesn’t sound to me like the developer is proposing anything out of scale with the built environment… rather the zoning just needs a second look.

    • Even if the zoning was R1, the small lot ordinance allows him to subdivide the lot into new, smaller single family lots on which to build the townhomes. That’s the point of the small lot ordinance. It doesn’t require him to work with the existing single lot zoning.
      Also, there is a giant apartment building right next to these lots. I don’t see how it would be out of place compared to that.

  2. Five (5) 2000 Sq, Foot Luxury Units on a small hillside bluff is not working hard to have less density. Quite the opposite.

  3. You guys realize if the small Lot plans don’t go thru, they are just gonna build a much bigger apartment complex, right?

    There is no scenario where the land stays vacant or a small single story cottage is built. Not in 2015. Sorry.

    • While a higher density apartment building is the alternative in many instances, it is not in this one. The Small Lot Ordinance does not change the underlying zoning of the land, and it is the zoning that controls the density. Density rules do not distinguish between apartments, small lots, duplexes, etc. as it is based on the number of people the land will be holding.

      RD2 zoning requires 2,000 square feet of lot area per dwelling unit, regardless of the kind of unit built. So even if it were apartments, this developer only owns land that allows for 4 units. The developer is asking the city to give him land the public owns so that he would have enough land to build 5 units. Without that gift, it’s 4.

      • Interesting. So if the developer was just building 4 units, would you still be opposed?

        • You know the answer.

          This is just delaying the inevitable. The only winners are the lawyers. The NIMBY fighting this will have succeeded only in inflating the cost of the project. Then he’ll scream about how they aren’t affordable.

        • I think it’s time to get over the conversation of 4 units vs. 5 units myself. Is that going to make a substantial difference in the neighborhood? No. What does make a difference in the neighborhood is the way each of those units engages with or avoids engaging with the street. When people drive straight into their garage, open a door and are home, with no porch and just a big flat wall up from the street, that’s not a development that encourages those new residents to engage with the community at all. The older homes in the neighborhood aren’t better by virtue of being smaller, or being further apart, they’re better because they provide chances of encounter with the rest of the neighborhood. The form these small-lot projects have taken in this area is one that shuts the rest of the neighborhood out, and I care about that a lot more than whether he’s squeezing one extra unit onto a lot.

          • Good point… seems to me the zoning throughout LA is just very outdated.

            There’s way too much emphasis on technocratic solutions (FAR, parking ratios, LOS, etc.) and not enough on how buildings actually integrate into the community.

            I think we’d be much better off with a less complicated system that focuses on the form of buildings first, and allows for more flexibility in things like parking and height, since every parcel of land and every project is unique.

  4. Ted The Speculator

    Build as big and as high as possible.
    Housing to buy or rent is frankly just too expensive now in LA. Los Angeles was always a good alternative to living in New York or any other large city because housing was cheaper. Now when you factor in the cost of also running a car its more expensive to live in LA than New York.

    • Yup, and you can’t build without parking in LA (which would bring down rents significantly on new construction.)

  5. https://instagram.com/p/6sl717EHQt/?taken-by=dwiff2

    Nice. Build it. Fill those empty lots with tax paying home owners. Density is part of reality in LA in the 21st century. It’s 5 units not 500. This seems perfectly reasonable for that site.

  6. Frankly, if we’re replacing vacant lots with something useful, I’d want to make sure that we can *maximize* the number of people that can live with views of the lake. Anything below maximum density should be blocked, and we should be encouraging them to build apartments rather than townhomes, so that we don’t waste this opportunity to bring life in Echo Park to more people.

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments civil and on topic and refrain from personal attacks. The moderator reserves the right to edit or delete any comments. The Eastsider's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to comments submitted by readers. Required fields are marked *

*