Sunday, October 23, 2016

Residential development headed for Riverside Drive

Periscope homes | Courtesy Project M Plus

Periscope homes | Courtesy Project M Plus

SILVER LAKE —  A new development of single-family homes and a separate, 120-unit apartment complex are now in the works for Riverside Drive on the far north end of Silver Lake, raising concern among some residents.

Crews have already begun clearing several vacant lots for the construction of five single-family homes and a duplex in the 2400 block of Riverside near Gilroy Street. The development, called Periscope, will feature three-story homes, each with three bedrooms, 2-1/2 baths and elevators, said architect McShane Murnane of Silver Lake-based Project M Plus.  Three of the homes will also include a detached, one-bedroom accessory or “mother-in-law” unit on the lot,  he said.

While Riverside is a busy street within earshot of the 5 Freeway, Murnane said the project will be adjacent to the Red Car Property, a privately-owned strip of land that is a popular walking trail. Murnane said the developer of Periscope has agreed to clean up and landscape the adjacent Red Car Property with native plants and trees. However, a section of the trail has been fenced off to prevent dumping and protect the new plants when they are installed.  Pedestrians can still get around the fence, which will be removed when the plants are established, Murnane said.

Many neighbors and the Corralitas Red Car Property Blog have raised concern about the clearing of the lots, which meant removing and scraping away existing trees and vegetation.  But Murnane said that  “we are going to bring that back as best we can” he said of wooded landscape.

Meanwhile, about two blocks north in the 2600 block of Riverside, a long-stalled residential project is stirring to life on the hillside.  Representatives of Riverglen Phase II have notified neighbors of their intent to start grading soon in preparation to build a four-story, 120-unit apartment complex over a 2-story parking structure.

The Eastsider has contacted an official with the project for more details.

Developers have been trying to build apartments or condominiums on the Riverglen site, where the fabled Red Car once passed through, for decades, according to the Corralitas Red Car Property Blog. But those projects either went bust or were abandoned, leaving only giant retaining walls to loom over Riverside north of Fletcher Drive.

Riverglen apartment site

Riverglen apartment site

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  1. 150 new apartments all without rent control. It’s tese big developers who benefit the most and us samll, mom and pop landlords forced to carry the affordable housing on our backs.
    15o times 2 cars equals more cars on Riverside. These bike lanes of the future will be used whether we want to use them or not.

    • Every single apartment in Los Angeles new or old should be rent controlled.

      • Dead wrong. Every single apartment in LA should NOT be rent controlled. Subsidized / Section 8 housing should absolutely exist and the program should be expanded. Rent control however is an utter and complete failure that punishes mom n’ pop landlords, and there are thousands of them in this city. Rent control has only served to drive up prices citywide while some tenants reap the benefits of under-market rental rates. The common knee-jerk reaction is to say, “you’re not considering the middle class and working poor.” Wrong. If rent control were abolished overnight, and every single apartment in the city was forced to “reset” to the prevailing market rate — well it would bedlam for awhile, for sure. But in time, the prevailing market rate would be established and things would stabilize. The most expensive apartments would get cheaper, the cheapest apartments would get more expensive. Tenants and landlords would exist in a free market rental economy. This city and its residents would be the better off for it.

        Fact: Pasadena does not have rent control, and it is a far more humane and hospitable environment for both tenants and landlords.

        • He’s right, all should be rent controlled. Rent control has not been a failure in the least, other than it is far too weak.

          And as for landlords complaining they are losing under it — that is a bald faced lie playing on people not understanding our rent control law. Any landlord not making a profit of at least 11% can raise the rent as much as needed to reach that level simply by applying to the city and showing the losses. That is what rent control says.

          The reality is the landlords are getting anywhere from 3% to 10% rent hikes year in and year out, yet a good 90% of their costs are locked in, not going up at all. The major parts of their costs are NOT maintenance, it is the mortgage and property taxes, and both are locked in not subject to inflation. Maintenance is just a very small part of the costs, and they get rent hikes far and away more than that goes up, simply because the percentage is the inflation rate but calculated on the entirety of the rent, not only the maintenance part.

          And, when inflation is less than 3%, or even less than zero as we had for a couple years recently, the landlords still get to raise the rents by 3% — more than inflation.

          And, they can raise the rent to the moon if they want every time a tenant moves out, just as if there were no rent control.

          Now, how are these landlords complaining about hard times and managing to keep a straight face?

          • i suspect the ones who complain are mostly just bad with money and want to find anyone else they can to blame

          • J.W.,

            After college I rented in Atlanta, and subsequently D.C. for two years. I had several bad experiences with landlords in Atlanta. So just like you I felt the same way. That was until I inherited a duplex in Los Feliz after my mother’s passing in my late 20’s. I’m 32 now and my perspective has completely changed.

            Let me say I agree there should be rent control….to an extent. I’ll get to that later. And the above poster is absolutely correct when they say that LA rent control punishes “mom and pop” landlords. Why?

            1) The 1-3% rent increase often times does not cover the cost of inflation. US inflation, aside from times of recession wavers in the 1-2% range. Look it up. You assume that maintenance is not a considerable expense. Sure, it pales in comparison to the mortgage and taxes, but it is still a huge expense. The mortgage and taxes are not subject to inflation but maintenance costs are. So say my AC/heat company, gardener, pest control, handyman, painting company, cleaning company, misc repairs, etc raises their rates 10-20% every other year, to service my duplex. And lets say I raise the rent to max allowed, 3%–which I absolutely do–each year. I’m amazed how you can’t see how renting property in LA suddenly ISN’T worth the hassle given the meager pittance or break-even, given headaches from tenants and time spent dealing with the city and maintenance of the property.

            2) Do you work? Do you do it to give your money to charity or to make a profit? You’re asking that landlords suddenly become charities and eschew the very essence that defines this country for better or worse–capitalism. How and why should you expect your landlords to NOT make a profit, while tenants benefit THEMSELVES from unnaturally low rents? Is that fair? To put things in perspective do the math. An $1800/month rental unit at a 3% rental increase/year is….wait for it…..$54 dollars. $54 dollars…..

            3) Not sure where you got that 11% figure from but I am definitely going to look it up! I’ve never heard of it. Even if that is true do you know how hard it would be to PROVE that to the CITY? Have you ever dealt with the city??? Do you know how hard it is to get anything done with them? And to go through such hassle year after year? Really?

            4) Going back to inflation. While the mortgage is locked in, did you stop and think how the landlord PAYS the mortgage??? We work just like YOU. And guess what….are wages ARE subjected to inflation so that in the long run we ARE losing out.

            5) I’ve found the tenants in LA who are the most vocal “anti-landlord” folks are the middle class, who do not understand or are aware how unfair rent control is to “mom and pop” landlords. Because they have never been BOTH tenant and landlord here, or due to past experiences.

            6) Going back to rent control. I think a more appropriate solution would be one in which “mega” developers were partially subsidized by the city/state in exchange for developing NEW “rent-controlled” properties. Policy that rather than just enriching the current mega developers, while punishing people like me, would placate both tenant and landlord.

            I agree housing should be affordable. But then if we’re going down that rabbit hole, then why is selling a property not “controlled”, but sold at the prevailing market rate? Or mostly anything else in our capitalistic society? for that matter.

            Rent control is in essence a form of real estate socialism that places the burden of subsidizing rental prices, SQUARELY on the shoulders of the proprietor, rather than the city/state. A city and state that burns taxpayer cash into oblivion for the sake of it’s employees pensions, healthcare, and bloated salaries.

            Sorry for the long post. But I really hope some LA tenants take the time to read this and look at it from a different POV. Not all landlords have a trust fund, vacation in the Bahamas, or money hungry pigs. A lot of us are middle class too, who through property ownership want/wanted to bolster their economic position. That shouldn’t be demonized. Not every landlord is bad and not every tenant is good.

          • I’m not a landlord, but personally, I don’t understand how the government can force a private citizen to subsidize another private citizens rent in such a direct way.

            I’m all for affordable housing, but I believe that the subsidy should be specific to the renter (based on income, age, family status, etc.) and subsidized by all tax payers – government assisted. There are too many people taking advantage of rent control that are perfectly capable of affording market rent and not enough units available for people who actually need subsidized rent.

            That being said, I don’t think rent control should end in Los Angeles since it has already been in pace for so many years. It would simply displace too many elderly people who rely on it to live in their $700/month Santa Monica apartments 3 blocks from the beach (if only I had the same opportunity).

          • Becky with the good hair

            As usual, you are willing to spout-off on a topic in which you are not informed. Just because you think it so, doesn’t make it true- no matter what authority you say it with…
            You obviously are not a landlord, so keep your opinions based on your knowledge, Not your ignorance, please.

        • You can also include City Terrace and Culver City in the non-rent controlled list.

        • rent stabilization gives city and neighborhood access to people who would otherwise be unable to afford it. it makes a city more diverse.

          also just so we’re clear – what you call ‘bedlam’ is thousands of people either becoming homeless or being forced to move hours away from where they work, but it’s chill.

        • Preach on. Well said Highland Parkour

    • Give me a break. I’m a mom and pop landlord too.

      When did you buy? My guess is your property has appreciated massively yet your property tax bill is tiny.

      Try building new apartments in LA if you think its so easy.

      • thank you! this dude whines constantly about not being able to double tenant’s rent, but then when you talk property taxes he goes silent.

  2. Correction: It’s 120 unit, 57′ tall condo project as approved. The site has a front row seat on the 5 Freeway. They did not ask for parking variances.

    I was on the then, much smaller SLNC UD&PAC when Menlo sought approval for this development. During negotiations and the appeal process conditions were added to lessen the impact of the developer estimated 212 grading days, including NO hauling, earth moving on Saturdays. As proposed, they will be digging out a very significant portion of the hillside.

    Worth noting that grading permits have NOT been issued yet.

    Another important mitigation we asked for and the developer agreed to, in part, was a tree-planted median in the middle of Riverside Drive. Prior to the first public hearing they showed us a plan showing about 900′ of planted median with curb cuts for left turns/U-turns for the entire length of Riverside between Fletcher and Glendale Blvd.
    See condition #13 in the modified condition for approval by the Planning Commission ZA 2009-0534 ZV-SPR-1A:

    • Thanks, Diane. The number of units has been changed.

    • Beautiful, that eyesore will be gone and the street will be much improved. I just wish that all the telephone poles from Griffith Park to Dodger Stadium would be underggrounded, the medians all landscaped and bike lanes to be implemented. The street has so much potential, especially considering it connects 2 of our best parks.

    • “the developer of Periscope has agreed to clean up and landscape the adjacent Red Car Property with native plants and trees. ” ?? So…they are planting and landscaping someone else’s property?

  3. It’s really not healthy to live that close to a freeway, the pollution levels are concentrated. Kid’s who live in such areas dont do as well in school. L.A. is in serious trouble from a planning perspective…. and what about green space?

    • So roads before homes? Should we evict everyone living 200m from a freeway? Not sure what your point is, other than the fact that market rate at this location should be lower than avg.

      The developers or owners can easily add air filtration to the HVAC systems. LA as we all know is in dire need of more housing stock so I’m pleased to see this moving ahead.

  4. Does that mean they’ll be removing the Stairway to Nowhere?

  5. How is this kind of development garbage not regulated???

    • Development in LA is heavily regulated… why do you think most new housing in LA is built by large developers for the luxury market? They’re the only one’s left who can afford to play ball.

      Affordable urban housing without govt. subsidy = local investors and mom and pop landlords building guest houses and adding apartments above shops with minimal hassle from City Hall. Exclusionary zoning, poorly written environmental legislation, and NIMBY lawsuits have made both of these options difficult-to-impossible.

      Check out @David G’s comment above re: rent control, and then try to imagine the bureaucratic clusterf*ck he’d be dealing with if he actually wanted to add a few more apartments to his property on a bootstrap budget.

  6. This morning’s LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-california-growth-nation-20160927-snap-story.html

    We have a housing shortage in this city. We also have NIMBY neighborhood groups who think that their ownership rights extends beyond their property lines. Let the developers build. You don’t have to like the “look” of what they’re building. Does everyone like the look of your house — are you sure? So long as the developers abide by the laws regarding setbacks,height, density, etc, they should be allowed to supply our city with the homes it desperately needs.

    The only way to bring runaway housing costs under control is to build more of them. Period. Anyone waiting for the government to sweep in like a knight in shining armor to save the day is absolutely, utterly and terribly clueless.

  7. Bruce Brook Pfeiffer

    One of the best tools we had for increasing the amount of affordable housing was the second dwelling unit ordinance that allowed people to build small second dwelling units, also know as granny flats, in their backyard. The ordinance was in place going back to 2003 and largely went unnoticed because the average size of the units built was only around 700 square feet and they are generally tucked behind the front house just like the guest houses that used to be built in backyards all over Los Angeles. Unfortunately our City Council listened to the NIMBY voices this summer and now people can’t build new granny flats in their yard anymore. The Councilmembers most responsible for stopping this good program are David Ryu, Paul Koretz, and Nury Martinez but that doesn’t leave the other Councilmembers off the hook for not fighting back against the unfounded NIMBY fears.

    It drives me absolutely nuts that expensive large developer projects such as this continue to proliferate and yet the brakes are put on small homeowner backyard construction projects that actually offer an affordable housing solution.

      • Bruce Brook Pfeiffer

        It is definitely good news for the state. We will have to see how things pan out for Los Angeles. Unfortunately Paul Koretz wants to be known as “the politician who stopped overdevelopment” and Ryu seems to want to follow in his footsteps. I haven’t figured out what I think motivates Nuri Martinez. They can’t, or don’t have the courage to go after the big developers who have money and influence so they latched on to the second dwelling unit/granny flat issue when it came up because the individual home owners who want to build these don’t have the power the big developers have to fight back. It looks likely that because of those three the City Council will be voting to go back in time, all the way to 1985, and adopt the extremely restrictive and basically useless second dwelling unit law from back then.

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