49-unit Silver Lake condo project planned after open-space deal falls apart


SILVER LAKE — It was nearly four years ago that officials announced plans to purchase a 10-acre strip of land where the legendary Red Car trolleys once traveled, preserving it as a public greenbelt behind homes and apartments. But efforts to raise the money needed to buy the land in northeast Silver Lake fell through.  Now, developers are seeking to build 49 condominiums on the property, according to the Planning Department.

Earlier this year the L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted to allocate up to $500,000 to help acquire the property. But those and other government funds fell short of what was needed to complete the deal, and other grant requests were turned down, said Becky Nielsen with the Trust for Public Land, an organization that buys property to be preserved as parkland and open space.

“We were not able to cobble together” the necessary funds, Nielsen said. “It was really disappointing.”

The city’s Planning Department has received an application for a zoning change for 2401 Corralitas Drive that would allow for the construction of 49 condominiums and one “open space lot,” according to an online summary.   It’s not clear how large that “open space lot” would be or if it would be open to the public.  The Eastsider contacted a consultant for Karma Company, LLC, which is seeking the zoning change, but received no response.

The approximately 10-acre site, known as the Red Car Property, is privately owned.  But the property, which is located in the hills near the 2 and 5 freeway interchanges,  is home to a popular walking trail and serves as an expanded back yard for many nearby property owners. Some residents, including activist Diane Edwardson of the Corralitas Red Car Property blog, have been working for more than 20 years to have the property preserved as open space.

Interest in the preserving the Red Car Property, was renewed in 2012 when the owner put the ribbon of property up for sale for an undisclosed price as proposed development site.

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  1. Another open space lost! Sorry to the Bobcats,Coyotes, and thousands of people who recreate there. Why did we vote for the open space initiative only to see so many perfectly open spaces and homes become “Affordable Housing” in the form of small lot homes. Deny the zoning changes ! It will make the lot worthless and prevent development . It is the only chance we have and the current zoning is there for this reason.

    • This is privately owned land with existing multifamily zoning. That’s great that people decide they want it to be a park, but it’s sandwiched between two huge parks (Elysian and Griffith), not to mention many other public spaces like the reservoir, the river, etc. Not everything can be open space/”we’re already here, so we’re pulling up the ladder and deeming everything undeveloped as our open space”. And yes, the current zoning is there for a reason (although the general plan in LA hasn’t been updated in decades, most cities do it every 10 years) but if you kept with the existing zoning, you would still be left with land that could technically have many duplexes or detached condos due to the R2 zoning. Also, while yes there is wildlife there, there is also plenty of dumping, squatting, encroaching neigbhors, etc that make parts of it blighted and a constant nuisance for the city and city services. Diane E does a great job documenting the constant dumping, etc. There is a reason why the effort on Trust For Public Land’s behalf didn’t work out…because the groups who put forth money to conserve open space did not think this had a compelling enough story compared to all the other land that everyone wants to save.

    • This needs to stay open space. City of LA, find the $$!

      For anyone who lives in the area, or who reads Diane Edwardson’s blog — redcarproperty.blogspot.com — this is heartbreaking.

      The City of LA does NOTHING to enforce the most basic rules – about trash dumping, brush clearance, protection of native trees, or zoning, Lots graded with no permits, trees butchered, you name it.

      • The city of LA, under Eric Garcetti and O’Farrell, do not want open space, they wand the biggest,most massive development they can get, everywhere. Neither is going to oppose a housing project in order to keep a nice community — Garcetti has never seen a development he does not want to push to be even bigger, never, starting when he was Councilman of this district.

        Dang, Garcetti is the one who sheparded through the small lot subdivision, pushed Target to build a much larger project at Sunset and Western that the courts said was done illegally, pushed against Hollywood residents to have a community plan providing for much greater density, and even then would not follow the zoning and CEQA rules, changed it piece by piece for any skyscraper project that came along.

        It is not surprising that no money for this came from the city, only from the county and other grants. Its not surprising O’Farrell did not get the money, he is Garcetti’s clone.

  2. GROSS



  3. Coalition to Preserve LA

  4. Anyone who thinks all is lost needs to read up on the history of the property (link in the story).

    The devil is in the details and there are always a hell of a lot of details involved with the Red Car Property.

    The Citywide Planning Commission denied a similar zone change for 40 units in 1995.

  5. Open space matters. I understand the need for development (over population) , but the need for open space is even more crucial as we continue to concrete over this city more and more each year.

  6. Becky with the good hair

    They’ve been trying for 20 years and couldn’t get it done? What am i missing?

  7. So this seems to be the play by play! Developer proposes a new development, NIMBY’s block the develop. Developer proposes a new development, NIMBY’s block the develop. Developer proposes a new development, NIMBY’s block the develop. Trust for Public Land agrees to buy the property. Trust for Public Land can’t find the money to complete the deal. Developer proposes a new development, NIMBY’s start to get ready to block the develop.

  8. This project is a critical link in what can become a restored bikeway following the entire Red Car route, not to mention offering important public space that will serve communities in Echo Park and Elysian Valley. Public space needs to be accessible, and to suggest that “they can go to that park OVER THERE” is against the entire point of why we need these lands. LA remains one of the most park-poor municipalities because of this thinking. Furthermore, to note dumping as a reason against acquisition is likewise backwards thinking. It’s that way because it isn’t being managed. Once acquired, built appropriately and used by the public, all that will change. As it has in so many places, and for the better. This story is not yet over. And I do believe that Garcetti is highly sympathetic to this. The big problem is that the LA River is getting all the attention now.

  9. Sadly corruption will likely win. However we need tighter zoning laws as LA is being dangerously overdeveloped.

    • I’m sorry….but no. This kind of thinking basically only helps existing homeowners and basically pushes everyone else out to the fringes of the city with higher rental costs. LA is already getting more expensive – do we really want it to be San Francisco? Yeah, I hate the fact that developers can only seem to want to build cheaply built condos, but we need more houses.

  10. What happened to cute cottage style homes? Why these ugly block condos with no personality? Maybe we would be more for the project if it wasn’t developed using rectangles and “squares”!! We need triangles!

    • Becky with the good hair

      Those cute cottage style homes are grossly inefficient in the use of space and would not pass today’s stringent seismic building codes. It’s not because developers hate you and your sensibilities as so many who read this blog think.

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