Councilman wants to offer up Echo Park property for homeless housing

Red marker indicates the city property that could be considered a homeless housing site

Echo Park — Councilman Mitch O’Farrell is interested in possibly building housing for the homeless on city-owned property on Glendale Boulevard south of Sunset Boulevard.

The site behind The Echo nightclub is currently occupied by an outdoor handball and basketball court operated by El Centro Del Pueblo, a social services nonprofit. These properties “may be suitable for development as permanent supportive housing to help address the city’s homelessness and housing crisis,” said O’Farrell’s City Council motion. (An adjacent playground is not covered by the proposal, said the council office.)

Sandra Figueroa, who heads El Centro, did not take a position on the idea. Her organization wants to hear from O’Farrell as to “why he feels that the S. Mark Taper Recreation Center, which provides youth and families recreation activities is a suitable venue for the development of permanent supportive housing for the homeless.”

The city-owned property once served as public parking lots until they were converted to recreational use in the 1990s.  O’Farrell has also proposed turning a public parking lot in Hollywood into an emergency homeless shelter.

O’Farrell’s Echo Park motion has to be approved by the full City Council before staff can study the proposal. So it could take awhile before anything is decided — or built.


  1. Dorit Dowler-Guerrero

    thank you Council Member O’Farrell for being forward thinking and understanding the importance of shelters and housing for our homeless community members!

  2. How about you put it in your backyard Councilman….or at least have your phone available when crime goes up. Let’s see what you propose then…..looney liberal logic!!

  3. mario hernandez

    Really great idea NOT ! Lousy Council man . How about building them in your back yard ?

    • If you live near Elysian or Echo Park, homeless individuals are already sleeping there. Right in our back yards and under our noses!
      As we’ve learned from the recent fires and subsequent flooding damage, costly caststophes are eminent if we don’t provide for people in our community. It’s the humane thing to do. I’m in support of this project 100% and look forward to learning more about it.

  4. Thank you for sharing the news about this proposal. I want to provide additional information for clarity:

    The property under review via the motion is next to the Four Square Church seven-story parking structure, and is being proposed as a development for supportive housing, possibly for seniors, or women and children.

    Our office met with staff at El Centro Del Pueblo *prior to introducing the motion* to discuss the possibilities and to let them know that any loss of recreational space would be incorporated into the new development, or nearby.

    There are many benefits to placing this housing on the City-owned parking lot:

    -No additional funds are needed to purchase the property.

    -The location is close to amenities and services that would be utilized by tenants: transit, parks, schools, and service centers. The location is also close to the Echo Park Lake and Recreation Facilities, and the Farmers Market every Friday.

    -The property is close to a major transit stop, which qualifies the location as a Tier 3 under the Transit Oriented Communities Guidelines. This would require on-site restricted affordable housing – meaning 100 percent affordable units.

    The next steps: the proposal will be discussed in the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, and then by the full City Council. We are expecting a report from the various departments on the suitability for this location.

    Tony Arranaga
    Communications Director
    Office of Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell

    • Thanks, Tony!
      Your office is doing a good job with this difficult problem.

    • Thanks Tony,
      I applaud the city for listening to the experts and striving to implement solutions.
      As a 20yr resident of EP – I’m 100% behind this idea.
      Lets do all we can to help the most vulnerable* in our society!

      (and haters, please pay attention to this part of the proposal: “proposed as a development for supportive housing, possibly for seniors*, or women* and children*.” )

    • Thanks Tony. This is great!

    • Is there going to be a MAJOR priority for Echo Park homeless? If this is a place to put Silverlake & Atwater’s homeless while leaving the already overwhelming street sleepers we have in Echo Park you are gonna have some seriously pissed off residents.

    • Why would you bring in more homeless to an already overflowing area that can’t be controlled as is?

    • Ah yes, it’s VERY important the homeless have access to the lake so they can harass families and shoot up in front of children. And mass transit so they can masturbate on the metro of course. How thoughtful of our politicians to give away our valuable public land and transit!

      My god, myself and others paid just shy of a million dollars to own a house here, simply because there are so few areas of LA that have these precious amenities you speak of. And here, we went about it all wrong, we should have just set up a tent and we could have gotten into the one of LA’s most desirable neighborhoods for free!

      When will we spot electing these idiots? VOTE THEM OUT.

    • Thank you Mr Arranaga,

      Let Mr. O’Farrell know that he has our full support for these supportive housing units in Echo Park.
      Of course we need hundreds if not thousands more supportive housing housing units(homes) for homeless seniors, families, women, children, veterans, and singles.
      Los Angeles needs more “Homes Not Handcuffs.”
      In the words of Dorothy Day,
      “Stay Close To The Poor”

      Bobby Peppey
      Darryl Kitagawa
      Los Angeles 90026

  5. My only concern is losing that rec space for local kids… they say they can incorporate it into the project, but mixing teenagers with the homeless doesn’t seem like something most parents would be comfortable with.

  6. Mr, Arranaga,

    How many units would it be? Would it be permanent or temporary housing? What are the provable requirements to move in? Would there be kitchen facilities to feed the homeless? Would people be transients hanging around waiting to avail themselves of services? Aside from these questions I have lots more.

    However, this seems to me to be a really odd place for this facility, Right in the heart of the Echo Park business district? Helping these people is necessary, but this location is going to meet with tremendous resistance.


  7. Why is the old Northeast LAPD station not being utilized for the homeless??? That building has sat empty for years now. It has showers, changing rooms, offices, as well as plenty of space to house a considerable amount of people. Furthermore, it is a 1/4 block from the new station. So why in the world, is that building not being put to use???

  8. Im not paying for this! Weve already lost half our park to tents.

    All this shelter will do is attract hundreds of homeless who will use it for food, bathrooms, and cold nights but never sleep or stay there. theyll just hang nearby aka our backyards.

    and YES it means crime – loitering, breakins, vagrancy, public drug use and alcoholism. Stabbing in front of bank of america: homeless. Shooting on echo park ave: homeless. Tresspassing on former Red Hill/Whisperer place: homeless. Door smash at Walgreens: homeless. Litter after rifiling through trash on trashnight and throwing everything in the street: homeless. Red curbed RVs parked for days without towing: homeless. All. Crimes.

    I watch homeless junkies walk up and down echo park ave every day (on the street, not the sidewalk) just looking into driver side doors and checking handles.

    We dont need this in our neighborhood its bad enough.
    This isnt about housing, We could open a 5 star hotel shelter and some would still not go.

    • Voice o reason

      Exactly right. This is misguided.

      We need to build a facility with lots of acreage where these folks can by triaged. Merely homeless? You go there. Mentally ill? You go there. Alcohol or drugs? You go there. Each problem is treated with the appropriate method. Don’t want treatment or help? Fine. You go there. What is no longer allowed is sleeping on the streets and in the parks. This idea would get pushback from the ACLU because they say people have a “right to be homeless” but we need to take a stand and say the human thing to do is help. Allowing mentally ill and addicted people to go untreated is inhumain.

    • Quite the generalisation. 25k unsheltered out of 35k with 80% utilization rate on beds. Work on your math.

  9. Please. This is ridiculous. Why doesn’t any politician or the media address the fact that all this homelessness really got going with Prop 47? That’s when the numbers just started skyrocketing in our area. People think that over a few years time all the affordable housing in the city just disappeared and the homeless numbers just blew up to where they all started living right on the sidewalks?! No, its that most of the homeless used to be locked up for drug crimes, possession, or other crimes. Due to having lived a life of drugs and petty crimes, they were in and out of jails. And, being arrested and sent to court would get many of them into rehabs and half way houses. Now, they just open up the jails and pretend that the homeless are “families” and working stiffs with lack of affordable housing. That is RIDICULOUS. Those, like me, who are out on the streets know what is really going on here. Just talk to any local cop. There are NO MORE serious consequences to running out of a store with armfuls of stolen goods. With all these cameras people install on their front doors their packages are still getting stolen. Why, because cops cant be bothered to even look at the footage when we know its not going to lead anywhere. The “so-called homeless” are committing crimes everywhere. The “truly homeless” can work the system, get the services that are available to them, get themselves into affordable housing, retain a job, etc. But if you are on drugs and are used to a street life, then yes, you will be homeless and a criminal. Not saying that they are any worse than anyone else. But they aren’t just regular people who are down on their luck. They are drug addicts and pretty criminals like I used to be.

  10. Just so we’re clear – to get prime park adjacent real estate you either need to work your ass off to afford a house there … or be homeless.

    This is right in the middle of a prime business district that is trying to develop. And there are tons of apartment buildings being constructed all along that section of Glendale Blvd. These businesses & residents work hard to be there.

    Bringing more homeless into an already saturated area is insulting, as it smacks of “Echo Park is the place District 13 puts all their homeless”.

  11. That is an absolutely horrible idea to build homeless housing in a very densely populated area already overridden with crime and drugs. This area is just starting to clean up and get better after decades of being a hellhole. This is prime real estate and the city should sell this piece off in which they can get top dollar and take those funds and build something bigger and nicer in San Bernadino or Riverside where land is cheap and the homeless/junkies/criminals are not in every ones front and back yards.

  12. Dog and Pony Show

    So I guess everyone who submitted all these passionate comments will be showing up on Tuesday morning to weigh in before they vote on this Motion?

    Perhaps the city’s “evaluation” will end up finding that the “highest and best use” is selling it to a developer to build another Upscale mixed-user with a few “affordable” units.

    • Where is the Meeting Tuesday???

      • Dog and Pony Show

        Meeting Tuesday is in Room 340 at City Hall, beginning at 8:30 am. You can find the agenda online at the city website. It’s item 12-1549-S10. And, interestingly, this is the only city parking lot up for “evaluation” that DOES NOT list the property address on the agenda— (only an APN is listed!?)— a violation of The Brown Act.

        When you are there making public comments, please make that Brown Act comment for the record. I’m sure the city attorney will be listening. They should table the vote on this particular item until they have posted it correctly, disclosing the address of the parcels up for study. So much for stakeholder transparency. Ha!

        Public comments are often up first, so don’t be tardy : )
        Good luck!

  13. john, dolores, LEO, Voice of Reason, run one, richie, Mario , etc.

    Write us back when you’ve studied public health and let us know how your intuitive insights
    held water against education, facts, studies -and actual implementation of programs.

    • Chauncey,

      1. That area of Echo Park is already one of the heaviest concentrations of homeless people. Now they want to bus in MORE homeless people from all over district 13. There’s no study for THAT.

      2. They are taking property from a youth center to do it. That youth center is keeping these kids off the street tomorrow.

      The city’s plan is short-sighted. They just want a quick win.

      I don’t have a problem with the housing or disagree that “studies” show it’s needed. I do have a problem with doubling up on an area that is already out of control and at the expense of youth programs.

  14. I also wanted to add clarity to the information provided by Tony Arranaga from Councilmen Mitch O’ Farrell’s office.

    The location that this proposed housing and homeless shelter is to be built on is part of El Centro Del Pueblo’s outdoor recreation area. This recreational area is used to provide recreational, cultural and community activities to youth, families and the community in the Echo Park and surrounding communities. In addition to providing daily recreational activities for youth and families, this area has been used to provide community activities such as Dia de los Muertos, Echo Park Raising, Community Resource Fairs, Echoplex Gobble Gobble Giveaway, El Centro’s Annual Thanksgiving Luncheon, Annual Christmas Food and Toy giveaways and many other activities.

    El Centro became aware of this proposed plan as a result of seeing city surveyors measuring our outdoor playground area and being informed by the surveyors of the city’s plans. We requested a meeting with Councilmen Mitch O’Farrell’s office and met with their staff to obtain information about the Council office plans and to provide this information to our Executive Director and Board of Directors.

    Although we are aware that affordable housing and homelessness are important issues that need to be address, we are not in support of losing recreational space and services to address these issues. Although the council office did mention incorporating recreation space into the housing plans to replace the lost space, our experience has been that many youth will not be welcome in an area that is managed by an outside the area company or organization In addition, to place a homeless shelter next to a youth and recreational center raises many safety concerns.

    This area is not an unused or vacant parking lot and provides valuable recreation service to our youth in order to keep them off the streets and away from negative influences. Our after school programs and activities also address the latch key issues that some of our families face and provide a safe and supportive space to our youth and their families. El Centro has been providing these types of programs and services in the Echo Park community for over 40 years and will continue to provide these services with the support of the community, our elected officials and our private donors.

    In closing, El Centro wants to be clear that we are not in support of this plan being done on the outdoor playground area and we have not enter into any agreement with any council office on this plan. We recommend that Councilman Mitch O’ Farrell and the City of Los Angeles identify another location that will not disrupt or reduce needed services to our youth and families.

    Thank you,
    Robert Aguayo
    Deputy Director
    El Centro Del Pueblo

    • Robert, I applaud you for standing up to the city and agree with everything you wrote.

      Your recreation center is what keeps kids safe & off the street … If only these homeless people had had such a place to go for support at a young age. You and your team are creating a better future and are an important & welcomed part of the Echo Park Community.

      Please let us know where best to contact you directly so we can lend our support and help El Centro Del Pueblo in any way we can.

      • John, thank you for your comments and support. I can be reach at El Centro (213) 483-6335. Please ask for Lidia and let her know that you are calling about the playground/homeless issue and she will get your information for me so that I can contact you directly.

        I think it’s important for the community to know everything about this plan. It seems that many people in the community thinks this area is a vacant or unused lot and the map does not clearly show it’s current use as a playground.


  15. In case many of the readers did not have the time to read my previous lengthy response, I wanted to provide a shorter to the point response.

    El Centro wants to be clear that we are not in support of this plan being done on our outdoor playground area and we have not enter into any agreement with any council office on this plan. We recommend that Councilman Mitch O’ Farrell and the City of Los Angeles identify another location that will not disrupt or reduce needed services to our youth and families.

    This area is not an unused or vacant parking lot and provides valuable recreation service to our youth in order to keep them off the streets and away from negative influences. Our after school programs and activities also address the latch key issues that some of our families face and provide a safe and supportive space to our youth and their families. El Centro has been providing these types of programs and services in the Echo Park community for over 40 years and will continue to provide these services with the support of the community, our elected officials and our private donors.

    Thank you,
    Robert Aguayo
    Deputy Director
    El Centro Del Pueblo

  16. El Centro Del Pueblo is hosting a Town Hall Community meeting on Wednesday June 27, 2018 at 6pm to discuss the proposed City/Council District 13 plans to build transitional housing on El Centro’s outdoor playground. We are inviting all members of the community to attend this meeting and share your opinions about this plan. The transitional housing, which may include a homeless shelter, will remove a large portion of our playground and impact our services to the youth and families in our community.

    The meeting will take place in the outdoor playground area and will allow the community to see the proposed location of this transitional housing project. Everyone is invited and Council member Mitch O’Farrell is being invited to attend and share his plans.

    We believe the community deserves an opportunity to hear about plans that affect their community and be allowed to share their opinions about these plans before they are approved and implemented.

    For more information about our community meeting, please call Lidia Martinez at (213) 483-6335 ext. 104

    Thank you and see you on June 27th,
    Robert Aguayo
    Deputy Director
    El Centro Del Pueblo

  17. As we here at El Centro Del Pueblo and the surrounding community continue to deal with the planned housing for homeless project on our playground by CD 13 and the City, two issues continue to come to mind that I can not let go of or make sense of: 1) If this project is for homeless women and children as we have heard, then how will it impact the current homeless problem in Echo Park when most are homeless adult men . It seems that this problem would continue even with homeless housing. 2) We been told that the planned housing project would be 6 to 7 floors high but that only the first level would be for homeless. So the majority of the building would not be for homeless which seems like a back door way to squeeze more development into an already crowded community and use the homeless issue as a way to cut corners and get around community and environmental issues with this development. Is this a way for Councilman O’Farrell to appeal to his developer friends which are probably his financial donors as well.

    I can not understand why someone would want to take away space for children to play and be safe in order to bring in potentially dangerous individual or individuals right next door to our playground, youth center and schools. Especially if that person, Councilman O’Farrell, told me he was offended by our “save our playground” button because it featured children on it.

    There must be something I am missing or not getting about this whole issue. Something other than the obvious that we and the community is not aware of. Please support El Centro and the community’s effort in this struggle by signing up at http://www.ecdpla.org. Thank you for your time.
    Robert Aguayo
    Deputy Director

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