Save Kite Hill Sign in Elysian Heights

ELYSIAN HEIGHTS - A new home is planned for an open hillside in the 1400 block of West Avon Place, in an area many call Kite Hill. And many neighbors – along with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy – are not pleased.

The opponents have created a Save Kite Hill website site, established an online petition that has garnered more than 2,700 names in support, started to raise money to buy the property and have posted white-and-green "Save Kite Hill" signs around the neighborhood.

The fight is over plans submitted to build a one-story. 3,200-square-foot home and a guesthouse over a two-car garage ad well as a new, 125-foot-long, elevated access access road and driveway.

The approximately one-acre property is privately owned and, according to city officials, could be developed with several homes. But opponents say the project would disturb a natural habitat and a trail that has been used by the public for walks and hikes for decades. 

Some long-time neighborhood groups, like the Echo Park Improvement Association, have sided with the home builder.  "While the local community has for many years enjoyed a path across this private parcel (and others) between Avon Terrace and Baxter Stairs, it is private property and the owner has the right to build on it," the association said in a letter to the Planning Department.

The Echo Park Neighborhood Council also told the Planning Department last July that it approved the road extension - 13 yeas, zero nays and five abstentions - as long as it had enough room for a firetruck to turn around.

But the new Save Kite Hill group, whose members declined to be identified or quoted on the record, have continued to wage a campaign to preserve the open grassy hillside that is surrounded by expensive homes tucked into a rustic landscape. (This is not to be confused with a different Kite Hill that had been the subject of a separate development controversy)

Save Kite Hill has an ally in the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, which says the property has “an actively-used, historic, recreational trail connection to reach Elysian Park.”  The new roadway, in particular, would affect the trail as well as the general habitat, the SMMC said. As a result, the project should be subject to a thorough environmental impact review, the conservancy said in a letter to the Planning Department hearing officer overseeing the case.

The Silver Lake Heritage Trust has also weighed in, with attorneys asking City Planning for more information about the new roadway, and stating that "the existing fill and soil [at the site] are prone to downhill creep and considered as unsuitable material to support foundations, slabs or new structural fill, thus necessitating construction on bedrock and/or new certified compacted fill placed on bedrock."

At this point Councilman Mitch O'Farrell has not taken a position on the issue.

"A decision, which is at the discretion of the Department of City Planning, has not been issued," said his spokesman, Tony Arranaga.  "The councilmember is awaiting their decision."

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