Parcel S in Monterey Hills

Condos overlook Parce S, which residents want to preserve as open space

MONTEREY HILLS - If someone is planning to build on the open fields and steep hillside in the 4500 block of Via Marisol, they’re going to have a hard time, say city officials.

The issue has come up in the wake of a report in The Real Deal that a prospective land buyer wants to see whether 100 condo units could be built on the 12-acre site.  The land, known as Parcel S, stretches from the condo communities that line Via Marisol at the top of the hill and the houses along Collis Avenue at the bottom. On a recent warm spring day, stalks of blue lupine rose from fields of wild grasses that covered the site.

The undisclosed buyer has filed paperwork with the Department of City Planning for a pre-development meeting. This land, however, was zoned for open space back in 2012, along with parts of nearby Elephant Hill in El Sereno, according to Rick Coca, spokesperson for Councilmember José Huizar, whose District 14 includes Monterey Hills.

And even farther back than that, a “restrictive covenant” was signed in 1981 by J & D Carley Corp., an early developer of the Monterey Hills residential community. The covenant said exactly zero units would be built in this area, which was then known as Lot 19.

Then there’s the soil itself. It’s loose, and much of the area is landfill, say residents.  Those same conditions led to a $62.5 million settlement in 1990 for residents whose condos had sunk into the soft earth.

“The people on Collis [Street] are concerned,” said Lynda Valencia, president of the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council, and a resident of Monterey Hills. “If they try to repair the land, the hill might come tumbling down.”

Coca notes that Parcel S was purchased by the Via Marisol Revocable Land Trust in 2016 for $100,000. It is now listed on Loopnet for $700,000.

Earlier this month, the City Council approved a motion by Huizar instructing city planners to correct some inconsistencies related to the open space zoning that applies to the parcel. 

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