Dear Mr. Garcetti Please Don’t Abandon Echo Park

Please reach out to Mr. Garcetti. We believe he is listening.

April 14, 2011

Eric Garcetti
5500 Hollywood Blvd., 4th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90028

RE: Sunset Flats Development 2223-2235 Sunset Blvd and 2216-2218 Elsinore Street/ Echo Park Development Los Angeles, CA 90026

Dear Mr. Garcetti

It is the 11th hour and we hope that you will make good on your word to help stop this oversized 5 story apartment building that will be the new landmark entry into Echo Park. This development will be Echo Park’s “welcome sign”  which is architecturally out of line with the surrounding neighborhood of turn of the century homes and quaint retail that is in the oldest neighborhood of Los Angeles.  On April 14th, 2011 the city Planning Commission is going to have one last hearing regarding this matter before they take a vote on it.  You’ve been kind enough to send your representatives down, but what we really need is your personal presence, your resources, and any documentation or testimony you can personally give to stop this runaway development.

Last chance for the community to weigh in this Thursday:
8:30am
Thursday, April 14th, 2011
City Hall
200 N Spring Street, 3rd floor
LA CA 90012

Rogelio Flores ( rogelio.flores@lacity.org ) has sold our neighborhood down the river. We gave him signed petitions from the effected surrounding homeowners and residents naming a plethora of reasons why we were against such a huge development (such as the increased traffic of 150 plus cars that will now be pouring out of the driveway on the residential side Elsinore street). The development is too BIG, too TALL, not in character with our neighborhood architecturally and destroys 6 turn of the century Craftsman architecture homes. This neighborhood has the potential for HPOZ historical status and this would ruin our chances of even entertaining the idea.  One historian even put together information that a famous inventor lived at one of the houses which might qualify the home for “historical preservation” status (see research below). All  of that has been conveniently ignored. Is it even an option to limit the size of these projects in Echo Park or is it just full steam ahead jumbo size development which go against the community plan? Are these public servants or career politicians in bed with greedy developers?

The Department of Transportation (DOT) thought they were doing us a favor by limiting the number of cars that could be parked in the development on Susnet, which would then in turn limit the size of the new development. Little did they know the developers would instead configure a plan to reroute the cars into the residential neighborhood right behind the building and the Planning Commission headed by Michael Logrande would think nothing of this destructive decision.

Why doesn’t anyone want to protect our Echo Park neighborhood from the destruction of architectural history and rabid, irresponsible development? Are we too poor? Too Latin?  Too ethnic? Do we not vote enough? Do the 20 or so homeowners directly surrounding what will soon be an enormous construction site matter?  Do we not donate enough to campaign funds? Does the community of Echo Park not rally against these developments? Does this developer make donations to political campaigns? Does the greed of one developer outweigh the rights of the actual home owners on this street who have invested in living here? Is this 5 story apartment building the future of Echo Park? Does the L.A. Planning Commission know what they are doing?

The Planning Commission and especially Michael Logrande have a horrible reputation of approving almost everything that comes across their desk (see Beth Barrett’s piece for the LA Weekly “The Vision of Michael Logrande – A Perpetually Unplanned L.A. Must Survive Life Under A Developer’s Expediter”. http://www.laweekly.com/2010-08-05/news/the-vision-of-michael-logrande/ ) The expose shows how Logrande has a track record of being in bed with developers, giving them exemptions to build higher and bigger than zoning allows, ignoring community plans, and passing 90% of proposed developments.

MICHAEL WOO and one other person were the only ones on the Planning Commission to voice their misgivings about the project. The rest of the men on the commission wanted to railroad it right on through saying, “this isn’t as bad as a lot of what we see,” – this is not an argument to approve a neighborhood character changing development. As one Echo Park resident very eloquently said, “The FAR averaging is stripping owners of their property rights.  It is horrible and should be illegal to move so much traffic to a residential neighborhood.  It is the equivalent of rezoning Elsinore without any input from residents.”

We question Michael Logrande’s right to marginalize our small residential streets surrounding this development. Elsinore street is NOT Sunset Blvd.  Elsinore is zoned R3 which allows a 45 foot hight maximum (36 if it’s considered hillside) not to be doubled.  It was never zoned to be a mixed use housing development. No other cIty – Pasadena, Culver City, Santa Monica, would allow this type of enormous, destructive development. Logrande doesn’t care about Echo Park. Logrande doesn’t care about the residents and homeowners surrounding this development who pay steep taxes.  Why does he have this job? He is not representing the taxpayers of this area. This does not serve the surrounding community. This hillside will be carved up and destroyed and the neighborhood will never be the same.

Mr. Garcetti, please don’t abandon Echo Park. Your efforts are our last chance to stop greedy developers from getting rich while destroying the character and charm of Los Angeles’s oldest neighborhoods.

If LA is a disastrous mish mash of buildings with no vision, it’s a result of this Los Angeles Planning Commission’s decisions and they should be replaced with people who represent real “planning” of the city with sensitivity to the citizens who actually live in this area. The Mizrahi brothers (the developers in question) do not live in Echo Park and are NOT going to live in this development.  They are taking advantage of a flawed system and the fact that the people of this neighborhood are immigrants, Mexican, poor, and don’t know that they can even speak up.

We are relying on your help Mr. Garcetti.  Your representatives from your office have been great, but they are not enough. Please get involved personally. Please hire somebody to do a study of this area to see how detrimental this development will be to our neighborhood. Where will they park the construction trucks?? Elsinore street?? Sunset where the traffic bottlenecks everyday?  This is not the area to build irresponsibly.  Look at how much the home owners in the area are working to improve and restore their homes. There are two homes one street over on Reservoir Street being remodeled now. This is a special neighborhood.  We urge you to come see the potential of this area yourself. We do not want this enormous architectural disaster to be the flagship development welcoming people into Echo Park.

Please help us.  We would like to request your presence at this hearing along with your help to get this City Planning Commission in check.
Sincerely,

The Washington Heights District of Echo Park

Including the neighborhood of Elsinore Street, Mohawk, Waterloo, and Reservoire directly impacted by this development

CC:  Echo Park Neighborhood Council
Echo Park Historical Society
Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council
Los Angeles Conservancy
HISTORICAL RESEARCH ON THIS PROPERTY THAT IS SLATED TO BE DESTROYED.

A historian did research on the properties and found out this information. However the paid “historical consultant” from the developers side has said that the craftsman homes they are about to destroy have “no historical significance”. See The Eastsider for reference.)

“One of the homes, a 1910 cottage at 2231 Sunset Blvd., was built for a Hungarian immigrant named Stefan Zacsek, his wife, Theresa, and daughter Anna. Zacsek was an ornamental iron worker and inventor who had a few years earlier received a patent for the device shown in the photo,  an “apparatus for displaying pictures” or what Rory Mitchell said looks like an early Viewmaster.

Stefan Zacsek also held several patents, including a spring loaded door latch and an “apparatus for displaying pictures”  that would allow a person to look through binocular lenses and see a picture.  Then, they could pull a handle… and see another picture.   But Stefan Zacsek’s early Viewmaster must have proved no match for the growing popularity of the moving pictures intensifying between 1904 when the patent was applied for and 1906 when it was granted.
The moving pictures may not have been kind to Zacsek’s early 20th Century Viewmaster. But the movie business did wonders for Zacsek’s daughter Anna,  who appeared in silent films produced by D.W. Griffith. She later went on to become an attorney, with clients ranging from defendants in the Sleepy Lagoon case to architect Rudolf Schindler.

Another 6 Houses To Be Destroyed In Echo Park

According to the Eastsider, a local historian did research on the turn of the century houses about to be destroyed in Echo Park at 2223-2235 Sunset Blvd and 2216-2218 Elsinore Street so that an enormous 5 story apartment building can be built and found out that an inventor had lived there. To have historical value according to the city of Los Angeles one of the criteria is that somebody of significant historical status had to have lived there at one time.  However the paid “historical consultant” from the developers side has said that the craftsman homes they are about to destroy have “no historical significance” and did not mention this invetntor. See The Eastsider for reference
http://www.theeastsiderla.com/2011/01/demolition-threatens-the-century-old-home-of-an-echo-park-inventor/.)

“One of the homes, a 1910 cottage at 2231 Sunset Blvd., was built for a Hungarian immigrant named Stefan Zacsek, his wife, Theresa, and daughter Anna. Zacsek was an ornamental iron worker and inventor who had a few years earlier received a patent for the device shown in the photo,  an “apparatus for displaying pictures” or what Rory Mitchell said looks like an early Viewmaster.

Stefan Zacsek also held several patents, including a spring loaded door latch and an “apparatus for displaying pictures”  that would allow a person to look through binocular lenses and see a picture.  Then, they could pull a handle… and see another picture.   But Stefan Zacsek’s early Viewmaster must have proved no match for the growing popularity of the moving pictures intensifying between 1904 when the patent was applied for and 1906 when it was granted.

The moving pictures may not have been kind to Zacsek’s early 20th Century Viewmaster. But the movie business did wonders for Zacsek’s daughter Anna,  who appeared in silent films produced by D.W. Griffith. She later went on to become an attorney, with clients ranging from defendants in the Sleepy Lagoon case to architect Rudolf Schindler.

Not that HPOZ status is the end all be all– but with the destruction of these 6 houses for the purpose of building the 5 story development, this will not be an option for this neighborhood in the future.  We urge the people of Los Angeles to step in as the oldest neighborhood in Los Angeles and many of the old craftsman homes are being quickly destroyed in Echo Park. Please write emails, blog about it, and come to the hearing on April 14th listed in the Events section of this blog.

Eric Garcetti has said that he would get involved to stop this development and we hope that he is able to come through with some real action.

Friday, January 21 11am Meeting

There is a meeting tomorrow at 11am Friday, January 21 to have a final weigh in with the City Council to get their support to help stop the development of “Sunset Flats” . If you are able to attend please contact:

Katherine Hennigan

katherine.hennigan@lacity.org

Free Spay/ Neuter & Animal Care

Make an appointment for next Monday and Tuesday, December 27 and 28, 2010 to get free vet care for your cat/dog in the Vons parking lot in Echo Park.

Do you know a neighbor whose pet really needs some medical care or needs to be spayed/neutered?  Please encourage them to make an appointment or help them make one for this free service provided by the Sam Simon Foundation. (Admittedly the free phone number to make the appointment can be a bit confusing.)

WHERE:  Vons Parking Lot Echo Park December 27 & 28, 2010.

APPOINTMENT:Call 1-888-364-7729  (they also speak Spanish but if you have a neighbor that needs help with this please consider making the appointment for them.)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Pet must be at least 4 months old

2. Dogs must be on leashes, cats must be n carriers.

3. IMPORTANT: Do not feed your cat after 10pm the night before surgery. (Must have an empty stomache – no food.)

4. Pet needs to be picked up when surgery is completed and must have a safe warm spot to keep the pet while they recover.

Visit www.samsimonfoundation.org for more info.

What kinds of help do them do?

Mass removals, cherry eyes, entropians, amputations, ingrown nails, ear hematomas, spay/neuter.

Face To Face With Developers

Please RSVP to echoparklife@gmail.com for a meeting at Eric Garcetti’s office to meet the developers of the “Sunset Flats” and discuss your concerns face to face. Spread the word to your neighbors if you are concerned with this 5 story building that will destroy 6 houses and a community garden.

Monday 5pm, December 6, 2010 at Eric Garcetti’s office.

5500 Hollywood Blvd., 4th Floor
Hollywood, CA 90028

 

Echo Park Protest November 22

This is your last chance to voice objections to the development of an enormous 5 story, 62 unit apartment building carved into the Echo Park hillside that will be destroying 6 turn of the century multi-family homes, many old trees, a community garden and the original brick commercial stores along Sunset Boulevard at 2223-2235 Sunset Blvd all the way back to the residential neighborhood of 2216-2218 Elsinore Street.

(The developers are having this meeting with the city and concerned residents to ask for special requests which allow them to build TALLER than required by law,, BIGGER than required by law, to provide less parking spaces than required by law, and they want to cross into a residential neighborhood behind Sunset up to the next block of Elsinore Street to make it an alleyway for the 100’s of cars frequenting this building– help stop these requests.)

This development will be the new entrance into Echo Park and the first thing you see as you cross over from Silverlake into Echo Park on Sunset Blvd.  Any issues of protest that are not brought up at this meeting in person or in writing will not be considered in future hearings.

Councilman Eric Garcetti pledged his support to help stop this development and we look forward to his plan of action to stop this project.

If you can not be there in person please write a letter of protest.  Get involved.

PROTEST IN PERSON:

WHEN:
Monday, November 22, 2010 at 11am

WHERE:
Los Angeles City Hall
200 North Spring Street
(Entrance on Main Street between Temple Street & 1st Street.)
10th floor, Room 1020
Los Angeles, California
For more info:  Rogelio Flores 213/ 978-1478 rogelio.flores@lacity.org

AND

PROTEST IN WRITING:

IF you are unable to attend you can still write a letter that specifically outlines why this development would be destructive and disastrous to Echo Park. SEND ALL WRITTEN COMPLAINTS TO:

Los Angeles Department of City Planning
Community Planning Bureau
City Hall
Room 667
200 North Spring Street
Los Angeles CA 90012
Please include this (Case # CPC-2009-3488-DB-SPR) for the proposed development at 2223-2235 Sunset Blvd and 2216-2218 Elsinore Street

Please email a copy to echoparklife@gmail.com so we can gather all protests together and also send an extra copy to your councilman Eric Garcetti:

Eric Garcetti
5500 Hollywood Blvd., 4th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90028

If you live in Los Angeles this issue affects you.  Help stop greedy developers from destroying the landscape and architecture of Echo Park.

**If you need any help writing your letter or would like a sample letter please email echoparklife@gmail.com

Dear Councilman Garcetti- Save Echo Park

Please reach out to Mr. Garcetti. We believe he is listening.

September 8, 2010

Eric Garcetti
5500 Hollywood Blvd., 4th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90028

RE: Sunset Flats Development Sunset Blvd, LA, CA 90026

Dear Mr. Garcetti,

We, the residents of the Washington Heights District of Echo Park would like to thank you for taking the time to meet with us on August 19th to discuss our opposition of the 5 story, 64 unit apartment development and the destruction of 6 turn of the century homes, proposed in Echo Park that stretches between Sunset Blvd and Elsinore Street.

Tonight, the apartment developers’ architect gave the Echo Park Neighborhood Council a presentation claiming that you, Eric Garcetti, are in support of their development. This is in direct conflict with what you told some of the residents of this neighborhood when they had the opportunity to meet with you.

As a neighborhood, we have a traffic problem in this particular area that is being compounded by the old Ramona Theatre bar/restauraunt development which has already received city approval to route all their valet parking from Sunset Boulevard 7 days a week up the quiet residential streets of Mohawk  and Elsinore  and down to Alvarado. The “crossover” zoning variance that the developers are asking for will also make Elsinore Street the private alley way for the project’s residents and defacto spillover parking lot for their extra cars, guests and shopping patrons. They are only providing 10 or less parking spots for retail.

We are thrilled that you have pledged your support to oppose the height and crossover  variances proposed by this developer for “Sunset Flats” and that you agree that our neighborhood is already “dense enough”. You mentioned that you would request another traffic study for this residential neighborhood and we look forward to the results. We believe a new study conducted during the afternoon/evening rush hour will show how detrimental a development of this size will be  for the current residents of Elsinore and Mohawk Streets if the crossover variance is allowed.

We have an all out assault on the peace and quiet enjoyment of the neighborhood and we hope that you will relieve these issues and support the community opposition to traffic, parking, and hyper density created by developers who are not considering the negative impact on current residents. We hope that you will help protect this neighborhood from irresponsible development and stand by your word to help.

SEE FOR MORE INFO:

www.blogs.laweekly.com/informer/city-news/echo-park-residents-slam-redes/

www.theeastsiderla.com/2010/06/popularity-brings-development-and-unease-to-a-corner-of-echo-park/

Sincerely,

The Washington Heights District
www.echoparklife.org
echoparklife@gmail.com

CC:  Echo Park Neighborhood Council
Echo Park Historical Society
Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council
Los Angeles Conservancy