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:
Thursday, April 14th, 2011
City Hall
200 N Spring Street, 3rd floor
LA CA 90012

Rogelio Flores ( ) 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”. ) 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.

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

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.


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