Echo Park residents showed up in force at a neighborhood meeting to oppose a proposed development that many locals fear would eliminate the historical character of one of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles.
Architect Jay Vanos was there to give a presentation on the 64-unit residential/commercial complex. His firm plans to build on a former community garden on Sunset Boulevard. Tensions ran high in the cramped meeting space.
Residents were unpersuaded by Vanos.
“I live in a turn of the century home and feel like the Jetsons have landed,” said one long-term resident who would only give her first name, Julie. “I've got a home that could be made into a historical landmark. It's heartbreaking.”
The area adjacent to the project is filled with 100-year-old craftsman style homes. The project has been in development limbo for more than three years. In addition to concerns about historical preservation, residents fear the proposed parking garage on a side street will create new, unwanted traffic.
Vanos plans to demolish a house for the development site. He said a consultant concluded that the house “had no historical merit and no attributes that warrant preservation.” He also said that he has been to four previous neighborhood council meetings and made many revisions requested by the community. He noted that many in the room weren't there for previous meetings. Residents said they been blindsided and blamed the developer and the neighborhood council for a lack of communication.
Jose Sigala, vice chairman of the neighborhood council, countered that the council has conducted required outreach, as mandated by the Brown Act, the state's open meetings law. He said they post the meeting agendas at area libraries, gas stations and restaurants.