Tag Archive for: echo park news

A thoughtful expression, photo from Garcetti's Facebook page

That’s right, Echo Park resident and our Council District representative (and fellow fan of Masa) Eric Garcetti will be the speaker of honor at the next Echo Park Chamber of Commerce Meeting.

Come early to guarantee your seat, order an awesome spicy margarita from and Allston Yacht Club staff member, and ask questions!

When: Thursday, February 17 from 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm.

Where: Allston Yacht Club at 1320 Echo Park Ave.

Follow Eric on Twitter, and what the heck – follow us too.

An announcement at last night’s Echo Park Improvement Association meeting (which I am a member of) hinted that the notorious weed-pit known as the Durbin Project has finally been bought!

The 36-condo complex located at 1601-1633 Echo Park Avenue (near Chicken Corner) broke ground in 2008, with plans to open in Summer 2009. Work completely stopped in March 2009 when financer IndyMac went under, and since then, it’s been a weedy unsightly mess.

With potentially new owners, it’s not clear whether work will continue, whether it will turn into a new project (hopefully not one that’s bigger), nor when anything will happen, but we’ve got our eyes and ears open and will let you know when we know more.

The Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council (GEPENC) announced in a recent press release it would be supporting a Echo Park Rec Center scholarship program, one which will be funded through a new and very fun series of Zumba classes.

The classes will be held weekly on Wednesdays from 7-8:00 pm at the Echo Park Rec Center gym (formerly the Boys and Girls Club) located at 303 Patton Street. Four, ten-week sessions will be offered at the cost of $40 per person, per session.

Jose Sigala, President of GEPENC, said in the press release, “The goal is to have a minimum of forty participants per session and raise $1,600 for the Echo Park Recreation Center on a quarterly basis. This will provide ongoing revenue for athletic scholarships and help more youth to stay involved with sports in Echo Park.”

Thanks to the generous support of the Silver Lake Medical Center, all instructor and class fees have been 100% underwritten.

Designed for beginners, the classes will be taught by Zumba instructor, Cindy Ruiz.

To sign up for a class, please email bacasigala@earthlink.net

The first session starts tonight (I know, we are late in announcing this!). Here are the session details:

  • Session 1 – February 2, 2011 to April 6, 2011 (with a break the week of April 13)
  • Session 2 – April 20, 2011 to June 29, 2011 (with a break the week of July 4)
  • Session 3 – July 13, 2011 to Sept. 14, 2001 (with a break the week of September 21)
  • Session 4 – September 28, 2011 to November 30, 2011 (with breaks for the holidays in December)

Construction is wrapping up at CRES#14 - the site previously occupied by 50 homes

We received a submission from Echo Park resident, business owner, and Echo Park Mom’s Group for Education member Micki Curtis. Very concerned about the upcoming vote on Central Region Elementary School (CRES) #14, Micki is calling for the community to get involved immediately so that the community gets what it deserves with this school. Here’s what she has to say:

Dear Fellow Parents and Community Members, I am writing to you as a concerned parent and community member. A couple of years ago, the LAUSD won the battle to destroy over 50 homes and close an access street [Marathon] to build a new school facility currently called CRES #14. Click here to read some of the back story on Curbed LA.

Now that the building is almost completed, the LAUSD is using the CHOICES process to decide who will inhabit this publicly funded project. I have been attending meetings and following the decision process as to which type of school (there are two different proposals) will inhabit the new elementary and middle school facility at Sunset and Alvarado. The two proposals are: a mostly Spanish-language school called Camino Nuevo (not language emergence, but bilingual), and the second school, yet to be named but with a working title of “Echo Park Community Partners Design Team.” The second proposal has continually grasped my deep interest – it is an amazing school for the entire community.

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We woke up early Friday morning, January 21, to the sounds of a very low-lying helicopter nearby. Turns out, there were news helicopters capturing a house fire at nearby 1324 Sutherland St, and we read about the fire later on The Eastsider LA. The narrow street and limited access to the house made it difficult for firefighters (access to the house were a set of wooden stairs), but other than a poor house cat that perished, no one was injured. It took a total of 32 Los Angeles Firefighters and just 17 minutes to bring the flames under control.

The fire department posted some additional information on their blog along with the video of the fire captured by a neighbor:

Navigating through a slim curbside gate and trio of narrow outside staircases to gain access, firefighters muscled hoselines and later ground ladders to battle intense flames that had taken hold of the front portion of a 106-year-old wood frame structure.

As the aggressive fire attack ensued, firefighters were pleased to learn that the home’s five occupants had exited the building with minimal injury, prior to the Fire Department’s arrival.

One of the residents however, had foolishly reentered the building in an attempt to reclaim possessions, sustaining smoke inhalation as well as first-degree burns to his neck and arms. In good condition following treatment by LAFD Paramedics, the man declined ambulance transport before being released at the scene.

Despite the diligent efforts of 32 Los Angeles Firefighters, one pet cat perished in the blaze. The well-coordinated assault on the flames held direct fire damage to a large front patio, adjacent bedroom, attic and dormer, with firefighters bringing flames under full control in just 17 minutes.

No other injuries were reported.

The three men and two women who lived separately within the home escaped only with their night clothes. They were assisted with temporary housing and human needs by volunteers from the American Red Cross.

There was no immediate evidence of functional smoke alarms within the home, as required by law. Firefighters later determined that the home’s occupants owed their survival solely to the happenstance that one resident was awakened by the sound of fire, and was able to alert others.

Loss to the non-fire sprinklered home is estimated at $95,000 ($75,000 structure & $20,000 contents). The cause of this early morning blaze is categorized as accidental, and attributed to the careless discarding of smoking materials on the patio that ignited combustible furnishings.

Check those batteries in your smoke alarms and be safe!

We took a much needed break from work and writing to travel and spend time with the family this holiday season, so you may have noticed things have been a little quiet here on Echo Park Now (make sure you follow us on Twitter for the more timely news). Here’s what you may have missed while sipping egg nog over the holiday:

Echo Park students in downtown “flash mob”

Gabriella Charter School (located near Sunset and Logan) dance students participated in a flash mob at downtown’s LA Live on Monday, December 20. The rain didn’t stop these kids from a good time!

ABC7 thinks our potholes are big

Today’s coverage of the post-rain apocalypse brought ABC7 to the corner of Sunset Blvd. and Alvarado, one of the most congested intersection in Los Angeles. The gaping holes in shown in the video have been there for as long as I can remember…

Christmas Day shootings

And of course, I would be surprised if you didn’t hear about the Christmas Day shooting in Echo Park that left one dead and three people wounded. And this event was followed by the LAPD announcement that the number of homicides in LA for 2010 are the fewest in over 40 years.

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The Echo Park Community Parade committee announced today the theme, grand marshal, and parade ambassadors.

The theme for Saturday, December 11 is “Echo Park: We are the World.” Parade-goers can view the event all the way from Elysian Park Avenue to Park Avenue (near Alvarado) along Sunset Blvd. from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm.

Reverend David K. Farley of the Echo Park United Methodist Church will serve as this year’s Grand Marshal. Parade Ambassadors are Peter L. Lassen (who we just adore!), Walter and Sumiko Elmer, Dr. Fredy Perez, and Sallie W. Neubauer.

The Echo Park Community Parade Kickoff is this Friday, December 3 from 5:00 – 6:30 pm at the EcHho Park Farmers’ Market. Clifford Street School, Gabriella Charter School, along with salsa band On Time Quintet, will provide entertainment, and winners of the Echo Park Community Parade Art Contest will be recognized.

The parade takes place on Saturday, December 11, 2010 starting at 10:00 am, rain or shine!

Tucked in an old brick building across the street from the AM/PM is newly established vintage store “TИSEN”, a Danish word that essentially translates into “rocker.” The blue neon sign that decorates the front of the store is eye-catching and one I like (it surprisingly doesn’t clash with neighboring old-school signs for Lolita Hair Salon and Han’s Repair next door).

$20,000 19th century Chinese bed

For 15 years, 2118 Berkeley Avenue was occupied by Millenium Thrift Shop, a treasure trove of antique items you had to dig through, or bring in a lamp for an inexpensive repair. We found new owner Jason in the shop gearing up for the store’s opening. Immediately upon entering the store are cute women’s clothes, shoes and, my favorite, sparkly things (jewelry!). There are furniture items, children’s clothes, and some great-looking antique items. In the back of the store, Jason is putting together a vinyl records room to keep the boys occupied while their girlfriends rummage for clothes.

Prices range from the $1.00 record bin to $15 clothes to a $20,000 hand-carved rosewood Chinese bed – probably the coolest thing in the store because it is so out of my reach. Jason’s wife Cindy is the one behind all the clothing finds, and I have to say her selections are great for the neighborhood.

Jason and Cindy are Echo Park residents, and actually own Silver Lake restaurant Local. We look forward to seeing Jason and Cindy around the ‘hood!

TИSEN’s grand opening is the weekend of December 4th – you can also get 25% off if you mention this article!

TИSEN is located at 2118 Berkeley Avenue.

Holiday parking regulations get a little relaxed on days like today (Thanksgiving Day!). While you may have noticed no tickets are being doled out for those street cleaning sides, and the 1-2 hour parking rules relaxed, tomorrow is back to business so park appropriately!

Here’s the low-down from the LA City Department of Transportation, click the image below for the full PDF:

This is the first year we’ve been able to make it down to The Echo to check out Gobble Gobble Give, but it’s the 12th year Echo Park residents and volunteers from all around have kicked in food and clothing for this special event.

The lines were long – cars and pedestrians streamed all the way down past the Sunset bridge over Glendale Blvd. But the wait (about 45 minutes to an hour) was worth it as pedestrians and cars loaded up on pre-prepared Thanksgiving meals and free clothing. It looks like everyone did a great job!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

View from the top of the Clinton Stairs

April 2011 is just around the corner, and you know what that means – the beginning of a two-year long and very stinky Echo Park Lake Rehabilitation project.

Tomorrow is the day the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) goes to the City Council Energy and Environment Committee for review. It’s difficult to tell whether or not the final EIR makes Echo Park activists happy -the nearly 500 page EIR is quite complicated and difficult to interpret (to fully understand everything you’d probably need a degree in City Planning, Architecture, and Environmental Policy of some sort). Residents with concerns had until August 30, 2010 to submit comments for review prior to the final EIR.

You can download the Final EIR (if you dare, the file is quite large) by clicking here.

Pollution and much-needed updates to the filtration systems are behind the Prop O funded rehab project, which is scheduled for April 2011. They will drain the 13 acre lake and haul out approximately 50,000 cubic feet of soil from the bottom, replace the lake liner, rebuild the wetlands, and replant other vegetation (including the lotus bed). They filtration systems will also be updated, as the lake does collect water runoff from the city, and will help reduce the amount of city water used to keep the lake levels high.

Wildlife activists and bird lovers have been concerned with the state of the migratory birds once the lake is drained. A compromise has been reached, and the engineers will include four temporary pools for migratory birds.

Rough outline of where Sunset Flats will be built according to a city hearing notice

Last week, we wrote about the Sunset Flats development – a 60+ unit apartment complex planned for the form Echo Park Community Garden site along Sunset Blvd. and Rosemont. Coming up on Monday, November 22, the city will hold a hearing on the requested variances for the project, including a density bonus. Echo Park Now has learned that there will be no actual decision made on the project, but will just be a meeting with the hearing officer. A decision will be made on January 13, 2011.

Everyone is still encouraged to submit letters for the record as well as show up to the hearing (to protest or support the project) as every little thing does make a difference.

For those not familiar with the project, here’s the low-down (and some updates from previous reports):

  • 12 total buildings with 62 total units (one-two bedrooms) and commercial storefronts
  • 10-11 low-income units will be provided, which is the minimum required for this project
  • Existing structures (approximately 6 buildings with 11 units) will be removed
  • Project is a mixed-use project where the developer is applying to combine residential zoning with commercial zoning under SB 1818
  • 113 parking spaces (101 are required) with 12 of those being guest parking
  • Front of project, along Sunset, will be five stories if the developer gets approval from the city (the developer is arguing for 12 extra feet, making the project five stories at a total of 57 feet)
  • Back of project, along Elsinore, will be two stories
  • All parking will be access through Elsinore street, which will be a terrible impact on that small neighborhood

The bottom line is, the problem with this development is that although the developer can legally build a structure this size, it’s not going to serve the community. In addition, the issue has blown up because of the developer’s lack of communication with the community (including even those living in houses they plan to demolish), and there’s a sense that they are pretty hot-headed. For instance, at the neighborhood council meeting last month, architect Jay Vanos told everyone he could build a bigger, 127-unit complex if he wanted. This was right before the committee voted to approve the project (despite objections by residents), so it seems the threat worked. We do have one office on our side – Garcetti has said publicly that he remains on the community’s side.

In fact, it’s gotten quite nasty. On the comments section of an Eastsider LA, someone who identifies himself as “Al” and has some relationship with the developer (perhaps a consultant?)  writes, “If the proposed building will not be acceptable then we will build what is by RIGHT and then it will be bigger.” Seems a little threatening for someone trying to get the neighborhood’s support.

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It looks like the short-lived LA Flea Market at Dodger Stadium is no longer – after just a few Sunday flea markets, the LA Flea Market partners split. In its place is the newly-named Flea Market at Dodger Stadium, a similar concept as the prior market now on Saturdays and featuring live bands, food trucks, a kids area, up to 600 sellers, and more.

The Flea Market was set to debut tomorrow (Saturday, November 20), but with rain on the forecast it looks like the event will be rescheduled for next month on December 18. We were sort-of looking forward to the opening tomorrow – they have teamed up with Homeboy Industries for the Flea Market on a regular basis, but had also planned for a charity drive with the non-profit organization for tomorrow. “Not Another Toy” drive, as it’s being called, is just that – instead of gifting toys, they’ll help anyone who has fallen on hard economic times and help with getting food, clothes for job interviews, and other everyday needs. We expect that the December debut will also feature the holiday charity drive.

When it does happen, parking is $5, you can enter through Downtown Gate (adjacent to the 110 south exit/Stadium Way) or the Sunset Gate (Stadium Way /Elysian Park Avenue). Click here for info about tickets, times and vendors.

The Echo Park Improvement Association is finally getting a chance to speak with the developers behind the proposed Sunset Flats project, the site of the old Echo Park Community Garden on the west side of Echo Park on Sunset and Rosemont.

Tonight’s Echo Park Improvement Association Neighborhood Issues meeting will not be the first time the organization (which Echo Park Now is a member of) has taken up the issue, but this will be the first time the developer has agreed to attend a meeting.

The city has scheduled a public hearing for Monday, November 22 to discuss the variances involved in the project, so this will be your last chance to hear from the developer and get yourself educated. You are also encouraged to send a letter to the City with your comments for public record, more information here.

Everyone is invited to attend the meeting, taking place at Taix Restaurant in the back room at 7:00 pm tonight (Wednesday). Click here for the full agenda.

This story will continue to develop here on Echo Park Now, stay tuned as we learn more!

Echo Park Improvement Association Neighborhood Issues Committee
Wednesday, November 17, 2010, 7 pm
Taix Restaurant, 1911 West Sunset Boulevard


The developer is no longer coming to tonight’s meeting, but EPIA members will still discuss the project in detail.

Flickr photo via Heal the Bay

The Daily News reported yesterday that LA City Council approved a plan to study anti-smoking laws that could further restrict public smoking in some public places. The idea is to focus on public spaces like beaches, multi-family buildings and other public gathering spaces.

This isn’t necessarily new news, but it got me thinking about Echo Park. I would assume that if they were to tighten restrictions in public gathering spaces, Echo Park Lake could be one of those. In 2009, 6,000 cigarette butts were cleaned up around Echo Park Lake alone, so maybe this wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. (Although, let’s be honest, is this really a role our local government can and should be taking?)

The city of Calabasas is well-known for banning public smoking, and Mayor Barry Groveman definitely weighed in his support for the study, telling the Daily News: “What we are trying to do is come up with a common measure to protect people from smoke…. What we are trying to do is eliminate places in the city – farmer markets, government buildings, areas with common meeting places – where people could be affected by second-hand smoke.”

But Echo Park is kind of hipster-ville (or so I’ve been told), and the amount of smokers standing outside of the Echo and other venues along Sunset have got to bother those non-smokers sensitive to the second-hand smoke. In a study conducted by the County of Los Angeles Public Health released in June 2010, at 14% LA has among the lowest smoking rates of any metropolitan areas in the US. However, there are also a lot of disparities within LA, and while coastal communities like Malibu have a pretty low percentage, both CD 13 and CD1 (Echo Park lies in both) rank fairly high in the number of smokers according to the study.

CD 13 has 16.1% of the population are smokers, the district ranking 106 out of 127 (see above graph). Perhaps what we need to do is look at some of these high-ranking areas of Los Angeles (rather than focus on beaches) and see what can be done to help reduce the amount of smokers and second-hand smoke. Check out the colorful map below: