Tag Archive for: Sunset Flats

Today (Friday, January 28) is the last day to submit your comments for public record on the Sunset Flats project planned for Sunset and Rosemont in Echo Park. I have written extensively about this project both on Echo Park Now and in an opinions piece on Echo Park Patch, but there’s a new concern by at least one resident that there might be an historical element to one of the soon-to-be destroyed homes.

Resident Rory Mitchell found out that one of the homes on Sunset Blvd. does indeed have some historical value, regardless of whether or not it’s an official historic monument (which it’s not – yet!). Rory, a writer and historical consultant, wrote on his website that 2231 Sunset Blvd. is a 1910s home built for Stefan Zacsek, a Hungarian immigrant.

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Though the developers of the Sunset Flats project didn’t attend last month’s Echo Park Improvement Association Neighborhood Issues Committee meeting as scheduled, they will hopefully be making it up to everyone at tonight’s meeting.

This may be your last chance to hear directly from the developers before the city makes a decision on the project variances on January 13, 2011. Residents who oppose the project will be particularly interested in attending the meeting, although we’ve heard the developer wasn’t so keen on budging at the last meeting with residents and CD13.

Nevertheless, join the EPIA (which, for purposes of full disclosure, I am a member of) tonight:

Neighborhood Issues Committee Minutes
Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 7 pm
Williams Hall, Barlow Hospital, 2000 Stadium Way

Click here for the full agenda.

Related Articles:

  • “Upcoming hearing on Sunset Flats Development in Echo Park.” Echo Park Now, November 19, 2010.

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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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.

Lately I’ve been delving into the history of some of these Echo Park locations that have development “drama” revolving around them these days. Last week we wrote about the history of Barlow Hospital as it develops plans to upgrade hospital facilities by selling land for who-knows-what. This week we’ve got the Sunset Flats, planned for what was the former community garden, on our mind. So today we reflect on how that garden came to be, how the community came together to keep it thriving for years, and more importantly, what happened to it?

Date unknown - looks very 1990s. Flickr photo via Glen Dake

Flickr photo via Glen Dake

The garden was started in the late 199os as part of an effort to use land that wasn’t being used (deemed a “nuisance” property), but was privately owned, and really helped empower and improve the neighborhood. Located at 2223 Sunset Blvd, where now you’ll see a lot of overgrown weeds and possibly still some edible plants, they sold honey, grew and sold flowers, fruits and vegetables. It was literally the heart and sweat of many long-time Echo Park residents, including, we’ve heard, our friend Jesus Sanchez of The Eastsider LA.

The plight of the garden began around 2004, where our research begins to pick up the chatter that the land owner needed to sell the property. This is when things get a little complicated and messy, and is an issue that I am continuing to explore in interviews with residents and community leaders. Apparently the community got together and started raising money to purchase the land, and things were looking really promising in June of 2004 – the owner was willing to sell the land, and all they needed was a grant to finalize things. Sometime after that, things went south, and the manager of the garden had apparently been taking that money raised to purchase the land, stringing along the landowner and everyone else along. The Echo Park Community Garden had been bamboozled.

That’s the long story short. Without money to buy the property, the land was sold and there was little hope for the future of the garden. A 2004 issue of EPIAn Ways describes the frustration of being locked out of the garden for months:

The current landlord bought the land two years ago and has no idea the importance this community places on the garden. He seems to be unaware of what existed before the garden formed and therefore sees little value to keeping the garden as a tenant. The Echo Park Community Garden has been a collaborative effort between hundreds of families, individuals as well as social service agencies, neighborhood groups and government. It has also served as an environmental, educational and nutritional resource for the neighborhood families and schools.

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It seems all the Echo Park news these days can be summed up in just one controversial word: Development. We’ve got a 70+ unit senior housing center going up on Glendale Blvd. and Park Avenue, a battle with Barlow Hospital over selling land for a potential 888-unit complex, a rotting structure left behind by developers at Chicken Corner, and a 64-unit complex planned for Sunset and Rosemont Avenue. Those plans plus a lot of promises, promises, promises, and if the Durbin Project on Chicken Corner is an example of how things will go in the future, Echo Park residents will have to start getting involved, well, yesterday.

Sunset Flats, the 64-unit complex planned for Sunset Blvd. and Rosemont Avenue, was (unfortunately) approved by the neighborhood council late last month despite opposition from residents. The site will be where the former Community Garden was located (remnants of the planting still exist) and will destroy 6 existing structures (11 units) in order to build. The whole structure well stretch along 2223-2235 Sunset Blvd, and back to the residential neighborhood of 2216-2218 Elsinore Street.

Architect Jay Vanos has been a regular at Neighborhood Council meetings (attending eight meetings in the past 2.5 years), but did not accept invitations from the Echo Park Improvement Association, which also regularly deals with land-use issues, to meet with other community members and address additional concerns.

Despite the destruction of 11 units of housing to build the complex, the project would include 10 units for low-income residents. The most recent design change proposed at a Neighborhood Council meeting included stepping back the tallest parts of the two buildings so that, on street level, the height of the project won’t overshadow the sidewalk and seem, well, too big. There is also now parking as part of the project, but with access along Elsinore Street.

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I recently met a couple of the Echo Park residents behind the new blog/community organizers called Echo Park Life at the Echo Park Improvement Association pot luck last week. What started as a few neighbors concerned with the direction of development on the western side of Echo Park, it turned into a website revolved around getting residents organized and educated.

Residents in what is called the “Washington Heights Tract” around Sunset, Alvarado, Elsinore, Mohawk, and Waterloo are currently concentrating their concerns on two major developments taking place in their part of Echo Park: the El Camino restaurant taking over the old Ramona Theater, and the Sunset Flats residential complex at Sunset and Reservoir.

Sunset Flats is a 64-unit residential complex that, in its original proposed state, will be a five-story complex with no parking provided to its residents. Echo Park Life organizers are concerned with the parking problem, the potential eyesore, and the demolition of six turn-of-the-century homes, among other potential problems.

The El Camino restaurant in the old Ramona Theater (which we’ve written about before) will also be off-street parking for its 200-person seated establishment (with the exception of a rumored limited car valet option). Echo Park Life worry about the parking, the bar open until 2:00 am, and the wood-fired pizza oven burning below their bedroom windows.

Tomorrow night (Wednesday, August 7), the GEPENC Planning and Land Use Committee will meet to discuss, among other things, the Sunset Flats project (if any new information is available, it might be the developer submitting some new design plans that will reflect past concerns). Echo Park Life is calling for residents to join them at the meeting to “get involved and come to a meeting to learn about the community issues going on in Echo Park.”

Go to www.echoparklife.org if you are interested in joining the discussion, and follow them on Twitter.