Friday, February 2, 2007

Semi-Tropic Spiritualists’ Tract Development Update 1-20-07

Photo: Edwardson, Semi-Tropic Spiritualists’ Tract

Future site of 14 homes?

January 20, 2007 -- City Councilmember Eric Garcetti’s staff hosted a community meeting with the developer of the Semi-Tropic Spiritualists’ Tract Garden Lots. Link to current area map:

Subdivisions and zone changes go through a discretionary process in City Planning. Under CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act), the public has the right (and responsibility) to comment, in writing or in person, on the development’s impacts. The developer has filed for subdivision with City Planning. Currently, a public hearing has not yet been scheduled.

The three 1-acre lots (currently zoned R-1 for single family homes) were once a large garden for the tract of primarily 2,500 sq ft lots. The current development proposal is a “small-lot subdivision” into 14 lots: each lot between 3,000 – 6,000 sq ft, grouped around a private driveway from El Moran near Allesandro Ave., plus a large “open space lot” on the upper portion closest to El Moran and Peru St.

Small-lot subdivision is a new form of development allowing developers to subdivide into lots as small as 2,500 sq. ft. (City standard lots are 5,000 sq. ft.), with homes as close as 2 inches apart.

Citing the house fire two nights earlier on Baxter St., neighbors expressed concern regarding small lot subdivision in hillside areas. Since small-lot subdivision is a new program, the LAFD has yet to weigh in on how it should be implemented in hillside areas. Neighbors also wanted to know if the new development would be subject to “Red Flag Days - No Parking,” like many of the neighborhood’s streets.

While the developer stated it was not a gated community, many neighbors pointed out that it looks like one, and would be easy to gate, especially once the new residents saw the area homeless population.

The developer did not supply adequate before and after drawings of the hillside to evaluate the amount of grading that would take place with the proposed development. Although, the developer’s engineer stated it would be more than 6,000 cubic yards of cut (earth to be removed and recompacted or removed entirely from the site).

The development also shows 14 large flat rooftops visible from much of the neighborhood. Neighbors currently have a view of natural beauty of the hillside. With small-lot subdivision, where homes are closer together than on standard hillside lots, it would seem appropriate and desirable to have functional rooftop amenities like rooftop gardens and patios, or at least incorporate design elements into the rooftops as a fifth elevation.

While the developer stated he would be leaving a substantial portion of the upper lot as an “open space lot,” he has yet to contact a park agency, like the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, regarding either dedication or donation for public open space. Additionally, without public access from Allesandro through the development to the open space lot, it would not be usable open space for the community.

Above: 1912 Baist's Atlas, Surveys of Los Angeles, G.W. Baist

Andrew Sears, president of the Committee to Save Silver Lake’s Reservoirs writes to Councilmember Garcetti:

“What is needed is a holistic approach, creating connectivity between the 18-acre Elysian Park annex and the Corralitas Red Car Corridor. Now is our last chance to ensure that our parks, new and old, are connected and walkable. This connection, if properly implemented will protect the Rim of the Valley Equestrian Trail easement, and further the visionary concept of connecting Elysian Park with the LA River at Fletcher. Such a trail system, a long-term dream of the community, has been cited in the LA River Master Plan, and will help to improve the severely limited open space problems we have in the district.”

Sears continues, “Public access needs to be ensured through the proposed developed lot to allow for a pedestrian/equestrian friendly path between Allesandro and the Reserved Open Space above the lot. By 'friendly,' I mean at a grade suitable for horses and people on foot. As planned, the grade is extremely steep and in most areas is supported by retaining walls up to 13’. The failure to preserve that corridor will seal the fate of any hope for connected parks in the Silver Lake/Elysian/LA River area.”

The overwhelming reaction at the meeting to the developer’s plan was negative. While it is better than the earlier plan to regrade the entire hillside, it still has a long way to go before becoming acceptable to this community. Funds for outright acquisition of the lots by a park agency are limited. It is not unreasonable to expect a developer to work with the community toward an acceptable solution to both sides. The developer wants a discretionary action from the city to build his project. In return for added density and effects on the surrounding community; neighbors should insist on specific mitigations if the City grants subdivision and zone change, increasing the value of the developer's property.

Garcetti’s staff suggested the developer and the community work out their differences before this proposal goes to public hearing. No date for a hearing has been set. Garcetti’s staff will be taking our comments into their discussions about the Semi-Tropic Spiritualist’s Tract.


Thursday, February 1, 2007

LA River Revitalization Master Plan Public Hearings

Photo: Edwardson, Egret Park on the Los Angeles River

The City has been working on a plan to revitalize the LA River.

Why should you care? The Corralitas Red Car Property and the Semi-Tropic Spiritualists’ Tract are walking distance to the Los Angeles River. Community Residents’ Association for Parks has advocated for improved pedestrian connections between our neighborhood and the river throughout the public scoping process.

Neighborhood map:

Below is information regarding the next round of public meetings about the LA River Master Plan.

Notice of Availability for the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Report/Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIR/PEIS).

Both the LARRMP and its draft PEIR/PEIS will be available for public review for a period of 45-days beginning on Friday, February 2, 2007 and ending on Monday, March 19, 2007.

Three public hearings will be held during the review period to provide an opportunity for open discussion of the draft documents:

Saturday, February 24:
10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.,
Hollenbeck Middle School, 2510 E. 6th St., Boyle Heights
Draft LARRMP Workshop: 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.
Draft LARRMP PEIR/PEIS Hearing: 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Tuesday, February 27:
6:30-9:00 p.m., Canoga Park High School Auditorium, 6850 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Canoga Park
Draft LARRMP Workshop: 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Draft LARRMP PEIR/PEIS Hearing: 7:45-9:00 p.m.

Wednesday, February 28:
6:30-9:00 p.m.,
Metropolitan Water District Board Room, 700 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles
Draft LARRMP Workshop: 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Draft LARRMP PEIR/PEIS Hearing: 7:45-9:00 p.m.

Members of the public may provide verbal, recorded comments during the hearing portion of each meeting listed above.

Copies of both the draft LARRMP and draft PEIR/PEIS may be viewed online at the LARRMP website:
or at the Atwater Village Branch Library, 3379 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039, (323) 664-1353

Comments may be submitted by writing to:

Carol Armstrong
LARRMP Project Manager
1149 S. Broadway, Suite 600
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Please note whether comments are intended for the LARRMP or for the PEIR/PEIS.

Comments may also be submitted via e-mail, as follows:

For the LARRMP, write to:
for the PEIR/PEIS, write to:

For more information, please call Mary Brooks at 323-669-7653.

Mary Brooks
The Robert Group
3108 Los Feliz Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90039
323-669-7653 direct
323-664-0922 direct fax


Red Tail Hawk Update

Photo: Diane Edwardson, June 14, 2005

Brenda with the Ojai Raptor Center reports, after an examination by a veterinarian, the hawk we rescued was shot through the wing with either a small caliber bullet or bb-gun, a week or more before he crash landed on Corralitas. The wing was broken and infected, plus the hawk was severely dehydrated and thin.

After several days of treating the infection, they anesthetized the hawk to further assess the broken wing. Since it had been so long since the bird was shot, the bone was dried out and inoperable. Since the wild hawk was in such poor condition, and would not be releasable with an amputated wing, the veterinarian decided to euthanize the bird. If we had been able to rescue the bird a week earlier, it may have made a difference.

Our 2005 hawk rescue was much more successful. A not-fully-fledged hawk fell 80’ to the street below from his nest atop a eucalyptus tree, next to the log cabins. His leg was broken. I called the Wildlife Officer at North Central Animal Shelter, who referred me to Brenda with Ojai Raptor Center. Neighbors blocked off the street & sidewalk with “caution” tape and barricades, while we awaited Animal Control. The officer had to climb 15-20’ up the steep slope to reach the hawk who was attempting to get back to his tree. Throughout this drama, the hawk’s parents kept a threatening eye on us, while screeching the whole time. They were not pleased, but they would not have been able to get the baby back into the nest. The baby would likely have fallen prey to a coyote if we left it on the ground.

Photo: Edwardson, 2005. Angry red tail parent.

The hawk was transferred to the Ojai Raptor Center where they repaired his broken leg. During fledging season, the Raptor Center is overwhelmed with rescues. They even have an unreleasable surrogate mother hawk who helps feed the babies. Our hawk was later released in an area where there are a lot of red tails he could learn from.

The sibling of the one we rescued used to hang out on the decks of the log cabins. He frequented my neighbor who took some great photos of him. I once saw one of the hawk’s parents bring him a rat. The parent sat in the tree with the rat screeching until he flew the 20 feet from my deck to the tree. He seemed to prefer my deck to tree for a dining perch. His parent would have nothing of it, insisting he use the tree.

Why should we care about the hawks?

They are a vital link in the hillside food web. They help keep rats and gophers under control. So don’t use rat poison. The poison doesn’t immediately kill the rat, so the rat acts erratically once the poison begins to take effect. The rat falls easy prey to predators, like hawks and pet cats, which are then poisoned and die from eating the rat.

Red Tail Hawks and other raptors like to hunt on the big open spaces like the Red Car Property and the Semi-Tropic Spiritualists’ Tract. Many mornings you can see hawks sitting atop the telephone poles, then swooping down to catch some vermin. The steep topography of the Red Car and Semi-Tropic neighborhoods combined with the heat island of the adjacent freeways create ideal updrafts on which the hawks like to soar. It’s like Wild Kingdom in your own backyard, 5 minutes from Downtown Los Angeles.

Donate to Ojai Raptor Center:
More info on living with wildlife:


Red Tail Hawk Rescue 2007

Photo: Gary Vlahakis, January 14, 2007

Corralitas Drive seems to be the place where red tails hawks come for help. A few weeks ago, I got a call from a neighbor who watched a red tail crash into the hillside next to his home. The hawk was hopping around a totally inaccessible spot on the hillside holding his wing away from his body. Plus, it was late in the day and getting dark.

The hawk went into hiding in the hillside brush the following day. I put word out on the Corralitas email list. Shortly thereafter, another neighbor called the first neighbor to say the hawk was hanging out in the first neighbor’s driveway – a good 100’ uphill climb from where he’d been the night before. Perhaps this was the sibling of the hawk we rescued less than two years ago, who used to hang out on the first neighbor’s deck (photo below).

Photo: Gary Vlahakis, June 24, 2005

The first neighbor called Animal Regulation, who did not seem anxious to come out. The hawk followed the neighbor around the street, trying to fly. The neighbor was able to snap a few photos before the hawk hopped back down the hillside (photo: top of page).

Three of us searched below the log cabins for the hawk. He camouflaged so well, it was no easy task to find him. We finally cornered the hawk with bath towels on a VERY steep portion of the hillside between the log cabins and the Corralitas Staircase. It was hard to tell if we even had the hawk in the towel because he was so lightweight. He didn’t put up a fight, although he did not want to let go of the towel after we carefully placed him in a box.

We took the hawk to animal control on Lacy St. and also called Brenda with Ojai Raptor Center, so they could pick up the injured hawk. (The City of Los Angeles sends their wildlife rescues to them since there seems to be no raptor rescuers in the City because of zoning rules.) You should always talk to Animal Control and a wildlife rescuer before you attempt rescuing wildlife.

Donate to Ojai Raptor Center:
More info on living with wildlife:

Rescue Update


Glendale Blvd - Hyperion Bridge Improvement Draft EIR

Photo: Tom LaBonge. Hyperion Bridge looking south crossing the
LA River (left), 5 Frwy (center), Riverside Drive (right).
Hyperion Viaduct Complex crosses the LA River and the 5 Freeway at Glendale Blvd. It includes six structures. The Glendale Boulevard (northbound and southbound) and Hyperion structures are currently proposed for major improvement, with cosmetic improvement to the Waverly Ave. Bridge, addition of bike lanes and a realignment of the 5 Frwy offramps.

A public scoping meeting is required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to obtain your views of the proposed project and suggestions you might have for its improvement. Your input is very important and will be used to prepare the upcoming Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Please come, ask questions and express your opinions.
For your convenience, two meetings will be held. Each will have the same content and format.

Thursday, February 8, 2007
7 - 9 pm
Glenfeliz Blvd. Elementary School
3955 Glenfeliz Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90039

Thursday, February 15, 2007
7 - 9 pm
Silverlake Community Church
2930 Hyperion Avenue (near Rowena)
Los Angeles, CA 90027

The Notice of Preparation and Initial Study can also be viewed on the City's website

The Project is fully described in an Initial Study (IS), which is available for your review at the following locations:

Atwater Village Public Library3379 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039
Los Feliz Public Library1874 Hillhurst Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Satellite Office, Satellite Office, Pres. Eric Garcetti, CD 13, 3700 Verdugo Rd., Los Angeles, CA

District Office, Councilmember Tom LaBonge, CD4, 10116 Riverside Dr., Ste. 200, Toluca Lake, CA 91602

Please send your response to:
Wallace E. Stokes
City of Los Angeles
Public Works, Bureau of Engineering
Bridge Program
221 N. Figueroa Street, Suite 350
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone (213) 202-5580
Fax (213) 202-5518


Photo: Futterer. 1934, Holyland Exhibition, Lake View Ave. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Many neighborhood streets are subject to No Parking on Red Flag Days – days with high winds and low moisture content in the vegetation. To see if your street is included and for more information see link in the message below from the LA City Fire Dept:

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Red Flag Parking Restrictions []
> Sent: Thursday, February 01, 2007 9:01 AM
> Subject: New Notification System for Red Flag
> The new notification system is working and in place. You can now be
> notified via voice messaging on you phone (any and all of 4 phone numbers)
> and/or email. Please go to our new site and register your information at:
> We thank you for your continued support in keeping the City safe.
> Thank you,