Thursday, January 18, 2007


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Allesandro Elementary School Cafeteria, 2210 Riverside Drive

City Council President Eric Garcetti’s office will sponsor a community meeting to review a developer’s proposal to subdivide the Semi-Tropic Spiritualists’ Garden Lots. Contact: Mitch O’Farrell in CD13: (323) 957-4500.

Why should you care? The Semi-Tropic Spiritualists’ Garden Lots are visible from portions of the Red Car Neighborhood, including Corralitas, Silver Ridge & Lake View. The proposed development will affect views and set precedent for subdividing other large lots in the area, like the Red Car Property.

Like the Red Car Property, the three 1-acre Semi-Tropic Garden Lots were approved for a zone change to increase density during the 1980s building boom. Similarly, the zone change expired unused. Like the Red Car Property and the Menlo Property (the retaining wall on Riverside just north of Fletcher), the Semi-Tropic Lots have a long history of failed development. Currently, the three Semi-Tropic Lots are zoned R-1, or one single family home per lot.

Who were the Semi-Tropic Spiritualists?
In 1905, the Semi-Tropic Spiritualists Association incorporated and purchased the last tract of land in what’s now considered the last hill in Elysian Heights. The City tract still bears their name. In 1905, the area was just outside the City limits and was predominantly coniferous (semi-tropical) forest. Perhaps it was the inspiration for their name.

The Semi-Tropic Spiritualists subdivided the land into more than 175 lots of an average size of 2,500 sq ft, which they sold to their members. The tiny lots surrounded the 3-acre “Garden Lots,” on which they maintained a garden, allowed camping, musical performances and meetings. This followed a pattern of development common to the spiritualist movement in California at the turn of the last century.

Today, the Semi-Tropic Spiritualists’ Tract contains extraordinary native coast live oak (an endangered species) and California black walnut woodland (a threatened plant community).

Like the Red Car Property, the Semi-Tropic Garden Lots are in the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy’s Rim of the Valley Trail Corridor. Both properties are also within the Silver Lake-Echo Park Equestrian Trail, designated in the Community Plan.