Thursday, January 18, 2007

Development History

Photo: Title Insurance & Trust Co., C.C. Pierce Photography, 1905 Pacific Electric Glendale Line looking north toward Glendale. Corralitas is the hill to the right of the tracks. (Click on photo to enlarge)

The Corralitas Red Car Property was a private right-of-way for the Pacific Electric interurban streetcar. The “Big Red Cars” ran until 1955.

Since 1955, a series of absentee owners have neglected the five lots. For more than 25 years, a series of developers tried and failed to develop the Corralitas Red Car Property. Even when successful in securing a zone change, developers repeatedly failed to build on the site.

The property consists of five large lots on more than 10-acres, approximately one mile in length, zoned R2 (one duplex per lot).

1896 Los Angeles Railway Local Edendale Line extends through a private right-of-way to Ivanhoe Hills, terminus at Fletcher, a dirt road near the Los Angeles River.

1904 Fletcher Drive Red Car Viaduct constructed for the Glendale Line. Pacific Electric officially opened the Glendale Line in 1906; bringing real estate speculation to the areas surrounding rail lines.

1922 “Hunter Terrace” subdivision, formerly the Asa Hunter Estate, advertised for sale. Subdivision brochure advertised lots for sale to the east of the Red Car Property: around Allesandro Elementary School, Corralitas Drive and Elysian Valley (Elysian Gardens subdivision). Brochure touts the proximity to the Red Car as a key selling point.

1924-28 Area streets paved for the first time. 1927: center span of the Fletcher Red Car Viaduct replaced with steel accommodating the paving and lowering of Fletcher Drive. The bridge was now 61’ above the roadbed.

1955 Glendale Line decommissioned, right-of-way removed from public service, property remained in private hands. Red Car tracks removed, but the viaduct remained on the hillside above Riverside and Fletcher Drives.

1959 Fletcher Viaduct and Riverside Drive Viaduct (at Glendale Blvd) torn down, 4 years after the last Red Car Trolley ran on the Glendale Line.
1960 Homes torn down via eminent domain for freeway construction on area streets. The Glendale (2) Freeway soon cut off Corralitas Drive from the community, leaving only one means of vehicle access through Rosebud Ave.  Considerable amount of earth removed from the Red Car Property for freeway construction. Later, the leftover dirt was dumped back onto surrounding large vacant lots, such as the Red Car Property.

1981 Zone change approved (against Fire Dept. recommendations) 2433 Corralitas Drive (southern 2 lots of Red Car Property) from R2 (one duplex) to RD4 (40 Units). City Councilmember Peggy Stevenson did not support community opposition. *
* Zone change granted before adoption of the Silver Lake-Echo Park Community Plan in 1984, so it was not based on any official plan for the area.

1984 Zone change expired; property again zoned R2.

1987 City Council approved incorporation of an equestrian trail into any development of the site in keeping with the Silver Lake-Echo Park Community Plan.

1987 Zone change on 2433 Corralitas Drive for 40 units again approved against Fire Dept. recommendations. City Councilmember Mike Woo did not support community opposition.

1989 Extension for zone change approved against community opposition. Fire Dept. again objected and a provision added: the project limited to 25 units if a secondary access could not be provided.

1990 Zone change expired; property again zoned R2.

1995 City Planning Commission, by unanimous vote, defeats developer’s 40-unit zone change application. Community well organized; now represented and supported by City Councilmember Jackie Goldberg.

1996 Developer, in a large community meeting organized by Goldberg’s office, presented a vague notion that he might want to build 40 houses on the property. Community told him to come back with a specific plan.

1997 At a large community meeting hosted by Goldberg at Allesandro Elementary School, the community voted to back residents’ plan to: form a non-profit organization, Community Resident’s Association for Parks; partner with Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy; apply for ’92 Prop A competitive funds to purchase the Red Car Property; create a passive-use park on the entire site.

1997 Partnership did not receive funding.

1997 Developer purchases the 5 lots for $110,000 (public record).

1998 Developer applies for 12-lot subdivision, with a 7-acre dedication/donation to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. A maintenance fee would be assessed annually on the new lots to pay for park upkeep.

1999 Application tentatively approved by City Planning for 12-lot subdivision, pending approval from grading department.

2000 Developer notifies community that he is putting the property up for sale for $500,000. Subdivision not economically feasible. Subdivision never approved, property remains 5 lots, zoned R2.

2001 Developer purchases the 10-acre Corralitas Red Car property for between $300,000 and $400,000 (public records).

2001 Community Residents’ Association for Parks and Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy submits application for Prop A funding. $320,000 application approved by County Supervisor Gloria Molina as a link to the Los Angeles River. SMMC allocates additional funds to the project.

2001 At a meeting hosted by City Councilmember Eric Garcetti, developer notifies community of intent to file for subdivision of the 5 lots of Corralitas Red Car Property into a large number of lots: including 31 single family homes, 21 duplexes and a number of vacant lots to be offered for sale. City Councilmember Garcetti supports overwhelming community opposition to the plan; wants the site as a park.

2001 Mayor James Hahn accepts more than 500 letters and drawings from students at Allesandro Elementary and Rose Scharlin Pre-school. Mayor Hahn joins Garcetti stating, “Keep the Red Car Green!”

2002-03 Connect the Parks…Connecting Communities, a study linking parks, recreational facilities and schools with pedestrian friendly paths between Elysian Park, the Red Car Property and the Los Angeles River; published by Community Residents’ Association for Parks, with a grant from Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, administered by North East Trees.

2003 Developer does not respond to Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy offer for the Red Car Property. In the interim, developer submits application to City Planning for 75 homes, almost a mile of roadways and two miles of retaining walls and one small open space lot consisting of unusable slope.

2003 City Planning advises developer to revise and resubmit plans due to concerns from Departments of Transportation, Engineering, Zoning and Fire.

2003 City Council approves Los Angeles Cultural Historic Landmark status for the Fletcher Red Car Trestle Footings. Application was submitted earlier in the year by City Councilmember Garcetti to the Los Angeles Dept. of Cultural Heritage.

2004 Bureau of Engineering recommends disapproval of  75-home subdivision.

2005 Record rains reveal the extent of the Adelbert Landslide Zone on the north portion of the Red Car Property.

2005 Another developer drops plans for the Red Car Property after just four months on board. The property remains 5 lots zoned R2.