Saturday, January 2, 2010

Monte Sano: Another Episode in the Legacy of Failed Development

Photo: Clarence Inman Collection, January 1985. The Monte Sano Hospital site at the corner of Waverly Drive & Glendale Blvd. has been vacant since the 1970s. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Like so many of the large parcels of land in the area near the 5 & 2 Freeways, Monte Sano has long been a part of the Legacy of Failed Development. Like the Menlo Property, Corralitas Red Car Property & Semi Tropic Spiritualists' Tract, Monte Sano has been approved for a large number of units, had approvals thrown out on appeal, and approved again for a somewhat smaller development. And yet, Monte Sano remains unbuilt.

Monte Sano Hospital & Sanitarium shut its doors in the 1970s. It appears to have been torn down then too, although this has not been verified. Like the aforementioned large parcels of land in the neighborhood, speculators have neglected it. The City Attorney, CD 4 & CD13 and LAPD have had to persuade the owners to remove and prevent the frequent homeless encampments that persist on Monte Sano. For many years, the site was not fenced off at all. Even today, it's easy to access by walking around the fencing.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 27, 2009. Today, Monte Sano looks much the same today as it did 25 years ago. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

In 1985, Monte Sano was approved for 222 units. The school board even joined the outcry on appeal to the City Council on the grounds that the area schools were already overcrowded. (See page 2 of January 31, 1985 LA Times story by Larry Gordon.) Peggy Stevenson was the City Councilmember (CD13) for the area at the time.

By a March 6, 1986 LA Times story by Larry Gordon, Mike Woo had defeated Stevenson and was now CD13's City Councilmember. The City Council voted unanimously to throw out the earlier approvals for 222 units on Monte Sano.

The March 6, 1986 story also mentions 240 units planned for the Riverside Drive property we now refer to as the Menlo Property. Both Monte Sano and the Menlo Property were later downzoned in the area bounded by Fletcher, Glendale Blvd. and Riverside Drive.

Around 2004, after being redistricted into CD4, Monte Sano was again approved for 63 condo units. Prior to filing the application, the developer cut down most of the native Coast Live Oak trees on the site. While it was prior to the current Native Tree Ordinance, the oaks would have been somewhat protected under the old oak tree ordinance.

Despite approval, the 63-unit condo project never broke ground at Monte Sano. The site remains vacant.

See also: Legacy of Failed Development