Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Menlo Property: Political Theater

Photo: August 13, 2009. Menlo Property looking toward Griffith Park and LA River. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

At last week's PLUM hearing for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy's (SMMC) appeal of the City's decision to approve 120 units on the Menlo Property without requiring a trail, City Councilmember Tom LaBonge made quite an entrance at the end of the hearing. Waving a map of his district, he testified that the equestrian trail should be moved to the east bank of the LA River. He admitted having no idea how to get the horses back across the river to Elysian Park. The SMMC nor the public was allowed to comment further in the hearing on LaBonge's proposal.

The El Pueblo Trail is called an "equestrian trail" in the Community Plan. The 1968 Equestrian Trails Master Plan for the City encourages hikers to use equestrian trails, as it makes them safer. It shows a general alignment in the area, though not as specific as the Community Plan, first adopted in 1984.

Photo: Diane Edwardson, June 23, 2007. Horses on the El Pueblo Trail, Red Car Property at Corralitas Drive. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Removing the trail, an element of the Community Plan, from the proposed Menlo Property development, would set precedent in our neighborhood, affecting any future trail easement on the Corralitas Red Car Property (south of Fletcher). It would also allow planned trails throughout the City to be ignored when ever a developer decides they don't want the trail on their property. It is an affront to Community Planning.

Photo: John Waiblinger, July 24, 2009. Horses on the LA River north of Los Feliz.

Moving the trail to the other side of the LA River may have merit, however, it needs to be properly vetted in a public process, via a General Plan Amendment with regard to the Menlo Property development proposal. Not only that, if this is a real proposal to move the trail to the other side of the river, it needs to through a public process with all of the involved neighborhoods and associated Community Plans on both sides of the river.

You can't just pick up the trail and move it arbitrarily.

The SMMC appeal is on the City Council Agenda Wednesday, May 19, 2010.