Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Menlo Property: Round 3 Goes to Menlo. Next Stop: City Council, May 19, 2010

Silver Lake -Echo Park Community Plan map page from 12-90, shows a planned equestrian trail (U-shaped trail markings start at Glendale Blvd & Riverside Drive moving south under the 2 Frwy toward Elysian Park). (Click on map to enlarge.)

Yesterday, City Council's Planning & Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee denied the appeal by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC). The SMMC appealed the City's decision to approve 120-unit market-rate condo development for failure to include a trail dedication per the Silver Lake - Echo Park - Elysian Valley Community Plan.

The City is setting a bad precedent by not requiring a General Plan Amendment. Any planned trail can now be deemed "random," and thus ignored by developers without a formal Plan Amendment process.

It reeked of the "Chewbacca Defense." The legal consultant for convicted slumlord Sam Menlo & Century Quality Management, in both his written rebuttal and testimony at the PLUM hearing, kept repeating that the trail markings on the Community Plan map were "random." He never offered any evidence to prove the trail markings were "random." (If you say it enough times, it must be so.)

I presented evidence proving the trail markings in the SL-EP-EV Community Plan were indeed intentionally placed and had not moved since the plan was first adopted in 1984 by City Council. Community members who participated in the 1983 El Pueblo Trail alignment study and the original Community Plan provided written and verbal testimony to PLUM.

Despite credible substantial evidence, not one of the PLUM Committee members even questioned the "randomness" of said trail.

You can be sure, if the tables were turned and a community member insisted a Plan element was "random," the community member would have to present an unbelievable amount of evidence and they would still find for the developer.

The trail on the old version of the Community Plan (above) matches the current version exactly. It's also described as following the old Red Car rights-of-way in the Plan text as well as in a 1983 memo from the SMMC. No one denies the Menlo Property is an old Red Car right-of-way. Yet, the trail markings are "random."

The case goes to the full City Council for a vote on May 19, 2010.