Saturday, October 1, 2011

Semi Tropic Spiritualists' Tract: Controversial Deforestation, Meeting Sunday

Photos: Diane Edwardson, 2005-2011.  It's not easy to get a good shot that conveys either the steep terrain or the extent of the urban forest in the controversial 16-lot subdivision.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Tomorrow, City Council District 13 (CD13), developers Planet Home Living, representative from the Board of Public Works and the community will meet on site of the controversial 16-lot subdivision in the Semi Tropic Spiritualists' Tract. The issue - native tree removal permits requested when there are no grading or building permits even applied for on the 3-acre park-like setting.

Sunday, October 2, 2011
11 AM
Los Angeles, CA 90039

WARNING: the following is quite the rant, but many of you have asked me for more of a description of what's going on here. This is the short version. There is no simple way to tell this story. Just as there is no easy way to get one good photo of the site; the topography and the trees make it very difficult.

In 2009, when the City approved the controversial 16-lot subdivision in the Semi Tropic Spiritualists' Tract, they allowed for removal of Native Black Walnut Woodland because the developer is required to stabilize the hillside above planned 15 homes. 

When the City approved this development, Developer #1 (who sold the property a few months ago) admitted on the public record, several times, he planned to remove all but 5 native trees.  (All the trees between Allesandro and the red line in the photo above will be removed under this plan.)   To remove the trees, they would need to apply for a Protected Native Tree Removal Permit.
The (current) Developer #2 (who just announced the property was for sale again) has applied for a native tree removal permit, says there are 42 protected native trees he wants to remove. 

In addition to the 42 native trees, the non-protected, significant-sized trees that also need removing, bring the total to more than 60 trees to be removed. So much for that park-like setting for 15 stucco boxes right on top of each another.
The day after swearing to community members they had the means and would absolutely build this project and complete it, Developer #2 announced they were putting the property up for sale. Wow, no surprise there.  

We've seen this kind of speculation for decades in our neighborhood. Developers are never prepared for the level of problems they're in for here: Corralitas Red Car Property, Menlo Property, Monte Sano, Bert Co, 18 Acre Elysian Park Parcel. The same 3-acre Semi Tropic Spiritualists' Tract parcel was approved for a 30-unit zone change in the 1980's and never built because of grading issues.  

Developer #2 swore they'd build the controversial Semi Tropic 16-lot subdivision, filed for native tree removal permits, but failed to file for grading and building permits. Considering it can take 2 years to get grading permits, it is premature to file for native tree removal permits.

If the  native tree removal permit is granted, they can cut down all the trees and never get around to building anything; leaving us with a naked hillside with a high potential for serious mudslide and slope failure, giving us another problem lot for decades.

Smart developers don't get involved in the big lots in our neighborhood. (I give Developer # 2 credit for cutting and running early, before wasting too much time and money.)

So come to Sunday's meeting, 11 AM on the site of 2400 Allesandro and express your displeasure. The developers, CD13 and a member of the Board of Public Works will be there. The tree removal hearing is on Wednesday, so this may be your only chance to question the powers that be.