Sunday, October 2, 2011

Semi Tropic Spiritualists' Tract: Neighbors Tired Of Speculators

Photo: Diane Edwardson, October 2, 2011.  Twenty neighbors met on site of the controversial 16-lot subdivision in the Semi Tropic Spiritualists' Tract to talk about trees.  (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Twenty neighbors waited 45 minutes in the heat to meet with Andrea Alarcon, president of the Board of Public Works.  Three members of City Council President Eric Garcetti's office (CD13) and developer, Michael Marini of Planet Home Living also attended. 

The overwhelming message from the neighbors was, don't grant the tree removal permits until the building permits have been paid for.  As we've said many times, removing trees, prior to the true commitment to build (obtaining grading and building permits = a serious financial commitment), would be premature and leave the neighborhood at risk for further uncommitted speculation, increased risk of slope failure, mudslides and another ugly, eyesore problem lot, like the Menlo Property (which was barren for decades after the developer pulled out). 

Alarcon pointed out to the developer that they "shot their credibility in the foot" by putting the property up for sale the day after stating their "commitment" to build and complete the project in a recent community meeting.   

Alarcon and CD13 appear to be looking for a way to condition the tree removal permit to be tied to the building permits.  No one seemed confident in their ability to do so. 

Neighbors have seen decades of speculation with this and other large lots in the immediate neighborhood.  While building permits are no guarantee that a project will be completed, they are a financial commitment to a project increasing the likelihood that the property will not just be stripped of all trees and abandoned. 

If the developer honestly was committed to this project, there would be no logical reason not to withdraw the tree removal permit application until after receiving their building permits.  Despite being asked numerous times, the developer has not yet provided a single credible reason why they will not pull their request for the tree removal permit.  Oh yeah, and did we mention, the property is for sale.

Sunday's meeting was hastily called on Thursday, by CD13 at the request of Alarcon.  Alarcon had met earlier with Planet Home Living to review the plans.  Alarcon wanted to hear from neighbors firsthand, as well as see the site, prior to the Board of Public Works hearing on Wednesday.  Due to the steepness of the slope, heat of the day and the length of the meeting, she was unable to walk the entire site. 

Board of Public Works Meeting

Wed, October 5, 2011
9:30 AM

City Hall, Room 350
Edward Roybal BPW Session Room
200 N. Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90012