LA planning commissioners vote to tamp down Frogtown development


2015-q scpr

The Los Angeles Planning Commission on Thursday voted unanimously in favor of tamping down  development along the Los Angeles River in Frogtown, limiting both the size and height of new construction.

At an afternoon meeting, residents and property owners told commissioners their neighborhood in northeast Los Angeles has been overrun by developers trying to capitalize on a $1 billion plan to revitalize the river.

Cyndi Hubach said she gets near-weekly offers to buy the live-work apartment building she owns there.

“The last offer was about three times what I had paid for the property,” Hubach said. “They wanted to know what my lease situation was, they wanted to throw everybody out and triple the rents.”

Commissioners agreed with the need to preserve Frogtown’s small scale and approved zoning changes along a 1.5 mile stretch of riverfront property in the neighborhood, also known as Elysian Valley.

A new development would be limited to two stories in height and its footprint could take up no more than 60 percent of the lot.

Commissioner Renee Dake Wilson said Frogtown is a “unique” neighborhood, cut off from the rest of the city by the river, and the I-2 and I-5 freeways. The neighborhood is predominantly made up of working-class, Latino households in single-family homes.

“I’m very concerned the existing low-income neighborhood will get displaced,” she said.

The commission’s recommendation for the zoning changes now goes to the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee, then to the City Council, which has the final say.

Christine Peters, policy advisor to Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, who represents Frogtown, said he supports the zoning changes “100 percent.”  Peters said Frogtown has been part of a “feeding frenzy” by developers.

“The amount of speculation and pressure on this community is incredibly intense,” Peters said. “Properties that were selling two, three years ago for $200,000, $300,000 are now in bidding wars for $3, $4 million.”

Peters said residents have complained about getting sales agreements in the mail saying ‘We are waiting to close escrow in 30 days, just sign here.'”

“That’s really frightening,” she said,”especially since a lot of our constituents are monolingual or barely bilingual.”