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Friday, May 21, 2010

In Silver Lake, a feud over an open-space corridor

On Wednesday, the City Council unanimously passed the Sam Menlo-Slum Lord development without comment or debate as part of the consent agenda. They ignored the appeal without comment, siding with Councilman Tom LaBonge who feels that Community Plans are optional (see below).

That leaves the citizens of Los Angeles no choice but to file a lawsuit the City if they want to make them do the right thing: uphold the Community Plan.

Should your Community Plan be optional?

Images from Corralita's Red Car Property blog.
In Silver Lake, a feud over an open-space corridor

All agree the trail is needed; the question is where. A conservation group wants it to stretch alongside a proposed condo development on Riverside Drive, a councilman wants it along the L.A. River

By Carla Hall, Los Angeles Times May 19, 2010

In a heavily trafficked city crisscrossed with freeways, where do you put the pastoral trails for furry commuters and nature-loving city dwellers? Well, you put half a mile of it alongside the big condo development proposed on Riverside Drive in Silver Lake, says the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, aggressive fighters for open space in the city.

No, you put trails near the Los Angeles River, argues City Councilman Tom LaBonge, avid hiker and protector of Griffith Park who finds himself in an unusual battle with the conservancy. And if you're speaking for the developer, the Menlo Trust, you argue that the land alongside the condo development is too steep for a trail.

So goes the fight over a half-mile stretch of dirt in Silver Lake. 

It may be too steep for humans to hike right now, but all kinds of other animals use the trail, said Paul Edelman, deputy director of natural resources and planning for the conservancy. "We need this for gray foxes and bobcats." The conservancy has appealed a city planning agency decision to let developers build a 120-unit condo complex — alongside the existing 157-unit Riverglen development — and obliterate the corridor. The full City Council is expected to vote on the conservancy appeal Wednesday. Neither the conservancy nor their supporters oppose the actual condo development. "I'm just opposed to it being done without a trail," said Diane Edwardson, a longtime Silver Lake community activist.

Not everyone in Silver Lake agrees. "The terrain is very treacherous over there anyway," said Elizabeth Bougart-Sharkov. "Building a path is a stupid idea. It's like a bridge to nowhere." Countered Edelman: "If you use that argument you would never get anywhere: 'Oh it doesn't go anywhere.' Well you have to start somewhere." This trail, he said, "would be the first official segment of the contiguous corridor."

Supporters say removing the trail sets a dangerous precedent for dismantling other community plans in the city. But LaBonge contends that "a community plan is a guide. It's not an ordinance." Wildlife will survive the lack of this particular trail, he said.

Read the rest at the LA Times.