A monthly newsletter published by United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles.
UN4LA's mission is to bring communities together to plan for a sustainable future. Growth must be shaped by community engagement, not developer dollars.
L.A. IS LOSING ITS TREES
LA is losing its trees. While elected officials talk about the importance of the urban forest and pay lip service to sustainability, we're losing the most effective tool we have to fight rising temperatures. The photo above was taken by an activist witnessing the recent removal of 11 liquid amber trees on Sunnyslope Avenue. The City of LA said it had to cut the trees down as part of its Sidewalk Repair Program, and claimed that they were in poor health. Tree activists disagreed and showed up to document what they felt was an unjustified assault on the neighborhood.
But this is minor compared to the massive number of trees that have come down recently or will be coming down in the near future. The Los Angeles Unified School District plans to cut down 48 trees at Grant High School as part of a campus upgrade. Ninety mature trees will be felled as part of a makeover of the Sportsmen's Lodge. Harvard-Westlake School plans to remove scores of trees as part of its plan to turn the former Weddington Golf Course into an athletic facility. And Universal Studios continues to bulldoze hundreds of trees, including protected native species, in the course of its years-long expansion plan.
How can we reverse this trend? Click on the link to learn more.
LA Is Losing Its Trees
LATEST TWISTS IN DISTRICT SQUARE DRAMA
The massive District Square project, a mixed-use complex planned for the intersection of Crenshaw and Obama Boulevards, is the subject of an appeal filed by the Crenshaw Subway Coalition. The project has a long and complicated history, with the first application filed almost a decade ago, and several changes occurring over the years. The most recent version, which includes 577 residential units, shops, restaurants and a grocery store, was approved in June.
District Square's story has been been pretty twisted. Developers Arman and Mark Gabay, of the Charles Co., originally had strong support from Councilmember Herb Wesson, and they managed to secure over $30 million dollars in Federal grants and loans for the project, but at present they're in default on $6 million of those loans. It also couldn't have helped things that Arman Gabay was charged with felony bribery and wire fraud in 2018. He's accused of having made monthly payments to an employee in LA County's real estate division. Apparently this was too much even for Wesson, who has been trying to distance himself from the developers. Interestingly, just before the project was approved, Charles Co. floated a ground lease on the site, which makes you wonder if they have the money to actually build anything. You can read more in these two articles from Curbed and The Real Deal.
Crenshaw Subway Coalition Appeals District Square Development
Charles Co. Shops Ground Lease on Unbuilt South LA Project
PROMENADE PROJECT DRAWS APPEALS FROM BOTH SIDES
Toward the end of July the City of LA approved the massive Promenade 2035 Project In Warner Center. Not long after, the decision drew two appeals, one from a local community group and one from the developer. Gina Thornburg, founder of Coalition for Valley Neighborhoods, is challenging the project due to its lack of affordable housing and the inclusion of a multipurpose stadium. Developer Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield is appealing the City's decision to downsize the stadium from 15,000 seats to 7,500. This article from The Real Deal offers more details.
Billion-Dollar Warner Center Megaproject Faces Another Hurdle
L.A.'S FORMER DIRECTOR OF PLANNING HIT WITH ETHICS FINE
There are good reasons why we have laws to restrict lobbying by former city officials. But apparently Michael LoGrande, LA's former Director of Planning, didn't think those laws applied to him. Almost immediately after stepping down from his post, LoGrande was back at City Hall, now lobbying city officials on behalf of private clients. Is it any wonder citizens are cynical about the development process in LA?
Former LA Planning Director Faces $281,000 Ethics Fine from LA Times
While He Was Illegally Lobbying, Former LA Official Was Also Getting Paid by City Hall from LA Times