Photo of Saddle Ridge Fire from BBC News, October 2019.
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.
MORE HOMES LOST, AND L.A. CONTINUES TO APPROVE PROJECTS IN FIRE-PRONE AREAS
As fires rage again in LA County, it's hard not to ask the question, "Why do we keep building in fire prone areas?" Nineteen homes were destroyed in the Saddle Ridge Fire, and scores more were damaged. A dozen homes burned in the Getty Fire. This should be no surprise. Wide swaths of the areas where these blazes burned, Sylmar, Porter Ranch, Brentwood, have been designated as Very High Fire Severity Zones by the City of LA. In spite of this, the Department of City Planning (DCP) continues to approve new projects in these areas. Not long ago the DCP greenlighted a project in Porter Ranch called the Vineyards that includes 266 apartments, a 100-room hotel and a Kaiser medical office building.
And then there are the projects approved under LA City's Transit-Oriented Communities (TOC) Guidelines. TOC projects are fast-tracked, speeding through the review process, and nobody at City Hall seems to care that some of them are located in Very High Fire Severity Zones. In light of the recent destruction, the loss of homes and the chaos caused by evacuations, should we continue to build in places where the risk of fire is high?
Last year, when much of the State was ablaze, the LA Times published an analysis of structures at high fire risk in California. The study shows there are over 100,000 buildings in high hazard zones in Los Angeles, including homes located in the Valley, on the Westside and in the Santa Monica, Santa Susana and San Gabriel Mountains. If you haven't already seen it, it's worth taking a look.
A Million California Buildings Face Wildfire Risk
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS TO REMOVE SCORES OF OAK AND WALNUT TREES FOR EXPANSION
On Friday, October 18, the Board of Public Works voted to allow Universal Studios to remove 112 trees from their grounds, including 63 California Black Walnut and 49 Coast Live Oak trees. This comes on the heels of the removal of scores of trees for the redevelopment of the Sportsmen's Lodge site, and dozens more from the Grant High School campus.
At the hearing, Board President Kevin James emphasized that Universal has a plan to replace the trees at a ratio of 4 to 1, but didn't acknowledge that it will take decades for the new trees to deliver the same ecosystem services as the existing woodlands. Nor did James, or any of the other Commissioners, seem concerned about the loss of wildlife habitat.
The City of LA has allowed the removal of thousands of trees in recent years, without monitoring the loss of tree canopy or impacts with regard to increased temperatures, degraded air quality, and reduced groundwater recharge. Mayor Garcetti speaks often about his plans for a sustainable LA, but his actions are in stark contrast to his claims. The Board of Public Works vote on the Universal trees was disturbing, but predictable. Just another reminder that real estate interests call the shots at City Hall. Trees, brush, birds and animals are all expendable.
DEVELOPER USES INNOVATIVE APPROACH TO SPEED CONSTRUCTION OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING
A building that will provide 84 affordable apartments is rising quickly at 166 S. Alvarado, thanks to an innovative approach to construction. The modular steel units that are being used to build Hope on Alvarado are manufactured in China, where construction takes place in a controlled environment, avoiding delays due to bad weather. Developer Aedis Real Estate Group says they expect to have the project completed early next year.
Modular Homeless Housing Rising in Westlake
URBANITES VS. SUBURBANITES: ARE THEIR LIFESTYLES REALLY SO DIFFERENT?
These days urban planners never seem to tire of telling us about the benefits of living in the central city as opposed to the suburbs. You can enjoy vibrant neighborhoods, a shorter commute and a more active lifestyle simply by embracing urbanism. But are city dwellers really that different from suburbanites? A new study by Eric A. Morris of Clemson University says they're more alike than we might think. Richard Florida breaks it down at CityLab.
Urban and Suburban Lifestyles Are More Similar Than You’d Think