CASITAS LOFTS / TRUE NORTH LANDING
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RE: Casitas Lofts aka True North Landing
2800 W. Casitas Ave. ENV-2016-2862-EIR
Dear Ms. Strelich,
I have numerous concerns about the Casitas Lofts project, aka True North Landing. Their DEIR doesn’t fully express the level of mitigation required for a project this size, in this particular area.
The physical geography of these 5.6 acres will forcefully overwhelm the small neighborhood just to the north. This portion of Atwater Village, wedged between Fletcher Drive and the 2 freeway, is comprised of mostly single-family dwellings on standard residential streets. The traffic, noise, light pollution and auto emissions generated by this project would decimate the character of this community and negatively impact its population.
The planned zone change (to CM-1) allowing an increased density to accommodate a project of this magnitude is ill conceived. Access to this property is restricted and there is no emergency access road that’s feasible. The option of taking public property for private use by building out a road through open parkland should never be allowed. This area of Northeast LA is rated as park poor. Glassell Park, where this project resides, has .96 acres of parkland per 1,000 people. Atwater Village has just .09 acres per 1,000 when the City average is 3.3 acres per 1,000. We cannot afford to give over our precious open space to benefit a private developer. The most appropriate zoning for this parcel, when viewed in context to its surroundings, is [Q]PF-1-CDO-RIO.
The Casitas project sits on land contaminated by the toxins that remain from its former use as a rail yard. The Human Risk Assessment (HHRA) compiled by Enviro-Tox Services January 28, 2016 for the developers of this project followed standards that are now outdated. Instead, the contaminate level testing should be compiled by the State of Ca. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment using more stringent and updated standards. Using outdated standards would be risking the health of both workers and residents.
The Casitas project would threaten to reverse decades of community-led efforts to restore the LA River. Our section of the LA River has been designated for concrete removal and, with that, the revitalization of a riparian ecosystem and the restoration of natural habitat. Nature does not stop at a property line. The altering of this parcel, part of which exist within a designated flood plain, would bisect restoration efforts and place future residents in jeopardy as this project sits in the path of the 50 year flood zone.
The proposed Casitas project is grossly out of scale with its surroundings. With an 85’ tall parking structure and buildings 5 stories high, it will set a dangerous precedent in this sensitive area. This level of density will have its residents spilling into Bowtie State Park, turning that public space into the personal playground of the affluent. It also stands to incentivize other developers who seek to maximize their profits by taking advantage of the proximity to public land and disregarding the damage inflicted on the character of the community they invade.
Despite the developers’ meager attempt to provide affordable housing, a density bonus that allowed them to add another 109 market rate units, this project is a clear example of gentrification. It will set the ball in motion for other developers to look at the small neighborhood to the north of Casitas as an opportunity to displace and replace. This will trigger rental costs in the area to soar.
The transportation study in the DEIR states this project will add over 2,000 daily car trips through the small Atwater Village neighborhood and nearby already over-burdened streets. This massive flow of traffic will spill onto Fletcher Drive. Vehicles heading west will encounter the already existing traffic jam on San Fernando Road (SFR). There are 6 schools within a 1⁄2 mile radius of this intersection. A project consisting of 370 units has been approved for SFR just south of the 2 freeway. Also, DWP will be relocating many of their employees to a building just north of this intersection.
At SFR, Fletcher Drive has one lane for each of three directions. The back-up to turn right, to the 2 freeway or taking SFR into downtown, will be shared with the vehicles dropping off students at Van De Kamps which will force both groups to share the one congested lane.
Currently there is a designated left turn signal for vehicles traveling East and West at this intersection. This has done little to alleviate the traffic jams. And even if a designated left turn is added to the traffic traveling North and South it will be of little help to diminish the impacts of all the added vehicles.
I (we) request your response to the unacceptably weak mitigation levels offered in this DEIR for the following elements:
*The effects of increased noise, light pollution, and vehicle emissions.
*The effects of population density on the character of the adjacent neighborhood.
*How the zone change is appropriate for this parcel knowing it will set precedent for gentrification in this area?
*How the mass and scale of this project is suited to its location?
*How can an outdated and inadequate test for toxins can be acceptable?
*How you can justify the level of impacts that 2,000+ vehicle trips a day will have on the small neighborhood to the immediate north?
*How you can justify the level of impacts that 2,000+ vehicle trips a day will have on the already congested intersections of Fletcher Dr. and SFR and Fletcher Dr. and Riverside Dr., as well as the 2 and 5 Freeway off-ramps?
*What studies have been done in coordination with the Army Corp of Engineers, State Parks, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority and all involved groups and organizations engaged with the ecology of the area and the restoration of the L.A.River?
*Have you taken the most stringent reports on the 50 and 100 year flood plain for this site?
*The DEIR does not justify, to any acceptable level, the massive traffic increase at the two intersections impacted off Fletcher Drive. How will they be appropriately mitigated?
All these issues have not found a reasonable mitigation within the DEIR. Therefore, the proposed project should NOT proceed.
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