23 Jul Casitas Lofts Threatens 100 acres of open space
The River community and FoLAR have been monitoring a proposed private development that threatens our shared vision of open space on the River for the public. The “Casitas Lofts” project, situated south of the 2 Freeway in Glassell Park, presents an obstacle at the north end of what should be 100 continuous acres of open space on the River. This luxury development seeks to privatize decades of public planning and investment in river restoration and chokes off public access.
FoLAR opposes the Casitas Lofts project as is, and continues to drive community participation to sign our petition calling for 100 continuous acres of open space. SIGN OUR PETITION TODAY – and share with others so we can show decision-makers our unified and robust public opposition.
We oppose the Casitas Lofts project for a number of critical reasons. Firstly, we stand with the adjacent neighborhood councils and other nonprofits who believe this development is the wrong fit for their neighborhood and residents. The private development firm has offered a pittance of affordable units in this 419 unit complex – and only as a way to access more density for its project; at the height of the housing crisis the public cannot stand by while private interests profit hand over fist. You can read more about the issue of green gentrification on our partner NRDC’s blog. Additionally this site is in a historic floodplain, adjacent to a freeway, and has narrow entry and exit passageways – points noted by our fellow community members who question the appropriateness of any residential project at this site. Ultimately, this private development has shirked its responsibility to develop something that serves the community and sets a dangerous precedent should a private equity firm capitalize on the community efforts to deliver River restoration.
What are we going to do about it? Sign FoLAR’s petition, sign up for email updates on our home page, and sign on to our forthcoming DEIR response as we mobilize opposition to this project until it serves the public’s interest.
A few notes about process – this development has been making slow progress through the City’s development and entitlements process. Part of that process requires compliance with California’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which, in this case, requires an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to be publicly released. EIRs examine the environmental impacts of proposed development projects; they also provide community efforts like ours the window to formally engage and publicly comment.
FoLAR has been leading a community coalition in opposition and is prepared to draft a formal Draft EIR (DEIR) comment letter articulating the finer points of our opposition when the DEIR is released – expected to be in the very near future. We invite all community members and community organizations to sign on to our DEIR comment letter at that time.
This past June, the developer presented to our neighbors at the Glassell Park Neighborhood Council’s Planning & Land Use Committee. We made a point to attend and observe, and raise our objections – as did many other concerned residents and stakeholders.
Thanks to all the stewards who attended and stood with FoLAR – this is the end of the beginning for this project and we’ll have action alerts on behalf of 100 continuous acres of open space.
Here’s a quick rundown of what else we learned at the meeting:
- First, you can listen to the meeting recording on our Soundcloud – listen in here.
- The developers presented a design will minimal changes since the last meeting (Fall 2018). You can view their presentation here: Bow Tie Landing Presentation.
- Developers acknowledged this is a highly complicated site – one of our excellent docents called this out: “perhaps the complications indicate housing is not appropriate for this site.”
- For their part, the developer’s representative cast the project as not a housing development, but a “parks amenities project with housing elements”. This is disingenuous and misleading – if the public must pass through private property it will always be an impediment to public access.
- Read FoLAR’s Public Access Guidelines online, to understand how we measure appropriate projects and guard against the loss of access to our natural resource.
- The project site is zoned for public facilities – like, a River park, perhaps? – codifying the city’s intention and community’s desire to see this parcel related to the adjacent open space.