27 Mar March Casitas update: Draft EIR Workshop and Comment Letter Extension
Over 60 community members gathered on a Wednesday night in early March for the Casitas Lofts Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) Workshop, assembling a diverse array of opponents who believe this project is the wrong development at the wrong place. The event, hosted by FoLAR and including partners at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Clockshop, LA River State Park Partners, and other concerned neighbors, provided attendees with the opportunity to engage with the specific areas of contention our coalition is raising as we prepare our official response to City Planning.
Briefly these areas included:
- Traffic increases on already congested streets.
- A woeful absence of affordable units in a burdened community.
- Choking access to future park land on the River.
- Providing a private access road at the cost of public lands, which State Parks has already denied, read more.
- Loss of opportunity to expand open space related to adjacent State Park.
After providing an overview of the project status, attendees circulated through break out groups on each of the above listed subjects. Each breakout group was staffed with knowledgeable facilitators who both presented our strongest issues and received insights from community members with specific knowledge of their own streets and community. Armed with this knowledge, community members filed comment letters online using NRDC’s action portal and placed calls to their councilmembers and City Planning. To date, and with digital promotion after the event, FoLAR and our partners have generated over 200 comments of opposition to this project.
We hardly knew this would be one of the last public gatherings before increased social distancing and #SaferAtHome restrictions would force our community to protect one other by keeping our distance. Since the Mayor imposed those protections, all public meetings have gone remote and online, and all non-essential businesses have been ordered to close. COVID-19 restrictions have caused confusion as to how communities can properly engage with proposals like Casitas Lofts under diminished capacity to meet in public or access the DEIR at public libraries. The wrong project at the wrong place now became a consideration being held at the wrong time.
With City Council meetings available only online and remote, and extreme cautions in place to stem the spread of coronavirus, allies, like our friends at UCLA, have called on the City to halt Planning Department comment periods. City Planning demurred and granted an extension until April 13th, 2020. While this is an awkward time, and many among us are facing new challenges, it is imperative we continue to encourage opposition letters to be submitted online. YOU can still raise your voice and join in this community effort from the safety of your home – we need one another more than ever, and thank you for taking the time to join us in opposing Casitas Lofts.