Mixed feelings on development

I moved to Mt Washington a year ago because I loved the open lots and twisty roads. They reminded me of San Francisco hills without cramming a house in every space possible. I love knowing the best make-out street in LA (with views of sparkling downtown). I love the views of the river, the observatory, the hillsides of wildflowers in the sun. I love seeing hawks above my house and raccoons at night. Apparently there are coyotes in the canyon (I’ve heard them, but never seen them) and even a pair of white-tailed deer have recently been spotted a few blocks from my house. It’s a neighborhood you wouldn’t expect to find in LA – filled with tall Cypress and Pine and the occasional rooster.

But that is changing. Three new houses have gone up on my block in the past year and there’s been much construction traffic for remodeling. For sale signs are being refreshed in the open lots. Blacktop crumbles into the hillside leaving barely 1 lane for a car to pass. The concrete is patched, broken and bumpy. Trash and UPS trucks can barely make the corners around my block (the street sign is constantly snapped off). More than one cement truck has dropped its load right outside my house and slid down the hill crashing into neighbors’ cars.

And more houses are planned to be built. The entrance to the canyon has been bought by a developer who plans to build three houses. The lots being near vertical slopes filled with mature walnut trees – not to mention these lots are at the end of a steep narrow road – a road that would find few rivals in LA, but many friends in San Francisco.

Many neighbors are fighting the development. I support the idea of buying a lot and developing it. It’s something _I_ would do. But since I live in the neighborhood and have lived through the bang and disruption of construction, it’s something I personally don’t want. In reality, the neighborhood infrastructure can’t support this expanded development. The roads are narrow and steep and big vehicles have a lot of trouble navigating the streets. (A UPS truck recently backed into my car when it was parked across the street from my house.) There is no way a fire truck could make it up here quickly – let alone a 24 foot moving truck. The neighborhood is one of LA’s best kept secrets. I myself found out about it only by chance. But, like many magical things I find, I want to share it – but not to the point of destroying the magic. Come to the future for lunch or a party, but please don’t build here.

So I have mixed feelings. I love the eclectic openness of my neighborhood, but that’s changing (along with my Porsche loving yuppie-hipster neighbors). So do I fight or move on?

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8 Replies to “Mixed feelings on development”

  1. you should post pictures of your neighborhood up, it sounds like an interesting place minus the construction madness.

  2. Unfortunately redevelopment of areas goes in waves and though you have mixed feelings about it I don’t think there is a choice.

    I myself live on a small windy road near griffith park, with much of the same wild life as you see (and I even see my coyote, yes just 1). Even though construction here is a huge hassle since I get blocked in my street and they leave debris everywhere in the end I am always happy with the result. Something new clean and beautiful to look at. Also the movement into your neighborhood could bring a new energy and a demographic shift. Its only natural.

  3. Mt. Washington isn’t much of a secret as many, many LATimes staffers live there and the late Jack Smith wrote about it very often. Most people who buy houses in LA know about it, renters and young people don’t so much. The local elementary school is one of LAUSD’s better efforts.

    But, if you don’t like infill, then you must like sprawl. Those are the choices.

  4. “I love knowing the best make-out street in LA (with views of sparkling downtown).”

    Ironically, this is the very same spot that the Hillside Strangler dumped one of his Mt. Washington victims.

  5. RCL: when I tell people where I live: Mt Washington no body has ever heard of it – or if it is even in LA. It’s well known around certain circles, but it is certainly not widely known.

    DJ: I’m not surprised. Last year there was a gang shooting a few blocks from the house.

  6. Holy crap. I think we live on the same street – I know we definitely live on the same piece of mountain. There are two construction sites up the street from me and someone is building a HUGE 3 story dream house with garage and swimmin’ pool right next to me. The construction trailer is parked right next to my house and makes my property look so crappy…

    People keep telling me though when the house is done it will improve the face of the entire street but we had to put up with nearly 2 years of horrible noise and inconvenience! (And it ain’t done yet.) (And they knocked out the phone lines once.)

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