The LA Times reports on the contentious fight between environmentalists, preservationists and property rights proponents in Northeast LA. The last remnants of open space in the hills to the north of Downtown are under threat from development which of course is uncool. Tomas Osinski, architect and property rights dude, wants no limits on development potential in the hills saying a proposed Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) infringes upon the rights of the people to do what they want with their plot of land, and it also makes ugly architecture.
When he learned of the interim control ordinance, Osinski was infuriated by its sweep, by its strict limits on floor space and grading, by the proliferation of well-intentioned but clunky design rules. Those rules, he says, discourage innovative architecture and substitute the aesthetic preferences of City Hall politicians and bureaucrats for homeowners who invest in their land and property. City rules regulate retaining walls, setbacks and building height in ways that discourage some excesses but also limit creative design, he noted. Height limits, for instance, regulate the overall distance between the peak and foot of a home. That prevents the construction of buildings that block neighbors' views but also discourages modest terracing by limiting how far down a hillside a home may extend. "We are mandated to design ugly buildings," he said.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, open space advocates see a need to slow down development that is chewing up the hillside with oversized, ugly homes and reducing the natural beauty and greenspace that Los Angeles has so little of. The tree ordinance, recently approved, is a first step in the battle to beat back development and protect the hillsides. However, opponents to new hillside development feel the ICO is necessary to slow things down so that new standards can be put in place before more development occurs. Osinski and his cohorts "seethed" at the passage of the tree ordinance and we can only imagine how pissed off they're going to be when they can't build their mcmansions on Elephant Hill.
(Image of Paradise Hill via North East LA Open Space Coalition) · A Battle for the High Ground [LA Times]