Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Opinion: Statement on Housing Density, Neighborhood Preservation, and Tolerance

 

The following opinion piece was submitted by a Buzz reader and does not necessarily represent the official positions of the Larchmont Buzz. We welcome occasional editorials from readers on a wide range of issues.

 

By Daniel Tellalian, Carthay Circle Resident

 

Carthay Circle is a charming, historic, forward-thinking neighborhood in the middle of an overcrowded and housing-starved City. Our history, unsurprisingly, reinforces our views on development. Our community turns 100 years old shortly, something we will celebrate proudly. Many of our residential blocks have pristine century-old homes, lovingly restored and protected by a longstanding HPOZ championed by Carthay residents decades ago when a number of single-family homes were razed to build bigger, modern mansion-style homes. Carthay Circle also demonstrates good urban planning: our lot size is modest; our utility lines buried, public walking paths are tucked in between private lots to allow cut-through pedestrian flow, pocket parks predating the concept, and other progressive planning ideas. Many Carthay residents walk to school, temple, museums, and local retail instead of joining the congested swarm of Mid-City streets. We do not build walls or gates around our homes. We anxiously await new Metro stations and the millions of visitors they will bring. Yet we also remain scarred and saddened by the demolition of the historic Carthay Theater in the name of progress, wishing better development decisions had been made in decades past.

Our residents are neither immune nor untouched by the heartbreaking state of homelessness, the extreme cost of housing, and the wisdom of building denser, transit-oriented communities in Los Angeles. Our children, friends, and co-workers need to live here. Indeed only some of our residents are homeowners, and many Carthay renters are equally vulnerable to economic conditions and a tight housing market. We believe, and affirm, that Carthay Circle can do its share to dramatically increase our neighborhood density. We can accept density and, perhaps more importantly, we invite greater affordability and income diversity within Carthay. We are not Hancock Park. We are not Beverly Hills, and we don’t aspire to be. We are Carthay Circle. And candidly, it would be refreshing not to be painted as a caricature by either side of the housing fight, and to be accepted for who we are.

I speak for nobody but myself, but I believe that my views represent the consensus of my neighbors and the community. I would hope that our neighborhood association and neighborhood council could express similar views. In light of our proud history, the current state of housing crisis we find ourselves in, and a spirit of community, I encourage Carthay Circle residents and institutions to endorse the following set of policies that I believe meet our local and regional needs:

1. I encourage vertical housing development on our commercial corridors – particularly on Wilshire, Fairfax, and La Cienega – to create the majority of new units in Carthay Circle. In particular, I envision many hundreds of new units on our northern border in connection with new transit infrastructure.

2. I encourage housing affordability. I support the passage of an inclusionary housing ordinance citywide and its enforcement within Carthay Circle. I support density bonuses when affordability is included in a project in accordance with current law.

3. I encourage 100% affordable housing developments on remaining Metro-owned properties once the Purple (D) Line is complete.

4. I don’t believe that new housing requires excessive onsite parking in a transit-oriented community. Build more units in the same envelope. I support lightly-parked housing developments, especially on Wilshire.

5. I support by-right ADU creation in our R1 districts, effectively turning all single-family properties into duplexes. Those ADUs should comply with HPOZ design standards in support of neighborhood character.

6. I proudly support the homeless services agencies operating in our neighborhood. I do not believe homelessness should be criminalized, but that the unhoused should maintain clean, safe, and orderly communities in our public and underutilized spaces.

7. I believe in the architectural preservation of our historic neighborhood during the process of densification, as a lasting gift to Los Angeles. I continue to support the longstanding HPOZ design guidelines and protections legislated by city ordinance. I also support the Mills Act property tax subsidy that allows qualifying homeowners to invest in rehabilitation and preserve historic homes.

8. I support expert review of Carthay Circle as a contributing Historic District and our nomination and inclusion into the National Register.

9. I support all new westbound rail infrastructure through Carthay that is underground, and reject all rail infrastructure that is at-grade or aerial along San Vicente.

10. I support a gradual neighborhood transition to more non-motorized transportation infrastructure (bike lanes, walking paths, lane reductions, safer street crossings) in the public right of way, and the gradual reduction of street parking, once broader acceptance of public transit is demonstrated.

11. I reject proposed state legislation that eliminates single family zoning near transportation options in a blanket fashion that does not acknowledge neighborhood character.

12.  I reject the modification and expansion of single-family home footprints, even if design- approved by the HPOZ. I find the mansionization of historic neighborhoods bad policy, unless the home is adding a second unit (ADU or duplex) or current residents demonstrate insufficient space to comfortably live (say, under 750sf per resident).

Please don’t confuse Carthay’s pride in neighborhood character with entrenchment, privilege, racism. We are no more elitist NIMBYs than housing advocates are shills for developers. And please don’t label our invitation of development, affordable residential development, as a vague threat to our existence. We desire a community that is beautiful, inclusive, diverse in culture and income, well-planned, and around for another 100 years. We are disappointed in state legislators painting us with a broad brush, and equally disappointed in our local electeds who can’t stand tall for affordable housing. Sadly, we live in an era of tribalism and picking sides. As we plan our city, I encourage everyone to take a breath, listen to our nuanced view, and our appeal for moderation.

 

Daniel Tellalian is the founder of Angel City Advisors and a recognized social entrepreneur and an impact investor.  He has lived in Carthay Circle for 11 years, relocating from the Crenshaw District, and has contributed to a number of local and regional civic projects.  Daniel speculates he is the only Puerto Rican Armenian in Los Angeles.

 

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Turning all single family houses into duplexes. Is this guy on crack? Destroy the integrity of a house? You must be joking…

    • Hi Stephanie,

      Daniel is not proposing the conversion of single family homes into duplexes.

      He is suggesting that ADU’s can and should be built to increase density. ADUs, or auxillary dwelling units, are essentially backyard units. Hope this helps clarify : )

  2. Thank you for representing Carthay Circle in such a thoughtful and real way. Please know that my family and I whole-heartedly share the values you outline here.
    We did contribute to the Historic Registry campaign, and strongly believe that preserving neighborhoods like Carthay, while also supporting density (esp on transit corridors!), affordable housing/support and love for those experiencing homelessness in our community and beyond, smart transit infrastructure that gets us out of our cars and that gets us moving and communing – on foot, on our bikes, and in gardens (at our neighborhood public schools : ) – that preservation and progress are not mutually exclusive ideas.
    We hope that your words resonate and that they spark a movement towards camaraderie around these ideas.
    Teresa Dahl
    Carthay Circle Resident

  3. Thank you, Daniel, for so cogently articulating what so many of us in Carthay Circle think and feel. Proud to live in this historic neighborhood that is really the heart of Los Angeles–and proud to help make it a model of urban living for the future.

  4. Thank you, Daniel, for such a thoughful and well-articulated piece in the Larchmont Buzz.

    It touched on so many of the concerns as well as the wonderful aspects of Carthay and we should defintiely all feel very proud to be part of this fine neighborhood and support what you have articulated so well.

    Maybe our next CCNA Newsletter can include the article. It is so relevant for all our neighbors.

    Thank you, Daniel.

  5. Thanks, Daniel, for bringing common sense and pragmatism to a situation that, to this point, has been dealt with only through fearmongering and hyperbole. Carthay Circle will be preserved, but yes, we can handle the density increase––as can the entire Wilshire corridor. Well done.

  6. Thank you, Daniel, for outlining so succinctly what I have always felt about this neighborhood — I have lived in Carthay Circle since 1972. When my parents bought here and not in the valley or the new sprawling suburbs, it was specifically because Carthay WAS a part of a vibrant city with walkable streets and close to services, shopping, leisure activities and more. I look forward to intentional development along our major corridors and new and affordable housing to bring more people across the cultural and socio-economic spectrum into the neighborhood. That enhances my neighborhood and enriches my life here in this city. It is incumbent on us to continue to be a part of the city and not apart from the city.

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