Developer Withdraws Casitas Project in Win for L.A. River

The proposed luxury lofts did not provide nearly enough affordable housing to address the city’s affordability crisis. 

Credit: Photo by Gina Clyne for Clockshop

After years of organized community opposition, the proposed luxury L.A. River–adjacent development known locally as Casitas Lofts is no more. Last week, Los Angeles City Councilmember Gilbert Cedillo informed his constituents and the public through his newsletter that the Casitas property has been sold and the proposed mixed-use development is being withdrawn from consideration. NRDC and our coalition partners were able to confirm with the Los Angeles Department of City Planning that the project’s entitlement and other related applications have been withdrawn and that the City has stopped all work related to the project. The sale of the Casitas Lofts land parcel to Rexford Industrial appears to signal that the space will remain in its current state of industrial use. The defeat of this development project is a win for LA River-adjacent communities and all Angelenos, demonstrating the community’s impressive advocacy power.

As described in previous blog posts (here and here), the proposed Casitas Lofts project would have been situated at the north end of what is now known as the 100 Acre Partnership, a complex of public lands including the G2 and Bowtie Parcels along the L.A. River. 

Our broad, multi-sector coalition of community advocates organized against this luxury development because of the long list of detrimental impacts it would have on future public open space, the river, and the existing residents who live in this neighborhood. Our coalition—which includes NRDC, Friends of the LA River (FoLAR), Clockshop, and hundreds of local residents and representatives of other local organizations—tenaciously tracked the proposed development of this site, organizing opposition around the proposal. 

Throughout 2019 and early 2020 the coalition held public events and appealed to our members and activists to sign up for alerts on the project, speak up at public forums about their concerns, and stand up for a future of the LA River that is inclusive, equitable, and a public resource to long-time residents. In spring of 2020, our coalition and local residents submitted more than 400 public comment letters opposing and expressing deep concerns about this project. 

Credit: Concerned residents attend a workshop to learn about the environmental review process for the Casitas project

We opposed this project because of the negative impacts the development would have on the future development of parklands in this stretch of the L.A. River. As we explained previously, the proposed luxury lofts did not provide nearly enough affordable housing to address the city’s affordability crisis. The project also would have had major traffic impacts in this area, which is deprived of reliable public transportation.

This is a win that we all can celebrate. In the words of our coalition partner Marissa Christiansen, President & CEO of FoLAR, “the proposed Casitas Lofts was the wrong project in the wrong place in this stretch of the LA River that promises such a verdant future. The Glendale Narrows is where we can realize climate responsive park spaces and design with the river, instead of against it, to increase the resilience of local communities as they face the climate challenges ahead.”

Our coalition partner Julia Meltzer, founder of and now Senior Advisor to Clockshop, describes a troubling dynamic that we were able to head off here. She explains that “we have seen a familiar pattern in our city that when green space is fought for by community members and then developed, the real estate hawks then swoop in for a land grab to develop luxury housing adjacent to a new park. Our coalition has successfully blocked this trajectory, at least for the moment.”

While the Casitas Lofts project is dead, our coalition and community members will stand steadfast in protecting green space along the river, fighting for equity and more affordable housing so our riverfront remains accessible for all Angelenos.

Many thanks to FoLAR’s Michael Atkins for his contributions to this post and the campaign. The coalition is also grateful to Rémy De La Peza with morena strategies and many other individuals and organizations for their partnership, support, and generosity.

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