DEVELOPER THREATENS BELOVED CRENSHAW COMMUNITY GARDEN

JUNE20garden1web2You may have passed Crenshaw Community Garden at 1423 Crenshaw, on the west side between Pico and Venice. Established in 1979, Crenshaw CG is one of the oldest community gardens in Los Angeles.

A green oasis in a dense urban neighborhood, the garden boasts 36 plots and 50 gardeners, many of them seniors who share seeds and vegetables with each other and with their families, friends, and churches. People from South Korea, Bangladesh, Latin America, Europe, and all over the United States learn about each other's culinary traditions. The garden is one of the “third places” (not home or work) where people meet face-to-face in a spirit of harmony.

It also has a ripple effect in the community as neighbors often come by to ask about gardening at home, or to enjoy the sight of nature in bloom as birds, bees, and butterflies visit. In our Mediterranean climate, gardeners can grow broccoli, cabbage and peas throughout the winter, along with the traditional trio of tomatoes, corn and squash in the summer. On the street, drought-tolerant Western Redbud trees flush pink in the spring, and provide shade for pedestrians throughout the year.

But now the garden is at serious risk of being destroyed. The new owner of the lot to the south, 1433-37 Crenshaw (which currently houses a 30-foot Craftsman house) is planning to build a 67-foot-tall, 30-unit, six-story apartment building which is 22 feet higher than the original zoning, It is not only grossly out of scale with the local architecture, but it would block out the sun, making the garden no longer viable.

JUNE20garden2webAdditionally, it would have 30 apartments, with only three (10%) for low-income residents. Of the apartments, 28 would be 3-bedroom, and only two would be low income, 2-bedroom. The proposal also includes a 21% reduction in the required open space. Per code, the proposed building is only 10 feet from the garden's south lot line, and has front and rear setbacks of only 15 feet from the lot lines.

Until recently, the zoning law only allowed a five-story building with setbacks. Although the garden would be impacted, and plots moved around, a five-story apartment building would allow the garden to continue. But when the voters passed Measure JJJ in 2016 requiring the Department of City Planning to create a program to incentivize the construction of affordable housing near transit, the planners created what they call “Transit Oriented Community” (TOC) incentives that allow buildings with 10% affordable units to be bigger and wider, and closer to the property line. So allowing three out of 30 apartments to become “low income” has given the developers the power to invade the culture and community.

By the way, the term “Transit Oriented Community” does not mean that the buildings that receive these incentives must serve tenants who use public transportation. The name refers only to the location of a building: within half a mile of a rail line or major bus line.

Gardeners need at least 6 hours of sun a day for gardening to be worthwhile. The more sun, the better. (Only a very few garden plants like shade.) The gardeners believe they can survive with the lesser shade from a 45-foot building if they move some garden elements around. Unfortunately, Los Angeles has no law or ordinance that protects existing gardens from excessive shade.

Crenshaw Boulevard is low-rise, with all buildings three stories or under. The proposed six-story building is in the middle of the block. If you are concerned about the future of the Crenshaw corridor, pay attention. Now is the time to say something.

CALL TO ACTION

If you want to help keep Crenshaw CG alive, there are two things you can do.

send an email to:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In the "Subject" line, put

“Regarding File DIR-2019-1006-TOC, ENV-2019-1007-EAF.”

1 - Tell them your connection to the neighborhood and say why you support Crenshaw Community Garden.

2 - Tell them that you disapprove the TOC incentives for the 1433-37 Crenshaw Blvd. property and do not approve the set back, the reduction of open space, and the 22' additional height of the building.

Contact info:

Vincent P. Bertoni, AICP

Director of City Planning

200 N. Spring Street, Room #525

Los Angeles, CA 90012

Also, please contact the Mid-City Neighborhood Council at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. (They are on hiatus for COVID-19.) Tell them you are a neighbor, and you want Crenshaw Community Garden to continue, and that the 1433-37 Crenshaw Blvd development should be scaled back to 45 feet with no TOC incentives.

To be put on the mailing list for the MINC board meeting and/or any hearings at City Hall about the development, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Also see Crenshawcommunitygarden.wordpress.com. We’ll update that website as things develop.
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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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