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  • Scott Plante

Erewhon, Traffic Concerns, and Oversized Housing



Delivery truck and cars blocking median along Santa Monica Boulevard.

7:45 a.m., March 13


By Scott D. Plante, AIA, Architect, Member of the Silver Lake Urban Design and

Preservation Committee Co-founder, Silver Lake Together


Manzanita Street is a typical residential street in Silver Lake, ending at Santa Monica Boulevard just west of Sunset Junction. The residential fabric is composed of three-story condominiums, one- and - two-story homes, and small apartment buildings. Bulan, a long-established vegetarian Thai restaurant, anchors one of the corners of Manzanita as it meets Santa Monica. In 2020, the upscale market Erewhon opened on the ground floor of a new three-story building that has 41 apartments above. Designed by Shubin Donaldson, the building has an interesting façade of metal panels and anchors the north side of Santa Monica Boulevard. Outdoor dining and a small pedestrian-scaled plaza activate the street and improve the walking experience from Hoover to Sunset. While Erewhon has been a popular addition to the community, the market has come at a cost to the immediate neighborhood. Delivery trucks, Ubers and food delivery service vehicles clog the Santa Monica Boulevard median at all hours of the day.


These vehicles create a pedestrian and traffic problem at the intersection of Manzanita. The vehicles parked in the median obstruct the view of west-turning traffic from Manzanita. Pedestrians and delivery people ignore crosswalks and cross the street at all locations, creating even more havoc. Finally, food delivery services also park at the end of Manzanita coming and going at all times, adding one more level of congestion.


Recently, a large apartment building was proposed for 1030 Manzanita Street. The project proposes to tear down three, approximately 100-year old single family homes currently gracing a landscaped hillside. The five-to seven-story-project would fill the entire site, and require extensive excavation at significant cost and more vehicular traƯic to an already congested intersection that has serious safety concerns. The 50+ unit project is utilizing TOC guidelines to add five units of extra low income housing, a worthy goal. But at what cost to our neighborhood, considering the complexity of the site?


A group of homeowners recently formed a group to work with the developer and the City to come up with solutions for this beleaguered intersection. Which raises the question: why aren’t neighbors more involved in coming to solutions with developers and the impact they have on their neighborhoods?


Responsible development is important. We all want our neighborhoods to improve and provide more jobs and housing. Nevertheless, our neighborhoods should not be faced with out-of-scale-projects being dumped in them, while overburdened infrastructure is not addressed. We look forward to seeing if the work group is successful and becomes a model for future solutions.


Read the article here.
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