Unfortunate news in the Menlo development case: The city's Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) office on Tuesday rejected an appeal launched by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to protect a trail that serves as a wildlife passage from Griffith Park to Elysian Park. The trail, which snakes around above Riverside Drive, is featured in the Community Plan for the area, but the developer who wants to build 120 condos successfully argued (apparently with any supporting evidence) that it was "random." Plenty of irony in this persuasive little word: for one that we could be seeing random wildlife running to their deaths on the 2 Freeway and other major thoroughfares next time there's a fire or any other reason for the animals to roam. The ruling also devalues Community Plans all over Los Angeles. What good is a Community Master Plan if its elements can randomly be called random? Diane Edwardson calls it the Chewbacca Defense.
In any case, the trail is anything but random: It's the only undeveloped place on the south side of the L.A. River and the 5 Freeway where animals can cross safely. Also, it may not look like much but, according to an L.A. Times article forwarded to me by Paul Edelman of SMMC, it is part of a planned trail that would run from Olvera Street to the ocean, which is one reason for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to be involved. Not to mention they care about bobcats, deer, even coyotes.
Next step is coming up quick: The full city council will consider the matter on May 19, taking PLUM's decision in favor of the developer under advisement.
Diane Edwardson gives a fuller description in Corralitas Red Car Project.