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Threat to Balance of Fairfax Area

December 24, 1989

Bravo to Sam Hall Kaplan in capturing the essence of the Fairfax neighborhood and the threat to its "sense of place" as we've known it ("Sensitivity Needed to Retain Fairfax Area's Sense of Place," Dec. 17).

While it has been the soul of L.A.'s Jewish community for more than five decades, the Fairfax area has also been home to a mixture of age groups and income levels, all living in the same neighborhood. This is a unique phenomenon in Los Angeles.

In particular, Fairfax has provided a "senior-friendly" environment for a growing elderly population and affordable housing and social services have been the area's mainstay. It has also been a neighborhood in which young couples and families have chosen to start their lives together.

Through the years, there has been a delicate balance between the availability of affordable housing and the pressures of gentrification, which prices low- and middle-income persons out of their homes and apartments.

There has also been a balance between neighborhood-oriented commercial shops (e.g. Fairfax between Beverly and Melrose) and regional needs such as the May Co. Wilshire store or the old Ohrbach's. It is this balance that is fundamentally threatened by the two development projects being proposed by Farmers Market and Forest City Dillon (Park La Brea).

Clearly, a major new regional retail mall, three high-rise office buildings, two new hotels, and more than 2,300 new residential units in Third and Fairfax area would be a mortal blow to one of the great neighborhoods in the United States.

Fairfax area streets cannot possibly absorb the added 50,000 automobile trips that would be generated, and the socio-economic balance of the neighborhood cannot survive the pressures of gentrification which would ensue.

The city, the neighborhood and the developer of these two projects need to plan the future of these properties together and with sensitivity toward that which makes Fairfax unique. To accomplish this, the developers must first set their sights much lower as to what is the appropriate intensity of development at the strategic corner of 3rd and Fairfax.


Councilman, 5th District

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