A billion-dollar plan to restore the L.A. River has helped turn the small, riverside community of Frogtown into one of the city's hottest neighborhoods. Home prices are going up. Developers are buying riverfront property. All of this has long-time residents nervous.
"People are saying, ‘Our family grew up here and we’d like to still be here," said local artist Steven Appleton and former president of the neighborhood council.
Appleton said he's open to a plan by city planners to keep the neighborhood affordable and preserve residents' access to the river in the face of new development. The city's Department of City Planning is holding a public hearing Tuesday on proposed zoning changes to commercial riverfront lots that include:
- Dropping the maximum building height from 45 feet to 30 feet.
- Mandating that new buildings take up no more than half of the lot area
- Allowing live/work housing development
- Creating incentives for developers to build affordable housing
Appleton said there is a sense of "urgency" in Frogtown, sometimes called Elysian Valley, to counter the rapid changes in their community.
Redfin found that the median list price for a home in Elysian Valley in April — $595,000 — was up nearly 22 percent over the previous April.
And, a report by LA-Mas notes between Oct. 2011 and December 2014, 39 commercial/industrial properties were sold — ten of them on the river.
A neighborhood once better known for manufacturing and gang activity is now drawing people because of its proximity to the river. Arturo Diaz of Glendale enjoyed views of the riverbank as he rode with friends along the LA River Bike Path through Frogtown.
"My dad actually had a store here, a little market, and the area was bad back then," said Diaz, 38.
But he said the difference between the Frogtown of his youth and today is stark.
"I’m just looking now—I see families walking around, and it’s a nice area now," Diaz said.