By Bill Hendrickson
Poppy Peak, the hillside that rises above the steep winding streets east of Figueroa in Highland Park, has caught a developer’s eye.
Residents of the area are not pleased.
Currently, two luxury homes are being built on East Annan Way, near the north slope of Poppy Peak. Residents who spoke up at a recent meeting of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council (HHPNC) said the developer owns 26 such parcels which, if developed, would fill in one of the last remaining open spaces in Highland Park.
Ahmad Abghari, a member of Poppy Peak 26 LLC, the development group that is building the houses, confirmed that the group owns more property on the hillside, but did not comment when asked if the long-range plan was to build a total of 26 houses. Abghari, who is based in La Crescenta, said that the plan for now is to focus on the two houses on East Annan Way, one of which he said was “done” and the other which he said would be finished in six months.
At the HHPNC meeting where the Poppy Peak project was on the agenda, no one spoke in favor of the development. Abghari told the Sentinel he was not aware of the opposition.
Stakeholders expressed their desire to keep Poppy Peak as open space for people, birds and native habitat. They also noted that the narrow roads leading up to Poppy Peak are already difficult for cars and fire trucks to navigate. Abghari told the Sentinel that all development has to meet applicable fire safety standards and pointed out that there is a fire hydrant in front of one of the houses on East Annan Way.
Another criticism raised by stakeholders at the HHPNC meeting is that the developer had never presented the development plan to the council’s Land Use Committee and thus had never invited community feedback.
On this project, however, there may be little stakeholders can do to get the developer to listen to them. That’s because the Poppy Peak hillside is developable “by right,” which means the developer has legal authority to proceed without having to seek any special permission from city officials or community stakeholders.
Nevertheless, the HHPNC Board voted 10-0 to send a letter to the developers asking them to present their Poppy Peak plans to the HHPNC Land Use Committee. Copies of the letter will also be sent to the City Planning Department and City Council District 14.
At the least, the letter aligns the HHPNC with the stakeholders in terms of demanding a voice on local development. The letter also puts city officials on notice that constituents are not happy with additional housing being built on Poppy Peak.
As of August 17, Abghari said he had not received the letter.
In the meantime, opponents of Poppy Peak development have begun a campaign on social media to protect the hillside. The opposition includes a Facebook Group, a video about Poppy Peak and a petition at savepoppypeak.com.
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Bill Hendrickson, MBA, publisher of the Boulevard Sentinel, has extensive small business management, marketing and sales experience in corporate finance and real estate development and plays a not terrible game of golf.