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Industrial Zoning and Downtown

By Eric Richardson
Published: Sunday, November 19, 2006, at 05:11PM
Bike Ride Shots -- Jan 29th, 2006 Eric Richardson [Flickr]

This week's issue of the Downtown News covers the industrial zoning plan wandering its way through meetings and discussions. It's a good read, but I came away not really feeling that I knew any more about what the plan might mean for Downtown. It's a tough issue, and Downtown has very specific issues and challenges that need careful consideration.

The south-eastern side of Downtown has a heavily industrial history, but the infrastructure that exists was built in a time where industry looked very different than it does today. Blocks and roadways are small, and this makes sense when you consider that everything was originally spaced for spur tracks and rail cars. Modern semis have a particularly difficult time navigating the outdated streets. Industry realizes that, and most heavy uses left Downtown long ago.

To rebuild Downtown's industrial land for modern industrial use would basically require blowing everything up and starting over with larger blocks and wider streets. There simply isn't room to make the existing layout semi-friendly.

But today's trendy residential conversions are also a danger. Downtown's industrial space abuts and mingles with the Arts District. There is a distinct need in the Arts District for artist studios that retain their industrial zonings. Any live-work building can be used as a spot to paint, but only industrially zoned property can be used for something like sculpture work that entails welding. We need to be very careful not to get rid of the one part of Downtown where these sort of spaces can be created.

If you didn't make the meeting on the 14th, you have another chance next Wednesday as the Planning Department comes to present the plan to a meeting of DLANC's Planning and Land Use Committee. That meeting is on the 29th at 6:30PM in the meeting rooms of the DWP Cafeteria (1st and Hope).

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Topic:
Industrial Land Use Policy

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