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Speakers Tell of Changes in Industrial Use

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, March 07, 2008, at 02:43PM
Downtown L.A. Nancy Carradine [Flickr]

Besides its distribution business, Ore-Cal also owns the Fisherman's Outlet, a great seafood stand on Central at 5th. Photo by flickr user something.from.nancy.

Not all "industry" is created equal.

That's a fact that seems to get lost in many of the stats brought out by the Planning department to support its Industrial Land Use policy. At Tuesday's Planning and Land Use meeting several speakers took the chance to clarify.

Mark Shinbane, V.P. of Ore-Cal Seafood, told how his company has expanded in recent years from a $100 million business to one that does $200 million per year. In that time the firm has maxed out the space available to it in Downtown's industrial areas. "The streets are way too small Downtown," Shinbane told the committee, noting that his trucks have issues daily with limited space getting in and out of their loading docks.

Shinbane said that his firm is bursting at the seams in its current spot, but that there are no larger parcels Downtown. When, not if, their next expansion comes, the firm will need to look elsewhere for space to grow.

Creating the space for this sort of use is not a matter of simply protecting existing land. The entire grid of streets would need to be overhauled to provide plots the size needed to attract big industrial users. Estela Lopez of the Central City East Association noted that nationally, manufacturing uses typically require 10 acres. The plots of that size that could be assembled in Downtown's industrial district could be counted on one hand, with fingers left over.

But big industry may not be what's interested in Downtown. Kate Bartolo told the committee that the companies she sees looking for space in the industrial district are entrepreneurs looking for a couple thousand square feet of warehouse. Those firms, she said, are perfectly compatible with mixed use and residential uses.

"Our business is no longer industrial," said Kent Smith, head of the Fashion District Business Improvement District. While wholesale employment in his district has doubled, the buyers who come expect to find bars and restaurants walkable from their shopping. Those are the sort of amenities one would expect to find in a mixed-use district, not one dedicated to industrial uses.

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Topic:
Industrial Land Use Policy

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