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Catching Up With... Industrial Land Use

By Eric Richardson
Published: Sunday, December 28, 2008, at 03:41PM
6th Street Viaduct Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Looking east at the Los Angeles River and the Arts District from the under-construction Ritz Carlton tower at L.A. Live in December.

As we go through the last few days of 2008, we thought it useful to take a look at some of the important Downtown projects working their way through the system.

The first issue to rear its head Downtown in 2008 was that of Industrial Land Use, as the Planning Department and Community Redevelopment Agency announced an agreement that, among other things, limited residential conversions on industrially-zoned land south of the Arts District. Proponents of the plan argued that the city needed the land to attract industrial jobs, particularly in green technology. Detractors claimed that the land was unsuitable for large industry due to small lot sizes and a cramped street grid.

Latest Status: Though no large-scale changes have taken place recently, City Council did just approve a boundary change for the Arts District, opening a small swath of new area to live-work conversions.

2008 Accomplishments: The battle started quickly in the new year, and set the Planning Department, CRA and the Mayor's Office against City Councilmembers and Downtown stakeholders. On January 1, blogdowntown previewed upcoming meetings to announce the plan. The January 3 preview brought more questions than answers about the plan.

An early skirmish was fought over approvals for AMP Lofts, a conversion that would change an auto parts warehouse into 180 lofts. The Planning Commission had denied the proposal in late December, but Council intervened just days after the land use presentation, granting developer David Seewack's appeal of the decision.

In March, the plan went to Council's Planning and Land Use Management committee, where an all-star cast of business and development representatives were on hand to speak in opposition to the Planning / CRA rules.

One outcome of that March meeting was the change in Arts District boundary. The change, which extended the district's boundaries south just below 7th, was finally passed by Council just this month.

After that? Not much happened.

What's Next: No real resolution will come to this stand-off until the Central City North community plan is re-done.

Planning chief Gail Goldberg has been very critical of the city's existing plans -- thin documents that gave little in the way of specific guidelines for development. Under her watch the city has started a major project to redo the plans, with work currently being done on nine of the thirty-five plans citywide. Unfortunately, Central City North is not one of those plans.


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Industrial Land Use Policy

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