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Speakers Debate NYC Examples for Industrial Preservation

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, July 23, 2009, at 05:32PM
Williamsburg Housing Development Mike Nichols [Flickr]

Residential development towers over traditionally industrial buildings in the Greenpoint and Williamsburg neighborhoods of Brooklyn.

Planners from the public and private sectors gathered in the atrium of the Douglas building this morning to hear of successes and failure in New York City's efforts to preserve industrial jobs, and to discuss how those lessons could inform the future of green industry here in Los Angeles.

The event, titled "The Future of Green Industry in Los Angeles," was put on by the Urban Land Institute Los Angeles. The featured presentation was by Adam Friedman, Executive Director of the Pratt Center, which provides architectural, city-planning and environmental sustainability services to low- and moderate-income communities.

Afterward, panelists Cecilia Estolano (CEO, Community Redevelopment Agency), Dr. Denise Fairchild (Los Angeles Trade Tech) and David Abel (The Planning Report) discussed the implications for Los Angeles.

Sustainability requires economic diversity, and that requires diverse land uses and new tools to guide development, Friedman told the crowd.

At the beginning of 2008, the Community Redevelopment Agency and the Planning Department, working under the direction of the Mayor's office, unveiled a plan to preserve industrial land use around Los Angeles. That stymied residential development that had targeted previously industrial areas near the Los Angeles River, and the policy was criticized by business groups.

Friedman, though, pointed to development efforts in the Greenpoint and Williamsburg neighborhoods of Brooklyn as areas where too much industrial land had given way to residential use.

The city's planning department rezoned the majority of land in the area away from the traditional M (industrial) designation, and Friedman said that today out-of-scale residential development was displacing industrial uses even in the remaining space.

The panel discussion pitted Fairchild and Estolano against Abel. The two women talked about the bright future for green jobs in Los Angeles and the leadership of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on the issue of industrial jobs, while Abel took a more contrarian view of the business climate in Los Angeles. "This is not the place you do business," he said, noting the costs of starting up an enterprise in Los Angeles.


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Industrial Land Use Policy

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