Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Message from the Director Page 2
"Modern Metropolis" in Planning and Health by special guest, Planning Commissioner Bill Roschen, FAIA Page 2
pLAnning A quarterly newsletter providing news and information regarding the City of Los Angeles Planning Department
Issue 2 • Volume 1
The Emerging South Los Angeles: A Journey to Better Neighborhoods by Griselda Gonzalez, Marie Cobian and Reuben Caldwell This is an exciting time for South Los Angeles! The Department of City Planning is redoubling its effort to improve the major corridors and key nodes of the region, to remove barriers to development and improve mobility, thus ultimately enhancing the quality of life for its residents. Comprehensive planning, coupled with robust urban design standards, are the key tools to help create better neighborhoods in the region.
Faisal Roble, over 20 years of dedicated service with the Planning Department. Page 3
The South Los Angeles Region is comprised of three Figueroa Corridor with view of downtown. Community Plan Areas (Plans) — West AdamsBaldwin Hills-Leimert, South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles – and the department will be releasing draft New Community Plans for all three areas soon. Comparable in size to San Francisco, the region encompasses a significant portion of the City of Los Angeles, and covers approximately 45 square miles with a population nearing 800,000.
Creating Sustainable Transit Communities in South Los Angeles
South Los Angeles is rich in Historic-Cultural Monuments and neighborhood landmarks such as the Central Avenue Historic Jazz Corridor, Leimert Park Village, the Shrine Auditorium, the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, Exposition Park, and the internationally acclaimed Watts Towers, to name but a few. South Los Angeles also contains some of the oldest neighborhoods (continued on pg. 4)
Partnership between different agencies leads to RENEW LA program. Page 3
DEVELOPMENT SERVICE CENTERS: Metro Public Counter 201 N. Figueroa St., 4th Floor Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 482-7077
Valley Public Counter 6262 Van Nuys Blvd., 2nd Floor Van Nuys, CA 91401 (818) 374-5050
Streets for People (S4P) from Initial Concept Studies, 02.28.11, Rios Clementi Hale Studios.
A Message From the Director This edition of pLAnning spotlights one region of the City – South Los Angeles. The Planning Department is actively working on New Community Plans for this area, which is rich in history and diversity. The three Plans currently under way are all intended to capitalize on the area’s considerable assets and emerging opportunities. The investment in light rail, including the Exposition Line and new transit projects funded through the voter-approved Measure R, is especially noteworthy. All of these projects have the potential to revitalize this important region. But to realize that potential effective implementation is essential, which is why over 20 overlay zones and transit oriented districts are also in the works. One of the Planning Department’s exciting new initiatives examines the intersection between public health and land use. A consensus is emerging that the built environment influences and shapes our everyday behavior, for better or worse. Communities with healthy food choices, medical facilities, and abundant open space and recreational opportunities are, quite simply, just what the doctor ordered. In South LA, all of the new land use plans are intended to facilitate the creation of sustainable communities that enhance the quality of life. Be sure to read Commission President Bill Roschen’s article on this topic. I am sure you will find it quite illuminating.
Michael J. LoGrande Director of Planning
Our "Modern Metropolis" in Planning and Health by Bill Roschen, FAIA - Los Angeles City Planning Commission President The distinguished architectural critic and urban historian Lewis Mumford has praised the “park like setting of the suburbs” and denigrated the “urban deterioration of the environment.” Today, in contradiction to Mumford’s 1950’s vision, the city is considered our best environmental option. Further, cities are our choice. Urban Americans comprise 78% of the total population, living in 3% of the total land area. Urban density is the world’s best promise of prosperity. In the “modern metropolis” proximity and density connect us to play and work with dramatically more livable opportunities and 50% more productivity than small towns. American cities have become healthier, safer, and more sustainable by design and by policy (paraphrased from Triumph of the City by Edward Glaeser). I would suggest that our cities are more important than ever and their continued evolution is our Planning Department’s very exciting opportunity and responsibility. To this focus, the L.A. City Planning Commission with the Planning Department, in collaboration with L.A. County Department of Public Health, Community Health Councils, the California Endowment, and other community stakeholders, has been exploring how to better define PLANNING AND HEALTH as a priority for all Angelenos. One effort has been Streets for People (S4P), inspired by New York City’s Department of Transportation's strategy to recapture unused and underused portions of L.A.’s city streets with “paint and planters.” This would temporarily test the viability of usable public spaces to create more “complete streets” for people. The culture change to “conceive” our streets in a balance for pedestrians, bikes, landscape, and cars is an evolution of a Los Angeles of thrilling promise. Another major collaborative effort has been the discussions around our policy foundations in the General Plan Framework. The City Planning Commission is currently engaged in a dialogue among stakeholders from both planning and health in an effort to describe, prioritize, and implement PLANNING AND HEALTH considerations through a new Health Element, or the City’s General Plan Framework. By prioritizing health in our land-use planning, we will spur a larger city dialogue that may well create a true culture shift. The priority of healthy environments can be an influence on all we do as planners and policy makers but also must be a part of the larger L.A. story: a narrative of city making that describes who we are and who we are going to be. Let me suggest that the need for a robust connection between PLANNING AND HEALTH is nowhere greater than in the South Los Angeles region. The trail-blazing fast food control ordinance, which limits the number of such establishments in South LA, recognizes that connection. All of the Planning Department’s work in recent years to create new community plans and forwardthinking TODs across South LA, as discussed in this edition of pLAnning, advance the principle that changing the way people experience and interact with the built environment is key to improving public health outcomes.C
Creating Sustainable Transit Communities in South Los Angeles by Faisal Roble, Lynell Washington, and Claire Bowin As part of the Department’s vision to create a tapestry of neighborhoods with sustainable transit communities, the Department of City Planning (DCP) is partnering with the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), to plan and design for approximately 72 Transit Oriented Districts (TODs) in the City, some of which are located in South Los Angeles. To that end, DCP Grand Ave Blue Line Station at Los Angeles received Prop C funding in 2009 to Trade Technical College. draft vision plans for the 23rd Street, Jefferson, Vermont, and Western stations along the eastern portion of the Exposition Light Rail Line. With the help of IBI Consulting Group, community workshops were held to identify key land use and mobility issues. With support from a federal grant from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) awarded to Los Angeles County, the Department of City Planning is partnering with the County Department of Public Health (DPH) to draft and implement land use policies that may help foster better, healthier and more livable neighborhoods in South Los Angeles. With a grant of $2.6 million from the County, the RENEW LA program was started with the purpose of creating TODs along the Blue and Green Lines. To assist the DCP, RAW International, an architectural and planning firm owned and operated by residents in South Los Angeles, and Community Health Councils, a grassroots public outreach group, were hired to enhance the community’s participation in crafting and designing the visions for the stations. The completion of TODs would, for the first time, enable the city to have multiple overlay districts in the greater South Los Angeles region to facilitate a range of uses in close proximity to the stations. They will enable pedestrian and bicycle connections to the stations, create increased access to open space, and promote quality urban design features that ensure a safe and inviting experience. Specifically, the Watts Towers: A short walk from the 103rd Street Station. RENEW TOD plans will contain sustainable and health-centric development regulations and design guidelines, streetscape, multi-modal and open space designations, and incentives for healthier communities around ten Blue and Green Line transit stations. The TOD plans will ultimately be adopted as Community Plan Implementation Overlay Zones (CPIOs) in concert with the South LA, Southeast LA, and West Adams-Baldwin Hills Leimert Community Plans later in 2012. The partnerships between DCP, MTA, and DPH provide a critical opportunity to work across traditional governmental boundaries to realize the vision of healthier and livable communities in the greater South Los Angeles region. C
Faisal Roble Senior City Planner Faisal Roble, a Senior City Planner in the Policy Planning and Historic Resources Division, currently manages citywide policies and programs related to housing, mobility, and the development of Transit Oriented Districts (TODs), as well as the completion of three New Community Plans for the South Los Angeles region. He also currently oversees two major projects – the USC and Jordan Downs Specific Plans, which together represent over $1.3 billion in investment in the local economy. Faisal has been with the Department of City Planning for more than 20 years and has gained experience in many branches of the department, including Neighborhood Implementation, Citywide, Community Plans, the Public Counter, and Code Studies. He was the lead planner in preparing Environmental Impact Reports for previous community plan updates for several years. He has also worked closely with Council Offices, a variety of City Departments (including the Housing Authority), and has worked diligently to foster a good understanding between the Department and the community-at-large. He is especially proud of his unique contribution in helping to change the Department’s culture pertaining to inner-city neighborhoods, South Los Angeles in particular. Prior to taking over responsibility for the South Los Angeles region, there were no effective zoning tools for controlling the proliferation of nuisances plaguing the area’s commercial corridors. Today, he is overseeing the development of 25 new overlay zones, all proposed as part of the New Community Plan Program. An outstanding planner and dedicated public servant, he is a key leader in the Department's effort to bring equitable and sustainable development to an area of the City that historically has been under planned and under invested.C
Emerging South Los Angeles (continued from pg. 1)
in the City, which is why so many of the City’s designated historic districts (Historic Preservation Overlay Zones, or HPOZs) are located within this area. Stable and established single-family residential neighborhoods with historic significance, such as University Park, Harvard Heights, West Adams Terrace, Lafayette Square, and Jefferson Park, are all located within the region. Equally important is that the South LA Region has significant potential for comprehensive and well-planned transit-oriented districts (TODs). With a total of 23 existing and planned transit stations, the region contains nearly one-third of the City’s transit stations, including nine stations along the first phase of the Mid-City Exposition Light Rail line, six stations along the Metro Blue Line, four stations along the Metro Green Line, and four stations along the planned Crenshaw/ LAX Light Rail line. Once again, the region is poised to benefit from the massive City and MTA infrastructure investments in transit and mobility. But, the South Los Angeles region also has its share of challenges. These include incompatibilities between residential and industrial uses, an overconcentration of undesirable uses, and a shortage of neighborhood services and amenities along its commercial corridors, such as healthy food outlets, which are essential for quality of life. The New Community Plan (NCP) Program provides a great opportunity to address these challenges, while at the same time capitalizing on the opportunities afforded by the development of TODs. The goals of the NCP Program are to identify appropriate locations for smart growth; to regulate facades, height, landscape and overall design of buildings along the major nodes and commercial corridors; to preserve the area’s economic/job base, while protecting adjacent residential uses; to put elegant and better designed densities around transit stations; to revitalize commercial corridors; to protect residential neighborhoods from development that is out of character and scale; and to continue the preservation of historic neighborhoods. The goal is to encourage sustainable, mixed use developments around transit stations; require well-designed projects, and promote a greater diversity of retail and services along commercial corridors. The Plans will be accompanied by new Community Plan Implementation Overlays (CPIOs), which will help transform the area into attractive and vibrant districts, just as the Crenshaw Corridor Specific Plan did within the West Adams community. During the first two years of the NCP process, City staff conducted over 200 meetings to engage and receive community input. In the process, City staff identified prevailing neighborhood issues and embraced the community’s vision in the new Plans. To augment outreach, the South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles Plans each established a Community Plan Advisory Committee (CPAC) consisting of representatives from different neighborhoods. The Department of City Planning’s South LA staff — Marie Cobian, Griselda Gonzalez, Reuben Caldwell and Arthi Varma — are currently working on drafting numerous issue-oriented overlays and completing the Plan text. An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will be prepared for each new Plan which, in addition to identifying the potential impacts associated with the proposed Plans, will also include tools and programs to mitigate these impacts. Once a Draft EIR is completed and released for public review and comment, the adoption phase can begin. Additional information can be found on the Department’s website at www.planning. lacity.org, located under the “New Community Plans” tab.C Edited by: Claudia Rodriguez • Prepared by Los Angeles Department of City Planning Graphic Services Section, July 2011 • 056
our MISSION To create and implement plans, policies and programs that realize a vision of Los Angeles as a collection of healthy and sustainable neighborhoods, each with a distinct sense of place, based on a foundation of mobility, economic vitality and improved quality of life for all residents.