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Huge South LA Plans Would Block Liquor Stores, Encourage Transit-Oriented Development

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The Los Angeles Department of City Planning is well on its way with a trio of community plans to guide planning and zoning in a huge swath of South LA: the Southeast Los Angeles Community Plan, the South Los Angeles Community Plan, and the West Adams-Baldwin Hills-Leimert Community Plan. They're expected to go up for approval within the next 12 months. All three ordinances were launched as part of a package of 12 community plans between 2006 and 2007, although the West Adams plan is currently a little further ahead than the South LA and Southeast LA (and all three are unlikely to equal the epic length of time required to pass the Hollywood Community Plan). The three plans comprise the South Los Angeles Planning Region--a huge portion of the city that has long been neglected by major planning efforts. Principal City Planner Faisal Roble told Curbed today that with the exception of the Crenshaw Corridor Specific Plan, very little planning work has been done in these areas in recent years. Even the environmental and traffic studies for South LA were funded by the now defunct Community Redevelopment Association of LA. "It baffles everybody that the Planning Department hasn't done more in these areas," but, Roble adds, "Hopefully we are getting it now."

So far the community outreach for the three plans has almost zero resemblance to the contentious Hollywood Community Plan process, according to Roble. The communities in these plan areas have identified several nuisances that they would like the new plans to address: liquor stores, fast food restaurants with poor urban design, recycling centers, used car dealerships, and tire dealers. For now, Planning Department staff is recommending that specific examples of such uses be separated by a half-mile, but it is unclear whether that idea will survive the approval process. Such a solution would be somewhat unprecedented. "Planners did not come up with that idea. Usually we go by zoning," says Roble.

The websites for each of these community plans are not shy about the need to address growth--they say the new community plans will "(1) reflect preferred future growth patterns in the area, (2) encourage wise growth, (3) identify appropriate locations for new development." However, the fifth goal of each plan is to "(5) protect residential neighborhoods from development that is out of character and scale." Roble also says that the West Adams Community Plan is particularly sensitive to the rich historical character of the area, and does not expect a great deal of residential growth.

All three plans focus growth by creating districts clustered around transit--Roble specifically names the north-south corridors of Vermont and Central Avenue for retail development. The plans also allow for "urban villages" around major intersections like Vermont and Adams and Vermont and Jefferson. The Southeast LA Community Plan also includes Jordan Downs, which will add a lot of residential capacity to that area.

Each plan has already gone through a land survey, community outreach, and conceptual and technical drafting phases. The draft environmental impact report for the West Adams plan is expected to be available to the public early this summer, with a hearing before the City Planning Commission before the end of the year. South LA and Southeast LA are a few months behind. Each Community Plan is intended to stay in effect for 20 years.
· South Los Angeles Community Plan [Official Site]
· Southeast Los Angeles Community Plan [Official Site]
· West Adams-Baldwin Hills-Leimert Community Plan [Official Site]