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City Council adopts new community plans for South and Southeast LA

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They’ll guide development in the area for years to come

Aerial view of South LA
The plans cover a wide stretch of territory extending from Pico Boulevard to as far south as 120th Street.
Trekandshoot | Shutterstock

Editor's Note: This post was originally published November 27, 2017, and has been updated to clarify comments from attorney Doug Smith.

New community plans to guide development in South and Southeast Los Angeles were unanimously adopted by the Los Angeles City Council last week, paving the way years of future growth in the area.

The two plans, which were considered simultaneously by the council, affect a broad swath of the city covering more than a dozen neighborhoods, including Historic South-Central, Vermont Square, Florence, and Watts.

The plans include a focus on transit-oriented development and revitalization of commercial corridors, while clearly separating housing and industrial sites to prevent future public health hazards.

Project manager Melissa Alofaituli told the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee Tuesday that elements of the plans would also protect historic resources in the area, promote the development of affordable housing, and block the spread of “undesirable” businesses like liquor stores, payday lenders, and drive-through restaurants.

But some say the plans don’t go far enough to protect current residents from displacement.

Earlier this year, community coalition UNIDAD (United Neighbors in Defense Against Displacement) released its own plan for the area with an emphasis on renter protections and economic opportunities for small business owners.

As Streetsblog LA notes, the planning department worked closely with members of the coalition when formulating the South and Southeast LA plans, and about 75 percent of what’s included in the UNIDAD plan ended up in the final documents approved by the council Wednesday.

Key items left out, however, include restrictions on condo conversions and guarantees of affordable rent for community-serving businesses.

South LA resident Debbie Alvarez told the PLUM committee that she recently received notice that her building would be demolished. “Where are we going to go?” she asked. “There are thousands of other people in South LA that are being displaced.”

Doug Smith, an attorney for Public Counsel, said that the city could have done more to encourage the construction of affordable housing. He had pressed the council to preserve lower low density requirements in transit-oriented areas that would have encouraged developers to make use of incentives allowing larger projects as long as they include affordable units.

Affordable housing advocates aren’t the only ones who raised concerns about the new plans.

Attorney Robert Silverstein, who successfully challenged an update to Hollywood’s community plan four years ago, last week submitted a long list of objections to the new plans and hinted at future legal action.