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For some older information, check out our November 2010 FAQ Sheet.

The Los Angeles Department of City Planning proposes to develop, in collaboration with the community, a Specific Plan in the Chinatown/Cornfields and Arroyo Seco “Opportunity Areas” referenced in the recently completed Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan (LARRMP).

What is the purpose of the Plan?

The Plan area has been the focus of recent public infrastructure projects and studies which has increased development interest in the area. As a result, developers are requesting “project by project” zoning changes to the area. There is concern that this piecemeal development process will result in a haphazard and fractured neighborhood that ignores the needs and concerns of the community.  The Plan therefore will develop a roadmap for the area that defines a mix of uses, zoning parameters, and urban design features consistent with the communities’ vision. 

Who will write the Plan?
The planning process to develop the Plan provides continuous opportunity for all of the community stakeholders; residents, business and property owners, employees, environmentalists, and government entities alike, to engage in an open and frank public discussion about the future of this area. The responsibility to write the Plan will fall to the City Planning staff but it is hoped and expected that the community will actively participate in drafting and editing the document from the early drafts to the final document.


What are the proposed boundaries?

The Plan includes approximately 650 acres located between the Chinatown and Heritage Square Metro rail stations. The Plan area is bi-sected by the Los Angeles River and includes the Pasadena (110) Freeway, and Arroyo Seco, which run along its northern perimeter. Elysian Park and Broadway Boulevard define the boundary to the north on the western bank of the River. Directly south of the Plan area is Union Station, historic Olvera Street and the downtown Civic Center. Chinatown is immediately adjacent to the south-westernmost area. The historic Lincoln Heights community abuts the eastern boundary of the Plan along Pasadena Avenue and the Golden State Freeway. See the map with the new boundaries.


How were the boundaries determined and can they be changed?

The boundaries are preliminary and continued public input is welcome. The industrially zoned properties are currently the subject of much speculation and therefore it was determined that the Plan should focus attention and discussion there. In addition, numerous publicly owned parcels are located within this area and may potentially provide additional development, open space and/or recreational opportunities. 


How long will the Plan take?
The first community orientation was held on September 29, 2007. Two additional community workshops ere held on December 1, 20007 and February 23, 2008.  A preliminary draft of the Plan will be presented at the November 6 and 8, 2008 workshops. It will take many months after that to complete the environmental review, comment period, and public hearing processes. Ideally, the Plan could be approved by the end of 2009.


What are the concerns that have been raised during the workshops?

During the first workshop in September we asked participants to share with us the concerns that they had about the area. Fifty percent of the participants stated that they were concerned about how future improvements might lead to gentrification and potentially contribute to a loss of affordable housing and  the area's historical character. An equally high number of attendees expressed concern about potential traffice issues and they expressed the need for improved transit options and the importance of designing the area to be more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. A quarter of the particpants responded that they were concerned about the safety of pedestrians, and especially school age children, due to the increase of gang activity in the area. Concerns were also raised about the potential future loss of existing industrial jobs and the lack of physical access to the State Park and the River.


What are the top five things that the workshop participants value in a community?

The participants at the September workshop placed an emphasis on having parks and open space in the area. They also felt strongly that they wanted access to a variety of transit options and a mix of uses. Community heritage, history, and character were also important to them.  Rounding out the top five was an emphasis on the value of feeling safe in ones community


What are the top five things that the workshop participants like about the Plan area?

The participants ranked the Los Angeles River as the most important part of the Plan area and emphasized the importance of increasing opportunities to access the River. They also like that the area is located near Chinatown, El Pueblo, Elysian Park, the River, Arroyo Seco, and the new Los Angeles State Historic Park. The proximity to the Gold Line Metro Stations, bus stops, and Union Station also received high marks. Cultural, historical and land use diversity also ranked high as things that the community viewed as positive about the area.


What are the goals of the Plan?

As a result of the input received during the workshops a number of goals have been articulated for the area. The goals fall into four broad categories that include Livability, Social Equity, Environmental Protection, and Economic Eevelopment and Efficiency. Within each category there are three to four goals that have been articulated. For Livability this includes protecting and enhancing cultural and land use diversity, ensuring good access to existing transit and increasing transit options, improving access and safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, and protecting historical buildings and character. For Social Equity its important to protect existing affordable housing, and develop future housing so that it is affordable to a broad range of households. For Environmental Protection we want to revitalize and improve access to the the River and Arroyo Seco, and protect and develop more open space and active parks. Lastly, for Economic Development and Efficiency we want to protect existing jobs (including industrial jobs), increase job opportunities for all income levels, and develop more retail, entertainment, and community services.


What is the historical significance of the area?

The City of Los Angeles was founded at the north western corner of this area at the confluence of the Los Angeles and Arroyo Seco Rivers. The area known as the Cornfields, which was recently designated the Los Angeles State Historic Park, was the City’s original rail depot and was the terminus for many immigrants arriving here in the early part of the 20th Century. As a result, the City’s oldest residential Chinese, European and Latino neighborhoods are located immediately adjacent to the Specific Plan area. Railroads and industrial uses were first attracted to the river as a transportation corridor and they are still today the prominent land user in this area.


What Community Plans, Council Districts and Community Redevelopment Areas are with the Plan boundaries?
The Plan area west of the River is located in the Central City North Community Plan and the area to the east of the River is in the Northeast Community Plan. A sliver  of the area commonly known as the Midway Yard land ocated west of the river and north of Broadway is located in the Silver Lake-Echo Park-Elysian Valley Community Plan. The area is wholly contained within Council District 1. The Chinatown Community Redevelopment Area borders the western edge of the Plan area and the Eastside-Adelante Community Redevelopment Area abuts the plan along Main Street east of the River. See the map of the CRA areas.  


What Neighborhood Councils are located within the Plan boundaries?

Five Neighborhood Councils (NC’s) are located within the Plan boundaries. These are identified as the Historic Cultural NC, Lincoln Heights NC, Greater Echo Park-Elysian NC, Greater Cypress Park and the Elysian Valley/Riverside NC. See the map of the Neighborhood Councils.


What is currently happening in the area?

Several studies and infrastructure projects have spurred interest and redevelopment in the area. The opening of the light rail Gold Line just four years ago has already exerted land use changes in the area. In May 2007 the City completed the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan (LARRMP) which identified the Cornfields and Arroyo Seco locations as “opportunity areas” for potential future river improvements. The new Los Angeles State Historic ark is currently being designed on the parcel commonly known as the “Cornfields.” These combined efforts have increased development interest in the area and as a result three large residential projects totaling 1,000 units have been constructed at the Lincoln Heights/Cypress Park Station on an old furniture factory site and another 360 units are planned on a vacant industrial parcel two blocks from the Chinatown Station. Numerous small loft conversions have also occurred near the River.


What are the current land uses?

The area is currently predominated by industrial land although an increasing number of multi-family residential developments and artist style lofts have been developed over the past years. There are numerous publicly owned parcels within this area which are currently used for a variety of purposes including the William Mead Housing development, the LADWP Sub-Station, the historic LA Jail, Downey ark, Metro Maintenance Yard, an animal shelter, and several Public Works maintenance yards. See the current land use map.


What are the existing streets that access the area?

The predominant roadways in the Plan area are North Main, North Broadway and North Spring Streets which connect the area to downtown to the South and Lincoln Heights to the East. The historic Spring Street and Broadway bridges cross the River and connect the western and eastern portions of the Plan area. San Fernando Boulevard and Avenues 26 and asadena Avenue serve as north-south connectors in the area east of the River. Figueroa Boulevard runs parallel to the Arroyo Seco and 110 Freeway along the northern edge of the area.


What is the significance of the Plan participating in the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) Pilot Program?The physical and cultural prominence of the area provides excellent opportunities to promote the healthy living benefits of the LEED-ND concept and to demonstrate a leadership role that government can play in supporting sustainable land use and development practices. The Plan area is only one of two public projects participating in the Pilot Program. The LEED-ND rating system integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism, and green building into neighborhood design so that a level of sustainability can be attained for an entire area. LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a development’s location and design meet accepted high standards for environmentally responsible, sustainable development. Check out the What is LEED-ND FactSheet and LEED-ND Project Checklist. 


How will the Plan incorporate the vision of the LARRMP?
The community planning process for the Plan will provide ongoing opportunities to discuss and consider the implementation of specific LARRMP recommendations.


Who do we contact if we have comments, questions or want to add our name to the list of community stakeholders? 

You can add provide comments and add your name to our contact list by going to our Contact Us page.


Other editions of the Newsletter are available below.

October 23, 2010 Newsletter

August 2007 Newsletter (English)

August 2007 Newsletter (Spanish)

September 2007 Newsletter (English)

September 2007 Newsletter (Chinese)