To the chagrin of some local developers and politicians, the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency and the city Planning Department have released a joint policy directive that limits the conversion of industrial land to residential uses.
The article is an in-depth interview with CRA/LA General Manager Cecilia Estolano and City Planning Director Gail Goldberg.
"...when we analyze these industrial lands, we look at them with an eye towards future investment and economic development strategy. That's another first for the city. So it's not just enough to say that this land is viable, that it's good, it's vibrant, and it currently has jobs. We also have to look at how we invest and reinvest in industrial land and the infrastructure in these areas so that we not only preserve existing jobs but also move them up to a higher level-create jobs that are a gateway to the middle class."
"In the last 25 years, we've added about a million new residents, but we've actually lost 57,000 jobs. That's a shocking statistic. I think the reason why it hasn't been on the front burner for the city is because the city has really been built on real estate speculation. We were also very successful; we had such a successful defense industry, we had manufacturing centers in the ‘60s and ‘70s. We were able to absorb a lot of hits, but then, when we had the downturn in the ‘90s, we suddenly did need to focus on a real industrial economic development policy."
"...I believe that it's difficult in this city to do either what the city wants to do or what the city doesn't want to do, because you don't have good direction. The result of that is that we have created a closed system, where only the most sophisticated developers, or projects that are fairly high-end, can operate in our system."
"It's also important to note that there is a long-range component of this that we also have to address. We are having conflicts currently with industrial developers, with some members of the Downtown community, and with some of our council members because we have not suggested, at this time, that more of the industrial land be converted. And some of them have ideas about conversion. In all of the areas where we looked at the industrial land, with the exception of Central City North, we currently have community planning efforts going on that cover all of those industrial areas. It is important for us to provide, through that planning process, an opportunity for the policymakers and the industrial developers to propose changes and to have us analyze those changes to see what the impacts will be."