Building Capacity in Underserved Urban Areas

Seeing projects through—whether affordable housing, public space, or infrastructure—for low-income populations in cities like Los Angeles requires grit and coalition-building.

1 minute read

April 2, 2015, 8:00 AM PDT

By Molly M. Strauss @mmstrauss

Sherri Franklin, founder of the Urban Design Center (UDC), has spent a quarter-century devoted to just that. An expert at navigating the complexities of financing and realizing initiatives to serve South Los Angeles and other long-overlooked parts of the city, Franklin knows how to engage residents and help them transform their neighborhoods.

She recently spoke with The Planning Report to share lessons from her years building the capacity of these communities—as well as updating readers on current UDC work in Los Angeles ranging from the 6th Street Bridge, to the 710 Freeway Extension, to TOD and pedestrian-planning for Leimert Park Village. Franklin dedicated the interview to her mentor, Juanita Tate, who she celebrates in the piece.

Franklin reflects on the potential for South LA: "How do we begin to link Central Avenue in South Los Angeles to the business needs of the emerging population moving back to Downtown LA? What kind of connectivity can we create between transit nodes?... All the things that we thought of in the early ’90s are now in place because of the initial investment and leadership that was brought to Central Avenue."

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