East Los Angeles residents last Saturday attended a scoping meeting on the East LA 3rd Street Specific Plan, which aims to set new building standards and an attractive vision for the transit-oriented revitalization in the area affected by the arrival of the Metro Gold Line light rail extension.
The draft specific plan, available online, is a result of the input and efforts by the East Los Angeles Planning Advisory Committee (ELAPAC), county staff, local residents, business and property owners, according to the county. Public outreach has been taking place and the scoping meeting was part of the outreach efforts.
Meetings on the plan began back in 2009, at the height of the now defunct East LA Cityhood movement; several cityhood proponents were members of the committee.
The Specific Plan is meant to replace the outdated East Los Angeles Community Standards District and Community Plan established 25 years ago, in 1988.
The new 3rd Street Specific Plan, however, focuses on an area bound roughly by Cesar Chavez, Indiana, Hubbard and 6th Street and Atlantic Boulevard, according to Carmen Sainz of the LA County Dept. of Regional Planning. The second phase of the specific plan will focus on updating the plan for the remainder of the community, according to the Los Angeles Planning Commission website.
The initial phase is wrapping up and stakeholders have until Aug. 12 to submit a public comment if they feel something is missing or concerning in this initial environmental review. Saturday’s scoping meeting was intended to get oral input from residents about what should be included in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which is expected to be published in about 6 months. The Final EIR should be available about a year from now.
More public meetings and public comment periods will be scheduled at those benchmarks, according to Julian Capata of Atkins, the company preparing the EIR.
“We’re looking at the impacts of the plan itself, so we’re not looking at specific developments.” Capata said. “Because there are no applications [for construction projects] as part of this… we’re looking at what happens if the area gets built out as envisioned by the plan,” he explained.
Capata said the EIR will determine the environmental impacts on the community and prescribe mitigations that will inform developers and the county what level of review will be required for specific types of developments.
According to the LA County Dept. of Regional Planning’s principal regional planner, Phillip Estes, the current zoning ordinance for the plan area will be replaced by “form-based code”, a type of zoning that sets requirements for building types, their placement near the sidewalk, and other considerations such as where parking will be located and required windows and doors. The form-based code will also look at options for what the building fronts, signs and landscaping should look like, ultimately giving the area a consistent and attractive character.
“It prescribes a set of land use, urban standards, architectural standards, sign standards to guide the development of the area,” explained Estes. So “it provides a more predictable built environment in contrast to the existing zoning ordinance, which is more about separation of land uses,” Estes said.
The form-based code will facilitate mixed uses for residential, office and commercial development in order to create a more pedestrian friendly community.
Existing businesses and structures will not be affected.
The placement of bike lanes, bike routes and jogging paths are also being considered as part of the planning process.
According to Estes, residents have raised concerns about the plan’s impact on traffic, which he said will be analyzed in the EIR.
Antonio Gomez of So-Cal Burgers Chill & Grill on Mednik told EGP he owns a vacant lot on 3rd Street behind Belvedere Elementary School that he would like to develop.
“Right now, parking issues are the barrier,” Gomez said.
The lot, zoned commercial (C-3), is not big enough for a building and a parking lot, and the construction of the Gold Line took street parking, Gomez said.
He’s hopeful mixed-use zoning will make it easier to get a loan and help bring down the costs of getting permits so he, and other property owners, can start to bring new shops to East LA and keep the community’s money in the community.
Victor Duran and his wife Stella, owners of Original Snow Cone and Antique Car Parts (both located on 3rd Street), said they liked what the Aug. 8 presentation detailed, but generally feel the studies are a waste of money and time, and too often don’t go anywhere. “I hope to see it [implemented] in my lifetime,” Stella said.
Victor said he was disappointed that more people from the community did not participate n the process.
It was a sentiment echoed by Brian Anda, 24, who said county planners missed an opportunity the night before to announce the meeting to a captive audience during “movies in the park” at the East LA Civic Center outdoor amphitheatre, which is right outside the East LA Library where the scoping meeting took place.
Anda added that he would like to see more housing developed in the area, like the Alta Vista apartments at 3rd and Woods, near the Gold Line Atlantic station.
For more information visit http://planning.lacounty.gov/ela