FrameWORK: Economic Development

on November 12, 2015

Our FrameWORK series on the Los Angeles General Plan Framework Element is intended to introduce you to the citywide document that lays down the guiding principles for how Los Angeles will develop in the years ahead. In this article, we’ll be familiarizing you with the Framework’s Economic Development Chapter (Chapter 7), as it relates to the City Planning Department’s current policy and zoning initiatives.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide for a competitive financial environment to attract investment to Los Angeles, and to encourage the geographic distribution of job growth. While the Economic and Workforce Department implements most of the “policy-linked” aspects of the chapter, the “market-linked” concepts support the City Planning Department’s re:code LA project and other initiatives. Today, the Department’s initiatives concentrate on Downtown, but will expand citywide through re:code LA and the community plan updates. We’ll familiarize you with these components of economic development by introducing several planning documents related to this topic.

On a related note, the City Council in 2013 integrated all business services and workforce development programs into the newly created Economic and Workforce Development Department in order to make for a more efficient and seamless operation. The Economic and Workforce Development Department’s website features specific detail on self-help programs, job-training programs, business incentives, and additional economic stimulation initiatives, which help implement the “policy-linked” aspects of the Framework’s Economic Development Chapter.

Economic and Workforce Development Homepage

The Department of City Planning holds a major role in the City’s economic potential by maintaining a balance of land sufficiently designated to sustain a robust commercial and industrial base. As listed in the Goals, Objectives, and Policies section of the Framework’s Economic Development Chapter, part of this strategy includes reinforcing an orientation to jobs where best-suited, enhancing the jobs/housing balance, and ensuring suitable transitions between industrial and residential areas. Below, are several of the plans, guidelines, and other documents the Department has produced to achieve the guiding principles of the Framework’s Economic Development Chapter.

Community Plans

A collage of four photos around Downtown Los Angels

As each of the City’s 35 Community Plans are updated, attention is focused on encouraging commercial development in areas that are best able to support them, including commercial and regional centers, transit stations, and mixed-use corridors. You may want to read our Urban Form and Neighborhood Design article for additional information on these centers.

More recently, the Central City/Central City North Community Plan update has been examining the intensive job concentration of Downtown to support the area’s regional importance and continuing revitalization. This is achieved through strategies such as encouraging the adaptive reuse of historic buildings, limiting the underdevelopment of South Park and Bunker Hill within Downtown, and supporting a vibrant mix of housing and commercial uses. Additionally, community planners are seeking to preserve the light industrial and heavy commercial uses located to the east of Downtown and allowing the area to accommodate a full range of industrial, manufacturing, and creative activities.

You may want to take a look at the City’s Industrial Citywide Design Guidelines and our Urban Form and Neighborhood Design article for additional detail on industrial development design.

Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan

Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan Cover Page

The jobs preservation policies being designed for the new Downtown community plans build on policy included in the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan (CASP), located within the Lincoln Heights, Cypress Park and Chinatown neighborhoods. Since adoption in 2013, the specific plan has been applauded by advocacy groups for successfully balancing the needs of existing residents and the manufacturing base. The CASP achieves this by dividing the area into four zones:

  • Greenway, which provides for open space; 
  • Urban Center, which allows residential and employment within the same site;
  • Urban Village, which allows commercial and residential and industrial uses within the same area; and
  • Urban Innovation, which allows industrial employment uses.

Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan

Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan Homepage

The proposed Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan follows a similar line-of-thought as the CASP via four new zones that balance jobs and housing near transit stations along the Metro Exposition Line. The new zones are:

  • New Industry – an employment zone with uses tailored to creative industries, light manufacturing and assembly, and limited retail and restaurant.
  • Hybrid Industrial: Jobs Emphasis – an employment-focused zone with a limited amount of residential use.
  • Hybrid Industrial: Residential Emphasis – a zone with a minimum level of employment uses along with a greater amount of residential use; and
  • Mixed Use: Commercial/Residential – a zone intended to allow neighborhood and community commercial uses and institutional uses in combination with multi-family residential.

For more information, please visit the Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan website.

This is where re:code LA comes in

The Zoning Code Evaluation Report prepared as part of re:code LA identifies a number of recommendations to retain jobs and attract industry to strengthen for employment and innovation. These recommendations include ensuring the availability of land for industrial purposes, creating new industrial zones, rezoning industrial land only where necessary, and enhancing the jobs/housing balance. Several documents such as the Industrial Citywide Design Guidelines and the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan will be used as starting points as re:code LA moves forward on this topic of economic development. In addition, the development standards and regulations included in the proposed Clean Up Green Up initiative may be carried forward under re:code LA. The Clean Up Green Up initiative aims to reduce cumulative health impacts resulting from incompatible land uses. The re:code LA staff and the Jobs and Innovation Working Group of the Zoning Advisory Committee has also been exploring additional economic development mechanisms.

Please feel free to provide any feedback on these economic development topics on our MapIt, MarkUp, or contact page. We look forward to your comments!