Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan Resurfaces This Saturday

October 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

CASP flier - click to view meeting details at the city website

This Sunday is the city of Los Angeles’ annual community meeting regarding the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan (called CASP.) The meeting takes place at 10am on Saturday October 15th 2011 at Goodwill, 342 N. San Fernando Road, LA 90031 (near the Lincoln Cypress Metro Gold Line Station.) Meeting details at the city’s CASP website. « Read the rest of this entry »

Creek Freak events this weekend

October 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

We ran most of these events earlier in the week… but I forget to include tomorrow’s Cornfield Arroyo Seco Plan meeting, and an upcoming North Atwater Creek meeting. I’ve included the fliers for both of those events below, and re-listed the same events that appeared before:


> Tomorrow Saturday October 23rd 2010 is the monthly Community Open House for touring the Ballona Ecological Reserve. These guided walks leave from the Fiji Gateway at 9:30am, 10:30am, and 11:30am. The Fiji Gateway is at 13720 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292, across from Fisherman’s Village.

Cornfield Arroyo Seco multi-meeting tomorrow - click on flier image for information

> The city of Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency and Planning Department are hosting a meeting on both the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Redevelopment Project Area and the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan. It takes place tomorrow morning – 10:30am Saturday October 23rd 2010 at the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, 1400 North Spring Street, LA 90012. Creek Freak wrote about the CASP earlier here. I am hoping that the CASP is intact and on-track to be approved next week! I don’t know much about the CASRPA… and hope to learn about it tomorrow morning.

> Moonlight Magic, the Friends of Madrona Marsh annual fundraiser is also Saturday October 23rd 2010, from 6:00pm to 10:00pm. The Friends are a volunteer driven stewardship organization that has a regular schedule of restoration and education activities at the marsh, located in Torrance. Tickest are $50.

> On Sunday October 24th at 4pm, L.A. Yellow Box and Friends of the Los Angeles River host a screening of the documentary Bag It. Details at the Facebook event page. Watch the preview on vimeo – looks very good!

North Atwater Park groundbreaking flier - click for larger pdf flier

> On Thursday October 28th at 2pm, celebrate the city of Los Angeles groundbreaking for the North Atwater Park Expansion and Creek Restoration. It’s at North Atwater Park, 3900 Chevy Chase Drive, Los Angeles 90039. Creek Freak wrote about this project briefly earlier here and here.

> At 7pm Thursday October 28th 2010, the Downtown Library Aloud series hosts DJ Waldie and Glen Creason speaking in celebration of the newly released Los Angeles in Maps book, which Creek Freak profiled here. To get warmed up for the event, read Waldie’s beautiful piece Seduced by Maps at KCET – which concludes with a sweeeet allusion to one of my very favorite Jorge Luis Borges short stories On Exactitude in Science:

Fortunately, the perfect map of Los Angeles – the Borgesian map of all romantic maps – is already in your possession, just outside your door. Its scale is 1:1, and you will need good shoes.

Friends of Ballona Wetlands are having their annual fundraiser, Moonlight on the Marsh, on Friday October 29th 2010. This year’s event is a yacht party, from 6:00pm to ??? Tickets are $100 regular/$80 student or non-profits

Redevelopment along the Cornfield Yards in 1954

April 26, 2009 § 11 Comments

1954 Ann Redevelopment Project

1954 Ann Redevelopment Project

A big thanks to Edgar Garcia of the city of Los Angeles Planning Department’s historic preservation team for this very-late-breaking exclusive story. Though the news is 55 years old – and a bit of stretch to claim that it really belongs here (it’s more a story of near-river redevelopment than a river story,) Creek Freak found it interesting and decided to pass it along.

There are implications for today – especially for the city’s Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan which proposes undoing quite a bit of what seemed like a good idea many years ago. It’s also scary in its casual cold language about removing homes and displacing people; making more clear why “urban renewal” and even “redevelopment” have such a bad reputations among most under-served communities today. It’s a cautionary note for those of us who would use redevelopment tools to improve our city – we need to be careful to consider the impacts of our actions, and how our actions will appear in the future. Hopefully plans being made and implemented today won’t appear as shortsighted as this past example does to me today.

This is the existing Ann Street neighborhood (1954)

What the Ann Street neighborhood looked like in 1954

In the 1954 publication Accomplishments: City Planning Commission, one of the accomplishments touted is the approval of the Ann Redevelopment Plan, signed into law on September 3, 1954, by Los Angeles Mayor Norris Poulson. The Ann Redevelopment Plan is named as such after Ann Street, which runs perpendicular to Spring Street and Main Street, from the Cornfields (now Los Angeles State Historic Park) to William Mead Homes. The 33-acre plan area is bounded by North Spring, Mesnager, North Main, Llewellyn, and Rondout Streets. The Ann plan was the first redevelopment plan approved in the state of California.

The document describes the “Conditions Within Project Area” as follows:
– “66% of the 102 residential structures are substandard, many of which are unfit for human occupancy.”
– “Crime, juvenile delinquency, and disease rates are considerably above the city-wide average.”
It further concludes that “[t]he existing residential structures… should be eliminated at the earliest possible moment in the interest of public welfare.”

The maps tell the story better than my words do. The existing map shows plenty of housing… the redevelopment map shows consolidation into what today might be derisively called “super-blocks.”

It always seemed odd to me that William Mead Homes (a ~500-unit public housing project owned by the Los Angeles city Housing Authority) is an isolated island of housing surrounded on all sides by industrial development. Well… William Mead Homes weren’t alone until the city took out the adjacent housing via the Ann Redevelopment Plan. The maps also show that there were plenty more adjacent commercial establishments than today’s single liquor store.

A couple other interesting things show up on these maps:
– On the upper left of the existing land use map, between Mesnager and Sotello, there is an unlabeled pair of dotted lines that, I think, indicate the location of the pedestrian bridge that extended across the Cornfield Yards from Spring Street to Broadway. (Bridge photo here.) It looks like the bridge connected with a fair amount of housing – perhaps where railroad workers lived who commuted on foot to jobs at the Cornfield Yards and/or on North Broadway?
– Both maps show the City of L.A. animal shelter (at the intersection of Ann and Naud.) This is the shelter that gave the name “dogtown” to the area, and to the gang located there. The animal shelter (now the North Central Care Center) was relocated to Lincoln Heights, but the name dogtown can still be found graffitied on walls in the vicinity of where the dog pound used to be.

To make things conducive to industrial development, the Ann Redevelopment Plan calls for “[r]elocation of present residents,” “[r]emoval of all existing residential structures,” and “vacating unnecessary streets and widening others to suitable widths.” Sadly, banishing housing and vacating and widening streets is exactly the opposite of what the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan (CASP) plans today. The CASP wisely proposes to add housing back into the area (mainly mixed-use – which, as the map shows was there before – some directly across from the Cornfields), to narrow streets and to dedicate small-scale new steets to create a walkable grid. Perhaps the historical grid can be restored – maybe start with the now-vanished Shieffelin and Beale Streets? Were those 1950’s street closures revocable?

Great Plans for the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Area

March 30, 2009 § 2 Comments

Wildflowers in Bloom this week at the Cornfields

Wildflowers in bloom last week at the Cornfields. Note also the adjacent industrial areas.

The Los Angeles City Planning department held scoping meetings on March 16th 2009 to hear comments on their proposed Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan, known as the CASP. The good news is that CASP has a lot of great features that will transform the area. Among these are: river greenway area set-asides, parking reform, and dozens of miles of bikeways. The somewhat-bad news is that it will take a while. Environmental review will take a year, so the plan will be adopted in 2010. Once the plan goes into effect, over the next couple dozen years, it will gradually guide private and public development.

The CASP covers approximately 660 acres located in the communities of Lincoln Heights, Cypress Park and Chinatown – including the areas around the Chinatown and Lincoln/Cypress Metro Gold Line stations.

The CASP area is today largely industrial. Much of it is older, somewhat-obsolete multi-story industrial. With the state’s purchase of the 35-acre Cornfields Rail Yard (now Los Angeles State Historic Park in progress) in 2001, the arrival of the Metro Gold Line in 2003, and the planned greenways along the Los Angeles River and the Arroyo Seco, the area is changing. Industrial sites are giving way to housing and mixed-use. The CASP attempts to steer this change.

The CASP is environmentally ambitious. The plan is one pilot for the US Green Building Council’s new “LEED-ND” (stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Neighborhood Development) – a new green building program for certifying multiple buildings in a neighborhood context.

Some highlights of progressive environmentally-friendly policies in the CASP:

CASP Open Space

Map of planned CASP Open Space

With an overall 15% open space requirement, the CASP plans a significant amount of public green space distributed throughout. Additionally, parcels along the L.A. River and the Arroyo Seco are limited to 50% lot coverage, so that, as development occurs, greenways emerges along these waterways.

The CASP unbundles parking from housing! Currently anyone who buys a condo in Los Angeles pays for two (or more) parking spaces. This is automatic, whether that owner ever parks car/s in them or not. As parking space can cost $20,000 to $40,000+ this requirement typically adds upwards of $50,000 to the purchase price of the condo. Unbundling means that the home and the parking are sold separately. The buyer can chose to buy only as much parking as she or he needs. Bicyclists could purchase none. Single people or small families could purchase just one. This makes housing more affordable, and incentivizes reducing excessive car ownership.
Additional excellent parking reforms include: parking maximums (instead of minimums), bicycle parking requirements, shared parking, parking design requirements, parking meter zones and more. It may not be parking sage Don Shoup‘s paradise, but it goes a long way in that direction.

Bikeways in the CASP.  Red lines are paths, blue lines are lanes.

Map of Planned Bikeways in the CASP. Bike paths show in red, bike lanes in blue.

The CASP plans an impressive network of bike facilities. There will be bike paths along the Los Angeles River and the Arroyo Seco. There will be bike lanes on North Figueroa Street, Avenue 26, Pasadena Avenue, San Fernando Road/Avenue 20, Avenue 19, Barranca Street, Avenue 18, North Broadway, North Spring Street, and North Main Street!

Those are just some of the highlights, there are many more environmental and smart urban design features. For more information, there’s quite a bit of detailed documentation on-line about the CASP:
>Overall CASP Website
>Notice Preparation of Environmental Impact Report
(400KB 4-page pdf)
>Initial Study and CEQA Checklist (3MB 33-page pdf – good 17-page summary)
>Draft CASP Ordinance (14 multi-page pdfs)
>CASP Frequently Asked Questions

(This entry has been cross-posted at L.A. Creek Freak and L.A. Streetsblog )

Events This Week!

March 16, 2009 § Leave a comment

A shout-out to some important events this week – including important hearings TODAY for the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan (CASP.) Just click the links or read below for more info on the CASP and March for Water:

Monday 3pm & 6pm – Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan meetings more below
Tuesday 7pm – Joe & Damien’s Internet Class
Saturday 8am – Tour de Sewer Bike Ride on the Rio Hondo
Sunday 10am – March for Water more below

A shot of river-cat artist Leo Limon at the conlfuence of the L.A. River and the Arroyo Seco - a site located in (and hopefully to be transformed by) the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan (photo pilfered from the Nature Trumps blog)

River-cat artist Leo Limon at the historic conlfuence of the L.A. River and the Arroyo Seco - a site located in (and hopefully to be transformed by) the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan (photo pilfered from the Nature Trumps blog)

Creek Freaks, bicyclists, and livable cities advocates should plan to attend one of today’s two meetings on the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan – called the CASP. The meetings are today – Monday March 16th at 3pm and 6pm at Goodwill in Lincoln Heights. (It’s the same meeting repeated twice.)

The CASP is a new L.A. City Specific Plan being written by the Department of City Planning, to be approved later by the City Council. A specific plan is a smaller subset of the city’s general plan and includes stuff like zoning (what kinds of private buildings and uses can go where) and street designations (what kinds of public spaces can go where – including bike lanes, sidewalks, car capacity), among many things. The CASP is attempting to plan the future of the area from Chinatown to Lincoln Heights into a neighborhood that embraces the river, instead of turns its back on it.

Creek Freak has mentioned the CASP a few times, but we haven’t gotten around to giving you, our readers, a full report about it… maybe after today’s hearings I can get to this. My quick take is that it’s an important step in the right direction in terms of urban form – bicycle and pedestrian friendly streets, transit-oriented development, etc. – which is very important for sustainability, and something that I believe in strongly. Urban form is what plans are good at influencing, and the CASP is excellent (maybe even pushy!) in designating great things like pedestrian paseos, bike lanes, and road diets where in the past the city would have designated lots more space for cars, cars, and even more cars.

Where earlier versions of the CASP seem to fall a little short (of Creek Freak’s high standards) is actual river revitalization. It’s not clear to me how a city specific plan can actually do this and not get tangled up in lawsuits. There are laws against “takings” – ie: in today’s Los Angeles, it’s nearly impossible just take a privately-owned factory zoned as a factory and re-zone it as a public park, because that would cause a private owner to lose value. Industrial areas along the river can become parks, but it’s going to take community activism and political will (as opposed to civil servants coming up with a new specific plan.)

Come to the CASP meetings TODAY. I’ll be at the 3pm meeting.

Lastly, here’s an inspirational video for us to watch to get inspired for this Sunday’s March for Water – which starts at 10am at the Cornfield – aka Los Angeles State Historic Park, adjacent to the Metro Gold Line Chinatown Station. The clip is an excerpt from the movie FLOW – For Love Of Water.

News and Upcoming Events – March 11 2009

March 11, 2009 § Leave a comment

This week’s leaks that pique creek freaks beaks! (eek!)


>Yesterday in Metblogs, Will Campbell reports that portions of the Ballona Creek Bike Path will be closed and closed some more.

>Yesterday the Eastsider Blog reported that the Los Angeles City Council passed Los Angeles City Councilmember Ed Reyes’ motion directing the city’s Planning Department, General Services Department and River Revitalization Corporation to do the groundwork for a Request for Proposals process for the re-use of the Lincoln Heights Jail. The LA City Historical-Cultural Landmark Lincoln Heights Jail is located on Avenue 19 adjacent to the Los Angeles River – a stone’s throw from its historic confluence with the Arroyo Seco. The initial art deco building was built in 1930 with a less remarkable addition tacked on in 1949. The jail has been closed for many years. Its ground floor has housed a few cultural institutions, including the Bilingual Foundation for the Arts, though it’s best known as a film location.

>On February 24th, Daily News reporter explores home damage attributed to construction on the Moorpark Street Bridge over the Tujunga Wash in Studio City. LAist reports that neighbors fear more of the same with rehabilitation of the nearby Fulton Avenue Bridge over the Los Angeles River.

>Speaking of the river at Fulton Avenue in Sherman Oaks, the Village Gardeners of the Los Angeles River have their own new website which includes an active blog! See below for their Earth Day Clean-Up event.

>Speaking of home damages, On February 7th, the Long Beach Press Telegram reported the latest in a series of local floods damaging homes in West Long Beach (in the Dominguez Slough watershed.) See also the accompanying photo gallery and the follow-up article. Maybe some multi-benefit watershed management strategies could help break this cycle?

Check out recent LA Times blogs coverage of:
> Restoration at Machado Lake in Wilmington (more-or-less at the mouth on the Dominguez Slough Watershed)
> Opening of the new extension of Ralph Dills Park – located on the L.A. River in the city of Paramount
> Replacing of the 1932 Sixth Street Viaduct over the L.A. River. This unfortunate project proposes to put a contemporary 6-lane highway in place of one of our most historic and iconic bridges. The bridge, undermined by internal chemical issues, does need some work, but stay tuned to see if the city can do something that respects its scale and beauty. (Read the comments which include “Who came up with the bland design for the new bridge?”)

>Want to save energy, prevent greenhouse gas emissions and stem the tide of global warming? Worldchanging reports that conserving water is one of the most effective ways to reduce energy use. This is especially true in the city of Los Angeles where our pumping to deliver our water consumes about a quarter of all the energy we generate!


>This Saturday March 14th from 8am to 2pm, North East Trees hosts a day of service to remove invasive plants from the wetlands at Rio de Los Angeles State Park in Cypress Park.

>On Sunday March 15th, Friends of the L.A. River (FoLAR) lead their monthly river walk in Atwater Village. Meet at the end of Dover Street at 3:30pm.

>The L.A. City Planning Department hosts two public hearings about the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan – called the “CASP” (or maybe the CASSP?) The same meeting takes place on Monday March 16th at 3pm and 6pm at Goodwill Industries in Lincoln Heights.

>On Tuesday evenings from 7-9pm March 17th and 24th, L.A. Creek Freak‘s Joe Linton and L.A. Streetsblog‘s Damien Newton will teach our highly-informative internet skills class. Learn how to use easy, free internet applications to promote your non-profit and/or business. Start your own blog!

>Bicycle the Rio Hondo at the unfortunately-named-but-actually-really-fun 24th annual Tour de Sewer on Saturday March 21st.

March for Water on Saturday March 22nd!

March for Water on Saturday March 22nd!

>On Sunday March 22nd from 9am to 3pm, the March for Water will take place. Marchers will walk from Los Angeles State Historic Park to Rio De Los Angeles State Park to raise awareness of bring attention to the present water crisis taking place all over the world, our nation, the state and the city of Los Angeles. Conveners include Urban Semillas, Food and Water Watch, Anahuak Youth Sports Association, Green L.A. Coalition, and many more!

>On Thursday March 26th at 12noon at a Los Angeles Natural History Museum Research and Collections Seminar, L.A. Creak Freek’s Joe Linton will speak on “The Los Angeles River: Its Past, Present and Possible Future.” There’s no cost for the seminar, but if you’re not a member you’ll have to pay to get into the museum.

>On Saturday and Sunday April 17th and 18th from 9am to 12noon, the Village Gardeners of the Los Angeles River invite the public to help clean up, mulch, and plant natives at the Richard Lillard Outdoor Classroom in Sherman Oaks.

>FoLAR’s annual La Gran Limpieza (the Great LA River Clean-Up) will take place on Saturday May 9th.

>The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition hosts their 9th Annual Los Angeles River Ride on Sunday June 7th.

Recent News, Upcoming Events 2008 October 30

October 30, 2008 § Leave a comment

A sporadic consolidation of news and events designed to appeal to the discriminating tastes of local creek freaks:

The endangered Arroyo Toad (public domain photo from Wikipedia)

The endangered Arroyo Toad (public domain photo from Wikipedia)

Amplexus is the technical term for toad nooky. KPCC environmental reporter Ilsa Setziol blogs on amphibian species found in local mountain waterways.

Jenny price recently became an artist. Accidentally.  Price, a person who can really write about urban nature, blogs on the need for artists’ imagination to reconnect our populace with our local rivers.  Creek Freaks should get hip to her role as an urban ranger, read Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in L.A., and sign-up for LA River tours that she leads.

Anahuak is “not just about soccer anymore,” Macias said. “It’s about making good citizens. That’s why I feel satisfaction. Doing this has made me feel that I have a mission.”  The Los Angeles Times reports on Raul Macias, the man behind the youth soccer league that’s revitalizing the Los Angeles River and connecting communities with nature.  (Via The City Project blog.)

I picked up a paddle to make a point about protecting the integrity of our waters.  Threatened with suspension, Los Angeles River kayaker and federal Army Corps of Engineers biologist Heather Wylie pens an editorial for the Los Angeles Times.  (Lest you misinterpret, the Times states that “The opinions expressed are her own and do not reflect the official views of the [Army] Corps. [of Engineers]”)

Upcoming Events:

Election Day is Tuesday November 4th!  Vote like your local creek depended on it.

Come see the city of Los Angeles’ latest proposals for the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan at two open house meetings: Thursday November 6th at 6pm at Ann Street School and Saturday November 8th at 10am at Goodwill.

Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti invites you to “A Day on the River” on Saturday November 8th from 9am to 11:30am at Crystal Street Bicycle Park in Elysian Valley.

Urban Photo Adventures hosts a Los Angeles River photography tour on November 8th and 9th.  Includes presentations by blogger, author and procrastinator Joe Linton.

The city of Los Angeles’ Ad Hoc River Committee meets on Monday November 17th at 3pm at City Hall.

Check out the latest designs for Los Angeles State Historic Park on Thursday November 20th at 6:30pm at the Los Angeles Conservation Corps Clean and Green headquarters.

Friends of the Los Angeles River offers two new tours: Saturday November 22nd bike tour (led by Ramona Marks) and Sunday December 7th lower Los Angeles River bus tour (led by Jenny Price.)

Don’t forget about the downtown Los Angeles Public Library’s map exhibition, which closes January 22nd 2009.

(Thanks to the city of Los Angeles’ river revitalization headlines for posting some of these events, and especially their associated documents.)

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