Los Angeles Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores proposed new building restrictions this week along an industrial stretch of Gaffey Street at the north end of San Pedro.
The proposed limits are an outgrowth of a year-old proposal by the councilwoman to down-zone the Hiuka America Corp. scrap yard, which fronts on Gaffey and the Harbor Freeway. Residents west of Gaffey have complained for several years about noise and floodlights at the scrap yard.
The new proposal calls for down-zoning properties on both the east and west sides of Gaffey, which would include the Hiuka site, the British Petroleum and Petrolane tank farms, a self-storage complex and a small industrial park.
Under the new zoning, many of the existing businesses--including the scrap yard and tank farms--would be classified as so-called nonconforming uses that could not be expanded without special city permission. The new "limited light industry" designation would also allow the city to declare the nonconforming businesses a public nuisance, which would give city officials the power to restrict or shut operations.
"We want control over any industrial area that is adjacent to or in the proximity of residential areas," said Mario Juravich, a deputy to Flores who has been handling the down-zoning effort. "It is our responsibility to provide safety for the residents."
The new restrictions would prohibit new trucking operations and scrap yards on both sides of a three-quarter-mile segment of Gaffey, roughly from Basin Street north to the Naval Reservation, and would bar new recreation-vehicle storage, boat building and concrete manufacturing on the west side. The restrictions would also prevent the industrial properties from being converted to commercial uses.
In a motion approved by the City Council this week, Flores said the heavy industrial zones along Gaffey were created under the city's war emergency regulations in the 1940s and 1950s, when vacant land for industry near the port was considered a priority.
Today, with new residential developments in north San Pedro, Flores said, residents "overlook scrap metal yards, oil refineries and tank farms from which obnoxious smells and much noise at late hours often emanate."
Juravich said the decision to extend the restrictions to the west side of Gaffey came at the recommendation of a city hearing examiner in February. The hearing examiner said it did not make sense to only down-zone the east side, since the residential areas are actually closer to businesses on the west side. In March, the city's Planning Commission agreed.
Juravich said Flores had always intended to restrict industrial building on both sides of Gaffey but limited her original proposal to the east side because of complaints about the scrap yard. He said the Planning Department had told Flores it would be quicker and easier to restrict operations at the scrap yard if properties west of Gaffey were dealt with separately.
For Flores' proposed restrictions to become law, they must be approved by the Planning Commission, the City Council and Mayor Tom Bradley. A hearing examiner must also hold a public hearing.