Renewal Being Studied for 2 Communities : Redevelopment: Councilman Mike Hernandez hopes light industry and jobs can be brought to Glassell Park and Cypress Park.
At the request of recently elected City Councilman Mike Hernandez, the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency is examining whether redevelopment could be used to bring new industry and jobs to the economically depressed communities of Glassell Park and Cypress Park.
The agency’s preliminary study will cover the area between the Los Angeles River and Cypress Avenue, taking in the manufacturing strip along San Fernando Road and the adjacent residential neighborhoods, which consist mostly of run-down houses built in the early part of the century. The study area also includes the largely vacant Taylor Train Yard that once provided hundreds of jobs but was closed in 1985.
In recent years, many large businesses have left the area, said Eduardo Reyes, planning deputy for Hernandez. Often, they left behind toxic contamination that has deterred new businesses from attempting to develop the land, leaving large tracts vacant, Reyes said.
Hernandez, who lives in Cypress Park and was elected in November to the Los Angeles City Council, wants to use redevelopment to attract new, environmentally sensitive light manufacturers that could provide employment opportunities for the area’s mainly Latino population.
If the preliminary study concludes that the neighborhood would benefit from becoming a redevelopment area, the agency would conduct a full feasibility study, including an environmental impact report and public hearings, said John Spalding, director of planning for the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency.
Spalding said it could take between two and three years before any project would actually begin.
For a neighborhood to be designated a redevelopment area in Los Angeles, the City Council must find that it suffers from social and economic blight and that “private enterprise, working on its own, cannot revitalize the area,” Spalding said.
The preliminary study, which will take about three months to complete, will examine the income level and employment rate of residents, the age and condition of buildings, and the value of the land in an area bounded by the Glendale city limit, Figueroa Street, Cypress Avenue and the river.
When a redevelopment area is formed, property taxes within the project boundaries are frozen. Then, typically, when new construction takes place, causing land values to increase, the increased property taxes are directed to the redevelopment agency to use to further assist the project area.
The money can be used for low-interest loans to other prospective developers, public improvements including streets and sewers, housing construction loans or social programs such as job training.
The city can also obtain properties in a redevelopment area through eminent domain to sell to private parties.
Redevelopment has sometimes been criticized as a means for well-heeled private developers to build high-toned shopping centers, hotels and office buildings at the expense of small businesses, residents and taxpayers.
But Reyes said Hernandez does not intend to use redevelopment to turn the economically depressed area into a regional retail center with pricey stores.
If retail outlets do come into the area, Reyes said, they will be of a type such as Price Club, suited to residents of the area. But mostly, Reyes said, Hernandez wants the San Fernando corridor to be a bustling manufacturing center.
“It’s definitely not a Santa Monica Third Street mall, it’s not a Pasadena Old Town,” Reyes said. “The bottom line is, we want to generate jobs for the surrounding community.”
Hernandez said he had formed no clear plan for how to improve the area’s housing stock. However, he said he would support the development of affordable housing in the area if it is quality housing with open space for recreation.
“I want housing that is affordable, that makes sense for families for kids to have space to play,” Hernandez said.