Two state senators and leaders of environmental groups called Friday for a moratorium on development plans for the sprawling Taylor Railroad Yard along the Los Angeles River, contending that potential parkland is being sacrificed for box-like warehouses.
At a news conference on the river’s edge across from the mainly vacant train yard, Sens. Richard G. Polanco (D-Los Angeles) and Tom Hayden (D-Los Angeles) denounced two recent deals to sell about 90 of the yard’s available 160 acres for industrial, large-scale retail and entertainment-production uses.
“People want a balance between job creation and open space, and their wishes have not been heard,” said Polanco, whose Los Angeles district includes the yard. “This is a large parcel that should not be developed in a stealth manner.”
The protest statements were made as a kind of preview for today’s conference about the Los Angeles River and adjacent lands being held at the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles. The conference, titled “The River Through Downtown,” is expected to highlight ideas for recreation, housing and flood control at the yard and other locations.
Located between San Fernando Road and the river’s east bank, south of the Glendale Freeway, the once-bustling Taylor yard closed most of its operations in the 1980s. Union Pacific railroad, its owner, still operates a rail line and engine maintenance facility there but is seeking to sell most of the rest.
Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and the area’s councilman, Mike Hernandez, have been strong boosters of projects that they say will create jobs, particularly for residents of the adjacent Glassell Park and Cypress Park neighborhoods.
A moratorium on development plans would kill momentum and scare away any other interested businesses, said Steven Carmona, an official on the Riordan administration’s L.A. Business Team. “Right now, the economy has just turned, and we are trying to take advantage of that,” he said.
Hernandez, in an interview Friday, said development plans are in the early stages and do not preclude river parks. “Nothing is set in cement. It is a process that is evolving,” Hernandez said. He stressed, however, that community studies five years ago advocated jobs and shops most of all at Taylor yard.
Polanco and Hayden offered few specifics about how much of the yard they want set aside as open space. As chairman of the Senate’s Natural Resources Committee, Hayden warned that state funds earmarked for other park projects along the river in Los Angeles might be blocked if the Taylor yard is “re-industrialized.”
Other speakers Friday included representatives of the Sierra Club, the Friends of the Los Angeles River and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.
Last month, the Lincoln property Co. of Dallas agreed to purchase a 53-acre piece of the rail yard for a business park catering to companies that work behind the scenes on film and television production and cannot find space in Burbank or Glendale.
Previously, Chicago-based Dalan Development Co. announced plans for a large retail project on 40 acres nearby. Both those deals may require environmental impact studies, city officials said Friday.