Our Letter & Signers

An Open Letter from Urban and Civic Leaders to the Los Angeles City Council and Department of City Planning: The undersigned are a group of community members and leaders, architects, urban planners, developers, and academics who deeply care about the future of the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles. The Arts District is a unique and irreplaceable part of Downtown Los Angeles and we hope the City Council adopts a specific plan that will preserve the defining characteristics of our neighborhood — a plan designed to build on the innovation, creativity, and economic activity developed over the last three decades. The Arts District is a prime example of how proper planning and zoning can transform a blighted urban center. The Artist-in-Residence Ordinances have empowered artists and entrepreneurs to re-imagine and re-purpose an area that had been severely underutilized. If the Arts District is to maintain its unique place as a vibrant center of creativity, economic prosperity, and diversity,  a forward thinking land use policy should be adopted; a policy that will safeguard and promote these values. Rigid building codes and out-of-date urban planning practices should be set aside while a thoughtful evaluation of new tools is being conducted. The attached proposal for an Interim Land Use Policy framework in the Arts District was created with the goal of maintaining and strengthening the extraordinary diversity which has been a defining hallmark of the Arts District. It ensures that new projects will maintain a balance of creative space and live/work space. The proposal seeks to ensure that the creation of any new live/work spaces maintains the distinctive live/work environment characteristic of the Arts District — and does not promote the suburbanization of this vital urban center. Los Angeles has many multi-family residential neighborhoods, like West LA, but it has only ONE Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles. It is critical that the new area plan be designed to build on rather than undermine the defining characteristics of the Arts District.Specifically, we advocate that Type I and II buildings must be the primary method of construction and an appropriate density should be afforded to offset the cost of construction. Wood structures should be constructed in a way that will maximize the flexibility and adaptability of design and must maintain commercial capabilities. Live/work units should be designed with true live/work utilization in mind.  Live/work should provide the flexibility and structural integrity that promotes multiple uses. Live/work should not be diluted into a veiled excuse for turning the Arts District into a bedroom community. Ground floor space should be dedicated to traditional uses that enhance the pedestrian experience. It is wholly inconsistent with the characteristics of the District to undermine the pedestrian experience by allowing ground level parking. New construction in the Arts District should provide parking below or above street level. We feel strongly that the Department of City Planning should craft a land use policy based on the long-term best interest of Los Angeles and the community as a whole, a policy that is uniform and evenly applied, a policy that protects the defining characteristics of the District, and a policy that is not subject to endless variances granted to satisfy the needs of specific developers. We encourage you to use the attached draft ordinance as the building block for creating a meaningful land use policy for the Arts District. Respectfully, Here you will find the people behind the design of this ordinance and the people who support it. We would like to add your name too. You can lend your voice here.