CCA Reflects: Building a Better City

CCA Reflects: Building a Better City

Published Monday, February 4, 2019

As we plan for the new year and all of the exciting initiatives that will help continue growth in Downtown (DTLA), we want to reflect on how DTLA transformed into "America's most colorful neighborhood" (Forbes, 2017). This year marks 20 years since Staples Center opened and the adaptive reuse ordinance (ARO) passed, which were both critical elements in propelling DTLA into a dynamic residential neighborhood and entertainment destination. The ARO unlocked the incredible potential for housing in Downtown, and we quickly saw the number of households who call our neighborhood home nearly quadruple. Restaurants, bars, cultural venues and other amenities followed, making Downtown a vibrant place where people can work, live and play.

This transformation was not an accident. It happened because of the hard work of a coalition of bold leaders who believed early on in the potential of Downtown. Business owners, community activists and residents partnered with our elected and government officials for decades to improve the quality of life and implement our vision for DTLA.

However, even with all of these successes, we still have obstacles. Our region is facing a severe housing deficit, with estimates showing that the county is short more than one million housing units. We also are struggling to meet our collective responsibilities to solve our homelessness crisis. And, we still need more open space, schools and mobility options to create a world-class Downtown.

Part of the issue is that the City's planning process has not been able to keep up with current demands for all of these necessities, including housing. Long-term planning and updates to community plans are also lagging behind. We all know how complicated processes can be at City Hall, and the ad hoc decision-making process we have today makes it difficult to achieve results. This environment has resulted in a city with inequities and inconsistencies, and we must figure out ways to improve this system. We need to be able to have the City's planning experts carry out a citywide vision while maintaining oversight and balancing local community input.

Since 1924, CCA and its broad membership has been the group who believed in Downtown and had expertise in land use, planning and development. We acknowledge that we are all operating today under evolving circumstances and will remain flexible under this landscape. We are excited to work with the new Council committee makeup, supportive of discussions on campaign finance reform and encouraged by all of our leaders who continue to support Downtown, especially as we prepare for the CD 14 race in 2020 and the city redistricting process in 2021 that the new Councilmember will be a part of. We will work more closely than ever with our partners at City Hall to find ways to move our city forward so that we can continue to boost housing production, get people into housing and make our city a livable place for all.