(This article has been updated with relevant links below)
Industrial property owners in the West Rancho Dominguez Planning District of Los Angeles County are facing another downzone in the Metro Area Plan. The M1 (Light Manufacturing) is being replaced by a new, more restrictive category, M.0.5 (Artistic Production and Custom Manufacturing). This zoning limitation will reduce the pool of economically feasible tenants and lower the rents property owners can charge. While most citizens of Los Angeles don’t cry over the landlord’s income, the unintended consequence will be plant relocations and job losses.
The new zoning will limit uses to artisanal craft manufacturing, tech, or life sciences. Not generally uses that are either profitable or likely to be found in Gardena. Truckyards will also be affected by the double headed ordinances of Green Zone and the Metro Area Plan. Many of the properties were either recently purchased or developed with new warehouses at very great cost. Will these properties still be able to serve their highest and best use?
The zone change procedure is weighted in favor of local residents. The stated purpose of the downzone is to reverse inequality and the discriminatory origins of land use. Community engagement between County Staff and local residents started some 18 months before industrial property owners were notified. There were a large series (almost 20) of workshops, popups, and meetings to explain the Metro Area Plan and obtain feedback. I wish the County would have taken the same care with local property owners and businesses who will bear the expense of new zoning regulations. Similar to the Green Zone rollout, property owners were not notified until the ordinance was headed to Public Notice. Sadly, the planners said because of budget limitations, the County is only obligated to what is minimally regulated by state notification requirements.
If the County had asked local business what they thought of the new zone changes, they might get a response as from one client, “They are determined to destroy the economy of California.” Even by the County’s own analysis in the companion economic study, there are many industries in West Rancho that have a high Location Quotient (LQ). LQ is a measurement of employment concentration and export creating industries. Companies with the highest LQ in West Rancho include manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, and wholesale trade. Will these predominant uses be compatible with Artisan Production and Custom Manufacturing?
The entire South Bay is one of the primary industrial hubs in the entire United States and West Rancho is its center. The region serves the nation’s largest port complex in San Pedro Bay and local industries manufacture many critical products for the nation’s resilience. In emergency times like these when industrial policy has risen to the nation’s top security challenge, West Rancho is an industrial job engine. County Leaders, thank you for improving our lives. Residents value better schools, housing, jobs, safety, and opportunity. Please stop the downzones and regulations that drive business away.
Metro Area Plan project website.
Under the “Documents/Recordings” tab, you’ll find links to the draft Metro Area Plan, and the Draft Implementation Ordinance (this includes the use tables – if you’d like to recommend edits or corrections please feel free to mark up a copy or make a list and return it to MetroAreaPlan@planning.
Under “Environmental Impact Report,” the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Report and Appendices are available, and at the bottom of the page below the Historical Context Statements are links to recordings of all public outreach meetings that were held. More details of all of the outreach for this project can be found under the “Community Outreach” tab.