Bleak New Year For Los Angeles River Parklands Unless Developer Walks Away From Sale


The clock is ticking down on 2011. In Los Angeles, this means time is running out for an industrial development firm to decide whether to exercise its option to purchase a key parcel of land along the Los Angeles River. The decision that Trammell Crow Company makes in the next few days will determine the fate of the community’s long-term vision of a restored riverfront and adjacent parklands and green space.

The neighborhoods I’m talking about are located just north of downtown Los Angeles and are among the most park-poor areas in the region. Much like the nearby neighborhood of El Sereno, which I blogged about recently, communities like Cypress Park and Elysian Valley historically have lacked nearby parks and green spaces where kids can play and residents can exercise and experience nature.

These communities have been trying to address this disparity through the planning process. In the 1990s, residents worked with business, faith-based, environmental and social justice groups to develop a long-term vision of a 100-acre state park at Taylor Yard that would include the restoration of adjacent lands along the Los Angeles River. This vision has now been widely adopted by elected officials and government agencies, and was developed through consensus, building largely on the results of community organizing and planning efforts.

After a decade of controversy, lawsuits and relentless community activism, the first phase of Rio de Los Angeles State Park – the first new state park in Los Angeles in a generation – opened to the public on Earth Day of 2007. The next phase would mean extending the park to the banks of the Los Angeles River, through the acquisition of Taylor Yard’s 44-acre Parcel G-2.

The historic landowner, Union Pacific Railroad, has taken a phased approach to abandoning and selling off parcels of land at Taylor Yard. The state purchased the first 40 acres for Rio de Los Angeles State Park in December 2001, and another 18 acres of riverfront when it became available in 2003. The railroad finally demolished the facilities at Parcel G-2 in late 2009, but various factors have thus far complicated public acquisition.

Now, Trammell Crow Company has entered into a purchase option agreement with the railroad, with the stated intention of developing the riverfront Parcel G-2 for industrial use. The purchase option expires at the end of 2011.

Earlier this month, members of the original Coalition for a State Park at Taylor Yard, including NRDC, and many new supporters wrote a joint letter to Trammell Crow urging it to drop its purchase option. Unfortunately, Trammell Crow has not responded to our letter or to our numerous attempts to follow up.

As we state in the letter, our Coalition defeated a previous development proposal that did not square with the community’s vision. The community has grown significantly stronger since then. If Trammell Crow moves forward with its purchase and acts on its stated intention to build industrial warehouses at Taylor Yard, it will have a mighty battle on its hands.

We have urged Trammell Crow repeatedly not to exercise its option, and are doing so again here. If you would like to help, please sign this petition sponsored by The River Project and urge your friends and family to do the same. Do it quickly, as time is running out – we only have until December 31st to influence this decision. The right choice could head off a costly battle and help these communities attain their vision of creating a riverfront state park for all to enjoy.

Photo credit: The City Project