What Are City Planning's Environmental Strategies?

Open Space

City Planners approach their work through the lens of equity, inclusivity, and sustainability. When these strategies are reflected in our work at community planning, environmental justice issues are addressed and remedied to better protect residents from potentially toxic conditions—namely, by improving the compatibility between industrial and residential uses.

One such Community Plan area where this is being addressed is Boyle Heights, of which approximately 20 percent has historically been zoned to allow for industrial and manufacturing uses. This zoning allowance has, over the decades, created local employment opportunities. While the Boyle Heights Community Plan seeks to maintain much of its industrial land for future employment, the Plan proposes numerous changes to address compatibility with the surrounding residential community, and to better protect the health and wellbeing of Angelenos who call Boyle Heights home.

Boyle Heights

These planning strategies have been made possible through the 2016 adoption of the Clean Up Green Up (CUGU) Ordinance, which established standards and regulations for heavy, noxious uses close to sensitive and/or residential uses. After extensive community organizing efforts, the ordinance was adopted as an overlay for the communities of Boyle Heights, Pacoima/Sun Valley, and Wilmington. 

As part of the Boyle Heights Community Plan Update process, the regulations from CUGU will be incorporated into the new zoning for the Plan Area. The CUGU ordinance works to improve site planning, building design, and landscape buffering along freeways to help reduce negative health impacts to vulnerable residents—overarching strategies that the Boyle Heights Community Plan is incorporating through its tailored zoning regulations.

In addition to embedding CUGU’s permanent zoning regulations, the Boyle Heights Community Plan Update proposes new policies to address compatibility between industrial and residential neighborhoods by doing the following: 

  • ensuring that industrial land uses are safe for human health and the environment through mitigation of potential contaminants, and promoting the phasing out and relocation of facilities that handle hazardous materials near residents and schools 
  • discouraging potentially disruptive or hazardous industrial uses along streets that serve as boundaries between industrial areas and residential neighborhoods
  • mandating that new or rehabilitated industrial facilities permitted near a residential use incorporate the appropriate screening, landscaping, and enclosure for preventing exposure to activities that generate odor, noise, smoke, gas, fumes, cinder, or refuse 

To bring these policies into action, several changes are proposed for the zoning of industrial areas in Boyle Heights, including for the industrial areas where there are neighboring residential uses. The proposed zone changes confine future uses to lighter manufacturing, storage and distribution, and office space. Under this proposal, future heavy industrial uses will no longer be allowed, and existing uses would be phased out over time. 

Los Angeles

These proposed changes and others will ensure the equitable progression of the diverse community of Boyle Heights, all while preserving and protecting neighborhood identity and the rich cultural legacy of one of the City’s most historic areas. To read more about City Planning’s other sustainability efforts, please visit our website. Together, we are #Planning4LA.