April 30, 1998 - From the April, 1998 issue

California’s Oldest RDA Turns Fifty: L.A. City’s Community Redevelopment Agency

By John Molloy, Administrator, Los Angeles CRA

April 1998 marks the 50th anniversary of the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA). With its roots in the nation's post-war effort to save our central cities in the face of the rush toward suburbanization, the Los Angeles CRA has hung in there and fought for the preservation and revitalization of Los Angeles' inner-city areas for 50 years. 

Our mission statement states simply that we will not stand by and let any area of the City of Los Angeles fall into deterioration and decline without a fight. From our traditional base in Downtown, we have expanded our efforts to 29 adopted redevelopment areas, four revitalization areas, six redevelopment study areas and twelve 'targeted' neighborhoods. Most of our areas of operation are now outside of Downtown. 

The agency has adopted a strategic plan which will guide its operations into the new millennium. We have formulated investment-based strategies for South Los Angeles, Downtown, Hollywood areas and the Valley which are beginning to experience signs of deterioration. Special strategies have also been developed for San Pedro and the Harbor area, East Los Angeles, and Wilshire Center/Koreatown. 

Our strategy in each of these areas is grounded in partnerships. In each of our areas we work with either a specially dedicated citizens advisory group (we have 26) or with Cham­bers of Commerce, special citizens' task forces or existing citizens or business associations. 

Virtually all our work is done in partnership with the private sector. We are very active in working with nonprofit developers. All our construction work is bid out to private sector contractors. The Agency's efforts have resulted in billions in new investment for Los Angeles and many thousands of new construction and permanent jobs. 

In South Los Angeles the Agency is working to foster new growth and development at a series of specific investment nodes throughout the area. Exposition Park/USC, Central Avenue, Watts, Broadway & Manchester, Vermont & Manchester, Western & Manchester, Crenshaw Mall/Leimert Park, and Washington Boulevard are examples of these nodes.

The Agency has adopted seven new redevelopment project areas in South Los Angeles in the last five years. These new areas complement the traditional focal points at Exposition/USC, Watts, and Crenshaw. We are now working diligently to bring new public and private investment into these areas. The effort to completely revitalize Exposition Park is a cornerstone of this strategy including the museums, a new community center, parks, and the New Coliseum. 

In Downtown, we are focusing on implementing a series of major projects—the Arena, the renovation of the old Luby Building at Fourth and Broadway, the new Cathedral, Colburn School, Disney, Union Church, and the Japanese American National Museum are all projects we have contributed to. New housing in South Park and preservation/conversion of historic structures are also major focal points as is support for the several Business Improvements Districts (BIDs) which have formed in the area. 


In Hollywood, we are working to preserve historic structures (such as the Egyptian Theater), provide new housing and encourage new commercial development. A special emphasis is being placed on keeping the movie industry in the area. Major projects are on the drawing boards at Hollywood & Highland, Hollywood & Vine, and Hollywood & Western. The opening of the MTA Red Line subway at each of those three places will also be a major boost. We are very proud of the work which has been done to provide cleanup and security services to Hollywood Boulevard and look forward to those functions being permanently taken over by the BID.

In the Valley, we are working hard to develop and implement revitalization efforts in Canoga Park, Winnetka, Reseda, Laurel Canyon, North Hollywood, Panorama City, and Pacoima. We were pleased to note a new Targeted Neighborhood Initiative area along Van Nuys Boulevard. Efforts in the Valley are focusing on commercial revitalization and the provision of key public fa­cilities which can help to anchor commercial areas. 

In San Pedro, we are working to provide a new 16-screen cinema complex along with several key public improvements. We are also looking at a new redevelopment area there, which will include a major effort to better open the waterfront area for new commercial development. 

In East Los Angeles, the Agency is in the process of adopting a major new project area which will focus on commercial and industrial revitalization.

In Wilshire Center/Koreatown, the focus is on the development of the MTA stations, several key catalytic development sites, and public improvements. 

In addition to our geographically focused efforts, the Agency maintains an active housing pipeline with 1,500 units under construction or on the drawing boards citywide. We are very proud of our contribution to the renovation or construction of over 25,000 affordable units over the past 15 years. Our contributions to childcare, public services, public improvements, and the arts have also been substantial. 

I hope this gives your readers a feel for where CRA is headed over the next 50 years. We are very proud or what we have done in the first. Happy 50th CRA!


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