Watch a video that students in Chinatown and Lincoln Heights made to show to Los Angeles leaders about their neighborhood.

By Remy De La Peza

An editorial in the Los Angeles Times praised an effort I’ve been involved in as “a model for L.A. planning.” Chinatown and Lincoln Heights residents together with the Southeast Asian Community Alliance have been working for the last couple of years to have real input into the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan (CASP), which will guide future development of homes and businesses in this historic, transit-rich area near downtown Los Angeles.

Public Counsel represents the Southeast Asian Community Alliance in this effort. As an attorney who helps residents have a voice in the very complicated planning process, the most important thing about the CASP is that the community has been empowered, mobilized, and heard by City staff and decisionmakers (so far – the plan still has to be approved by City Council).

Last year Slate described Los Angeles as being in the middle of a radical transit transformation. And that’s true. But the question that CASP brought front and center is: how can transit-related development happen so that everyone benefits, and nobody is left behind?

Community groups are asking these questions – not to slow down or stop this radical change, but to make sure that transit development is both fair and effective. That often means planning for and incentivizing affordable housing for the City’s existing core transit users – lower income, working families without cars.

This week Lizzeth Henao of the Natural Resources Defense Counsel wrote: “The involvement of minority communities is changing the way planning is done in LA; a change that is long overdue and will yield greater results.”

The Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan highlights what can happen when Los Angeles listens to and works with its community members.  It is my hope that this is one of many plans to come that truly values and integrates residents’ voices in the process.

Submitted by Remy Dela Peza, Attorney, Public Counsel. Original post can be found here.

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