Industrial Land Use

In recent weeks, dozens of Downtown Los Angeles stakeholders have criticized a plan by the city Planning Department and the Community Redevelopment Agency that would prohibit residential development on approximately 80% of Downtown’s industrial-zoned land.  The Los Angeles Planning Department and CRA last month unveiled a plan for addressing Downtown’s industrial-zoned land. The study, which largely reiterates the findings of planners’ controversial 2006 Industrial Development Policy Initiative, divides Downtown’s industrial-zoned land into four categories.  Most of the property, approximately 80%, falls into Employment Protection Districts, where planners recommend retaining exclusively industrial uses.

The report, which planners released as a staff memo on Jan. 3, is meant to guide the Planning Department and CRA staff on where to approve residential construction and where to oppose it.  Some members of the industrial community also question the boundaries. Frank Gallo, vice president of Downtown’s Rancho Cold Storage, just west of the Los Angeles River between Sixth and Seventh streets, said that an Employment Protection District adjacent to a district with residential development will not deliver any new benefits to industrial users.

“The boundaries should be along major arteries, not secondary streets,” he said. “Define it as a proper industrial area, or define it as residential, and we’ll deal with it. We just don’t want to end up landlocked, and we don’t want to see spot zoning.”

“You need to step back and put it in the proper perspective,” said Jack Kyser, senior vice president and chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. Noting the current saturated housing market and the strong demand for industrial land, he said that prohibiting residential development in key industrial areas and investing in industrial infrastructure will bring the city new and lucrative industrial development. – excerpts from Los Angeles Downtown News 1/14/08. more information on this subject can be found at blogdowntown

Contessa frozen food plant – new “green” standard

contessa.JPGContessa Premium Foods offered a VIP sneak peek of its Green Cuisine Plant, the world’s first and largest environmentally responsible, LEED-certified frozen food manufacturing plant. The City of Commerce will rename the street where the plant is “Contessa Drive.”This is the first time the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification to a frozen-food manufacturing facility. The LEED rating system is the national standard for design, construction, and operation of green buildings. It recognizes five areas of environmental and human health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and selection of materials. Located in Los Angeles CA, the new plant is a 4 million-cubic-foot facility, costing more than $35 million, that will produce up to 150 million pounds of product the first year alone. The facility, its processes, and the product manufactured there will be known as Green Cuisine.

California Export & Unemployment Numbers Up

In November, California led the nation in total exports ($12.8 billion) using the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ (BEA) U.S. Principal Parties of Interest (USPPI) series. Texas had the second highest total export value for the month ($11.7 billion). Year-over-year, California’s total exports increased by +9.7% while Texas’ total exports increased by +5.9%. In the area of manufactured exports, Texas edged out California with $9.6 billion versus $9.0 billion (year-over-year increases of +5.0% and +9.7% respectively). Year-to-date (YTD), total California exports increased by +7.6% (to $117.7 billion) compared with the first eleven months of 2006.

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) released December unemployment estimates last week.  Seasonally adjusted, the Los Angeles County unemployment rate was 5.6%, up from 5.3% in November, from 5.1% in October, and from 4.5% a year earlier.  December was the seventh consecutive month that the County’s unemployment rate increased over the previous year.

In Los Angeles Commercial Real Estate