Equity in Planning
Photo by Nolwen Cifuentes
Systemic inequity in our planning and land use policies has fostered our current housing crisis, with Los Angeles still reeling from the racist practice of redlining. This federal policy segregated urban areas into zones based on their demographic and physical characteristics. The result was racial segregation and generational and systematic disinvestment in many neighborhoods of color. Meanwhile, affluent neighborhoods have actively resisted any growth, especially in the form of affordable housing, while communities of color have become dumping grounds for facilities not wanted anywhere else, such as freeways, airports and landfills.
Opportunity for Change
The City of Los Angeles updates its 35 community plans on a regular cycle. These community plans determine the future vision for growth and development in LA’s neighborhoods.
Community organizations and low-income residents have a vital role to play in determining the future of their community, including the creation and preservation of affordable housing, access to parks, and safe streets.
ACT-LA envisions a transit-rich Los Angeles where all people have access to quality jobs, affordable housing, necessary social services, ample transportation options, and a voice in shaping the growth of their neighborhoods. To achieve this new Los Angeles, we must change the way planning and development occurs. The community planning process in Los Angeles must be inclusive, diverse and where all residents have a voice in decision-making, especially residents who have been marginalized. Equitable community development requires strong community leadership to shape community plans that will create healthy and thriving neighborhoods.
Resources and Updates
Resource: A Guide to Equitable Community Planning
ACT-LA and Public Counsel have developed a guide for equitable community planning, Planning for an Equitable Los Angeles: A Guide to Shaping LA’s New Community Plans, centered on five core principles we believe will help facilitate community-led planning and equitable development:
- Growth and preservation of affordable housing
- Inclusive economic development that supports workers and businesses
- Community health and environmental justice
- Liveable, publicly accessible, walkable and bikeable public areas
- Community leadership and authentic engagement
Within this guide we provide a series of tools that community group stakeholders may consider in a campaign to advance equitable development in the community plan updates. These tools draw on best practices, lessons from previous efforts, and the experiential knowledge of ACT-LA organizations and resident leaders. We hope that this guide will support community-led efforts to advance equity, inclusion and opportunity in the City’s community plan updates. The leadership and experiential knowledge of affected low-income communities should ultimately drive an equitable community plan campaign. Download the report here.
“People’s Plan Helps Shape South and Southeast L.A. Community Plans” (Streetsblog LA, November 22, 2017)
The community plan updates present a key opportunity for low-income residents of color and progressive community groups to directly shape policies and development regulations that will help create the neighborhoods we collectively want. It is never too early to begin planning for a community-driven campaign to engage in the community plan updates. Residents banding together in local community groups to identify community priorities, concerns and recommendations generates immense political power yet also requires organizing and engagement. Developing a cohesive policy platform at any point in but ideally in advance of the city’s formal process will enable more effective engagement.