The debate over whether or not to allow a Fresh & Easy to open a new store on Crenshaw Boulevard at the intersection with 52nd Street with a large parking lot facing the street heads to the full City Council this Wednesday morning at 10:00 A.M. The matter was moved to the Full Council by the Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee without recommendation, despite the development’s strong support from the local Councilman, Bernard Parks.
The City Council needs to approve the development as planned because the placement of the parking lot means that it would violate the Crenshaw Specific Plan, which was previously approved by the Council. You can read about the proposed development, here. One of the great ironies of this project, is that the Ford Dealership that used to be on the lot now owned by Fresh & Easy did have a storefront directly on the sidewalk, with the cars being inside the company.
To be clear, nobody is arguing that there shouldn’t be any car parking for the site, but that it should be pushed behind or above the store so that pedestrians don’t have to cross through a dangerous parking lot to get to the store itself.
The debate over the opening should have been avoided but instead we see a community divided over whether or not to allow the development to exempt itself from the Crenshaw Specific Plan and build a parking lot at street level between the sidewalk and the entrance. The opening of a new store, especially one with the reputation of Fresh & Easy, ought to be something the community can celebrate together. Instead, we have a fight over a parking lot.
On one side, we have residents clamoring for the benefits such a store would bring to the Crenshaw Corridor. On the other, we have residents demanding that the Specific Plan be adhered to and that Crenshaw be preserved as a walkable community as the community wants. This entire debate could have been avoided if Tesco, the parent group of Fresh & Easy, had moved with a plan similar to the one other South L.A. stores have received.
Community groups, such as Hyde Park Organizational Partnership for Empowerment (HOPE), have insisted that the lot be pushed behind or above the store so that the pedestrian environment along Crenshaw Boulevard is enhanced, not made more dangerous and less appealing. A letter prepared by HOPE for the City Council can be found at the end of this article.
That being said, there are factions of the community that look forward to the arrival of the Fresh & Easy, parking issues be damned. The Park Mesa Heights Community Council sees the development as an important part of the redevelopment plans for the region. PMHCC has been at least as active in promoting the market to the neighborhood as HOPE has been in demanding that the plan follow the Crenshaw Specific Plan. Naturally, supporters of the project have their own action alert to fill Council Chambers on Wednesday.
While the outcome of Wednesday’s hearing is uncertain, what is clear is that nobody benefits from a fight over parking and whether or not the developers is following the areas planning documents. Even if Fresh & Easy wins on Wednesday, the ugly fight could be a blemish on the store that follows it for years.
All of that so that they could place a parking lot where it doesn’t belong.
City Council of Los Angeles
200 N. Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
RE: HOPE’s Appeal of the Proposed Fresh & Easy at 52nd/Crenshaw (Council File: 10-1537)
Dear Honorable Council Members:
I’m writing this letter to express my support for the Crenshaw community’s efforts to encourage pedestrian oriented design principles in new developments on Crenshaw Boulevard. In a city, where so many uses are auto-centric, the efforts of the Hyde Park Organizational Partnership for Empowerment (“HOPE”) to create a pedestrian oriented area in their South L.A. community deserve commendation.
Developing people-friendly business corridors is important to creating green, safer and enjoyable streets, addressing global warming, and strengthening the local economy, which should increase city tax revenue. These are the stated objectives of the City of Los Angeles, and I encourage you to put these goals into practice through the City Council’s land use decisions.
The Crenshaw community should not have to choose between a new grocer and compliance with the pedestrian orientated design guidelines of their Crenshaw Specific Plan. They deserve both. Don’t vote to short-change Crenshaw. Please vote to support the long-term Crenshaw community pedestrian-oriented vision by:
1) Upholding the appeal by HOPE, and
2) Encouraging the developer to sit down with the group to come up with a design for the site that complies with the Crenshaw Specific Plan.
SENT TO: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cc: Winnifred Jackson, HOPE President (email@example.com)