City Council Seeks to Protect Little Tokyo
Seeking to preserve the historic and cultural feel of Little Tokyo, the city council has proposed changing the downtown zoning requirements to the point of removing Little Tokyo from the Downtown zoning area. The Planning Department didn’t like the idea of removing Little Tokyo as a whole, it would make tracking data for the downtown more difficult and isn’t necessary, it did provide some suggestions for protecting Little Tokyo from what the City Council terms:
…concern that Little Tokyo will be overtaken by the development activity in the rest of Downtown – eventually losing its distinct characteristics and becoming lost as part of Downtown proper.
The City Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee will hear the Planning Department’s recommendations at a hearing later today. Basically, the Department recommends changing the downtown’s community plan to promote the goals of preserving the community through restrained development, streetscaping and creating an improved pedestrian development.
1. Maintain the existing boundaries of the Central City Community Plan which include the Little Tokyo Community as defined by the Little Tokyo Redevelopment Project Area,
2. Through the Central City Community Plan Program, consider the development of design guidelines, land uses changes, and other planning implementation tools to preserve and promote the community’s unique character including possibly:
a. Establishing a Community Design Overlay District (CDO) to promote the distinctive character and visual quality of the Little Tokyo Community, to prevent the development of structures which are not of acceptable exterior design or appearance, and to provide for on-going community involvement in project design and the evolution of the Design Guidelines. The exact boundaries of the CDO would be refined through the public participation process.
b. Establishing a Streetscape Plan to reinforce the distinct identity of the Little Tokyo Community through consistent and appropriate, design of both public and private improvement projects within the public right-of-way.
c. Proposing land use changes and other planning tools in the context of the Central City Community Plan as a whole to address the community concerns regarding the types of uses and the intensity and density of development including the possible expansion or modification to an existing condition in order to create a pedestrian oriented environment or the development of Specific Plan to address design concerns, land use changes, and other land use regulations and incentives as appropriate .