East Edition

Downey seeks transit-oriented development

DOWNEY — As Los Angeles County plans a $468 million redevelopment of its 173-acre site in the extreme southwest corner of the city, city officials are urging that at least some of the project compliment a proposed light rail commuter station in the adjoining area of Garfield Avenue and Gardendale Street.

To that end, the City Council June 13 hired the Raleigh, North Carolina-based firm of Kimley-Horn and Associates, with local offices in Orange, to study the site and propose a specific plan for a “transit-oriented” development.

The study will take about two years and cost $424,980, said Aldo E. Schindler, Downey’s community development director. Appropriately, the study will be funded by a $425,000 grant from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, he said.

Currently the half-empty site south of Imperial Highway offers a variety of development choices but except for some industrial operations, the property is sparsely developed with many vacant lots and boarded up buildings.

It’s known as the south campus of Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, a well-known trauma center owned by the county.

Schindler said county plans include the relocation of some government agencies to the site plus a $10 million, five-acre soccer complex on the extreme south end off Gardendale Street.

In a report to the council, Schindler said the consulting firm will be asked to prepare a new development plan which includes removing some current building regulations with up-to-date construction standards.

Although the county does not have to follow the city’s plan in connection with buildings to house government agencies and departments, Los Angeles County officials are pledged to work with the city, the MTA and the Paramount-based Eco Rapid Transit Authority, a regional agency planning the light rail line along abandoned Union Pacific tracks from Artesia through Bellflower, Downey, South Gate and Paramount before heading north through Bell, Bell Gardens and Huntington Park to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, Schindler said.

In a separate item, the council reviewed plans for the soccer complex, to be built with a $10 million allocation from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. The allocated was proposed by former Supervisor Don Knabe last November, who convinced his colleagues that a recreation site was needed in the area to serve the public.

Schindler said the five acres are bounded by Ericson Avenue on the west, Bonita Street (south of Imperial) on the north, Gardendale on the south and the St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy to the east.

Schindler said city staff has been working with county officials on the concept, which includes two to three soccer fields, a building housing restrooms, offices, concessions, storage and community meeting rooms, plus a 74-space parking lot off Gardendale.

The parking lot would take an old building used in recent years by the Downey Rose Float Association to design and build the city’s entry in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena on New Year’s Day. Schindler said county officials have pledged to find a new location on the development site for the volunteer organization.

The county has offered to lease the soccer complex to the city for 20 years for $1 a year with the city taking over maintenance and paying any costs over the $10 million, Schindler said.

City Manager Gil Livas said the item was placed on the agenda for council and audience comment. Mayor Pro Tem Sean Ashton asked if additional land could be obtained. A member of the audience called for restrooms and other accommodations for the elderly and handicapped.

The item was received and filed pending future study.

In other action June 13, the council appointed Deputy City Clerk Maria Alicia Durante to act as interim city clerk and hired the firm of Roberts Consulting Group of Sherman Oaks, to search for a new clerk for a fee of  $16,000.

Former City Clerk Adria Jimenez resigned last month to accept a similar position in Buena Park.