Industrial burg of Vernon to make way for housing

City of 222 homes plans mixed-use apartments, pedestrian corridor on edge of L.A.

Vernon Mayor Leticia Lopez (iStock, City of Vernon)
Vernon Mayor Leticia Lopez (iStock, City of Vernon)

The City of Vernon, a vibrant industrial enclave in the heart of Los Angeles County, has just 222 homes – but that’s about to change, according to a new plan.

The city known for its manufacturing and rendering plants southeast of Downtown Los Angeles has launched an environmental review for a Westside Specific Plan to build mixed-use apartments, Urbanize Los Angeles reported.

The plan calls for developing an 840-acre swath along Alameda Street, Santa Fe Avenue, and portions of Pacific Boulevard in response to state mandated housing goals.

While the state allocates only nine new homes as part of its 2021-2029 housing element, the city wants to build housing and other nonindustrial developments in four clusters on the west side of town.

A nonprofit group tied to the California Association of Realtors has sued six Southland cities, including Vernon, for failing to meet state housing plan deadlines.

An area known as Cluster 1, along Santa Fe Avenue in the southern section of the Specific Plan area, would be dedicated to research and development facilities, offices, and mixed-use commercial developments, with landmark buildings suitable for adaptive reuse.

Cluster 2, along 38th Street at the western side of the Specific Plan area, would include properties suitable for adaptive reuse with housing.

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Cluster 3, along Santa Fe Avenue in the northern section of the Specific Plan area, includes Vernon City Hall and other government facilities, and is the closest portion of the city to the Arts District. New mixed-use residential projects in the adjacent neighborhood could encourage similar uses within Vernon, according to Urbanize.

Cluster 4, along Pacific Boulevard in the eastern section of the Specific Plan area near Huntington Park, includes access easements and rail spurs that could be turned into greenways or pedestrian paths.

A map of nonindustrial developments in Vernon (City of Vernon)

A map of nonindustrial developments in Vernon (City of Vernon)

To set the stage for development, Vernon is also considering improvements to turn Santa Fe Avenue into the city’s pedestrian-oriented commercial spine. A center turn lane could be eliminated to make way for new on-street parking. New street trees are proposed, as well as bike lanes and safer crosswalks.

The proposed improvements would serve as a centerpiece to connect the four clusters, as well as adjacent neighborhoods and transit stops. In acknowledging Vernon’s heavy industry could deter mixed-use projects in L.A.’s Arts District, the city proposes to redirect trucks off of Santa Fe Avenue, identifying Alameda Street as the primary truck route for the west side of Vernon.

[Urbanize Los Angeles] – Dana Bartholomew

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