When designing a monument to oneself in a region that has repeatedly skewered (while also celebrated) the gauche palaces of the rich, from Citizen Kane to Citizen Spelling, one would think that our contemporary tycoons would show some subtlety. One would think ... but not in the case of 643,000 square feet of warehouse and support structures being planned for the bulldozed 41st and Alameda site of the former South Central Farm.
What was an urban agricultural oasis in the city is now set to become a warehouse that would generate 2500 vehicle trips daily. Although mono-maniacally shaped like an H for developer Ralph Horowitz, the structure, sited on ground with such a rich legacy of community struggles, proposed just as we grasp the need to reverse the direction of our energy policies and modify our built environment, would represent a 10 acre FU to possibilities for a more sustainable Los Angeles.
Developer aside, the real hubris in this project perhaps belongs to the assumptions of the City planning process that a warehouse of this scale, constructed with minor mitigations, will have insignificant adverse environmental impact. As the Center for Biological Diversity explains in its comments on the proposed negative mitigated declaration:
The Project’s proposed conversion of vacant land from previous community agricultural use to a large scale warehouse with over 2,500 daily vehicle trips will generate large amounts of diesel and greenhouse gas pollution that must be fully analyzed and mitigated under CEQA. As set forth more fully below, where, as here, the Project would generate additional unmitigated greenhouse gas emissions, there is a fair argument that the Project may have a significant cumulative impact on the environment requiring the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”).
In this age of over-saturated carbon, L.A. needs to seriously reconsider its approaches to land use, including planning rules that encourage wasteful, sprawl inducing and greenhouse gas emitting projects. Check out the South Central Farmers website for future updates on the warehouse. Maybe there's hope. After all, the new state park at the Cornfields site was once slated to become warehouses; and seeds of justice once planted have a surprising capacity to regrow.