Lincoln Heights Riverfront
UCLA Urban Planning – Spring 2003
OPPORTUNITIES AND CONSTRAINTS 7
DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK 13
DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM 15
DESIGN GUIDELINES 21
IMPLEMENTATION AND PHASING 28
Located within the community of Lincoln the goals of the strategic plan is to erase the stigma
Heights in the City of Los Angeles, the Strategic Plan created by the former Los Angeles City Jail by
project area is bounded to the north by Highway transforming it into a center of community
110, the Los Angeles River to the west, Pasadena empowerment via adaptive reuse.
Avenue and Spring Street to the south, and San
Fernando Road to the east. Currently, the project
area contains church uses, industrial facilities, and
under-utilized lots, mainly consisting of surface
parking lots. Surrounding uses include commercial,
industrial, recreational, and residential buildings,
primarily comprised of detached single-family
residences. There is an overall shortage of cultural
and social amenities in the neighborhood.
The intent of the Strategic Plan is to transform
the project area into a walkable, connected,
vibrant, and beautiful space for the Lincoln Heights
Community. Proposed uses in the area would
include community-serving facilities, educational
facilities, and housing. These uses would be
connected by a network of open spaces, while
linkages to the surrounding uses would be created
that encourage pedestrian activity. Additionally,
revitalization of the Los Angeles River would occur
by turning the adjacent area into a destination
point in order to attract residents to the area. The
transformation of the project area would involve the
adaptive reuse of the existing industrial structures to
Arial photograph of project area
provide office space and learning centers. One of
The history of the Lincoln Heights area site contains substantially fewer numbers of both
predates the arrival of Europeans to California. Prior persons and housing units.
to Mexican/European settlement, the area
commonly referred to as Lincoln Heights was home According to the US Census Bureau, the
to the Yangna peoples. This aboriginal tribe settled population of census tract 1990 is predominantly
along the banks and survived for several centuries Latino (68% of the total population), while Asians
living off the river and the land in the vicinity. constitute approximately 30% of the population.
Juan Crespi renamed the River Porcincula in Existing Uses
1769 at around the same time the pueblo of Los Disparate land uses coexist in close proximity
Angeles was founded. The river ran its natural to each other. Currently the area is predominantly
meandering course until 1884, when the downtown zoned for industrial and commercial use, which is
portion of the river was channelized. Following the consistent with the historical rail uses within this
devastating flood of 1938, the Army Corps of portion of the City. Recognizing the change in land
Engineers channelized a portion of the river, use patterns, the City recently designated portions
attempting to prevent similar catastrophic flooding of Lincoln Heights as Adaptive Reuse Incentive
in the future. Areas. Listed below are the use types and their
Site Statistics and Demographics
The project area spans 0.62 miles along the
Los Angeles River and consists of parcels totaling
over 60 acres and is nested within census tract 1990.
Though the census tract has a population of
approximately 3,641 persons and 950 units of
housing (of which only 229 are owner occupied);
field observations indicate that the development
This figure shows the zoning of the project area.
Industrial uses in the project area include
trading companies, warehouses, garment
manufacturing, auto depots, tow yard, and auto
Several municipal agencies including the
Department of Transportation, the County Fire
Observed Land Use
Department and the Waste Management Division
Blue = Industrial have service yards located within the boundaries of
Grey = Institutional the project site.
Yellow = Residential
Green = Open Space
Community Facilities Residential
Despite the numerous constraints related to Residential sites in the project area are very
the site, community facilities including the Los limited despite its close proximity to densely
Angeles City Youth Athletic Club, Bilingual populated housing areas immediately to the south.
Foundation of the Arts, and the Downey Recreation Specifically, there are three single-family houses
Center are valuable assets which need to be located in the southwestern portion of the project
carefully integrated into any proposed area.
There is a shortage of service oriented
commercial activities in the area. However, the
area does support several taco stands and bars.
A large portion of the existing land in the
project area is auto oriented, with a notable over-
abundance of surface parking lots. Rail lines and
freeways bisect and surround the project area. In
addition, although freeways play a vital role of
providing access to Lincoln Heights, they do not
provide direct access to the site itself, creating a
series of formidable challenges. These challenges
include less interaction between people, creating
an overall anti-social environment.
Opportunities and Constraints
Los Angeles River
With an ample supply of underutilized land, The Los Angeles River, although channelized,
the project site is ideal for development. Despite presents an opportunity to create recreation
this, the site also possesses many challenges that spaces. The site area along the river stretches 0.62
may impede or prevent improvement. There are miles and is neighbored by Elysian Park. Together,
seven features that have been identified as this has the potential to add to the open space in
opportunities and constraints: the Los Angeles River, the area. Plans for creating a lake by damming the
industrial uses in the area, the former Los Angeles river could also increase the recreational use of the
City Jail, the Young Nak Church facilities, surface river. However, a constraint to this is the hydrology,
parking lots, residential uses, and the circulation which may cause potential environmental and
pattern. safety hazards.
Industrial Uses Los Angeles City Jail
Currently, the project area is primarily The former Los Angeles City Jail is currently
occupied with industrial uses. These buildings are being occupied on three floors. The first floor is
often expansive and include a large surface lot, occupied by the Bilingual Foundation for the Arts,
both of which present an opportunity for reuse in a the second floor by Entertainment Industry
more community-serving way. The flexibility of these Development Corporation (EIDC), and the fifth floor
paces make their development potential endless. is occupied by the Los Angeles Youth Athletic Club.
However, the current configuration deters With three unoccupied floors, there is the potential
pedestrian activity. Most of the spaces are to develop or utilize those spaces. However, since
enclosed in fences or border the sidewalk with the building is designated as a historic landmark, the
enormous blank walls. possibility for development, renovation or
rehabilitation is limited.
Young Nak Church Surface Parking Lots
The Young Nak Church is located primarily in The abundance of surface parking lots is a
the southwest corner of the project area. With its huge opportunity for development. Most of the lots
large congregation, the Young Nak Church can are underutilized and present an ideal opportunity
play an important role in the revitalization of the to provide other uses on those parcels. Since there
area by becoming a large user base of the area. are no structures, construction and development of
One of the impediments to development, however, the parking areas can be expedited and more cost
is the decentralization of the three Young Nak effective.
buildings, limiting design.
Despite the fact that the area is zoned
industrial and commercial, there are three
residential units located in the project area.
Because these units are incompatible with the
surrounding uses and that it is isolated from the
existing residential neighborhoods, these uses are a
constraint to development.
The existing circulation represents a constraint
to development as it physically divides the
community. With long blocks and limited crosswalks,
the streets are not pedestrian-friendly. Additionally,
many of the roadways are used for through traffic,
and high traffic speeds result.
In its present condition, the industrial area that
makes up the western edge of the Lincoln Heights
Community is virtually devoid of any vitality.
Pedestrian traffic is an anomaly, streets are used
primarily as thoroughfares for cars moving through
Lincoln Heights, and blank, imposing walls greet the
streets and users of the area. The vision of this
Strategic Plan is to transform the heavily
industrialized project area into a vibrant civic space
with park areas, institutional and commercial
resources, and strong linkages to the larger
community and the City of Los Angeles.
The following are the goals to implement the
vision of the strategic plan:
1. Increase the economic vitality of the
2. Provide additional open space and a
greenbelt for area residents.
3. Provide community space for services
including schools, job-training facilities, health
clinics, and museums.
4. Provide office space for non-profit
organizations and professionals of the area.
5. Provide residential units, including
opportunities for home ownership.
6. Include a range of architectural street and
landscape interventions to improve the
aesthetics of the area.
7. Expand the community-serving uses of the
former Los Angeles City Jail.
8. Create a wider range of uses by adaptively
reusing existing industrial sites.
9. Provide linkages to the surrounding uses with
this portion of the community.
The design proposal of the Strategic Plan The Lincoln Heights Community, like so many
offers broad stroke solutions to the existing land use economically depressed areas of the City of Los
issues facing the eastern portion of Lincoln Heights. Angeles, is very much in need of public green-space
By dividing the area into four integrated districts, a for its residents. As such, this proposal includes a
number of flexible opportunities are offered for the public park on the western boundary of the study
people of Lincoln Heights and the City of Los area that would incorporate both active and
Angeles to access and enjoy the unique resource passive recreation. This district would be bounded
that is the Los Angeles River. The locations of these by the Los Angeles River to the west, Pasadena
districts are shown below. Avenue to the south, the Gold Line light-rail to the
north and Avenue 18 to the east, denoted in green
in the figure to the left.
San Fernando Adaptive Reuse District
The western portion of the Lincoln Heights
Community is a small part of a much larger industrial
zone stretching for miles north and south along
banks of the Los Angeles River. Given that, the best
use for Lincoln Heights would be to transform many
of the industrial parcels located in the northern
section of project area into uses more applicable to
the growing residential population.
In this area, mixed-use commercial and
residential developments could be established, or
industrial structures could be adaptively reused to
house community serving facilities such as local
health clinics or community centers. A parking
structure is proposed at the northern end of this
district to serve these new uses. It is envisioned that
the southern wall of the structure would contain a denoted in yellow in the figure on the previous
mural painted by the youth of Lincoln Heights, and page.
the building materials used would be consistent with
the surrounding buildings. This district would be Lincoln Heights Bridge
bounded by Avenue 19 to the west, Humboldt In order to connect the community with
Street to the south, Highway 110 to the north, and Elysian Park, a bridge would be constructed. The
San Fernando Road to the east, denoted in grey in bridge would be located south of the former Jail,
the figure on the previous page and span the Los Angeles River to allow visitors
enjoyment of the river. It is envisioned that
Barranca Residential District restaurant and entertainment uses would be
There is a critical demand for residential provided on the bridge to create a destination
development throughout the County, and certainly point. With these uses on the Lincoln Heights Bridge,
Lincoln Heights is no exception to this reality. A there would be activity in the project area until the
unique opportunity exists in the southeastern portion late hours of the evening, which would help deter
of the project area to link the existing residential crime in the adjacent open space areas. Views of
community to the civic resources being proposed. the surrounding area would be available from the
Development of the expansive municipal lots and bridge, while views across the bridge would be
surface parking lots would serve the needs of the possible since the proposed uses would be recessed
community by alleviating the drastic need for into the bridge.
affordable housing. It is envisioned that Barranca
Residential District would contain a mix of affordable
and market rate housing, with higher density along
the heavily utilized San Fernando Road, with lower
density toward the Humboldt Greenbelt. The
proposed residential units would be consistent with
the architecture of the surrounding residential
neighborhoods. In addition, the lot located on the
southwestern corner of Humboldt Street and San
Fernando Road would provide space for
educational facilities to help alleviate overcrowding
in the area. The Barranca Residential District is
In order to create a community that is
walkable, connected, vibrant, and beautiful, design Streetscape Improvements
interventions and land use modifications are Improvements to the existing streetscape are
proposed as part of the overall development necessary, with focus on San Fernando Road and
program. Specifically, the design interventions Avenue 19. Streets within the project area will be
would include streetscape improvements, landscaped with trees and bushes to create a
implementation of traffic-calming measures, pleasant and shaded environment for pedestrians
landscaping and undergrounding of existing parking and automobiles traveling on these roadways, as
areas, as well as addition of signage to reinforce or shown. The sidewalks along San Fernando Road and
create a sense of place and linkages. Land use Avenue 19 will be widened.
modifications include conversion of existing industrial
uses to other land uses such as residential, Avenue 18 will be vacated and converted
commercial or community serving, while expanding into a promenade along the eastern edge of the
the adaptive reuse of the former Los Angeles City park-space to create another focus of activity.
Jail. These streets and other added foot paths will be a
part of the pedestrian network that will encourage
Implementation of the design interventions and maximize the flow of pedestrian traffic between
and land use modifications together will result in a the Los Angeles River, Elysian Park, the neighboring
pedestrian-oriented space that connects the residential uses, and the community-serving uses
Lincoln Heights Community with the underutilized within the project area. In addition, crosswalks will
Elysian Park, the commercial and residential uses to be added at all major intersections in the area.
the east, and the Albion residential neighborhood Special design features are necessary to promote
located the south of the project area. A vibrant pedestrian activity, which may include attractive
neighborhood will be created with new uses at the and renovated facades, use of specific pavement
Lincoln Heights Bridge, the construction of the materials such as cobblestone, and pleasant
Humboldt Greenbelt, the adaptive reuse of the sidewalk lighting to promote safety.
former Los Angeles City Jail and industrial structures,
and streetscape improvements.
Other streetscape improvements will also
include restoration of deteriorating historical
structures, most notably is the Los Angeles City Jail.
Additionally, these improvements will be
accomplished while preserving features that
contribute to the historical context of Lincoln
Signage/Linkages community. Signage will also be included on these
Currently, the paths and edges of the project streets.
area spatially and psychologically isolate and divide
the area from the surrounding community. This Addition of the Lincoln Heights Bridge will also
design intervention is intended to minimize the serve as a major linkage of the project area by
boundary effects of the existing paths and edges, connecting the Lincoln Heights Community with
by focusing on transforming the project area into a Elysian Park. As discussed above, it is envisioned
more pedestrian-oriented space. Signage will serve that the bridge will contain restaurant and
to reinforce and strengthen existing paths, as well as entertainment uses to not only attract regional
guide people throughout the new districts. visitors but to serve the local community. The bridge
will also allow visitors to enjoy the Los Angeles River.
A pedestrian network will be designed to
foster movement within the project area, as well as Another potential linkage is the Los Angeles
connect surrounding uses. Specifically, the portion River itself. As the river is currently underutilized,
of Avenue 18 north of Pasadena Avenue will be adjacent bikeways will be implemented to engage
vacated to create a contiguous parcel of open the residents with the river. The bikeways will also link
space, where a pedestrian path will transect the the project area to other existing bikeways on the
area. By introducing paving materials such as Los Angeles River. It is envisioned that the paths will
cobblestone and adding a creek-like design in-lay, be lined with bougainvillea to create a safe barrier
as shown below, it is envisioned that the community between the train and the bike path.
will often utilize the path. The design is also intended
to bring the river to the people, as there are health
and safety considerations of providing direct
pedestrian access to the river. The same paving
material will be utilized for other foot paths and
crosswalks in the project area to visually connect
the space. As discussed above, street trees and
landscaped medians will be added to Avenue 19
and San Fernando Road to provide a beautiful
environment for direct linkages to the surrounding
Streetscape improvements including addition
of crosswalks, landscaped medians, and widened
sidewalks will also serve as traffic-calming measures.
Crosswalks in the project area will be raised such
that the pedestrians are more visible to the drivers.
The crosswalks will also consist of different paving
materials to visually distinguish the crosswalk from
the roadway. Pedestrians on sidewalks busy with
activity associated with the recreational space,
residential units, and community-serving uses will
naturally slow vehicular traffic in the area.
Landscaping and Undergrounding Existing Parking
Currently, the project area contains many
surface parking areas, of which most of remains
underutilized during the weekdays. In order to
connect the adjacent lands of the community with
the river, existing surface parking areas should be
converted to subterranean parking with the above
surfaces used as open park spaces. Benefits of this
would include increased open space areas, as
there is a shortage of this use within the community,
while creating a more inviting and pedestrian-
friendly use. In addition, subterranean parking with
landscaped surfaces would be more aesthetically
pleasing, and continue the recreational use from
the Downey Recreational Center to the former Los
Angeles City Jail and industrial uses.
Land Use Modifications community-serving uses at the former Jail and the
educational facility would be ideal for local retail-
Land use modifications will consist of adaptive serving uses.
reuse of the existing industrial structures and the
former Los Angeles City Jail. Currently, the second
floor of the Jail is being used as a filming site for
production companies. In addition, the Jail’s fifth
floor has been converted into a City managed
youth gym, while a large portion of the ground floor
is occupied by the Foundation of Bilingual Arts.
Since the overall site is underutilized, the existing
community-serving uses should be expanded into
vacant space. It is envisioned that the former Jail
could include a Lincoln Heights historical museum, a
community center to for local events or meetings,
and office space for non-profit organizations. All
uses should be of direct service to the Lincoln
Adaptive reuse of the industrial structures
would complement the other elements of the
design program. Depending on market conditions,
the industrial structures could satisfy a variety of
community needs. For example, if the residential
component of our development program does not
provide enough housing for the area, the industrial
buildings could be converted into residential lofts.
Perhaps these buildings could be a site for a mixed-
use development containing residential lofts and
accompanying amenities such as commercial and
office space. Its location adjacent to the
Design Guidelines Humboldt Greenbelt
The Humboldt Greenbelt is to serve as
The proposed design guidelines seek to bring recreational space for the entire community. The
unity to the area, while creating a sense of greenbelt will include active and passive recreation
connectivity and fostering a stronger sense of that will be available all day, bringing activity into
community among all the residents and patrons of the neighborhood. Complementing the greenbelt is
the Lincoln Heights Community. The following the addition of a recreation/community center,
design guidelines allow for consistency while which will serve as a coordinating body for the
creating a walkable, connected, vibrant, and greenbelt recreation programs as well as offer
beautiful area. These guidelines focus on the major classes. An important component of the design
elements that are vital to transforming the area: the guidelines for this district is the elimination of paved
Humboldt Greenbelt, the Barranca Residential surfaces. Design guidelines strongly recommended
District, and the Lincoln Heights Bridge. No design for this district include:
guidelines are recommended for the San Fernando
Adaptive Reuse District as uses for this district are Minimize the amount of paved surface
subject to market conditions. parking areas by undergrounding and
consolidating existing surface parking areas
associated with the Los Angeles City
Department of Transportation and the Young
Nak Church facilities, and locate the parking
under the lots adjacent to Grace Hall.
Provide recreational space on top of the
subterranean garage to increase the amount
of open space within the community.
Pedestrian walkways within this district, which
includes the promenade should be:
o Lined with trees;
o Demarcated with pedestrian-friendly
materials such as cobblestone; and
o Contain lighting fixtures.
Provide a recreation center where the
activities within the park can be coordinated
from, and includes amenities such as
community rooms, a stage for community
performances, a center for teenagers, a
kitchen, and space for daycare facilities.
Provide both active and passive recreation
spaces such as basketball courts, soccer
fields, picnic tables, and benches.
Barranca Residential District
The creation of the Barranca Residential
District will not only provide the greenbelt with a
permanent source of users, but it also helps alleviate
the current housing shortage, as well as provide
much needed life to the area. The residential district
will seek to achieve a diverse, high quality of life for
its residents by offering an array of housing options
which are adjacent to a scenic area, and in
proximity to education and commercial amenities.
Multi-family residential units should be
provided on the block bounded by San
Fernando, Pasadena, Avenue 19, and where
Barranca is vacated.
o High-density multi-family residential units
should be provided on San Fernando
o Low-density multi-family residential units
should be provided on Avenue 19.
o Housing structures must incorporate
o Single-family residential units should be
provided on the west side of Avenue 19
on the block bound by Pasadena
Avenue and Barranca Street. The
architectural style should be consistent
with the existing residential
neighborhood located south of the
Lincoln Heights Bridge
The Lincoln Heights Bridge serves not only to
link Lincoln Heights to Elysian Park, but also to serve
as an entertainment center for the area. The bridge
will allow for restaurant and entertainment uses as
well as the enjoyment of the Los Angeles River.
Uses allowed on the bridge include
restaurants, entertainment, and retail, serving
to create a destination point.
Lighting fixtures provided on the bridge should
be consistent with the fixtures on the adjacent
The lighting provided should create a safe
Implementation and Phasing
Implementation of the design interventions The first phase involves the implementation of
and land use modifications as recommended in this streetscape improvements, traffic calming measures
Strategic Plan will occur in multiple phases. These and the commencement of the Humboldt
phases are determined by the relative importance Greenbelt with the undergrounding of surface
of each intervention in creating a pedestrian- parking areas. Streetscape improvements and
friendly and aesthetically pleasing space that links traffic calming measures will occur along San
surrounding uses and attracts visitors. Fernando Road, Avenue 19, and in the southwestern
portion of the site. Avenue 18, from Pasadena
Phase 1 - Streetscape Improvements, Traffic Avenue north to Barranca Street, will be vacated.
Calming and Humboldt Greenbelt
Phase 2 - Humboldt Greenbelt Beginning with the streetscape improvements
and traffic calming design interventions transforms
Phase 3 - Barranca Residential District the entire project area into a pedestrian-oriented
Phase 4 - Lincoln Heights Bridge space. These interventions are also the most cost
effective and require relatively little time to
Phase 5 - Adaptive Reuse implement. The vacation of Avenue 18 as part of
Ongoing Phase - Signage and Linkages the Humboldt Greenbelt also contributes to the
pedestrian orientation. However, the
undergrounding of existing surface parking areas for
the Humboldt Greenbelt requires the most capital in
Phase 2 Phase 4
The completion of the Humboldt Greenbelt As the number of residences and visitors
occurs in this phase with the construction of the increase within the project area due to the
promenade and passive and active park areas on development of new homes and open space areas,
top of the subterranean garage. Landscaping and a strong consumer base for retail services will be
the creation of recreational spaces a top the created. As such, Phase 4 involves the construction
subterranean garage and throughout the district will of the Lincoln Heights Bridge, which will contain
occur. Benches and lighting will also be provided. A restaurant and entertainment uses meet consumer
promenade would be incorporated to connect the needs. The bridge would span the Los Angeles
Young Nak Church facilities and uses located south River, from the area south of the former City Jail,
of the project area. In addition, the construction west to Elysian Park. Concurrently, a parking
and landscaping of a new fence along the Los structure would be constructed structure located
Angeles River will occur to provide a visual buffer for along the northern boundary of the project area,
the community from the heavy rail line. immediately south of the Arroyo Seco. This structure
would provide adequate parking for regional
Phase 3 visitors, while linkages such as footpaths and bike
The Barranca Residential District will be paths will be provided for the local community. A
completed in this phase. As recreational space is vibrant area will be created with the inclusion of the
being created and as the area becomes more entertainment center on the bridge.
pedestrian-friendly and aesthetically pleasing,
private developers of the residential uses will be
attracted to the project area, commencing the
construction of residential units. This phase also
includes the development of a school just north of
the residential units to not only serve the residences
of the project area, but the larger community.
Phase 5 Ongoing Phase
This phase concentrates on adaptive reuse to The addition of signage and linkages will be
meet the remaining and unaddressed needs of the incorporated throughout all five phases as each
Lincoln Heights community. Specifically, this would district is completed and different uses within the
entail expanding the use of the former City Jail for project area are developed. Linkages will include
community-serving uses, and adaptively reusing the the provision of pedestrian footpaths and a bike
industrial structures located in the northern portion of path along the Los Angeles River.
After a vibrant space exists with residences,
and visitors from the larger region and the local
community, the community-serving uses at the
former City Jail could be expanded, while the
existing industrial buildings could be adaptively
reused. Once again, depending on market
conditions, the industrial buildings could be used for
commercial space to serve the surrounding uses, or
lofts could be built, if additional housing is needed.
Another option is to transform the industrial buildings
to a mixed-use development. This land use
modification is the last phase of the Strategic Plan
because if any particular use or service that the
project area lacks after implementation of the first
four phases could be provided to complete the
transformation of the project area to a walkable,
connected, vibrant, and beautiful space.
As previously discussed, the project area
consists primarily of industrial uses and underutilized
space that includes surface parking lots. As a result,
this portion of the Lincoln Heights Community is
devoid of life, and is segregated from the rest of the
community and the City itself. Thus, it is the vision of
this Strategic Plan to create a new walkable,
connected, vibrant, and beautiful neighborhood
through implementation of the design interventions