Red Fields to Green Fields—Los Angeles

Abby Jones of Anthro/Ecological Design Collective shares how she uses geodesign to convert distressed properties into green space.

Jan 5th, 2012

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00:01Thanks. Hi. I'm Abby, and I'm presenting an overview of redfields, greendfields, Los Angeles…

00:05…the work my student team did for our final project in the Master of Landscape Architecture program…

00:10…at Cal Poly Pomona.

00:12Our team was Dakotah Bertsch, Mike Boucher, Eran James, and myself.

00:18We were approached by the Verde Coalition in Los Angeles to help create a case study on how to jump-start LA's economy…

00:24…by converting redfields to greenfields.

00:27In our project, we define redfields as vacant, foreclosed, or underutilized urban properties.

00:33And greenfields are any green space that benefits the community.

00:37The vision of R2G-LA is to transform the urban area of LA and improve its environmental, economic, and social health.

00:47This diagram shows the process we used to explore the parameters of R2G-LA.

00:51I'll be following it as an outline for the presentation.

00:55In order to understand the need and the potential benefit greenfields could have on Los Angeles, the city was studied as a whole.

01:01This map relates the city shape I'll be showing later on to the context.

01:05Note the city boundary.

01:08Our regional research focused on issues that fall into the three broad categories, social, economic, and environmental.

01:15The majority of Los Angeles residents are suffering from park inequality.

01:20There's a lack of healthy food options in low-income areas.

01:24Property values and transaction rates have plummeted and vacancies are high.

01:28Los Angeles' water supply and storm water system are unsustainable.

01:33The water quality is poor.

01:36Summer temperatures have been rising.

01:38Native plant communities are becoming endangered, and Los Angeles has the worst air quality in the nation.

01:47The goals and objectives of R2G-LA address these regional issues…

01:50…and would contribute vibrancy to the city's social, economic, and environmental health.

01:56To select neighborhoods, we narrowed our focus to an area of need that was both economically disadvantaged as well as park poor.

02:04The third map shows this area of need.

02:06Economically disadvantaged was defined as areas below 80 percent of the state's median income.

02:11Park poor areas have less than 10 acres of park per thousand people within walking distance.

02:18For further refinement and to choose neighborhoods with different characteristics…

02:21…typologies were created based on land use and density within the area of need.

02:26We simplified the land use and density maps, and three categories were created…

02:31…high-density residential, low-density multifamily, and residential on the industrial fringe.

02:37Finally, we chose three neighborhoods for further investigation.

02:41Westlake represents high-density residential.

02:44Lincoln Heights represents residential on the industrial fringe.

02:48And Florence represents low-density multifamily residential.

02:53The topography of each neighborhood varies.

02:56Each neighborhood is roughly the same size at two and one-half square miles.

03:00The next few slides show information clipped to a parcel map.

03:05The land use shows as institutions, commercial corridors, multifamily residential in all neighborhoods…

03:09…and industrial use surrounding Lincoln Heights.

03:14Though two of the neighborhoods have parks, they're still park poor because of the high density in Westlake…

03:19…and barriers to access in Lincoln Heights.

03:23Westlake has the highest population. It's also the most dense.

03:29For redfield inventory, we did a combination of mapping and ground truthing to verify data.

03:35We started with redfields from CoStar, a real estate data provider.

03:39However, during ground truthing, we found many more sites that we considered redfields.

03:44Overall, we found 138 redfields with a total of 67 acres. The average size was a half acre, median size was a quarter acre.

03:56Then we did redfield analysis.

03:59In this phase, we identified greenfield types, recorded redfield characteristics, and did two analyses.

04:05Greenfield types addressed the goals and objectives previously established.

04:09Using a combination of all four greenfield types will benefit all three systems.

04:17Urban agriculture addresses the need for local fresh produce.

04:22Recreation greenfields provide people with a space to exercise and mentally recharge.

04:26Community greenfields give community members an opportunity to socialize and exchange goods and services.

04:33Ecology greenfields provide natural functions like pollutant cleansing and habitat for native species.

04:39With these greenfield types in mind, we did further inventory of redfield characteristics.

04:46For a capability analysis, sites were capable of supporting each greenfield type if they met the listed criteria…

04:53…and we mapped these results in stack bar charts so you could see all the information at once.

04:58All sites were capable of at least one or more greenfield type.

05:03Next suitability analysis narrowed down which sites were most suitable according to refined criteria.

05:08We selected sites that cumulatively met both or one of these criteria and mapped the results in a stack bar again.

05:15You can see this is a narrower selection, and it provides a starting point for converting redfields to greenfields.

05:23We selected four of these most suitable sites for examples of how to design using the greenfield types.

05:31Each site underwent rigorous inventory and analysis to match designs to their context.

05:35A capability analysis fit program features to the site analysis, and designs reflect this analysis.

05:42Overall, each site is an opportunity to incorporate a variety of solutions that benefit the community.

05:47The greenfield types are best used in combination to provide as many benefits on the site as possible.

05:55I'm only going to go through one of the site designs because of limited time.

05:59This vacant lot is on Broadway and Lincoln Heights.

06:01Part of the site…Part of the site features very sloped terrain with full solar access.

06:07The other part of the site is a vacant, paved parking lot.

06:14Broadway is a large commercial boulevard running through the residential neighborhood, and the site is surrounded by schools.

06:21The design for Lincoln Heights logo brings this lot as alive as a community resource.

06:25The community garden has a place where students and community members can share knowledge.

06:29Gardening classes are held in the garden and in the community classroom.

06:33The orchard invites neighbors to pick oranges while taking in views of downtown Los Angeles.

06:38The former parking lot is transformed into a vibrant community plaza where a farmers' market is held.

06:43The market provides healthy food options for a neighborhood with little access to fresh produce.

06:48It also provides an economic venue that supports local agriculture.

06:52The design works well with the site's topography, location, and sun exposure.

06:57The site features all four greenfield types.

06:59The garden is a form of urban agriculture.

07:01The classroom, farmers' market, plaza, and juice stand are part of the community functions.

07:06The plaza and garden provides recreational opportunities…

07:09…and the oak tree, permeable paving, and bioswale provide ecological functions, finally, extrapolation.

07:11We estimate over 2,100 redfields having over a thousand acres within the disadvantaged area…

07:20…based on the numbers found in our neighborhoods.

07:24Greenfields will be scattered throughout the city.

07:26They may seem small, but if you look at the cumulative effect, R2G-LA would add more park acreage to Los Angeles…

07:34…than Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

07:38Additionally, greenfields would be more accessible than a single large park in only one part of the city.

07:43This is Florence in South Los Angeles now, and with R2G, nearly every resident would have easy access to a park.

07:53Cumulatively, greenfields could help fulfill regional goals and objectives with decentralized small-scale infrastructure…

08:00…that in the long term enhances social, economic, and environmental systems throughout the city of LA.

08:06Thank you. Here's my contact information.

08:08We also have a book online. It's about 110 pages, and you can find it on if you search for the title…

08:15…Redfields to Greenfields Los Angeles. Thanks.

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