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How Chinatown Students' Hope for Their Neighborhood Led to Victory for Los Angeles Families

Student organizers in Chinatown

It sounds like the dry inner workings of city government. But the Los Angeles City Council's vote on June 28 to approve the Cornfield-Arroyo Specific Plan carries the hope of a generation of student activists.

The Cornfield-Arroyo Specific Plan is a vision for a cleaner, greener city built around mass transit. It will help encourage the growth of open space, affordable housing and increased transit ridership -- all critical needs in the rapidly developing neighborhoods of Chinatown and Lincoln Heights near downtown Los Angeles.

But it wouldn't have happened without the hopes of high school students in the Southeast Asian Community Alliance. They worked with city planners and learned the ropes of government to make sure that the plan included the things that matter most to this neighborhood: incentives for developers to create open space, to keep housing prices affordable, and to encourage the use of mass transit to decrease pollution.

The Los Angeles Times called them "community leaders in training" and said the Cornfield-Arroyo Specific Plan was a "model for LA City planning." 

"CASP is a blueprint for what Chinatown and Lincoln Heights will look like in the next 25 years," said Sissy Trinh, founder of the Southeast Asian Community Alliance, which Public Counsel represented in talks with the city. "It will set standards and determine the types of buildings and public spaces will be constructed, but more importantly it is now a blueprint for the what sort of community we want."

Click here to learn more about the Cornfields Arroyo Seco Specific Plan.

Click here to read more at our Go Public blog.