This text and accompanying maps constitute the Transportation Element of the City of Los Angeles General Plan. This Element incorporates and revises the Scenic Highways Plan originally adopted in 1978; it replaces and supersedes the Highways and Freeways Element originally adopted in 1959. It should be reviewed periodically in light of information from the monitoring and evaluation program (Chapter VIII) and revised within ten (10) years of adoption to accommodate changing conditions and opportunities.
California state law requires that every city and county prepare and adopt a long-term, comprehensive General Plan for its future development. This plan should be integrated and internally consistent with a compatible statement of goals, objectives, policies and programs which provide a decision-making basis for physical development. California state law further requires that the day-to-day decisions of a city follow logically from, and be consistent with, the General Plan. Specifically, Government Code Sections 65860, 66473.5, and 65647.4 require that zoning ordinances and parcel map approvals be consistent with the General Plan.

Goals, objectives and programs are established for each plan to meet the existing and future needs and desires of the community to create a healthful and pleasant environment. These goals, objectives and programs are specific and action-oriented. The City will promote these goals and objectives during the life of the Plan.

The preparation and adoption of a General Plan serves the following purposes:
  • States the local government's policies on existing and future development needed to achieve community goals;
  • Identifies the community's environmental, social, and economic goals;
  • Identifies the need for and methods of improving the coordination of community development activities among all units of government;
  • Improves the coordination of community development activities among all units of government;
  • Establishes the local government's capacity to respond to problems and opportunities concerning community development in a way consistent with local, regional, and state goals and policies;
  • Informs citizens about their community and provide an opportunity to participate in the planning and decision-making process of local government; and,
  • Creates a basis for subsequent planning efforts such as the preparation of specific plans and special studies.
California State Government Code Section 65300 requires each county and city, including charter cities, to adopt a comprehensive General Plan. The General Plan may be adopted either as a single document or as a group of related documents organized either by subject matter or by geographic section within the planning area [Government Code Section 65301 (b)]. The General Plan must be periodically updated to assure its relevance and usefulness.

Changes to the law over the past twenty years have vastly boosted the importance of the General Plan to land use decision-making. A General Plan may not be a "wish list" or a vague view of the future but rather must provide a concrete direction(1). In essence, the General Plan is a "constitution for development, (2)" the foundation upon which all land use decisions in a city or county are to be based. It expresses community development goals and embodies public policy relative to the distribution of future land use, both public and private.

The General Plan must include the following seven mandated Elements (Government Code Section 65320):
  1. Land Use
  2. Circulation
  3. Housing
  4. Conservation
  5. Noise
  6. Open Space
  7. Safety
In addition, State law permits the inclusion of optional Elements which address needs, objectives, or requirements particular to that city or county (Government Code Section 65303).

Counties and cities have flexibility in organizing their General Plans as long as all of the requirements specified for each of the seven mandated elements are addressed. For example, it is permissible to combine the Open Space and Conservation Elements into a single Element [Government Code Section 65301 (a)]. State law recognizes that the diversity of the state's communities and their residents require local jurisdictions to implement general plan law in ways that accommodate local conditions while meeting minimum requirements Govt. Code § 65300.7). Further, state law recognizes that differences among cities' and counties' size and density, fiscal and administrative capabilities, land use and development issues and human needs, their capacity to respond to state planning law will vary (Govt. Code § 65300.9). State law has given a city with the diversity and size of Los Angeles latitude in formatting, adopting and implementing its General Plan, so long as it adheres to the minimum requirements of state law.
The City of Los Angeles has re-organized its General Plan in order to better address the particular issues facing the City. The twelve elements which comprise the Los Angeles City General Plan are listed below:
  1. CITYWIDE GENERAL PLAN FRAMEWORK ELEMENT--The Framework Element establishes the broad overall policy and direction for the entire General Plan. It is a discretionary element of the General Plan which looks to the future. It provides a citywide context and a comprehensive long-range strategy to guide the comprehensive update of the General Plan's other elements. The Framework Element also provides guidance for the preparation of related General Plan implementation measures including specific plans, ordinances, or programs, including the City's Capital Improvement Program.
  2. LAND USE ELEMENT--The Land Use Element is divided into 35 community plans for the purpose of developing, maintaining and implementing the General Plan. These community plans collectively comprise the Land Use Element of the Los Angeles General Plan.
The General Plan expresses community development goals and policies relativing to the distribution of land use, both public and private. The Plan integrates the citywide elements and community plans, and gives policy direction to the planning regulatory and implementation programs.
Citywide General Plan Framework
The Citywide General Plan Framework (CGPF) is the first component of the Comprehensive General Plan. This component seeks to bring the demands on the urban systems into equilibrium with the systems' capacities and to maintain that balance in the future. The General Plan Framework defines citywide policies related to growth that influence most of the City's General Plan Elements. It includes policies for land use, housing, urban form/neighborhood design, open space/conservation, economic development, transportation, and infrastructure/public services.

The Framework sets forth an estimate of population and employment growth to the year 2010 that can be used to guide the planning of infrastructure and public services. This, however, does not represent a limit on growth or a mandated level of growth in the City or its Community Plan Areas. Traditionally, such "end-state" limits have proven ineffective in guiding growth and public infrastructure/service investments and in responding to the changing needs of a city's residents and its economy. In its place, the Framework establishes a program to annually monitor growth, its impacts, and infrastructure and service needs that will be documented in a report to the City Council and pertinent service departments and agencies. This provides decision makers and planners with the information that is essential in shaping growth in a manner that seeks to mitigate its impacts, minimize development costs, conserve natural resources, and enhance the quality of life in the City.
Transportation Element Purpose
The purpose of this Element is to present a guide to the further development of a citywide transportation system which provides for the efficient movement of people and goods. This Element recognizes that primary emphasis must be placed on maximizing the efficiency of existing and proposed transportation infrastructure through advanced transportation technology, through reduction of vehicle trips, and through focusing growth in proximity to public transit. The Transportation Element and its monitoring and evaluation program should serve as the basis for City participation in, and input to, the preparation and review of mandated updates of the Regional Transportation Plan and Regional Transportation and Improvement Program.
For the City of Los Angeles the Transportation and Infrastructure Systems Elements together provide compliance with Government Code Section 65302 (b) which requires that the general plan include a circulation element consisting of the general location and extent of existing and proposed major thoroughfares, transportation routes, terminals, and other public utilities and facilities, all correlated with the Land Use Element of the General Plan.

The City's Transportation Element addresses motorized and non-motorized transportation through the year 2010. It is correlated with land use and other General Plan elements; it is based on the recommendations of the Framework Element. The Transportation Element includes the following maps, responding to the state requirement of indicating the general location of major thoroughfares, transportation routes and a portion of the public utilities:
  1. Highway and Freeway Maps depicting freeways, major and secondary highways citywide as well as these same designations by City sub-area.
  2. Rail/Transit Corridor Maps depicting existing, funded, and approved transit/rail lines, and Transportation Element recommended transit lines/corridors, citywide; plus Transit Priority Arterial Streets, citywide.
  3. Goods Movement Maps depicting rail freight lines/truck routes/intermodal freight facilities; plus pipelines, citywide.
  4. Non-Motorized Transportation Map depicting CGPF-suggested pedestrian priority street segments and designated bikeways, citywide.
  5. Scenic Highways Map depicting designated Scenic Highways, citywide.
In addition, the Transportation Element sets forth street designations and related standards as well as selection/performance criteria for each designation in Chapter VI. A listing of street types with descriptions and generalized cross sections for each designation is included. The element also incorporates Streetscape and Scenic Highway Guidelines in that chapter. Implementation programs and a monitoring and evaluation program consistent with the Framework Element comprise Chapters VII and VIII, respectively.

The City of Los Angeles Transportation Element does not fully address the required public utilities/facilities component of a State-mandated circulation element. The City will address these remaining infrastructure requirements through the preparation of the City's Infrastructure Systems Element. The Port of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles International Airport, as major transportation facilities/terminals, each have plans included in the City's General Plan.

Consistent with the policies of the adopted Air Quality Element of the City's General Plan, the Transportation Element promotes strong linkages between land use, transportation and air quality. The Land Use Element is intended to guide the location and intensity of the private and public use of land and to promote an arrangement of land uses, streets, and services which will encourage and contribute to the economic, social and physical health, safety, welfare, and convenience of the people who live and work in the City. The Community Plans, which comprise the Land Use Element, incorporate the Transportation Element's Highways and Freeways system and also designate collector streets.

The Transportation Element recognizes the contribution of a proper juxtaposition of land uses to the reduction of vehicle trips. Locating land uses that better serve the needs of the population closer to where they work and live reduces the number and the distance of vehicle trips, resulting in congestion relief and a decrease in pollution from mobile sources. The Transportation Element provides goals, objectives, standards, policies and programs to continually meet the changing mobility and air quality challenges faced by the City of Los Angeles.
According to State Government Code (Sec. 65300.5), all elements of the general plan must be consistent with each other. This internal consistency requirement has several important implications for the structure and content of the General Plan. First, it establishes that all elements of the General Plan have equal legal status. For example, the Land Use Element and the Open Space Element cannot contain different land use intensity standards with qualifying statements such as:
"if in any instance there is a conflict between the land use element and open space element, the land use element controls" (Sierra Club v. Board of Supervisors of Kern County (1981) 126 Cal. App. 3d 698).
Any conflicts among elements must be resolved within the General Plan itself. Similarly, all goals, objectives, policies, principles, standards, and plan proposals in the general plan must be consistent; the implementation programs set out in the plan must be true to and follow logically from the plan goals and policies.

Information, such as projections and assumptions, in all elements within the general plan must be consistent and uniform since no element is subordinate to another. Population projections in the Land Use Element, for example, must be consistent with population projections in the Transportation Element. When a new element is adopted or a part of the General Plan amended, the rest of the plan must be changed to eliminate any inconsistencies created by the new element or amendment.
Commission Approval
The General Plan and any amendments thereto must be approved by the City Planning Commission following a public hearing and the approved changes must be presented to the Mayor and the City Council by the Director of Planning, together with the Commission's report and recommendations. A draft of this Transportation Element was circulated to the State Department of Transportation, Los Angeles County Regional Planning, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA), and the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) for their review prior to Council adoption to assure conformance with Government Code Section 65350. The , in its initial draft form as a chapter of the Framework Element, was also circulated to all regional, county, adjoining local governments as well as to the general public to give opportunity for review and comment.
City Council Adoption
The General Plan and any amendment to it must be adopted by majority vote of the City Council. A two-thirds vote of the Council is required if its action contrary to the recommendations of either the City Planning Commission or of the Mayor. A three-fourths vote of the Council is required if the action of the Council is contrary to the recommendations of both the City Planning Commission and the Mayor.
When preparing or revising a general plan, cities and counties should carefully analyze the implications of regional plans for their planning area. General Plans are required to include an analysis of the extent to which the general plan's policies, standards, and proposals are consistent with regional plans.

Regional plans prepared by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and other designated regional agencies (e.g. LACMTA) provide the legal basis for allocating state and federal funds, as in the case of transportation and water quality facilities. Other regional plans, such as air quality plans, spell out measures which local governments may institute in order for the region to meet state and federal standards.

The General Plan Framework serves as subregional input to the Southern California Association of Governments Regional Comprehensive Plan and Guide and provides a context for cooperative planning efforts between the City of Los Angeles, adjacent cities, and the five county region. The Framework, along with the Air Quality Element and this Transportation Element, seeks consistency between the Los Angeles City General Plan and the Regional Comprehensive Plan and Guide as well as the Regional Air Quality Management Plan. The Regional Comprehensive Plan and Guide includes Growth Management and Mobility components. This Transportation Element is also consistent with the 1993 California Transportation Plan, the 1995 LACMTA Long Range Plan and the Los Angeles County Congestion Management Program (1995).
Congestion Management Program
The Congestion Management Program (CMP) was enacted by the California State Legislature with the passage of AB 471 in July, 1989 (California Government Code Section 65088, et seq.). The requirements for the Congestion Management Program became effective upon voter approval of Proposition 111 in June 1990. The Los Angeles County Transportation Commission (which was soon merged into the LACMTA) first adopted a Countywide CMP in December 1992, and periodically updates the CMP on a scheduled basis.

The City's General Plan Framework, Air Quality and Transportation Elements call for citywide congestion reduction by linking population and employment concentrations with transit systems. The intent of the CMP legislation was to create a state transportation planning program that required local jurisdictions to assume responsibility for their land use decisions which impact the regional transportation system. By linking land use, transportation, and air quality decisions, this legislation encourages more effective use of all transportation modes. The CMP provides local jurisdictions with a mechanism to link transportation and land use policies with the objective of reducing local and regional traffic congestion and improving air quality.

A major aspect of the CMP land use policy is the reduction of congestion and air pollution through the provision of incentives for development adjacent to rail stations and other public transit systems. Higher density residential, mixed residential and commercial, and low and very low income housing uses are exempt from any CMP requirements within a quarter mile radius of a fixed transit passenger station. Residential and mixed use development projects are also exempt if they are within a quarter mile of a transit station and more than one-half of the land or floor area is placed in residential use.
State law (Government Code Section 65351) specifies that: "During the preparation or amendment of the general plan, the planning agency shall provide for opportunities for the involvement of citizens, public agencies, public utility companies, and civic, education, and other community groups, through public hearings and any other means the city or county deems appropriate."

A listing of entities for referral is provided by Government Code Section 65352. Other sections of the Government Code require that prior to adopting a general plan, element or amendment, the planning commission and legislative body hold at least one public hearing (Sections 65353 and 65355). While the above represents the minimum requirements, it is the policy of the City Planning Department to seek involvement and active participation of other City departments and other public agencies, the Office of the Mayor and all elected officials, as well as the public.

Over a period of several years, the Departments of City Planning and Transportation, in collaboration with a team of professional consultants, outside organizations, and residents from all parts of the City, developed the Citywide General Plan Framework Element. The primary mode for participation was approximately 60 community and neighborhood workshops, in which more than 3,000 residents and business persons participated. The Transportation Element is based on the Framework Element's recommendations. In addition, six community workshops dispersed throughout the City and one public agency workshop in Downtown Los Angeles were conducted in February and March of 1997, to present and discuss the preliminary Transportation Element. Public hearings were conducted by the City Planning Commission on May 8, 1997 and June 12, 1997 as part of its review and consideration of the proposed Element.

1. Office of Planning and Research, State of California General Plan Guidelines, (North Highlands, CA:General Services Publications Section, 1990), p. 5.

2. State of California General Plan Guidelines, p. 5.
Site Map top