I, too, share frustration with the City of Downey's (lack of) planning. Everywhere I go, I can point to "developments" and "projects", both large and small, which have at least one essential flaw.
In many cases, the developments either fail to create opportunities, or actually "develop" Downey in the wrong direction. Here are several examples:
The KB development on Paramount. This an eyesore in the making. It is stylistically bleak, intrudes on the sidewalk, has no greenspace, and creates traffic, water, school, and other demands on city services and infrastructure. How could it have been done better? Well, it could have been required to have a reasonable setback so that a "green screen" could be planted to help protect the owners from noise and pollution from Paramount Boulevard and cool down the dwellings so that the residents don't need to use so much electricity, and it could have included more amenities such as a playground and a walkway and common space, but thinking outside of the box: A 117-townhome development - which could mean as many as 500 residents - should be a candidate for mixed-use planning.
What would be so terrible about making space for a coffee shop, a small restaurant, convenience store, and a community garden and greenspace for the residents? Yes, it would have reduced the amount of money that KB could have sold as residences, but it would also have reduced the number of cars being driven to and from the complex for those "quick trips" which are - inconveniently- out of walking distance for the residents, and it would have reduced the amount of traffic on Paramount.
By the way, doesn't Downey have a traffic mitigation plan? If it does, I fail to see it in action. Anywhere. Also, not having driven through the complex, I don't know whether there is space set aside for guest parking, but all well-planned complexes have spaces for guest parking, and this is especially important in Downey, where parking is such a problem.
The "Village Walk" development. Yes, this is prettier than the horror on Paramount, its sidewalks and landscaping invite a few walks, but I don't see any provision whatsoever for guest parking. Did the development company and the City of Downey imagine that people living here have no friends or family who might, on occasion, like to visit? There should be at least 10% extra parking spaces.
The recently developed retail space. The city's financial reports find that city revenues are highly concentrated in retail and services. But economic projections indicate that retail space is overbuilt, and malls across the region are hollowing out as big-box stores like Sears and Macy's implode. It looks as if Downey is committed to following a downward trend.
I know that Downey did try to diversify this space by wooing Tesla Motors (it may be a blessing in disguise that we didn't become one of their locations) but the question still remains: How can we develop Downey in a more balanced fashion, one which doesn't depend on retail and "development" to generate revenues?
Well, some cities have large entertainment complexes, others have microbreweries or hot sauces. In our case, we have the historic NASA facilities. It's great that we have a museum about those efforts, but what about something forward-looking? The site includes the old office buildings- has anyone thought of developing this into a nascent community college?
The "pedestrian-friendly" lights along Lakewood Boulevard. I know it was the fashion to install lights over sidewalks, and not just for streets, but has anyone looked at the miles and miles of Lakewood Boulevard where this lighting was installed? Nobody walks there. There is no place to walk from, or to. It was a waste of money and effort.
"Bike routes" with no bike lanes.
The continued destruction of historic homes, and the allowance of oversized McMansions on split lots, which morph the character of our neighborhoods from family-friendly homes to statements of wealth. If Downey were on a mission to crush any charm that the city might have had out of existence, they're doing a fine job. Ultimately, the less desirable a city, the lower the property values.
And finally, the lack of parks - noted by a recent LA County study - which deserves a whole letter of its own.
What these examples point to is a lack of overall vision for our city. There doesn't seem to be any recognition that the city, its residents, and finances, will still be living thirty years hence with the consequences of decisions made today.
Frankly, I don't know what's driving these haphazard decisions. Is it the pressure of coming up with a balanced City budget each year? Are these developments shining bright dollar signs into the eyes of the planners and City Council? Is the city too financially strapped to avail themselves of a good city architect, and too insular to consult with urban planners who will take traffic mitigation, urban heat, economic forecasts, population growth, and other long-term factors into account?
I may be wrong, but I'm sensing a growing frustration with the traffic, ugliness, and irritations that the City of Downey increasingly presents to its residents. In the meantime, you might find this TED Talk amusing, but please be aware that it includes some profanities.