Request for Proposals for Small Green Co-op Oriented Businesses at Songs in the Los Angeles Eco-Village

Submission deadline is extended to January 2, 2019. This Request for Proposal (RFP) is being issued by CRSP Institute for Urban Ecovillages at Los Angeles Eco-Village.

Contact info for questions and clarifications:
Lois Arkin
117 Bimini Pl #221
Los Angeles CA 90004

Based on CRSP’s knowledge of your previous work experience or that of your organization, you have been selected to receive this RFP. If you have a continuing interest in renting space at Songs, please submit a proposal. Please take the time to carefully read and become familiar with the proposal requirements. All proposals submitted for consideration must be received by the “submission deadline.”

Bidders should note that any and all work intended to be subcontracted as part of the bid submittal must be accompanied by background materials and references for proposed subcontractor(s). No exceptions.

Songs is located at 3554 West First Street and its associated café at 3560 West First Street, Los Angeles 90004 on the northern boundary of the Los Angeles Eco-Village two block neighborhood.

The Songs project is intended to further the manifestation of the Los Angeles Eco-Village vision to reinvent how we live in the City by demonstrating higher quality living patterns at lower environmental impacts. A variety of small ecologically sensitive, cooperatively oriented businesses, aligned with our core values (see below), are invited to submit proposals. Those selected must provide affordable products and services primarily to the LAEV and adjacent working class neighborhoods. Place-based entrepreneurial and employment opportunities for residents within easy walking, biking or public transit distance are mandatory requirements for selection. The Project will be promoted as car-free with surcharges for those who drive to Songs. Businesses that have cross connections with one another, closing waste to resource loops, will be given preference.

–  Celebrate & include joy in all our endeavors.
–  Take responsibility for each other & the planet through local environmental & social action.
–  Learn from nature and live ecologically.
–  Build a dynamic community throughdiversity & cooperation.
–  Inspire compassionate, nurturing, & respectful relationships.
–  Create balanced opportunities for individual participation & collective stewardship.
–  Engage our neighbors and broader communities in mutual dialogue to learn, teach, and act.

The ultimate objectives for Songs are:

– to house up to six small ecologically sensitive, co-op oriented, car-free businesses

– to provide needed and/or desired products and services to the neighborhoods within approximately one-half mile walking distance of Songs.

– to provide entrepreneurial and livelihood opportunities for persons who live on Bimini and White House Place and/or within one-half mile of Songs.

– for these businesses to provide complimentary services to one another, e.g., if one business is a café/coffee/tea shop, its food scraps could go to a worm or compost business which could provide new earth to a plant/tree seedling business.

– for these businesses to be up and running within six months of selection.

– that these businesses are capable of collectively producing $8 to 10,000 in monthly rents or leases for CRSP within six months of their start-ups. And that these rent levels can provide a reasonable return to the business owners.

Los Angeles Eco-Village (LAEV) is a self-selected place name, designated by CRSP, for the two block neighborhood of Bimini and White House Place. Established in 1993, LAEV has been the primary project of CRSP since that time. These two streets are singularly unique in that they are only one block long in the whole city with visual access of both blocks at their intersection. The neighborhood was created in the early 1900s as a pedestrian and transit neighborhood to bring people to the Bimini Baths. It was the end of the line for the H Streetcar, and those streetcar tracks are still visible; some say the only publicly visible streetcar tracks left in Los Angeles.

CRSP is a nonprofit 501.c.3 corporation whose primary purpose is to be a training, education and development center for all kinds of small ecological cooperatively oriented businesses and neighborhoods. Although its primary focus continues to be the development of LAEV, it provides on-going support and resources to urban neighborhoods and intentional communities working on becoming more sustainable environmentally, economically and socially.

As the initial developer of LAEV, CRSP facilitated the development of the nonprofit Beverly-Vermont Community Land Trust (BVCLT) and the nonprofit Urban Soil-Tierra Urbana (USTU) limited equity housing cooperative, along with the White House Place Learning Garden. BVCLT and USTU now own 50 units of permanently affordable environmentally sensitive housing and land in the two block neighborhood, most of whose residents are members of the LAEV Intentional Community.

The CRSP Ecological Revolving Loan Fund (ELF) provides low interest loans for further development of LAEV. The LAEV Food Lobby, operating under the fiscal umbrella of CRSP, is a food buying co-op started by LAEV residents. Most USTU members belong to the Koreatown TimeBank, one of a dozen local currencies serving the Los Angeles area, and which functioned under the fiscal umbrella of CRSP before receiving its own 501.c.3 tax exempt status. Other small green businesses are helping to re-localize the economy in LAEV. LAEV neighbors and USTU members have been instrumental in the start-up and development of the Bicycle Kitchen, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, CicLAvia, Pacific Electric Workers Co-op, the K-Town Popular Assembly, the LA. Tenants Union, AntenaLA, the small coffee chain known as Cafecito Organico, LA Family Care Service and other nonprofit social justice and environmental organizations.

An intentional community of 40 residents has participated in the development of these and other activities and projects in the two block neighborhood and the City at large. CRSP provides regularly scheduled public and special tours of the neighborhood.

The Songs project is in keeping with the multi-year phasing of the LAEV development goals.   A copy of that plan is available upon request.

The 10,979 square feet property contains two buildings that have housed an auto repair shop, now referred to as the Hall (approximately 2,600 square feet) from the mid 1960s, and a small café (approximately 600 square) since the 1920s until October 6, 2016 when CRSP closed escrow with the owner.

The property is zoned C2, is in the specific plan area known as Vermont/Western Transit Oriented District Station Neighborhood Area Plan or SNAP (see development standards and design guidelines here). Maximum allowable height is 50 feet, and maximum allowable floor area ratio is 2.0/1. The SNAP sunsets in 2020. The property is also within the Promise Zone Opportunity Funds and is a “disadvantaged community” for the State’s Strategic Growth Council’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Cap and Trade funds.

Within walking distance of two subway stops, 20 buslines, more than a dozen public, charter and private schools, five supermarkets, more than 50 cafes and restaurants, a dozen churches, a variety of shops, and the Koreatown/Wilshire Center business corridor, the location has a walk score of 90, a transit score of 76, and a bike score of 68. The rapidly gentrifying area has a broad socio-economic, generational and ethnic mix of residents and business owners.

An important goal of CRSP is to keep the value we create in the neighborhood, thereby benefitting our existing neighbors, and preventing that value from leaking outside the neighborhood to business or property speculators.

 The Songs Property is a Brownfield. The site is a brownfield as was determined in the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment done by EFIGlobal in 2016 and the Phase II Targeted Brownfield Assessment performed by Weston Solutions under contract to the US-EPA completed in September 2017 (reports available upon request to CRSP). Heavy metal and hydrocarbon contamination can be rendered harmless using phytotechnology methods with various plant materials, fungi, water, air and sound. These technologies will be more cost effective and environmentally sensitive than relocating the contaminated dirt to a hazardous waste site. It is also the policy of CRSP to, as much as feasible, refrain from sending contaminated earth away, as ultimately “there is no more ‘away,” and we have to clean up where we are, whether or not we made the mess. Info on some of these plant processes can be seen here.

CRSP is working on a plan to remediate portions of or the whole site in what is anticipated as a year long process, at a minimum. This schedule for remediation has not been finalized and could be disruptive to businesses that may be established on the property.   It is possible that CRSP will maintain the approximately one foot deep of contaminated earth encapsulated underneath the existing asphalt and concrete surrounding the buildings

Some interior remediation has been completed, i.e., lead remediation in the Hall, asbestos remediation in the café, and PCBs in both buildings.

Go here for sitemap
Go here to see these walk, bike and transit friendly scores:
– Walkers Paradise 92
– Excellent transit 72
– Very bikeable 78

Note that the L.A. Eco-Village neighborhood is in Koreatown, the densest urban area in the country, denser than New York city (as a whole).


  • Technical requirements: wattage, outlets, telecom, internet, etc.
  • Space needs: approximate square footage
  • Staffing needs


Applicant proposals will be evaluated on the basis of the criteria listed under this section.   All criteria must be met to some extent in order to be considered for selection. Criteria will be evaluated based on whole systems importance of the proposal as it relates to the core values of the Los Angeles Eco-Village and its associated organizations outlined above, and how well it interfaces with other applicant proposals. Applicants are encouraged to collaborate with one another.  If you are interested in submitting a proposal, please contact us for a list of other interested proposers:

– Live within walking distance or a short bicycle commute or short public transit commute to Songs
– Your business can be promoted as car-free
– You are willing to charge your customers 20% more than your retail price if they have driven an auto, truck or motorcycle to your business. This information would be part of your individual or collective marketing materials, such that there would be no surprises to potential customers.
-You are enthusiastic about collaborating with other Songs businesses on promotion and marketing within one-quarter mile of Songs.
-Your business can be up and running and producing revenues within 60 to 90 days.
-You are able to install your business on tall shelves on wheels with pull-down lockable doors or some other comparable equipment that can be rolled to the periphery of the building, e.g., attractive kiosks.
-You are willing to collaborate wholeheartedly with CRSP to occasionally transform the Hall into an event venue by rolling your business to the periphery of the Hall and/or a designated location outside the Hall.
-You have a product or service which is affordable to working class people and of interest to the general public.
-Your rental or lease agreement can be cancelled either way with 60 days notice.
-You agree to be trained in nonviolent communications and dispute resolution.
-You agree to an open books philosophy with respect to the accounting for your business
-You personally are aligned with the LAEV core values, and agree to ensure that your employees or co-owners and/or investors are so aligned as well.
-You agree to maintain an un-gentrified approach to the growth of your business, i.e., that your services and/or products will be and remain affordable to the population of the local neighborhoods it serves.
-If your business involves food, the food must be vegan or vegetarian, primarily organic and without throw-away eating ware. No animal flesh products.
-You agree to hire workers from the immediate or adjacent neighborhoods, always within walking distance of Songs.
-You can imagine your business becoming a worker owned co-op someday
-You have a current city business license or plan to have one by the time your business opens
-You have a current re-sale license, if applicable
-You agree to be accessible to the media and commit to becoming thoroughly familiar with the L.A. Eco-Village
-You have been on a tour of the L.A. Eco-Village

-Who are you and who are your partners, if any? Names, positions, contact info, current residence, website, blog, financial reports.

-Is your business established or a start up?

-If established, how long, and where is it currently located?

-If established, is this a relocation or an expansion?

-If established, year your business was formed and current legal structure?

-What product or services does or will your business provide?

-Do you have a current written business plan? If so, please include a copy.

-Does your business have a specialty market?

-What technical requirements does your business have?

Your proposal will be evaluated by a committee made up of CRSP Board members, and advisors to CRSP on small businesses, sustainability criteria, permaculture, We will also be looking at -how good a fit it will be with other applicant businesses.

CRSP target is to generate $10,000 per month in total income, including rents from several small business plus venue rentals.

Note of Interest Regarding small businesses
Among the most serious issues in a gentrifying area, besides the displacement of affordable housing, is the displacement of small businesses, often in favor of global franchises that drain money out of the neighborhood, and displace independently owned non-franchised small businesses. The Eco-Village solution to this problem is to ensure the business remains in the neighborhood, secured by appropriate covenants. Worker or employee owned co-ops and/other democratically oriented businesses with place-based values and commitments can also be part of the solution. Even when business founders move on to other endeavors, the jobs and business ownership can remain in the neighborhood.

Contact Lois at 213-738-1254 or





























Scroll to top