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Mayor and City Council Announce Effort to Revise Community Plans

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

Mayor Eric Garcetti announced yesterday that the Los Angeles City Council has voted to update of all of the City’s community plans and that he has included funding in his upcoming budget to support this effort. In the motion by Councilmembers José Huizar, Gil Cedillo, David Ryu, Bob Blumenfield, Mitch O’Farrell and Mike Bonin, and seconded by Councilmember Paul Krekorian, the City Council instructed the Planning Department to report back on overhauling the Community Plan program. They also called for recommendations on ways to increase oversight of the environmental review process, and upgrade outdated technology.

City leaders also called for a new Citywide General Plan, the blueprint that guides responsible growth and lays out a framework for key areas of urban life, including transportation, housing and open space. The General Plan has not been fully updated in more than 20 years.

“We have a responsibility to plan for prosperity and growth in ways that reflect the energy of this great City and protect the character of our neighborhoods,” said Garcetti in a press release. “I want Angelenos to have a sense of ownership over the development of their communities and these reforms help us get there. Together, we’re creating a blueprint for the Los Angeles of today, and the Los Angeles of tomorrow.”

“Angelenos deserve a transparent and fair process when evaluating impacts on their residential neighborhoods and to ensure that the city can effectively deliver on its land-use responsibilities,” said Council Member David Ryu of the actions. “Today’s motion is a step in the right direction to rebuilding trust in the city’s planning process.”

Mayor Garcetti pledged to nearly triple the Planning Department’s community plan staff, to better ensure all plans are updated in no more than 10 years. The Mayor will include $1.5 million in new funding for the Community Planning program and General Plan program, as part of his upcoming 2016-17 budget. He also laid out a plan for ongoing funding for the program to ensure updates are completed – start to finish – within 36 months.

But while the city officials were trumpeting their efforts, others took a dimmer view of the announcements, including the Coalition to PreserveLA, which is promoting a spring 2017 ballot measure – the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative – calling for many similar reforms, on a much faster schedule.  In a statement issued yesterday, the Coalition called the City’s efforts “a major nod to the efforts of the Coalition to Preserve L.A.,” and said city officials “are clearly unnerved” by the grass-roots ballot measure effort.

Michael Weinstein, the “principal architect” of the ballot measure, said in the statement that the city announcements “have validated our message that the current system is broken.” He went on to say that the city’s plan “falls far short of the reforms in the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative.  What City Hall is doing now is like closing the barn door after all the animals have already run away.”

As the debate heats up (and it looks like it will get much hotter over the next year or so), the question doesn’t seem to be whether or not there are serious issues with the way the city handles planning and development, but whether voters believe it’s better to deal with those issues through the city ordinance process…or through the ballot box – two very different approaches that each have unique pluses and minuses as vehicles for enacting new laws.

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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

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