Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s nomination of Michael LoGrande, chief zoning administrator, to succeed tGail Goldberg as Director of the L.A. Department of City Planning won praise from pro-development interests and condemnation from many planning experts There was no nation search or inclusive vetting process as were used in selecting Goldberg. The man who headed that selection process and served as interim planning director in 2005 under Villaraigosa was Mark Winogrond of Planmark Associates, a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners. Winogrond wrpte this article for David Abel’s Planning Report. He questions whether the nominee has the experience and the vision necessary to guide the city’s future development. Here is an excerpt of the full article at the Planning Report.
I’ve known Michael for some years: when I was Mayor Villaraigosa’s Interim Director of City Planning trying to restore hope in the Department and coordinating the recruitment for Con Howe’s replacement, I was impressed by his can-do attitude. Somehow he seemed fresher than the stale negative, “Our first answer is NO.” philosophy that permeated the Department of 2005.
I did not come to this naively. I had created and written San Francisco’s ground-breaking zoning code and maps, led the West Hollywood team that took it from a run-down industrial pocket to “The Creative City”, managed every concept and detail of the renaissance of Culver City, and helped numerous other cites and colleges get to a better future than they’d expected.
I put him in charge of the “Expedited Projects” unit, and was quickly disappointed. The skill of a good city planner – more importantly, of a good planning leader – is the ability to step away from a project and see how it fits into the context of the City’s vision, the Department’s goals, and the governing rules. At that time, I was disappointed to discover that Michael did not have that capacity. He had antennae very attuned, especially for his few years in public service, to the internal politics and pressure, and the importance of a particular project to the real power brokers.