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Who Is Michael LoGrande? Insights of a Planning Expert Who Supervised Him

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.

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35 Responses to Who Is Michael LoGrande? Insights of a Planning Expert Who Supervised Him

  1. Anonymous says:

    Consider the source!!!
    Michale LoGrande is a stand up guy, and has the planning skills and the people skills to do this job.
    A bunch of jealous losers criticizing him in a broad way withjout specifics is worth nothing.
    You go Michael!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Michael Logrande is a gross developer whore. He cannot be trusted as far as you can throw him. He studiously avoids work. All great attributes in the eyes of Antonio “the rat” Villaraigosa.
    Run him out of town

  3. Anonymous says:

    The truth is that David Abel has been flacking for the author of this blog to be planning director; where is the “full disclosure” that a true journalist is supposed to make when posting a viscous slam like this one?
    You can slam the Mayor all you wish, but there is one fact you can’t get away from; he’s the mayor, snd you’re NOT.
    Want to be Mayor? Then put yourself on the line and run for it and see how easy it is to get elected.

  4. James McCuen says:

    With or without this article reference, Michael LoGrande is a “yes man” for developers and could care less about good planning principals.
    I attended a hearing for a large development project across the street for a senior home. The developer requested a time range for the working hours that would last until 6 PM. LoGrande suggested that they get until 8 PM.
    On a side note, LoGrande is the nephew of Gail Goldberg.
    The root cause of the problems in this corrupt City is at the heads of the snake – the Mayor and City Council.
    This City is currently being run without any balance toward the public’s interest and instead favors developers over the working class taxpayers.

  5. Sandy Sand says:

    The problem is far greater than the rubber stamping of LoGrande.
    It doesn’t matter what form the government takes: federal, city, state, county, incorporated, unincorporated, parish, whatever…
    The problem is the constant erosion of the public trust. Every day it’s something else or
    two or three something elses that we read or hear about that makes our hair stand on end and wonder how they get away stupid blunder and tax payer ripoff after another.
    Congress has an approval rating of 12 percent. Our mayor and council members must have approval ratings of the same or even less, and the governor and state legislators dwell in the same pit of low public opinion.
    And who can blame us? Not one public official or entity has proven that they can do their jobs in a fair, balanced and open way. We cannot trust any of them, because time and again they’ve proven they’re out to give us the shaft while enhancing their self-esteem or pocketbooks.
    LoGrande could be God’s gift to city planning, and it wouldn’t make any difference. We don’t trust the mayor, therefore why should we trust anyone he chooses to do any job?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Why always slam the developers? They put their money at risk to try to create housing,offices, stores, etc. Those construction projects bring JOBS, as do the ultimate occupants of the developments. Not all developers are rich; many lose lots of money in down cycles like we are now experiencing.
    And, while they are enchancing property values, the taxes on those properties get reassesed and bring in more money to fuel the infrastructure.
    Look instead to the rip offs the unions get away with; pensions, civil service so you can’t fire them, huge vacation time and sick time; the benefits go on and on.
    Used to be it was needed because government employees made LESS than private sector and the retirment was less. No more. The employees all make more than the private sector and the retirements (after just 20 years) are obscene.
    And, the unions control all the elected officials. Term limits has assured that, because they all need the union backing for their next jobs. Just look what the unions spent getting Mark Ridley-Thomas elected; reportedly over $12 Million.
    Not every planner is in the pocket of the vocal minority homeowners’ associations. There has to be balance and development cannot be choked off to please a few who already have their space and want to pull up the draw bridge. We have too many NIMBYS and BANANAS in our city already.
    Michael LoGrande is a good man, and doesn’t deserve David Abel’s bitterness.

  7. Jim O'Sullivan says:

    Interesting topic. I’m in the, it doesn’t make a bit of difference who sits at the head of the Planning department as long as the Mayor is the puppet master. It also doesn’t help that the Planning Department is underwater with staffing and processing issues. In the recent audit of the Case processing unit, Wendy Greuel stated that it was the most disturbing audit she had conducted so far because the Department had been unable to implement the recommendations from the previous 2005 Laura Chick audit. The Chick audit was a follow up of the comprehensive 1991 Zucker Systems audit which made 267 recommendations for change. Also disturbing is the 2009 Chick audit of the Capital Improvement Program which found no long term planning and a hodge-podge list of shifting priorities. All this on top of the City not doing mandated Annual reports on growth and infrastructure since 1998.
    As for developers, some try to make the community a better place while others don’t. Homeowners groups? I’m the President of one so I’m biased but I have worked with groups all across Los Angeles and we would love to live in a City that followed the Charter and the General Plan but that’s not the cards we were dealt. So we organize to protect the communities we live in as best we can.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Mike, make sure you kick out that arrogant, AICP ass Vince Bertoni back to the APA circuit, where he can join his buddy Gail Goldberg in planning parties, their only area of expertise.

  9. Anonymous says:

    It appears Fridays are a come in LATE to chambers when council members feel like it due to NO roll call prior to the two or three hours Presentations and Proclamations.
    The Need to Set Precedent Eric Garcetti, Need to Set Precedent Pro Tempore Jan Perry, and Need to Set Precedent Assistant Pro Tempore Dennis Zine should conduct roll call on Fridays, as done on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and PRIOR to the long presentations. This should serve as a small token of exercising TRANSPARENCY.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Let’s not lose sight of the key point of this article – qualifications. Does LoGrande have the necessary qualifications and experience to not only execute the current planning vision but create those that of the future? It doesn’t sound like it to me at all. That impression comes from how the Mayor didn’t conduct a professional job search as he did with Goldberg. Even if he did, and LoGrande’s name was being touted, we’d have some assurance that the selection process was fair and balanced.
    And, that is exactly why homeowner and Neighborhood Councils get on the perceived anti-development bandwagon. Too often, they have witnessed developers receiving favorable treatment (i.e., those “entitlements”) when a large scale development is planned for their community.
    I think if you were to ask any perceived NIMBY what it is that they resent about “developers,” they will tell you that with a City and City Council that continually steamrolls over Community and Specific Plans (and even Zoning Codes), homeowners have to keep fighting over one project at a time. Instead of having the assurance long-fought protections won’t be compromised by their own representatives.
    No matter how many “plans” or “planning procedures” are in place, until the wholesale catering to developers over the interest of a community or neighborhood isn’t stopped, it won’t matter who is the next planning director. So much for the great “fluid” city of Los Angeles, as it continues to circle the drain instead of being responsive to ALL of its citizens first.

  11. Anonymous says:

    IF Michael LoGrande is the nephew of Gail Goldberg, then it is Goldberg who should be under investigation for promoting him to Chief
    Zoning Administrator. Although I have no reason to even believe this is true…exactly what is the line of family relationship?
    Bear in mind that the people who are flakking Mr LoGrande are the AICP/APA/Planning clique who recommended Gail Goldberg in the first place. Her rejection as an ineffective bullshitter reflects badly on all of them. As for Vince Bertoni, another APA flak that Gail brought in as Deputy, NO ONE thinks he knows a damn thing. That really was Gail’s biggest failing, inability to listen to those who had some practical knowledge to go along with her puffery.

  12. Anonymous says:

    3:07, amazing logic. Shoot the messengers rather than the real villains in this sorry mess that affects the quality of life of LA residents.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Elections have consequences.
    Here’s the deal; if you are upset with our Mayor and what he does, run yourself or shut up.
    David Abel never runs for anything, because he couldn’t get elected and he knows it.
    Ron Kaye threatens, but never runs. Why not? He might have a shot. But then, he’d have to make decisions and make enemies.
    Because, it is easier to sit back and critique than actually have to govern.
    Everyone deserves what they get if they don’t participate in the process and put their money where their mouths are.

  14. Anonymous says:

    First, I’m not aware about Ron Kaye running for Mayor. Second, what you are advocating is that a free press should not exist. Maybe, a more suitable place for you to live in is Russia or China.

  15. Anonymous says:

    This is the type of crap we’ve been expecting from council morons. Now with this guy on board it will get worse and residents wouldn’t know til its too late what is coming in their part of town. “”"”City Council unanimously approved entitlements for a massive high-density project in Hollywood, where a 28-story residential building, a 7-story hotel, and a 17-story office tower are planned for construction at Columbia Square on Sunset Boulevard. Eric Garcetti, represents the neighborhood”"
    I don’t think there was any NC input into this piece of crap. Hollywood is looking more and more like New York without any space. All the buildings are on top of eachother.

  16. Anonymous says:

    The President of the City Planning Commission, Mr. William Roschen, is a paid consultant for the developer on this project.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Huh. If Mr. Winogrond was “quickly disappointed” after placing LoGrande in charge of a section of the Planning Department, then why didn’t he remove him? And if he lacked capacity and needed strong direction, then why did Gail Goldberg appoint him Chief Zoning Administrator?

  18. Art Vindelay says:

    12:40 and 4:17 Both are correct. The AICP and APA Types lack credibility. I can’t wait for Vince Barzini to get wacked. I give him ’til labor day. He’s a know nothing. And Abel is a clown. His Planning Report is pathetic. I wish everyone would stop belly aching sbout LoGrande. Put up and shut up!!!!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Required Personality Traits: self centered, egomaniac,ability to bull—-,insecure, and cowards.
    These people need vindication for a profession that has no science. Maybe they are wannabe (but not smart enough)architects, engineers, or politicians.
    How does a woman who grew up in San Bernardino, married and became a housewife in San Diego, suddenly in her mid 40′s decides she wants to be a planner, who then in her 60′s decides she has a vision for LA. Give me a break, it was all about her own ego and greed, she could care less about LA.
    The new Director does’nt need AICP, just the willingness to get into the trenches with the planning staff who, under Gail Goldberg, had no direction.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Kaye should have disclosed his relationship to the source, Abel: L A Observed’s Kevin Roderick calls him Kaye’s “unofficial flack,” and says he and others receive “numerous” emails from his promoting this or that Ron Kaye project, or being critical of items that are critical of Kaye.
    Abel is also a contributor to Kaye’s OurLA project.
    Citing Abel as a “source” is like Villaraigosa citing Michael Trujillo as HIS objective source.

  21. Anonymous says:

    7:08, the Planning Report did an independent article which has also been picked up by other sites. What the hell does it have to do with Ron. So your boy Logrande is being exposed for the tout he is, and you have problems, not with this scumbag who’ll be the director, but with the messenger. Spare us your stupidity.

  22. Anonymous says:

    We now have a vacant Chief ZA position in the department. Look no further, the perfect candidate is right there; Eva Yuan McDaniel, who is totally wasted as Deputy for Personnel. She could not understand the fuss about technical skills, and claimed to have read the Zoning Code over a weekend and said it was a piece of cake, also read the CEQA guidelines over the next weekend, which she said, were so easy, and she knows how to write, as taught to her by a good supervisor. Finally, she knows how to say “NO”, and will make the developer’s life as miserable as the employees. My candidate.

  23. Anonymous says:

    10:15, I’m not 7:08 but I’ll give my two cents.
    First of all, classifying an article as “independent” is ambiguous. Nobody knows what you’re talking about.
    Second, Ron citing an article from one of his biggest cheerleaders while not disclosing it taints the objectivity of his article. This whole Ron Kaye – David Abel relationship has been brought up by Roderick before. In print, they act like they don’t know each other. In the real world they’re tied to each other beyond just political views.
    I’m in the camp that agrees that LoGrande is underqualified for this position but I also think it’s valuable to question the agenda of the messenger, especially when personal blogs masquerade as journalism. In the past I’ve seen Ron do funny things (like citing himself and using circular logic to prove this thing called the Baghdad Strategy exists).

  24. Anonymous says:

    Did Abel put a gun to Mark Winogrand’s head to give his opinion about this incompetent lout. I don’t know if you live in LA. If you do, then you don’t give a damn about the city, cause you’d be as concerned as everyone else, other than the big developers here to make a fast buck at the ruination of communities.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm. I guess Kaye figured that everyone already knew that he and Abel were joined at the hip, so he didn’t have to disclose it. (LOL)
    C’mon, guys, Abel IS a clown like the previous poster said; he’s been slithering around in the shadows for years.
    Planning Report, indeed – it is a self promoting rag that flacks for him and his buddies; Ron Kaye is chief beneficiary.
    But, I can say something nice (like my Mom taught me); his wife Brenda Levin is a hell of an architect; she’s done a lot of quality restorations.
    LoGrande will be confirmed and will do a good job; I hope he ignores the circular slams from this blog and the so called “planning report”. Maybe it should be renamed “The Panning Report”.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I respected Mark Winogrond more before he recruited Gail Goldberg. Winogrond is a regular contributer to the Planning Report. TPR will print whatever Mark submits. I think Mark is just upset that LoGrande is not one of the AICP/APA/Planning Roundtable groupies (like Vince Bertoni and Gail).

  27. Anonymous says:

    “Did Abel put a gun to Mark Winogrand’s head to give his opinion about this incompetent lout. ”
    No, but Ron cited David Abel to put together his daily smear article. What’s your point?
    “I don’t know if you live in LA. If you do, then you don’t give a damn about the city”
    If you live in LA, you need to stop getting your local news from a bunch of old guys who A) have no political platform other than being anti-status quo, and B) only started caring about LA when their Valley secession effort failed.

  28. Anonymous says:

    3:55, just f–k off. This is not an election where you can use such tactics to an illiterate audience by obfuscating the issues. Now that I know, you are just a vermin from the gutters, I won’t waste my time in engaging scum like you in a conversation. Go ahead, say what you want. Nobody gives a shit. If you don’t like this blog, why are you here? Oh yeah, to spread the gospel to the uninformed. I’m constantly amazed by your type of idiots, who actually think they have an audience and the reason why this city is descending into third world hell.

  29. Anonymous says:

    It is so nice to see this corrupt Michael LoGrande’s developer friends show up on this blog to support him. If given Grand Jury protection, they are many who will name these developers and their corruption with LoGrande. So folks don’t push your luck and anger us enough to head to the DA’s office immediately. Count your blessings that we have an equally corrupt Mayor and Council.

  30. Anonymous says:

    A major reason LA is vulnerable to descending into “third world hell” is that a large portion of it never was really such a nice place to begin with. The city’s origins are that of a primarily uninspiring, sun-baked, lower-middle-class community. A town full of mediocre Midwestern people tolerant of “slob” type of neighborhoods. That’s a big reason LA was considered a cultural wasteland for most of its existence.
    Now it’s slumping even further, but this time flirting with a different kind of D-grade status. One with a scroungy Latinoized flavor.

  31. Anonymous says:

    “just f–k off”
    And if I don’t, what are you going to do? Throw another tantrum? lol
    “If you don’t like this blog, why are you here?”
    Because for every person like you who thinks headnodding with old conservatives from the West Valley amounts to saving LA, there are 10 lurkers that have better critical thinking skills than you do.
    So far, all you’ve done is argue that a person who questions Ron’s motives for paying lip service to his cheerleader friend doesn’t care about LA when these things aren’t even related. And that I’m a rat accessing the internet from some sewer… lol

  32. Anonymous says:

    A few points should be vetted…
    Why didn’t Mark Winogrond “Google” Mr. LoGrande’s name prior to his assignment to the “Expedited Projects Unit.”
    When Mr. Winogrond became “dissappointed” with Mr. LoGrande, why didn’t he reassign him?
    Why did Gail Goldberg promote Mr. LoGrande to Chief Zoning Aministrator, and why didn’t Mr. Winogrond intervene or lobby Gail Goldberg for another Chief? Maybe he did – why did Gail Goldberg ignore his concerns?
    Why didn’t Mr. Winogrond write a piece to the Planning Report back in the day when Mr. LoGrande was promoted to the Chief Zoning Administrator position, indicating his concern about Mr. LoGrande’s inability in -”understanding the ability to step away from a project and see how it fits into the context of the City’s vision”?

  33. Anonymous says:

    Shows incompetence that started with Winogrand. He foisted an incompetent on LA, who found someone even dumber than her for Chief ZA. And he’ll continue the trend. More dumb people will make up his management team. The city is doomed.

  34. Hollywood NC says:

    To an earlier commenter, not only did the Columbia/CBS project in Garcetti’s district have neighborhood council impact, it was endorsed by us. We also had the support of Hollywood Heritage, our heroic local historic preservation group. Garcetti held up the project until it had neighborhood support. A few people still opposed it, but that’s democracy–the local residents and neighborhood council supported it. Great work all around. If there’s space on this blog for happiness and congratulations once in a while!

  35. Hollywood NC says:

    The Columbia square project not only had NC input, we voted to support it, had great cooperation and support from historic preservationists and the neighbors, but Garcetti did a great job holding up the project until it met our standards and had our backing. If there is any room here for some happy thoughts and congrats.

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