Note: The assault on planning rules that protect neighborhoods and
require processes that give the public a voice is in his gear. The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday will vote on a proposed ordinance
that will fundamentally change how Community Plans are updated. It
would enable the city to effectively upzone and change zoning within
Community Plan areas without a formal Community Plan update, to
spot-zone individual sites with only adjustments and exceptions without
requriing variances, potentially override existing Community Design
Overlay Districts, Pedestrian Oriented Districts and Q conditions and
undermine the new Baseline Hillside Ordinance, according to LA Neighbors United. This article by former city planner, Dick Platkin, now a planning consultant, helps explain the issue.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010, the Los Angeles City Council will
consider and may adopt a new Community Plan Implementation Ordinance
(CPIO). This ordinance is enabling legislation which will then allow the
city to implement a Community Plan through a zoning overlay ordinance
for an entire community plan area.
But would such local
ordinances actually implement a Community Plan? The answer is hardly at
all, and the title of this new legislation misleads the public, in
particular because CPIO’s could usher in many changes to local
communities which conflict with Community Plans.
This is because
the City’s elected officials, with long-term and consistent support from
the Department of City Planning, long ago abdicated their role in
planning Los Angeles. For them planning has become an appendage to the
city’s Department of Building and Safety, not a rigorously prepared and
maintained vision for governing Los Angeles.
As anyone who has
taken the time to actually look at the city’s General Plan Framework or
one of the city’s 35 Community Plans quickly learns, these documents
always address 100 percent of the land area in Los Angeles. This is why
all plans contain page after page of thoughtful policies and programs
addressing such public infrastructure as parks, and such public services
as libraries and sanitation.
These portions of the General Plan
and its implementing land use element, the Community Plans address 80
percent of the land area of Los Angeles. They should therefore guide the
bulk of City Hall’s activities, the city’s annual budget, including its
Capital Improvement Program.
Furthermore, only 20 percent of the
city’s surface area is in private lots, and only a small amount of the
activity on these private lots is new construction regulated by Building
and Safety and City Planning. Most of what goes on in private lots is
best addressed by code enforcement or other cutting-edge programs to
“green” existing buildings. Examples of the latter include environmental
upgrades, such as cisterns, strategic tree planting, green roofs,
double-paned windows, and energy efficient home appliances.
only does the proposed CPIO fail to address any such policies or
programs for existing structures, but — more importantly — it totally
fails to implement any of the policies and programs for the 80 percent
of Los Angeles carefully addressed in Community Plans, but under the
jurisdiction of the big city departments, in particular LADWP, Harbor,
Airports, Public Works (Engineering, Street Services, Sanitation),
Police, Fire, Transportation, Libraries, and Recreation and Parks.
the CPIO will allow many building permits to be approved with
potentially adverse environmental impacts, while the CPIO itself is
almost irrelevant to the implementation of a Community Plan.
real heavy lifting in implementing a community plan comes through the
city’s budget, department work programs, and the Capital Improvement
Program. Building permits, in particular discretionary actions to
obtain building permits not otherwise allowed by city codes, are, in
reality, a tiny part of Community Plan implementation – despite their
dramatic and often adverse environmental impacts on local communities.
City Planning long ago abdicated any role other than processing these
discretionary actions, they have proposed an ordinance which claims it
is implementing the Community Plans, when, in fact, it is only a back
door for circumventing discretionary actions for building permits which
cannot be directly approved by the city’s Department of Building and
Furthermore, because these CPIO projects will be
approved without an environmental review, their likely impacts will
undercut, not promote, the goals of a Community Plan.
Angeles needs is real implementation of its existing and future adopted
city plans, not misleading ordinances which claim to implement the
General Plan and Community Plans, but which, at best, do nothing of the
sort. Furthermore, at worst, they may actually sabotage the very plans
they claim they are implementing.