The chaos at the Department of Water and Power is bleeding the town dry with rates going to soar like never before and far too much of the money going into the bank accounts of its workers and union treasury of controlled by IBEW union boss Brian D’Arcy, the official City Hall blackmailer.
The scandal at the Community Redevelopment Agency is enriching wealthy developers and various other special interests without any meaningful public debate or significant public benefits.
Bad as those two agencies are, nothing they do impacts the quality of life so dramatically and negatively as what is going on in the Planning Department under the leadership of wannabe mayor Austin Beutner and his squire Planning Director Michael LoGrande.
They talk the language of smart growth — walkability, community enhancement, public benefits. But he has started to push through the Council without anyone standing up for the public a series of radical changes that separately and collectively make zoning laws meaningless, negate the need for environmental impact studies and all but eliminate even the pretense of public input.
The result will be allow the Planning Department — gutted of its most experienced, talented and knowledgeable planners — to green light developments of any size in any part of the city no matter how much damage they do to the quality of life of residents or harm they do to local businesses.
The goal is simple: Densify, densify, densify. The justification is simple: Jobs, jobs, jobs.
By short-circuiting the planning process — instead of simplifying and clarifying it as this mayor promised to do but failed to achieve — and by using public money from the DWP and CRA to subsidize new projects, they are intending to cause irreparable harm to the city.
Already, LA’s long record of ignoring good planning policies has led to traffic congestion, shortages of water and clean power, deterioration of neighborhoods and decaying infrastructure of pipes, power lines, roads and sidewalks.
What they are doing is the coup de grace to a city that has lost much of its middle class and become increasingly like the dying Rust Belt cities of Detroit and Cleveland than the paradise for the common man and woman it once was.
Fortunately, LA Neighbors United founded by Cary Brazeman is fighting back on behalf of all us.
On Thursday, the group’s attorney Douglas Carsten, a planning expert, filed a lawsuit (planning-lawsuit.pdf) on behalf of the public to block implementation of the recently-approved Community Plan Implementation Overlay District Ordinance (CPIO), calliing it a “Trojan Horse” that will “mark
the beginning of the end of real community planning in Los Angeles.”
“The City maintains that the ordinance is
necessary to effect street-level planning, but the tools already exist to do
that,” Brazeman wrote in announcing the suit..
“The real reason for these districts is to create a mechanism to effectively
rezone or upzone areas without the benefit of a holistic Community Plan update,
which includes a high level of public participation and environmental review.”
Brazeman, who has extensive experience in real estate and bought full-page ads in local newspapers that successfully slowed down approval of another new radical change in planning policy, offered alternative strategies and posed a number of questions in his statement.
“How is the community going to be able to evaluate multiple districts that might
be created in a general area, and weigh in on their potential impacts,
including relative to each other? They wont be able to.
“What will be the collective impact on our City of these districts that allow
development that is 20% or more intense and dense across the board? We dont
He points out a number of seriious problems with the CPIO: Allowing dense development with less parking and less open space
everywhere in the city: giving the Zoning Administrator power to approve, without public hearings, development bonuses of up to 20
percent for every project, even spot zoning single parcels.
who think we citizens are cynical for not trusting the Mayor and his appointees
to do the right thing by this far-reaching ordinance, I say simply this: The
Mayor has given us good reason to be cynical. Theres no better evidence than
the Citys density-bonus ordinance, which makes no effort (zippo) to target
density based on infrastructure including transportation … no effort (zippo) to
ensure project designs are compatible with neighboring properties … and no
penalties (zippo) to ensure the community benefit (the affordable housing) is
“It is a one-size-fits-all development incentive from a Mayor who had a chance
to implement real inclusionary housing in his first term, but reneged on his
“Odds are this ordinance will be used exactly the same way: As a
one-size-fits-all development incentive to create high-density, low-parking,
reduced open-space districts with little or no community benefit for the people
of Los Angeles.”
City Hall cannot be trusted with this kind of unlimited power after its years of failure that have led to soaring poverty, unemployment disparities between rich and poor that pose long-term threats to the social fabric.
If you want join the fight against what they are doing in bringing the DWP, CRA and Planning Department into a single weapon of destruction, you will suffer the consequences of your passivity without pity.
City Hall cannot be trusted. For too long power has been held by the few and has failed in its duty to the many.