November 30, 1988 - From the November, 1988 issue

Business Responds: Guidelines for Managed Growth

The Chamber of Commerce Releases "White Paper"

Amidst the parade of slow-growth initiatives inundating Southern California, the business community has either ignored the problem of growth management or has fought back defensively against no-growth initiatives.

This is not the Sierra Club talking. In its first comprehensive statement on managed growth, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce calls upon business to lead the effort to accommodate the region's inevitable growth. The Chamber's white paper, "The Realities of Growth Management," is a reflection of the high priority the business community is giving to growth management, according to Chamber board member Richard Weiss.

"We will follow-up this report with publication and dissemination in order to get a political consensus moving," he notes. "The entire business community is gaining awareness that they have a stake in this area. It is no longer solely the concern of those who build houses." Weiss, who is also a member of the L.A. 2000 Committee, stresses that both groups will begin to demonstrate "the negative effect of our failure to provide planning and infrastructure."

Throughout the report, the Chamber emphasizes that growth must be "accommodating" because it is inevitable. Approximately 6 million additional bodies will be living in Southern California by the year 2010, and over 60% of the increase will be the result of indigenous growth, of births over deaths, rather than immigration. "This means that we would still have to absorb another Orange County over the next 22 years, even if we could somehow close the region's borders," states the analysis.

One solution to the array of development problems and challenges submitted by the chamber is a regional planning agency. It would have authority over major regional planning decisions consistent with the land use decisions adopted by local governments. 

Land use decisions are left to municipalities that have no way to develop a balanced, regional mix of uses," the report states. "This fragmentation prevents the development of a coherent growth management program to both minimize the negative effects of growth and distribute both the costs and benefits of growth equitably." 

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One Chamber member, in fact, claims, "It's absolutely inevitable that we identify as a region. It's like going back to colonial times. We either hang together or hang separately." 

Similarly, the Chamber calls upon the consolidation of existing single purpose environmental agencies (such as the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the California Water Quality Control Boards) into one multipurpose environmental control agency.

The Chamber's report relied heavily upon a growth analysis prepared for SCAG which affirms that unless specific actions are undertaken by a coalition of business, labor, minority, and community leaders, there will be a serious threat to quality of life in Southern California by the year 2010.

  • Traffic congestion will grow much worse. Daily trips will increase 45%, and the average daily speed on the entire freeway network could drop from 35 mph in 1984 to 19 mph by 2010. Our freeways and roads would consist of little more than "near gridlock."
  • Air pollution will worsen. Traffic congestion and the increase in cars on the road could create more air pollution which would adversely affect the areas where most of the new affordable housing will be built--Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
  • Housing prices could rise dramatically, while other major infrastructure problems could occur when Los Angeles County runs out of sites to dump an ever-increasing amount of solid waste.

"The Los Angeles metropolitan region is at a critical mass," says Weiss. "This report says, wake up, we've got a problem."

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