December 30, 1988 - From the December, 1988 issue

TPR December 1988 - Full Issue

TPR Online Archive presents the December 1988 issue. Leon Whiteson's critique on the L.A. 2000 Report, an interview with Gary Squire, Housing Coordinator for the then Mayor's Office, and two guest columnists are contained in this issue. 


Gary Squire beside L.A. City Mayor Tom Bradley

"Many developers who have worked with communities rather than in spite of them, have created successful projects and good neighbors. This is a two-way street."—Judie B.A. de Turenne

 Update: Permanent Sewer Hook-Up Ordinance

The Planning Report looks at Alternative Strategies

by Daniel Garcia, Partner, Munger, Tolles & Olson 

During the 1970's the City's population increased by 155,000. Based on this data SCAG projections for growth during the '80s was for below the 400,000 mark, which will actually be reached. This underestimate contributed, along with engineering and maintenance problems, to the present "peak hour" incidents whenever any human error or mischief of nature occurs.

To make up for the future sewage capacity problems the City has embarked upon a $3.4 billion capital improvement program for improvements in the Hyperion, Tillman (Sepulveda basin) and Los Angeles-Glendale treatment facilities. This program is not all the City is doing. In response to repeated sewage overflows the City Council recently passed three ordinances dealing with sewage. The first, and most important to Los Angeles developers, is the so called Interim Control Ordinance ("ICO"). 

The ICO limits the issuance of building permits in the Hyperion Service Area (nearly the whole city) to 70% of the new outflow caused by building permits issued in 1987. Thus, a 30% reduction in new "growth" compared to 1987 construction activity is achieved through this rationing. Of this new allowable quota, 5% is set aside for priority "public benefit" projects (there have been none), 62% to residential projects and 33% to all commercial, retail and industrial projects. These allotments are issued monthly and unused allotments in any category may be distributed to anyone standing in line the following month, regardless of the type of project. This ICO expires in February 1989 with a possible extension through August 1989.

In August 1988 the City Council approved funding for a group of consultants to draft a permanent ordinance which will be in force from the expiration date of the ICO until the completion of the Hyperion improvements. The "permanent" ordinance project is broken down into two phases (1) the formulation of alternative strategies and (2) an assessment of their economic/social impacts.

The first phase is now nearly complete. The consultants have conducted surveys of sewer limitations/ordinances from all over the United States and have tried, vainly, to interpret amorphous and sometimes conflicting instructions from the City Council, the City Planning Commission and the Citizens Advisory Committee. Among the policies which the Council seeks to promote through this ordinance are the following: (a) improvement of air quality (b) reducing traffic congestion (c) promotion of affordable housing near jobs (d) protection of neighborhoods (e) direction of economic growth to disadvantaged areas and (f) the reduction of sewer impacts.

It is very important to remember that these strategies necessarily assume that the existing land use regulatory system is incapable of addressing these same objectives. This approach, therefore, may reflect a lack of understanding of the present land use process which requires the following:

  1. Conformity with zoning,
  2. Conformity with general plan (i.e. community plan map designation),
  3. Conformity with any specific plans,
  4. Conformity with any of the ICO’s (of which there are now about 50 throughout the city, all of which limit growth below the level allowed in the general plan),
  5. Conformity with any traffic impact overlay zone which forces projects allowed in (1) and (2) above to go through yet another discretionary review,
  6. Any moratoria any Councilperson feels like enacting, and
  7. Conformity with the Friends of Westwood Ordinance which subjects all significant projects in the City to yet another CEQA review.

Any developer who endures this torture test will then have to confront the sewer ordinance before proceeding to obtain a building permit. Thus, following the proposed strategies in the “permanent” sewer ordinance will be important for those who would like their projects built sometime this century. At present the focused strategies proposed for analysis by the consultants are as follows:

  1. Trends: i.e. issuing building permits from the 70% pool.
  2. Air quality/traffic congestion: who knows what such a system would look like, given the fact that every significant project to finally reach the sewer permit stage will have already passed several layers of discretionary review and board conditions imposed for these same environmental reasons.
  3. Affordable housing/neighborhood protection: Granting priority to affordable housing projects is an easily understood objective which should be supported. Perversely, neighborhood protection usually means downzoning multiple residential anywhere near single family areas. Thus, these two goals appear somewhat inconsistent.
  4. Economic opportunities: This scenario would assign priority to projects which stimulate economic activity in poor areas of the City. This alternative could be administered easily through a sewer allocation system.
  5. Reduce sewage flows: Essentially, this alternative would slow growth further than the present ICO by further restricting the supply of sewer permits.

Strategy #2 in particular seems badly misplaced as it would result in the imposition of a brand new land control system independent from and at the end of an already slow, complex and unpredictable process. In any event, whichever of these “focused strategies” is eventually adopted, it is imperative that the rationing systems not restrict permits to be issued exclusively for priority projects but rather that all projects get a change to stand in line for a permit but that some jump to the head of the line. The alternative – no permits for non-favored project categories would be counterproductive and make a mockery of the existing land use system.

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A Critic’s View: L.A. 2000

By Leon Whiteson 

The recently published LA 2000 Report is a remarkable document: remarkable for what it suggests for the future of Los Angeles; remarkable for its failure to grasp the true roots of the challenges facing the Southland. 

The report divides its areas of study into five sections titled: Livable Communities, Environmental Quality, Individual Fulfillment, Enriching Diversity and ‘A Crossroads City.’ At the heart of its recommendations is the establishment of a Regional Growth Management Agency, envisaged as a SCAG (Southern California Association of Governments) with the teeth to implement policy. The agency would ‘prepare the regional plan and ensure it works effectively.’

The report’s regional vision is admirable as far as it goes; but its analysis of the physical, political and social nature of our vast and varied regional metropolis is much too shallow.

The kind of regional metropolis that greater Los Angeles has become is a world-wide phenomenon that has come to dominate the global economic and social scene since World War II. Such urban agglomerations bear little relation to the historic nature of the city as we have understood it so far. They are small nations in themselves - the Los Angeles region is the world's twelfth largest economy - trading with one another and supporting subsidized agricultural and small-town hinterlands.

The regional metropolis phenomenon has caught our out-of-date political structures off guard at every level, from the federal to the municipal. What this means for L.A. is that the region, while immensely productive, hasn't the tax base powers needed to finance its own infrastructures. And the quality of our leadership is so indifferent that even the most ambitious new agencies would be too timid in dealing with the challenges we face.

On the physical level, the LA 2000 Report fails to come up with a forceful idea of how to organize the growth of our highly varied urban landscape, from the commercial center to the neighborhood core. It has not understood the clues offered by the organic growth of the metropolitan region, from the patterns of city usage Angelenos have evolved to the complexity of the urban mosaic we have inherited. Above all, the report fails to grasp the subtle interaction between rational - i.e. planned - processes and irrational - i.e. market-driven - actions and reactions that inform the energies of our public arena.

L.A. has an immense creative thrust and potential. What it lacks is powerful organizing ideas.

The LA 2000 Report, for all its worthy aspirations, offers us none of these. 

L.A. 2000 COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Establish a metropolitan area Growth Management Agency with the responsibility and authority to set overall policy and guidelines for development with area-wide impacts.
  • Prepare and adopt consistent growth management plans at every level of government, including: a Regional Growth Management Plan; a new City of Los Angeles Comprehensive Plan; and Neighborhood Planning.
  • Establish a regional Environmental Quality Agency, combining the present environmental agencies, which would be required to implement the Environmental Management Plan in accordance with a consistent set of regional growth management plans.
  • Increase the production of new affordable and market rate housing by establishing an Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
  • Lessen traffic congestion by: constructing new roads, freeways and rail projects; using jobs/housing balance as a planning guideline at the community, City and regional levels; requiring employers to take more direct responsibility for the commute of their employees; and improving the efficiency of the existing system.
  • Revise the City of Los Angeles Zoning Ordinance.
  • Employ user fees to finance local government-run enterprise activities, such as water and sewer.
  • Impose development impact fees consistent with the Nolan decision, requiring developers to mitigate the impacts of their projects.

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Insider Planning

By David Kramer, Editor

Mini-Mall season is over at City Hall, but there are numerous ordinances which are just beginning to come into focus.

An 11-0 City Council vote on Tuesday, November 29, has formalized the council process, outlined in Councilman Hal Bernson’s motion, which sets deadlines for consideration of the Permanent Sewer Hook-Up Ordinance. The Council has set a February 1 deadline to modify the current ICO. This could include changes in the proportional distribution of building permits or the amount of sewage allowable. The current ICO, which is modeled on a first-come-first-serve basis, must be replaced by August when it expires.

The CRA has formed a task force to establish a fair formulate for the price of the transfer of air rights. This was the result of developer opposition to the CRA proposal to double the cost of transferring air rights. Their recommendations are due within the next 2 months.

A child care ordinance before the Planning Commission in December would provide incentives for developers—an increase of floor area space—when child care is provided in industrial and commercial development.

Councilman Hal Bernson recently introduced a motion to limit the maximum square footage of single family dwellings. It seems that several projects on Devonshire in Northridge looked to intense and bulky for the size of the lot.

Another ordinance before the Commission in December is a proposal to average the Floor-to-Area Ratio for commercial and industrial projects. In shopping centers, for instance, some units may exceed the FAR for the entire project as long as the average is the same… The Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Affordable Housing anticipates raising $15 million per year from a linkage program.

A brouhaha has developed on the Hollywood/Bel Air-Beverlycrest ICO. Residents are concerned about the prohibition on new construction and remodeling, as well as the parking requirements—1 space per 1000 square feet on new construction.

One of the most recent initiatives from the Mayor’s office centers on hotel liquor permits. Developers must obtain their alcohol Conditional Use Permit before obtaining a building permit. If the developer does not receive a CUP first, no alcohol will be served at the hotel for five years.

The Specific Plan for the Mulholland Drive Scenic Parkway was approved by the Planning Commission on November 10, and is now going to P&E.

Of the five new urban design positions funded for the Planning Department, one position will now be responsible for pedestrian issues—a result of the Woo-Braude motion to create a Pedestrian Advocate.

Woo is also trying to implement Pedestrian Overlay Zones into the General Plan.

At the Planning Department, a new section head for Code Studies will be selected in the next two or three months.

The City Council will soon consider a motion to place the CRA directly under the control of the City Council.

Starting December 5th, Diane Love will the chief prosecutor for AQMD.

In a sign of things to come, 200 residents representing nine Venice neighborhoods met to discuss proposed standards for development and provide recommendations for the Local Coastal Plan. Soon each community will have a Community Planning Advisory Council. The Planning Department expects to have its first CPAC’s—for Northeast and Sylmar—established by June. 

The city is funding its new $25 million arts funding with a hotel tax and 1% of city capital improvements and private development projects.

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The Housing Problem: A Tale of Two Cities 

The Planning Report’s Conversation with Gary Squire, Housing Coordinator for the Mayor’s Office

On December 1, 1988, the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee for Affordable Housing will present its analysis and recommendations. Since April, the Committee has undertaken the first city-wide study to coordinate agencies responsible for housing. The Planning Report recently spoke with Gary Squire, Housing Coordinator for the Mayor’s Office and Executive Director of the Committee.

The L.A. 2000 Committee stated that “a comprehensive city-wide housing policy does not exist.” Who is responsible for housing in the city?

Housing is the responsibility of eleven different agencies. Currently there is no formal relationship between any of these agencies in the way they deal with housing. Each agency generates policy which directly affects the housing system without any assessment of the decision in relation to other actions. What’s missing is an ongoing needs assessment. There’s no barometer which shows how we are doing, or shows the shortfall between supply and demand or what the relative levels of housing deprivation are.

Do we know how much housing we’re producing each year?

We did not until the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee studied it. Now we know we’re producing between 14,000 and 17,000 units each year. However, the net figure comes to 12,000 per year if you subtract demolitions. We’re demolishing between 4,000 and 5,000 units a year. But these production figures are beginning to tail off because of the slow growth movements and the high price of land. Additionally, in the last few years housing production has been affected dramatically by the loss of tax-exempt bond financing because of the Tax Reform Act of 1986. This legislation also affected tax benefits for apartment construction.

But we now have an idea of what we have to do. We have 1.2 million units of existing housing. We calculate that we’re growing at approximately 25,000 households per year. Since our housing stock is increasing at roughly 15,000 per year, we’re looking at a shortfall of 10,000 per year. 

How much money is needed to confront this shortfall?

 Our current total housing budget is $90 million per year. To hold the system steady – to keep the problem from getting worse – we have to aggregate about $300 million worth of housing resources. And that could be dollars from local governments, and it could be corporate investment. But it has to be a multi-faceted approach to raise the revenue. The City of L.A. generates no other dollars other than its redevelopment dollars for housing. I think this could change. For instance, you can implement various revenue enhancement programs. We’re considering a system to tie the development of commercial construction to housing production, recognizing that if you build an office building with workers who need housing, they will be putting a demand on a housing system that is already taxed.

When you talk about revenue enhancement, it sounds like quite a bit of the burden will fall upon developers:

That’s one approach. Another is a general obligation bond. Another is raising the cap of the CRA. You can’t simply focus on one path. We’ve got to look at numerous methods to find revenue to deal with the housing problem. A whole new responsibility is now falling on cities to deal with the housing problem. So how are we dealing with it? One way is exactions, another is creating housing trust funds. It’s often argued, if you just unfetter the private sector, can’t they build us out of this crisis? And the answer is, no they can’t. We have 150,000 households who are paying more than 50 percent of their income to housing. That’s more than half a million people. If the private sector assistance was going to help these people, it would either develop units at the top of the market and let them trickle down, or generate units that have $400 rents. But a developer today can’t build housing and make a profit for much less than $800 per month. With these new units, you won’t have the trickle down to help the low income renters. There has to be government intervention in the system, just as there has to be intervention in the sewer system and our air quality. Local government now has to be the catalyst that taps outside resources, gets a fair share of state and federal resources, and internally generates resources.

Given all of these housing problems, how did the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee respond?

The charge of the Committee was to determine the extent of the housing crisis and to make recommendations for the first steps towards a comprehensive approach. Let’s look at the first problem I mentioned. There is no rational planning approach to the housing system. I’m the housing coordinator, and there’s no way I can coordinate housing between the planners and the implementers. It’s insufficient that there be one person in the Mayor’s Office coordinating housing policy. We need an annual needs assessment that is reflected in the budget allocation with annual production targets. We need a conscious review of all policy coming out of the city for its impact on the affordable housing system. But we’re struggling with who would actually review policy. The review must not only be comprehensive, but whoever does coordinate the process would have the power to slow any initiatives which have significant adverse impacts on the housing system until those housing impacts are mitigated.

And there were many more recommendations. Our problem analysis demonstrated that we have a bifurcating economy with more high-wage earners and low-wage earners. We have a housing market that isn’t growing. There are workers competing for a relatively shrinking market – where supply is shrinking relative to demand—and the winners and losers are becoming the housing haves and the housing have nots. The gap between wage trends and housing cost trends are growing at a very rapid rate. The recommendations are that we stabilize the affordability of existing stock; preserving an existing housing unit is as effective as building a new unit. We need to preserve not just the physical integrity of a housing unit but its affordability as well. It makes specific recommendations about 50,000 brick buildings of low-income stock that must be rehabilitated in the next six months. There are also recommendations for the 19,000 HUD units with expiring agreements, because all the federally assisted, privately developed housing ha medium-term affordability restrictions. And we concur with the Mayor’s proposal to raise the cap for downtown because it’s the most significant resource that can be brought to housing production by a factor of five.

Did you consider creating one body, a housing agency, which would consolidate the responsibilities of all the other agencies?

The commission recommends that we coordinate but not consolidate all of the departments. The reality of consolidation is that it would take a very long time. Coordination means overlooking and making recommendations for level expenditures and targeting housing priorities. We looked at the existing housing agencies and the reality of structurally changing the existing housing implementation. But we felt that the existing agencies should be left in place, though some of their objectives should be centrally coordinated.

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CITY OF LOS ANGELES

CALIFORNIA

INTRODUCTION

The Hyperion Service Area (HSA) provides sewer service for much of the City of Los Angeles. The Sewer Ordinance limits the issuance of building permits in the HSA so as not to exceed

416,667 gallons per day of new sewage flow each month. This amount corresponds to a yearly total of 5 million gallons per day of new sewage flows.

ALLOCATION CRITERIA

a. 65% of sewer capacity will be reserved for residential projects

b. 35% of sewer capacity for other projects

c. 5% shall be set aside for priority projects of the City Council

EXCERPTED PROJECTS

a. Any project which has a complete set of building plans on file on or before April 19, 1988 with Department of Building and Safety.

b. Any project which will have a net zero flow addition of sewage. This may be achieved by

retrofit of other existing buildings in the City of Los Angeles with ultra low-flow plumbing

fixtures and other means. The retrofit shall be accomplished under a valid plumbing permit

c. Any project funded from the City's Sewer Construction and Maintenance Fund.

d. Three cooperative agreements: Library Square, 550 South Hope, and Pershing Square Center

e. Residential housing projects for which a tentative tract map has been approved after April 19,

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1978 but prior to April 19, 1988 and construction starts before October 19, 1989. This is limited to a 1,000,000 gallon per day cumulative cap.

f. Projects within the commercial core of the North Hollywood Community Redevelopment

Agency project.

g. Certain County of Los Angeles projects.

PRIORITY PROJECTS

a. Low income housing projects.

b. Shelters for the homeless.

c. A project which the City Council finds will benefit the public health, safety or otherwise will

provide a public benefit as determined by a 2/3 vote of the Council and concurrence by the

Mayor.

d. Buildings which now are discharging into a septic system at such time as they are connected to the sewerage system.

e. Construction of one single family residence by an individual owner. This precludes a piecemeal development of a subdivision by an owner. 

EXPECTED WAIT TO RECEIVE NOTTFICATION OF AVAILABILITY(As of Nov. 30, 1988)

a. For residential projects--no wait.

b. For non-residential projects--approximately 2 months.

1.Project must be plan-check ready before applying for sewer permit.

2.Building and Safety will not issue building permit until developer pays sewer fee(see    next page) when space becomes available. 


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Guest Columnist

Community Plan Revisions, or, “How To Do It Right”

By David Duncan, former Planning Deputy for Councilman Michael Woo

The revision of the Hollywood Community Plan is expected to be adopted by the Los Angeles City Council in December. This culminates a two-year intensive planning and community participation effort to redefine the quality of life for Hollywood, Los Feliz and Hollywood Hills residents.

The effort was initiated by the consultant team of Gruen Associates, the Planning Department and City Councilman Michael K. Woo. When he took office in 1985, the Councilman called for a complete overhaul of the Community Plan, seeing that the 1973 Plan allowed an excessive amount of residential and commercial growth that could not be handled by existing or projected infrastructure improvements.

Hollywood’s 1973-based zoning allowed an eventual population of approximately 460,00 persons, compared to 204,000 today. The combined commercial and industrial space allowed in the 1973 plan was 140 million square feet.

When the planners looked at the street capacity, the ability to widen streets and/or redirect traffic to accommodate the allowed growth, they found that the zoning allowances would only produce a gridlock situation on most, if not all, Hollywood and hillside intersections.

An intense citizen participation effort was conducted at the beginning of the process involving almost all neighborhood groups and significant institutions to be affected by the revision. This led to community workshops and eventually public hearings. In the process thousands of Hollywood and Los Feliz residents were involved in the formation of the plan.

What evolved is a plan that accommodates a 2010 population of approximately 230,00 (as opposed to 460,00) and a combined commercial and industrial square footage of 70 million square feet (compared to 140 million allowed in the 1973 plan); these figures include the redevelopment area.

In considering with the Hollywood Redevelopment Area, planners assumed that the development levels recently adopted as part of the redevelopment plan would be left alone in order to foster the revitalization of that area. It soon became evident that the densities and square footage allowed inside the redevelopment area were also too excessive for the existing or projected street infrastructure, and had to be reduced.

The Councilman and his staff were instrumental in finding a solution to the dilemma of encouraging development in order to foster revitalization but to also reduce densities to mitigate traffic concerns. The Council office proposed a density reduction formula that lowered by-right densities but allowed a discretionary rise above the set limits.

Floor area rations (FAR’s) were reduced from 4.5:1 in the commercial center to 3:1 around the intersection of Hollywood and Highland and in the Vine Street corridor from Hollywood to Sunset. The FAR elsewhere was reduced to 2:1. Projects proposed to be developed above the by-right FAR’s have to buy into a “menu” of transportation improvements that are being planned to reduce or divert traffic through the Hollywood core.

Landowners, speculators and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce were bitterly opposed to the reduction formula in the redevelopment area, but resident groups were very pleased with the proposal. Intense pressure and lobbying preceded the public hearings and meetings of the Planning Commission, but the plan remained virtually intact all the way to the City Council.

The strength of the plan is its commitment to retain the quality of residential neighborhoods, reduce potential traffic impacts, yet allow for a reasonable growth to an area that still needs such growth to complete the revitalization effort. The strength of the process also has to be noted, and of the people who were committed to keeping this plan strong yet workable, the Planning Commission, Councilman Michael Woo, and the City Council.

The true test came at the first City Council vote on the plan when only a handful of concerns had to be resolved, out of a potential minefield of controversies that were resolved through a thorough public participation process. The Hollywood Community Plan Revision can be hailed as a model to emulate as the City begins to revise other portions of its General Plan.

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In a Nutshell:

The Housing Crunch

DEMANDS EXCEEDS SUPPLY 11,00 UNITS/ YEAR

1.2 Million Housing Units                                        Annual Population Growth:

40% Owner Occupied                                                25,000 Households    

60% Renter Occupied                                                 50% From Internal Increase

50% From Immigration

Net Annual Supply Growth: 14,000

90% +Rental

HOUSING PRODUCTION IS INCREASINGLY CONSTRAINED

Developable Land is Scarce, Expense

$10 - $20,000 per Unit 

Slow Growth / Neighborhood Veto 

AB 283 Downzoning

20% - 40% In Some Neighborhoods 

AFFORDABLE UNITS ARE BEING LOST

4,000 Demolished Annually                                     50,000 Units in Brick Buildings

40% Single Family                                                     Must Reinforce or Demo in 18 Months

60% Multifamily Rental                                             Reinforcement Increases Rents 40%

80% of Rentals are Low Income 

19,000 HUD Subsidized Units Expiring

Rents May Rise to Market

CHANGE IN LABOR MARKET TO SPLIT LEVEL ECONOMY 

New Jobs Are Either Skilled, Low Wage;

Or White Collar, High Skilled High Wage

More Low Wage Workers Need Low Cost Housing

More High Wage Workers Bid Up Rents 

SYMPTOMS OF THE HOUSING PROBLEM 

Overcrowding                                                           Rent Burden

148,000 Units Overcrowded in 1980                         130,000 Households Pay> 50% of

Increasing 10% per Year                                            Income to Housing

89,000 Families Extremely Over-                              20% of L.A. Renters Are Severely Rent 

Crowded in 1980, Up 250% from 1970                     Burdened: Working Families

Are 1 Paycheck Away From Losing Their                                                                                    Home

40,000 Families Live in Garages                 Market Unstable: Recession Will

                                                                                    Cause Increase in Homeless

                                                                                    Unemployed

Homelessness                                                             Average Rents up 110% in 8 Years

35,000 in Los Angeles                                                $250, 1980: $525, 1988

30% are Families with Children

Families Fastest Growing Component

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Guest Columnist

“VIGILANTE PLANNING”

By Judie B.A. de Turenne,

Current President of a Local Homeowners Association

“When homeowners dictate planning, it is vigilante planning,” cried the developer’s consultant, expediter cum lobbyist as he objected to the neighborhoods’ requests which he characterized as being “unjust to the builders.” This bit of unconscious humor was reported in a Los Angeles newspaper recently. The homeowners in question were amused to find what they considered vigilance being construed as vigilantism. Therein lies the tale. With ever increasing intensity a schism divides the residential and development communities. The question – Is this necessary?

The project that led to the creative name calling cited above received a Negative Declaration which was appealed. A Mitigated Negative Declaration was then issued. Citizens armed with far more knowledge of CEQA than any mortal should be called upon to bear, pointed out to the Department of Building and Safety that the “Mandatory Findings of Significance” contained within both Declarations mandated an Environmental Impact Report. Additionally, the “new mitigations” supplied by DOT were identical to those described in the original document. The Environmental Review committee concurred with these observations, calling for a full EIR.

The technical knowledge required to deal with development in an intelligent manner is awesome. No neighborhood groups maintain a bevy of attorneys on retainer, nor do they generally have the time to pursue these issues to logical conclusions. At this point, however, many have made the time and some are approaching a level of true expertise. The development community has responded to this in some cases with frivolous lawsuits and ever increasing campaign contributions. If the general public appears a bit antagonistic in the fact of this arrogance, it is understandable. Many developers who have worked with communities rather than in spite of them, have created successful projects and good neighbors. This is a two-way street. All too often both sides find themselves entrenched in untenable positions with no room to pivot. Extremism on either side is insupportable; compromise is almost always a viable alternative.

There is no basis in holding that these factions are natural enemies. It is illogical to assume that for a project to be successful it must inherently have a negative impact on a community or vice versa. By the same toke, when a developer describes a project with a gross floor area in excess of 1.6 million square feet on an eight acre site, and speaks of having 4200 parking spaces to accommodate mixed residential, retail, office space, a health club and 2500 theater seats, a voice of reason had better be interjected and as quickly as possible. The developer who goes into the community and attempts to ascertain specific goals and more importantly, specific concerns, will have a far greater chance of enjoying support rather than adversarial opposition. It is essential that communities know that they are being heard and acknowledged. The intelligent developer realizes that there are non-negotiable issues and fears, and then moves visibly and vocally to mitigate.

All concerned would be well advised to realize that criticism no matter how sharp does not a NIMBY make. To the politicians with feet firmly planted in mid-air and fannies affixed to well-worn fences, know that while activist may not fill campaign coffers, they will fill polling booths.

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