February 28, 1989 - From the February, 1989 issue

The Legalization of Citizens

Ralph Crouch, planning deputy to Los Angeles City Councilman Hal Bernson, provides an overview on the importance of the recent City Council resolution to form Community Planning Advisory Committee (CPAC) in various community planning areas. 

On February 5, 1988, the City Council adopted a resolution to initiate the formation of a Community Planning Advisory Committee (CPAC) in each of the 35 community planning areas. This adoption marked the most organized method to date of ensuring that residents, merchants, and community groups play an active role in planning on a city-wide basis.

When Councilman Hal Bernson first took office ten years ago, he set up Citizen Action Committees for such issues as planning, recreation and parks, and police and fire. The committees play a significant part in influencing how Councilman Bernson considers activities in his district. The residents who serve are always the first people to tell him when something is wrong and to suggest possible solutions. In fact, on any controversial planning matter which affects the district, the Citizen Planning Committee will review plans with the expediter or developer and make recommendations which Councilman Bernson usually adopts.

My background in planning started in Northern California, and when I first worked in Los Angeles, I was quite surprised by the lack of community input in city planning. In the city of Monterey, it was unthinkable to work without citizen input. You simply had to get the data you needed, listen carefully in open forums; follow citizen guidelines, and do not duck anything. There was very little of that interaction in Los Angeles.

Two years ago, the Citizens Advisory Committee report of the Planning Commission endorsed the idea of CPAC' s. Last year, Mayor Bradley also was interested in the idea and felt the city was ready to implement it. Both the Mayor and Councilman Bernson were distressed that A.B. 283 drained resources from the Planning Department. In addition, plans were getting older and existing plans were not being updated. Ideally, a plan is reviewed cursorily every 5 years and should be restudied every 10 years, since we continue to learn about air quality, ground pollution, and the environment in general. Now, we will have the resources to rewrite plans.


Each CPAC will be selected by individual councilpersons, and the number of members will range from 15 to 21. Members should represent a broad range of community groups and interests. Generally, CPAC's will consist of members representing resident groups, tenants, commercial, industrial, and multiple-family property owners. merchants and professionals. The CPAC' s ultimate role will be to identify the concerns and desires of the community and to review all the work done by the Planning Department.

In the past when we reviewed plans, the Planning Department was never given the proper money and resources. EIR' s would lag behind the study by 2-3 years. Citizen groups were involved, but they were not a requirement. In the future, citizen groups will be involved in the planning process, they will have the Planning Department as a resource, and the Planning Department will have the resources and money to write plans more quickly and more efficiently.


© 2024 The Planning Report | David Abel, Publisher, ABL, Inc.