December 30, 1990 - From the December, 1990 issue

TPR Roundtable on CRA’s Future: What Will the Next Regime Bring?

In light of the rumored changes at the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, The Planning Report this month sought out the opinions of several experts about the future of the agency. Each respondent was asked, “Given the rumored replacement of John Tuite as Administrator of the CRA, what changes would you expect from the CRA under new leadership and what changes would you like to see from the agency?”

Assuming that Ed Avila takes over the agency, since Ed is a very open, accessible, grassroots kind of person, I would assume that the culture of the agency would begin to reflect his personality. Until now it’s been a stuffed-shirt kind of environment.

There are two things the CRA is really good at—hiring consultants at six-figure contracts and doing studies. That’s fine, except that we need projects, we need real estate construction activity in Hollywood. I would like to see the agency cut the red tape and move full-speed ahead to make Hollywood redevelopment happen. You’ve got to stop hearing that the Agency is more of an impediment to redevelopment than an assistance.

Larry Kaplan President, Hollywood Chamber of Commerce

I think changes would occur in the CRA whether or not John Tuite remained as administrator. No matter who is the leader of the CRA, I think the Agency, at least in the downtown area, needs to focus on the provision of all types of housing, needs to support the Downtown Strategic Plan, and needs to strengthen its relationship with the City Council.

Jim Hunter President and CEO, Central City Association

The most important issue facing the CRA is lifting the CBD cap, and I think Ed Avila would be an ideal person to lead the City’s negotiations with the County. He would also be accessible, even­handed, and do a good job boosting morale within the Agency. My particular interest is in assuring that the CRA devotes adequate attention to low-income housing, but unless the cap is raised all of these programmatic issues are moot.

Jill Halverson Director, Downtown Women’s Center

At the CRA, John Tuite has been the Chief Executive Officer: he carries out Commission and City Council mandates. If the accusation is made that the CRA did not produce enough housing, two things need to be done. First, ask if the statement is correct. And second, ask if the policies as set by the Council and the CRA Commission were clearly articulated. Should the CEO be blamed if the policies are not efficiently enacted by the CEO, or must the finger point elsewhere?

Kurt Meyer, FAIA Meyer and Allen Associates

As critical as we might be of the CRA, it is far better than the City of L.A. The CRA is more responsive in considering environmental issues. The CRA leadership needs to recognize that housing priorities exist in the Central City area. They should stop diverting the housing monies to other Council districts. Also, emphasis must be placed on investment in the Central City’s open space and recreational areas to make the area livable for families as well as urban professionals.

Sabrina Schiller A.L.A.R.M (A Local and Regional Monitor)

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The CRA has to step up their production of affordable housing units citywide. The for-profit developer has the expertise to assist the public sector in achieving that goal. The CRA administration should commit more resources to create an economically viable affordable housing production program.

Michael B. Sondermann Vice President and Operating Partner, Lincoln Property Company

What I expect is that the CRA will have better internal management and less friction within the agency itself. What I’d like to see is closer integration between the CRA and Planning Department to develop a coherent urban design strategy for the city at large.

Leon Whiteson Architectural Critic

My hope for the transition is to have the CRA become more focused towards goals that are well-designed by the Commissioners and the Council. We would like to see an agency with straight­forward policies and guidelines, one that operates above-board and in a straight forward manner with everyone involved with the CRA-developers, members of the Council, and the general public.

Councilwoman Gloria Molina Chair, Community Redevelopment and Housing Committee

I have not worked with John Tuite directly but in working with the CRA staff on a 241-unit project of ours in Sun Valley. I found the staff very professional and hard-working. I frankly don’t see the need for a change. I have no recommendation for the Agency other than they need more money for affordable housing.

Thomas Safran Thomas Safran and Associates

What I expect to see is the CRA more in tune with the policy directions emanating from the Mayor’s office. What I would like to see is a new vision for redevelopment under the leadership of the CRA—a vision which sees the redevelopment process benefitting a much broader spectrum of the greater Los Angeles community.

Eugene Grigsby President, The Planning Group

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