January 30, 1991 - From the January, 1991 issue

Planning Report Roundtable: Experts Offer Predictions for the Year Ahead

What’s ahead for 1991 in the areas of planning and land-use policy? That was the question The Planning Report posed for this month’s experts in a TPR roundtable. Our informed prognosticators below provide us a glimpse of what to expect over the next year.

California needs growth management, not regional government. In 1991 and 1992, we will build a consensus to define the state’s role in managing growth. But any new legislation must respect home rule and promote our economic competitiveness. I’m optimistic. 

Marian Bergeson Chair, State Senate’s Local Government Committee

High unemployment tends to cause elected officials to rethink the extent to which they want to discourage job­ generating activity. Many of our land­-use policies discourage employment, and the people losing their jobs are middle-class Americans who live in NIMBY neighborhoods. When they are fully employed they support anti-growth policies, but they may feel differently when it’s their job being threatened.

Doug Ring Partner, Gold, Ring, Marks, and Pepper

I predict that there will be some serious concern raised on TFAR and linkage fees in 1991. Out of that discussion, however, I predict that there will be a group made up of for profit and nonprofit developers, policymakers, lenders, and renters, who will back both measures. Everyone realizes that affordable housing is, in the long run, as necessary for commercial developers as it is for low-income workers.

Michael Bodaken Housing Coordinator, Office of Mayor Tom Bradley

The changing world economic order (i.e. the yen-dollar relationship, the 1992 EEC transition, etc.) will have a profound impact on the Los Angeles economy. Our “bi­modal” society will intensify, creating increasing class and ethnic tensions in local neighborhoods. A more direct linkage between land-use decisions and transportation investments are likely to take place, driven by the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission’s (LACTC) multi-billion dollar transportation capital development program. Finally, the new Los Angeles City Planning Director will be either a woman or ethnic minority.

Norman Emerson Emerson and Associates

I think 1991 is going to bring a substantial reevaluation of Santa Monica’s development policy, including the rate and intensity of development. We will be examining what we want Santa Monica to look like as we move toward the 21st Century. 

Paul Berlant Planning Director, City of Santa Monica

Despite the commercial building slowdown, the City of Los Angeles will approve a housing linkage fee on all new commercial development, resulting in even fewer commer­cial projects going forward and producing a very minimal amount of housing fees.

Craig Lawson Director of Public Affairs, C.W. Cook, Co.

With tongue in check but with serious intent, I predict that the Mayor will place the highest priority in the establishment of a new order for Los Angeles. As a first step, some of the city’s most experienced planners and engineers will, together with the new Planning Director, be charged with promoting new development and its supporting infrastructure in areas most in need. "Private investment is badly needed in distressed areas of the City,” the: Mayor will declare. “To this end, I will become personally involved and will be canceling my travel plans for the coming year.”

Barbara Fine Vice-President, Federation of Hillside and Canyon Associations

In 1991 people will start to realize that the Central Business District has developed a solid eastern boundary on Olive Street. The synergy created by Cal Plaza II and its water court, the Gas Company building, David Houk’s project, a renovated Pershing Square, and the Pacific Atlas development will form a strong eastern edge of the CBD.

Fred Zepeda Vice President, Real Estate Division, LAACO

Planning issues are going to be driven by both politics and the economy. The economy will take the edge off the land­ use protectionism emerging in the City and local politics will need to sort out its institutional relationships with planning.

Alan Kreditor Dean, University of Southern California School of Urban and Regional Planning

The uncertainties with the Board of Supervisors and the Ninth District will have a significant effect on downtown during 1991. Also, the economy will increasingly drive the land-use planning process. If there is no demand for high density, that will relieve some pressure on the process. 

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Anthony Barash Barash and Hill 

Because of current economic and lending conditions, affordable housing and homelessness will become greater problems in 1991. A joint public/private effort is needed to plan a use of the existing budget dollars that will create the most affordable housing. 

Rick Coop First City Development 

The general public is rapidly becoming attuned to recycling and is beginning to repudiate the “throw-away” society. This new awareness will extend to urban areas and, specifi­cally, to the downtown Los Angeles historic core. I antici­pate an increasingly widespread desire to rehabilitate and fully utilize the historic buildings of this area, so that downtown Los Angeles can finally reclaim its past.

Andrew Raines Principal, Esquire Investment Partners, Ltd.

The stability of the East side of Los Angeles will probably be changed in 1991. More people will look to develop areas east of downtown that were not previously considered attractive. We need to look at what impact this will have on our community. Also, the Olvera Street situation will be re­solved during 1991, with far-reaching impacts on the Latino community into the future.

Frank Villalobos Barrio Planners

1991 will be a year of advanced planning. I think we will see people trying to master plan projects and begin their entitlement process so as to be strategically positioned for stronger economic times. 

Marty Borko Associate, Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut and Whitelaw

Proposition C, approved by voters in November, fills a critical funding gap. The LACTC will start to put Proposition C money to work in 1991 by launching a Freeway Tow-Service patrol. In January, we are breaking ground for construction to begin on the Metro Green Line. That rail line, to be built along the median of the Century Freeway, will run on its own aerial guideway to the airport area and continue north to Westchester. The design work on com­muter rail service across the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys will also begin in 1991.

Neil Peterson Executive Director, Los Angeles County Transportation Commission

The LACTC is the brightest spot on the land use horizon because of its financial ability to address transportation issues while the development community briefly rests. Ev­eryone will be watching the LACTC as it prepares the Congestion Management Plan, designates uses for its newfound wealth, and seeks cooperation from local govern­ments in the region.

Gail Gordon Attorney, Lillick and McHose

In light of the Metropolitan Water District’s mandatory water rationing program, I expect to see municipal water consumers raise objections to further development approv­als for more housing units or water-intensive commercial uses. If the drought continues, I expect to see lack of water cited as the basis for denial of development approvals, reductions in approved project densities and imposition of building moratoria. It will be interesting to see if the courts respond to the resulting litigation by finding that there was a taking or by finding that this water-related problem is an ordinary and customary delay.

Jennifer Shaw Attorney, Saltzburg, Ray and Bergman

A leaner and meaner Planning Department.

Melanie Fallon Acting Director, Los Angeles Department of City Planning

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