April 30, 1991 - From the April, 1991 issue

City Council Hopefuls Share Their Planning and Land Use Agendas

The election of Gloria Molina to the County Board of Supervisors, to­gether with the retirement from the Council of Robert Farrell and the death of Gilbert Lindsay have left three key open seats on the Los Ange­les City Council, in the First, Eighth, and Ninth Districts. With the primaries for the Eighth and Ninth Districts on April 9th and for the First District in June, the attitudes of the Council toward plan­ning, growth, and redevelopment could change substantially. 

To find out where the Council may be headed, The Planning Re­port asked the leading candidates in these three races, “If elected, what would be your top priorities in planning and land use policy?” Their answers not only provide assistance in choosing among the candidates, but also yield insights into how they would prioritize the issues if elected.


Hernandez: Our infrastructure must support development. If it cannot, then infrastructure must be considered before the actual development of a project.

Eighth District

Kerman Maddox

The very first thing we’ll do is hire the best possible urban planner for our staff, someone who under­stands the CRA, the Planning Depart­ment, the Community Development Department and the interests of pri­vate developers. Our plan is to create an environment that makes it attrac­tive to the business community to invest in South L.A. One possibility is to change the zoning patterns of the district — most of the community is zoned for housing and only 11 % of the land is zoned commercial, which is unacceptable if we’re going to cre­ate a viable business community. 

We need more mixed-use devel­opment that promotes “jobs-housing balance,” creating jobs close to af­fordable housing. We also have a number of abandoned buildings — we want to investigate who owns these properties and utilize that land for development or for open space. 

We’re also interested in redevel­opment because the district sits in three redevelopment areas and two enterprise zones. We want to work with the CRA but also ensure that there is as much community partici­pation as possible. The CRA does not have a good track record of working with the public in South L.A. — the redevelopment project was controversial because it lacked adequate public participation — and we clearly want to change that.

Billy Mills 

The 8th District is a proud com­munity lacking a coherent plan and strong policy for its economic devel­opment. As Councilman I intend to open the planning and development process to the people of the 8th District, by working with them to create an 8th District Development Plan focused on a policy that establishes present and future economic empowerment of the people of the 8th District as a first priority. 

The plan will assure that the Council office will create easier ac­cess for the people of the district to development-related processes, making the system more open and intelligible. It will also include a mandate that the residents of the 8th District share in the area’s jobs and business opportunities. 

In addition to extending the terri­torial reach of the Watts and Central City Enterprise Zones and the boundaries of the redevelopment zones affecting the area, we must incorporate them into the 8th District Development Plan. We have to re­store the vitality of Broadway­-Manchester, Western-Manchester, the length of Western Avenue, Broad­way and Jefferson. 

The plan must creatively merge development with the needs of the community. That is why the development of desperately needed housing, affordable to a wide range of income levels, must serve as an important vehicle to train and employ the people of the community in planning, fi­nance, construction, real property management, and maintenance-re­lated occupations. 

Finally, by encouraging banks to fulfill their obligations under the Community Reinvestment Act and by developing private sources of in­vestment, we can bring coherent, di­rected development back to the Eighth District. 

Mark Ridley-Thomas 

With new transportation systems in place or in process connecting the downtown central business district, the airport, the harbor, and South Bay area, South Los Angeles sits on stra­tegic and valuable land. 

To achieve the revitalization of our neighborhoods we need a close, working partnership between the community and the Eighth District City Councilman.

My commitment is:

  • to extend, as long as necessary, any timeline for the proposed Watts/Century Redevelopment project or any other project to make sure that all interested parties have all the infor­mation they desire, and that a full and frank community discussion of the pros and cons of redevelopment can take place;

  • to protect residential areas from eminent domain in guiding redevel­opment/revitalization projects such as the Watts/Century expansion;

  • to set up Neighborhood Councils in every part of the Eighth District as permanent means for community participation and control over neigh­borhood development;

  • to direct land use planning that will encourage mixed-use development projects that include needed commercial and residential areas coupled with necessary service components;

  • to encourage commercial de­velopment along major commercial corridors including Vermont, Normandie, Manchester, and West­ern Avenues;

  • to actively involve the Council office in the City of Los Angeles Planning Department’s General Plan revision process in order to assure that all community needs are ad­dressed and met.

Ninth District 

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Bob Gay 

There are basically three priori­ties. The first is to talk seriously about streamlining the planning and land use process that is used by the CRA, the Transportation Department and the Planning Department and to combine those agencies’ functions to reduce the time necessary for review. In many cases the agencies perform the same functions in duplicate and in triplicate — we need to streamline the development process. 

A second priority is to have a specific plan within the next two years in the Central City East area, in the Southeast area, and the South Central area. We have a court-mandated spe­cific plan in Central City East that has not been aggressively pursued — we need to pursue that through the bud­get process and the community advisory committee. 

The Southeast and South Central communities have never had a specific plan, nor has one been discussed. The development in those areas has been hodgepodge and there has been no planning for growth and develop­ment.

The third priority is to look seri­ously at the growth patterns in Los Angeles as part of a greater down­town plan and to see how the growth that has occurred downtown relates to the rest of our district.

Rita Walters

My first priority for land use planning in the 9th Council District is that it be equitably applied and reflec­tive of the needs and opportunities of the entire district. While we must retain and support the viability of the downtown area as a major commercial district providing employment and a strong economic base, effective planning needs to be less in thrall of downtown high-rises and much more inclusive of the rest of the district. 

Overall, I believe that the land use element of the city’s General Plan needs reevaluation — we have seen tremendous changes in population and demographics in the past ten years and land use planning needs to reflect the reality of those changes. 

In particular, those districts which encompass the inner city have experi­enced substantial transition, marked by the flight of established businesses and an increasingly transient resident population as families seek to cope with spiraling housing costs and the loss of jobs in the central city. 

With this in mind, we need to look anew at existing land use policies with the idea of capturing and direct­ing development where it is needed, and where the infrastructure can support it. This may require a reassess­ment of zoning and density allowances which restrict new economic devel­opment and the creation of affordable housing. 

For example, there has been demonstrated success in new con­struction of single-room-occupancy housing when it is supported by appropriate code revisions: this is one way of addressing the need for very low income housing, and breaking the pattern of concentrated poverty in the old hotels of downtown Los An­geles. 

Both the Blue Line and the pro­posed Alameda Corridor transporta­tion project offer the prospect of new opportunities for development in pre­viously underutilized or neglected ar­eas and should be looked at with a fresh perspective.

First District

Mike Hernandez 

I sit as Vice-President of the Community Plan Advisory Commit­tee for the Northeast Community Plan Revision, so I’m very familiar with the district’s planning issues. Since I’m also a lifelong resident of the district, my number one priority is to look at land use policies that will improve the quality of life for people in this district. 

We have many empty lots in this district. I would like to see these lots developed — we could put senior citizen housing, a professional build­ing, or a park there. We should also consider a community college, more child care centers, and ways to get more professionals on our main streets. 

Many of the people who live in the district work outside the district, so we must look at balancing jobs and housing. Development must consider the premise of improving the quality of life for residents of the district. Our infrastructure must support develop­ment. If it cannot, then infrastructure must be considered before the actual development of a project. 

We have a large number of hous­ing units in the district, but we lack the infrastructure, such as schools, to support it. Council District One is by far the smallest district in Los Ange­les at 10.4 square miles. Because public works funds are spent by acre­age rather than per capita, we are people rich and resource poor. 

I see a need for additional hous­ing in the district — we often have two and three families living together — but if it results in a smaller land mass for the district in reapportionment, it doesn’t make sense.

This community also has a tremendous problem with traffic, more so than elsewhere, because we are a drive-through community.

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