January 30, 1992 - From the January, 1992 issue

Inside Planning: Around the Region and State

Collected here are the latest in urban planning in the L.A. region and California. 

City Reforms EIR Process

EIR preparers and land-use at­torneys doing business in the City of Los Angeles are busily reviewing the Planning Department’s new policies for Environmental Impact Review (Policy Memorandum No. 91-1). 

The new policy came on the heels of the recent audits of the Planning Department recommending im­provement in the city’s EIR process and the Friends of La Vina decision (see the following TPR articles CEQA at a Crosswords: Are Changes Ahead in the EIR Process?CEQA/EIR Update: Courts Send Mixed Signals to Localities, and Courts Ruled in August on La Vina EIR Case, housing Linkage Fees for de­tails on this decision and its reversal). 

Among several new policies, the memorandum creates new walls be­tween applicant/developers and their consultants. It requires, for example, that all preliminary draft documents be sent directly to the Planning De­partment, without prior review and comments by the applicant or its representatives. Applicants will also be limited in discussing technical matters with consultants. 

The Planning Department is, in turn, streamlining the EIR process with the goal of completing EIRs within one year (though the report notes that staff shortages in the De­partment of Transportation may de­lay EIRs beyond the one-year goal). 

Many consultants, developers, and attorneys have already expressed concerns about the new requirements. An orientation meeting on the new policies will be held on Wednesday, January 22nd from 10:00 to noon at City Hall, Room 540. 

L.A. Planning Director Search Reaches Final Stage

O.K., we ran this heading last month. This month, we may actually get a selection. 

Mayor Bradley’s planned in­terview schedule for the six finalists to become Planning Director was a casualty of the holiday season, and was pushed back into January. Ac­cording to Bradley’s Planning Deputy, Jane Blumenfeld, an appointment is still expected within the month.

A Permanent Recession? 

Unemployment in the Los Ange­les area will remain at 8% to 10% over the next 20 years. These are the latest projections from the Southern Cali­fornia Association of Governments, as announced by SCAG Executive Director Mark Pisano at a December redevelopment conference sponsored by UCLA’s Graduate School of Ar­chitecture and Urban Planning, and the law firm Kane, Ballmer, Berkman. 

Pisano urged redevelopment agencies to help deal with economic transition and spearhead a “construc­tive redeployment of resources.” 

In these tough economic times, many of the conference participants emphasized linkages between rede­velopment agencies and regional job attraction and retention strategies. Yet, at the same time as the tax-incre­ment dollars decline from the economy, pressure for redevelopment agencies to spend dollars on social needs is mounting. 

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CRA Counsel Saga, Cont'd. 

Meanwhile, selecting successors to Kane’s firm to provide legal rep­resentation for L.A’s Community Redevelopment Agency continues to be a political football. At press time, the issue still had not come before Council, and other Council members were looking to add firms from their constituencies. And within the City Attorney’s office, control over legal counsel selection has been transferred from Steve Besser to Deputy City Attorney John Emerson. 

Glendale Redevelopment 

The Glendale Redevelopment Agency has formed a redevelopment study area in a 622-acre corridor along San Fernando Road, near the Golden State Freeway. The boundaries of the area include the Grand Central Indus­trial Area, extend east along Broad­way and Colorado Street to connect with the successful downtown redevelopment area, and includes the city’s historic train station. The area is today predominantly industrial in character. Work on the EIR will begin during the first quarter of this year. 

New Regional Planning Chair 

J. Paul Robinson, an architect who has worked for the City of Long Beach and in private practice, has been named the new chair of the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission. Originally a Deane Dana appointee, Robinson’s term as chair runs for the calendar year 1992. 

“Shelter Plus Care” Hits L.A. 

Housing nonprofits should take note of the new “Shelter Plus Care” program, part of the new federal housing law. The program supports moderate rehab of currently vacant units, to provide permanent housing for special needs groups, linked to social services. The City of Los An­geles is applying for $10 million in funds for this program and is seeking nonprofits with suitable projects. 

For more information, refer to the Federal Register of December 5th, or call Maya Dunne of L.A’s Hous­ing Preservation and Production De­partment at (213) xxx-xxxx. 

Sacramento Update 

Governor Wilson’s State of the State address failed to clarify his views on growth management The scant attention given to the topic could in­dicate another trip to the gubernato­rial back burner in 1992. A better indication of where the Governor is headed may come from Richard Sybert’s interagency growth management task force. The Plan­ning Report will provide complete coverage of these issues next month. 

Meanwhile, the Sacramento State Growth Management Consensus Project — an effort including partici­pants from all major State interest groups — has released a summary of its findings. Among its point of agreement, the report recommends targeted state investments in compact, mixed-use development, and urges gas taxes and tolls to combat air pollution and traf­fic congestion.

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