December 30, 1992 - From the December, 1992 issue

Inside Planning: Around the State and the Region

Wilshire Alignment Update, Taylor Yards Study, ULI Corridors Study, and more — The Planning Report presents urban planning news in California and around the Los Angeles region.

Wilshire Alignment Update

Congressman Henry Waxman has apparently dropped his outright opposition to a Metro Rail extension along Wilshire Boulevard. Heal the Bay’s Dorothy Green, developer James McCormick, and the Coalition for Rapid Transit filed suit against LACTC in October for having an inadequate EIR in choosing the Pico-San Vicente alignment.

McCormick says that when he and other Sierra Club representatives met with Waxman in November, the Congressman expressed support for a new study of the West Side extension. Waxman had previously prevented any Wilshire extension by passing a congressional amendment prohibiting underground drilling in the so-called “methane gas zone.”

Taylor Yards Study

The team of experts for the Taylor Yards community planning and design workshop has unveiled its recommendations for the site along the L.A. River north of downtown L.A.. The recommendations emphasize the need for job and housing opportunities, community-scaled development, visual enhancement, the use of the L.A. River as a regional amenity, and increasing the surrounding community’s linkage to the City’s decision-making process.

The team proposed three basic development options for the Taylor Yards site, which could be combined into mixed-use alternatives. It also proposed retaining the gardens at the now-closed Lawry’s California Center, and questioned current proposals to erect larger buildings on the site. The workshop’s recommendations will go to a consultant team working with LACTC on a development program for the area.

Planning People

Jackie Bachrach, an LACTC Commission member and a Palos Verdes Councilwoman, has been selected by President-elect Bill Clinton to join his transition team to help develop a national transportation policy… Elizabeth Harrison, formerly Vice President of Catellus Development Company, has formed a new investment company for multi-family properties, Harrison Properties, in Los Angeles. 

Mega-Project Update

Maguire Thomas Partners’ large Playa Vista project between Marina del Rey and Westchester seems to be moving again. Public hearings have been held on the EIR for the first phase of the project and of Playa Vista’s master plan, with much of the earlier opposition muted.

Meanwhile, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors is expected to approve the large Ahmanson Ranch development this month. The project has become a classic inter-jurisdictional battle: tucked just inside the Ventura County line, most of the traffic and environmental impacts would affect L.A. County. L.A. Councilwoman Joy Picus and the City of Calabasas have threatened legal action to block the development.

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ULI Corridors Study

A national panel of experts from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) during November conducted a week-long study of the Vermont and Western Avenue corridors in South-Central L.A. Among the panel’s rather general conclusions were that the City focus retail centers at the crossroads of commercial corridors, encourage housing opportunities through density allowances for increased amenities, develop housing prototypes that could be pre-approved by the City, and reduce parking requirements near transit stations. ULI will issue a written (and perhaps more detailed) report on its study in February.

L.A. Planning Cutbacks

The proposal to cut 23 staff members from the City Planning Department (Along with 61 Building and Safety staffers) was defeated at a special December 10th City Council meeting. As the City continues to grapple with a $155 million shortfall, City staff mobilized an effective lobbying effort against the layoffs, citing the effects the planning layoffs would have on economic revitalization, on the timely processing of permits, and on the racial composition of the Planning Department. The budgetary situation remained fluid at press time, so the issue may not be closed.

Sacramento News

Governor Wilson met recently with Senators Marian Bergeson and Robert Presley. The subject? Apparently, Wilson said that he wants to put growth management back on the front-burner for 1993. But, of course, we’ve heard that line before.

A chain of events affecting land use policy may be set off by Sen. Ruben Ayala’s (D-San Bernardino) departure as chair of the Senate Agriculture and Water Committee to take a seat on the Rules Committee. Water policy may pass from control of a Southern Californian to a Northern Californian, rumored to be Sen. Mike Thompson (D-Napa). If Thompson gets the seat, that would mean a change in the chairmanship of the Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. 

Air Plan Lawsuit

The Coalition for Clean Air, the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, and Citizens for a Better Environment in November filed suit against the State Air Resources Board for illegally approving SCAQMD’s Air Quality Management Plan.

The suit could have major land use implications because it alleges that the AQMD has failed to develop land use, parking management, and transit improvement programs, and that it controls on “indirect sources” such as development projects are vague and unenforceable. It also challenges the RECLAIM emissions trading program as inadequate. The suit, which will be heard in the spring, asks that the State send the plan back to SCAQMD to revise within three months.

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