January 30, 1993 - From the January, 1993 issue

Inside Planning: Around the State and the Region

MTA, L.A. Permit Streamlining, and more — recent urban planning news presented by TPR.

New MTA Board Members 

Selections have been made to the board of the new Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, under which LACTC and the SCRTD will merge next month. The four new board members named thus far are: Larry Zarian, Councilman from the City of Glendale; Jon Fasana, Councilman from the City of Duarte; Evan Anderson Braude, Councilman from the City of Long Beach; and Jim Cragin, Councilman from Gardena. 

The Board will hold its first meeting on February 1st, the day the MTA begins operations. 

MTA Director Rumors 

Transit officials are also in the process of choosing an Executive Director for the new MTA. Both LACTC Executive Director Neil Peterson and RTD General Manager Alan Pegg have put themselves in the running. But other rumors and reports indicate that among the 15 candidates include the following: Jerry Baxter, Cal Trans’ Regional Director; Michael Peevey, President of Southern California Edison; Bernard Kinsey, co-chair of Rebuild L.A.; Brian Clymer, the head of the Federal Transportation Authority; James Hankla, the city manager of Long Beach and Conner L.A. County CAO, and Percy Duran, City of Los An­geles Public Works Commissioner. 

The list is likely to be narrowed quickly, with the MTA Board receiving a recommendation of one to three names when it meets in February. 

Grass-Roots Planning 

After a slow start, the Coalition of Neighborhood Developers’ (CND) efforts to complete grass-roots planning efforts in nine Los Angeles areas now appear to be progressing. CND has hired a full-time executive director for this effort — Gladys Lewis, who previously coordinated emergency services for the Ecumenical Council of Pasadena Area Churches. Most community “clusters” have now hired a planner to assist them in their activities. The nine areas will also collaborate on some citywide project addressing youth, housing, or economic development. 

State Growth Management 

Governor Wilson in his January 6th State of the State address signaled his intention to proceed with a growth management package this year. The package had not been released at press time. According to Richard Sybert, the Governor’s Director of the Office of Planning and Research (OPR), “You’ll see an emphasis on growth management as a tool for appropriate growth rather than growth control.”

Though Sybert refused to discuss specific components of the Governor’s package, he said it will include a strong emphasis on local control, infrastructure, the use of incentives and disincentives rather than mandates, and permit streamlining. The Governor’s program will become a package of bills, for which no sponsors have yet been identified. 

State Resources Secretary Douglas Wheeler has said that the package will also include changes in the Williamson Act, a state law that seeks to preserve agricultural land by reducing property taxes for farmers who agree not to develop their land for at least ten years. Wheeler believes that this law is overly costly and merely delays inevitable development. 

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L.A. Permit Streamlining

The City of Los Angeles, implementing a motion by Councilman Hal Bernson and recommendations of the Zucker audit of the Planning Department, began this month a significant streamlining of its systems for processing development permits. 

A new interdepartmental Permit Processing Network (PPN) has been created under which senior officials from key city agencies meet together twice a week to review projects applications. They will provide immediate decisions on minor reviews, waivers of unnecessary reports, and simultaneous plan check and building permit clearances. The PPN also is launching a new permit tracking system to set deadlines for reviews. 

The City has also created a new predevelopment information center and referral service, aimed at giving those researching a potential development site a list of all applicable City regulations and necessary approvals. 

And the City is expanding the existing Land Development Counseling Center to make it available to more applicants. The Center, which provides developers with an early interdepartmental evaluation of complex projects, will now operate completely on a fee-for-service basis.  

LA. Planning Cutbacks? 

The proposed cutbacks in the Los Angeles Planning Department and Building and Safety, defeated during December, could come up again in Council during January. Planning advocates are stressing the role of planners in spurring economic revitalization and in saving funds for the City in the long run. 

Lynn Wessell (1938-1992) 

Political consultant Lynn Wessell died December 25th at Centinela Hospital, Inglewood, one day after his 54th birthday. Wessell died of complications following back surgery, a previously undiagnosed diabetic condition, and a severe post­operative infection. 

Wessell was best known in the planning community for spearheading campaigns against anti-growth initiatives around Southern California. He began by eking out a stunning upset victory in 1977 against a no­growth ordinance in Riverside. He later directed winning campaigns in cities such as West Covina, Laguna Beach, and Santa Clarita, and helped defeat Orange County’s slow-growth Measure A in 1988. 

The Wessell Company intends to continue its operations, under the direction of Cathy Connelly, the company’s vice president.

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