June 30, 1993 - From the June, 1993 issue

Subscribers Comment on Planning Issues in the L.A. Mayor’s Race

With the city elections only days away, the future of planning and land-use policy in the City of Los Angeles hangs in the balance. The Planning Report therefore asked several of our subscribers to answer the following question: "What, to you, is the most important planning and land-use issue at stake in the mayoral election and (if you have decided) who are you supporting?"

As the following selection of comments demonstrates, many in Los Angeles remain reluctant to go on record in disclosing their candidate of choice.

The most important issue at stake is that of true community empowerment. The new Mayor will have to address the issue of how to restructure city government so that all feel empowered. I support Mike Woo: I believe that Mike's planning background gives him a better grasp of these issues. 

Bill Christopher PLAN/LA; Urban Concepts 

The Mayor of Los Angeles must be able to articulate a vision for the City - how it looks, how people live and work and shop and play. Riordan has the potential to lead the decisionmakers toward achieving a vision, but what will it be? Woo's vision reflects the complexity and diversity of the city, but can he accomplish it? 

Julie Gertler President, Consensus Planning Group. Inc.

As Co-Chairman of the Downtown Strategic Plan Advisory Committee's Transportation Subcommittee since its inception four years ago, I have had the opportunity to learn first-hand how important the link is between strategic transportation planning and the economic growth of Los Angeles. The significant dollars being expended in transportation infrastructure centered in the Downtown area offers Los Angeles a unique opportunity to create a multiplier effect by providing additional investment opportunities and even greater returns region-wide. In my opinion, both mayoral candidates arc responsive to the importance of this planning issue. 

Stan Michota The Michota/Stewart Partnership 

The next Mayor's most important opportunity is the ability to appoint new commissioners. The question is who will fill those new slots and whether they'll be representative of Los Angeles’ communities. Also, as the Coalition of Neighborhood Developers works on revisions to the General Plan and community plans, the new Mayor will need to promote the overall decentralization of City Hall so that organizations, institutions, and individuals can give input into the future of their communities. As this occurs, we are concerned about the cutbacks in the Planning Department which primarily affect the planners working in the communities and the most ethnically diverse portion of the department.

Anthony Scott Executive Director, Dunbar Economic Development Corporation 

The next mayor must help to simplify the planning and building process. Our main complaint with the Planning Department and Building and Safety is that you can't depend on getting the right answer. Uncomplicating the system somewhat is the biggest challenge for the next Mayor. 

Pam Anderson Vice President, Real Estate and Public Affairs, Gannett Outdoor 

More police, better schools, and a climate which is friendlier to business. Streamline and shorten the approval process. Reduce the financial exactions on development. Support: Woo. 

Burt Pines Alschuler, Grossman and Pines

None of us can truly believe that the social and economic problems of Los Angeles can be solved by magic dust. Neither candidate will bring salvation to this city; there is no magic wand which will bring childcare to working mothers, quality education to Los Angeles' children, or safety to our streets. Any candidate or voter who thinks that these fundamental problems will be solved instantly or by the mere infusion of wealth is short-sighted and unrealistic. The fundamental problems of this city must be addressed through a consensus model which demands the inclusion of all kinds of people in the process, especially those who have typically been under-represented and disenfranchised. I believe that Michael Woo is far better positioned to implement such a plan than is Dick Riordan. 

Janice Kamenir-Reznik Reznik and Reznik 

The greatest land-use impact that the mayoral race will have is in the make-up of the new Planning Commission. It will be quite different depending upon whether we have Mayor Woo or Mayor Riordan. Support: Riordan. 

Benjamin M. Reznik Reznik and Reznik 

The number one issue in planning today is the City's ability to respond quickly to new development proposals which will benefit the City economically and provide much needed housing. Turnaround time for environmental review, development approvals, and permitting is critical. I personally believe that we need a mayor who has experience in City Hall and with the City's development process - but both candidates must recognize the pressing need to stream­line the development process, which will require effective management and coordination between the Planning, Transportation, Building and Safety, and Public Works Departments. 

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Clare Bronowski Christensen, White, Miller, Fink, and Jacobs 

The most important issue has got to be housing. We live in one of the most expensive cities in the country, with the greatest influx of people who can't afford to live here. The next Mayor has to get Building and Safety to figure out how to let people build. I'm supporting Woo, in spite of his Master's in Urban Planning, which shouldn't disqualify him from becoming Mayor. 

Louis Mraz Land-Use Chairman, Mount Washington Association

The new Mayor must rationalize the land-use planning process in the City of Los Angeles. The current land-use planning process is a confusing patchwork of conflicting policies implemented by confusing regulations that are not applied consistently. 

The lack of focus in planning discourages the development that is necessary to revitalize the city. Further, the absence of clearly defined planning objectives impairs the City's ability to address important planning issues and to do planning which addresses the legitimate needs of the City as a whole. 

Edward Dygert Cox, Castle, and Nicholson 

The most important issue for the mayor's race has to do with the way city resources are allocated, to assure that the areas that have suffered from disinvestment won't continue to be that way. In the midst of increasing budget shortfalls and government cutbacks, the next mayor must assure that the burden is not place on those areas.

Sister Diane Donoghue Esperanza Community Housing Corporation 

The future vitality of Los Angeles is dependent on economic growth. The most pressing planning issue is how to integrate community-based planning with more centralized, comprehensive planning and with policies to encourage that growth.

Doug Purdy Morris, Polich, and Purdy

I'm supporting Riordan. The most important planning issue is transforming the Planning and Building Departments into efficient agencies, not impediments to opening or reopening businesses. I was recently down in the Building Counter when I saw a Latino woman at the special "Rebuild L.A." counter actually get yelled at. She was told, "Go find some professional help if you want to get this project through.'' That should not be necessary. 

Jennifer Shaw Saltzberg, Ray, and Bergman 

As a non-profit involved in real estate development, we feel that one of the key issues must be the reform of the Planning and Building and Safety departments. This City can no longer be governed by the bureaucratic mentality that is a disincentive to the development the city needs. The City is its own worst enemy in the area of land use and housing development: it is constantly shooting itself in the foot. I'm more than likely going to vote for Mike Woo because I think he brings more heart and conscience to the Mayor's job, but I think the dearth of real leadership in Los Angeles today is very sad. 

Carmela Lacayo President, El Pueblo Community Development Corporation 

"Jobs vs. the environment” should not be a zero-sum debate. We need to reindustrialize our inner-cities, this time as areas of environmentally sound technology development. 

Joy Chen Director of Public Affairs, HNTB Architects, Engineers, Planners

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