August 30, 1993 - From the August, 1993 issue

Inside Planning: Around the City and the Region

TPR presents recent land use news from the Los Angeles region and the State of California. 

New County CAO 

L.A. Board of Supervisors has chosen Sally R. Reed to be the County's new CAO. Reed has been the chief executive of Santa Clarita County for the past 12 years. She is scheduled to begin work at the Hall of Administration on Oct 18.

City Hall Shakeup 

Jim Bickbart is no longer planning deputy to L.A. City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter. His duties will be taken over by Galanter's other planning deputy, Nancy Burke.

But speculation around City Hall is that Galanter was angry about a strongly worded letter Bickhart wrote to the Neighborhood Councils movement newsletter, which the group published in their July issue. In his letter, Bickhart accused Planning Commissioner and Airport Commission designate Ted Stein of arrogant and heavy-handed behavior towards Galanter's office, specifically in relation to a pending traffic-control ordinance, the Pico Westwood downzoning and an LAX soundwall. 

“These are just three examples of what's happened to things Ruth Galanter and numerous community residents worked on for years as soon as Riordan and his cronies got a chance to throw their weight around: stall in order to grab control of everything, do the bidding of developers' attorneys, screw the neighborhoods, screw the other elected officials," Bickhart wrote. In response to his firing, Bickhart said, "I told the truth and paid the price for it I made a mistake, then Ruth made one. On balance, I feel sorry for her." 

Playa Vista: A $64,000 Questionable Appeal 

Calling the fees "immoral and anti­democratic", State Senator Tom Hayden vowed to overturn a little known City ordinance that would require appellants against development projects to pay 85% of the application charges paid by the developer. When told it would cost $64,000 to file an appeal against the Playa Vista project, Hayden found a loophole in the law which allows property owners within 500 feet of a proposed subdivision to file an appeal with the city for a nominal $65, and beat the Monday, August 9th deadline. Councilmember Laura Chick in what appears to be a response to Hayden's public outcry, introduced a motion in Council on August 10th that requests the Planning Department to review the ordinance. 

Density Bonus Approved 

Over objections of homeowner groups, the L.A. Planning Commission on August 5 approved an interim policy granting density bonuses for low-income housing. The plan states that if a building provides 10 percent very low income or 20 percent lower income units, the developer gets a 25 percent density bonus, one additional unit, rooftop open space allowances, no guest parking for the affordable units and no requirement for a public hearing. (This also applies to buildings with a majority of seniors citizens). This policy replaces the current density bonus program, which required lengthy conditional use approval by the Commission. 

Within four months, the department plans to present an ordinance that would reduce parking requirements for all affordable dwelling units citywide (as to not discriminate against builders who do not seek a density bonus), allow developers to defer paying permit fees until Certificates of Occupancy are issued, and permit building heights to exceed the maximums now in place by nine feet if necessary to accommodate the density bonus units. 

Hollywood CRA 

The Community Redevelopment Agency Board on August 5 approved a five-year plan to produce 600 new and rehabilitated housing units for low and moderate income families in its Hollywood Project Nearly 90 percent of Hollywood residents are renters and 75 percent of households there are low income. Since 1986, the CRA has assisted in the creation of eight affordable housing developments, including 472 apartments. 

New CRA Commissioners 

Mayor Richard Riordan has appointed members of the Community Redevelopment Agency Board of Commissioners. They are:

  • Frank Cardenas, an attorney at O'Melveny and Myers, member of the Mexican American Bar Association and of Rebuild L.A.
  • Christine Essel, a current member of the board and is vice president of planning and development of Paramount Pictures.
  • Bobbi Fiedler, a former member of Congress and the L.A. school board who gained prominence through the Bus Stop movement in the 1970s.
  • Stanley H. Hirsh, owner of the Cooper Building, real estate developer and powerhouse in the garment industry.
  • Shelby Jean Kaplan Sloan, president of the property management firm of Tricap, which provides services to government-assisted multi-family housing projects.
  • Peggy Moore, vice president and manager of Home Savings of America in L.A., the largest lender for single family home mortgages in the U.S. She is the first woman to direct the downtown office, which is the oldest branch in the corporation.
  • Cynthia McClain-Hill, an attorney and investment banker with First Boston Corporation's L.A. office. She is also a member of the California Fair Political Practices Commission and publisher of Focus 2000.

Sacramento Update 

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Several important land-use and development bills are currently working their way through Sacramento. SB 428 (Thompson) would extend by 24 months the expiration dates of tentative maps approved, or previously extended, pursuant to specific provisions of the Subdivision Map Act. SB428 is in the Local Government Committee.

SB 660 (Deddeh) includes within the bill's definition of the term "development project" the amendment of a zoning ordinance, the approval of a specific plan or community plan, or the amendment of a general plan that is requested in connection with an application for a development project that has been filed. This legislation will require legislative acts such as zone changes and plan amendments to follow the same permit streamlining requirements as quasi-judicial applications. This bill is also in the Local Government Committee.

Under SB919 (Dills) a threshold is established for CEQA review of a modernization or expansion of an existing commercial or industrial facility. No CEQA review would be necessary if the project results in a net increase in production capacity of 20 percent or less. This bill is in the Local Government Committee.

Empowerment Zones 

Changes made to President Clinton's federal deficit reduction bill included good news from L.A.'s inner-cities in the form of $3.5 billion for empowerment zones and enterprise communities. Under the bill nine empowerment zones would be designated in 1994 and 1995 in areas nominated by state or local governing bodies. Employers in an empowerment zone would be eligible for a 20 percent credit on the first $15,000 of wages paid to area residents who work in the zone. They could also take up to a $37,500 tax deduction on equipment newly purchased for zone business. 

Section 108 Housing Funds 

The Los Angeles Housing Department has begun the necessary steps to enter into a $40 million Section 108 loan agreement with the Dept. of HUD. The Housing Department is taking this step in order to continue its present housing production and preservation program in fiscal year 1993-

94. Presently, the Housing Department has a $2.3 million fund balance after current pipeline commitments are considered. With low interest rates, falling real estate prices and the increasing volume of REO properties, the city is in a unique position to stabilize and improve privately owned housing. 

Planning Commission Nominees 

Mayor Riordan recently announced his nominees to the L.A. Planning Commission, they are: 

  • Les Hamasaki, President and member of the Board of Directors, SUN Utility Network, Inc., a solar energy company and member of the Los Angeles Airport Commission.
  • Mama Del Mar Schnabel, Executive Vice President, DEL MAR Avionics.
  • Robert L. Scott, President, United Chambers of Commerce of the San Fernando Valley and Chairman/Founder, Valley Advocates For Local Unified Education.
  • Shelly S. Suzuki, Commissioner, City of Los Angeles Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioner and Executive Treasurer, Suzuki Enterprises, Inc.
  • Anthony Zamora, Attorney with Alvarado, Smith, Zamora and Wolf, and Vice President, Affordable Housing Commission, City of Los Angeles. 

On the Move... 

Former housing adviser to Mayor Tom Bradley Michael Bodaken is scheduled to leave L.A. for Washington D.C. at the end of this month to become head of the National Housing Trust, a non-profit group that aids local governments and tenants groups in preserving federally assisted (though privately owned) housing as affordable. Only last month did Bodaken begin working as L.A. City Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg's planning deputy. 

Board of Public Works president Felicia Marcus is also leaving L.A., headed for San Francisco to become administrator for Region IX of the Environmental Protection Agency, which covers California, Arizona, Nevada, Guam, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. Without Marcus' vigorous advocacy, Mayor Richard Riordan may become more emboldened to follow through on his campaign pledge to abolish the Board. 

Mary Nichols, formerly senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, has been confirmed in her post as Assistant Administrator of the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. Her nomination was reported in the June issue of The Planning Report

Scott Adler, a land-use attorney has been nominated by Mayor Riordan to the Building & Safety Commission. 

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