January 30, 1994 - From the January, 1994 issue

Update: L.A. General Plan Framework Project

The Citywide General Plan Framework (GPF) is in its third phase (TPR presented an earlier update last month). Emily Gabel, Senior Planning for the Los Angeles General Plan Framework, reveals that the GPF's core mission is to overhaul the "Centers Concept" of 1974. The GPF is proposing to accomplish this shift by using infill development, recommending areas near transit for development, and other incentives.  

The City of Los Angeles is breaking new ground in its revision of the General Plan by using incentives instead of regulations, by linking land use and transportation with capital improvement budgeting, and by targeting investment to attract development. The City's past approach to planning has been a needle and thread effort, stitching a patchwork of regulations with no citywide overview. The last citywide plan, the Centers Concept, had no meaningful implementation.

Breaking new ground for L.A. means taking the first citywide view in nearly twenty years. Innovation on the part of the Planning Department and cooperation by public officials has set into motion the General Plan Framework project. City staff and consultants are working together to develop a new long-range plan for the city. The Planning Department is determined to make Los Angeles into a worldwide leader for urban livability in the 21st century. 

The Framework project's mission is to overhaul the Centers Concept, which was adopted in 1974, and prepare Los Angeles for the future. With three and a half million residents, Los Angeles includes in one setting the most diverse mix of peoples, languages, and cultures virtually anywhere. By the year 2010, the number of Los Angeles residents could reach 4.3 million, in the middle of a regional population of over twenty million. The strain on the City's infrastructure will increase accordingly. 

Higher Densities 

Unlike the past, when Los Angeles was able to accommodate a growing population through annexation of undeveloped land, future growth will be accommodated largely by building on smaller scattered parcels, a process called "infill development." The city's present geographic size is not expected to increase significantly. Instead, more of us will be living in apartment or condominium complexes. 

The largest source of future growth in southern California, estimated at 63%, is expected to result from the excess of birth over deaths. The remaining 37% of future growth in the Los Angeles area is expected to result from foreign immigration. Domestic immigration will no longer remain a strong force. In fact, demographers estimate that more current residents will leave the area than will move here from other parts of the country. 

All around, us we see the daily evidence of Los Angeles' high rate of growth. Over the past twenty years, our roads have become more congested and our neighborhoods have become more crowded. More of us rent apartments and fewer of us can afford to buy a single-family house. Recently, the economy has failed to provide adequate opportunities for mid-level employment, widening the income disparity between city residents in high-skill, high-paying careers and those in low-skill, low paying jobs. The historic long-term rise in property values has contributed to the present-day shortage of affordable housing. 

Economic Change 

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Clearly, the economic base of the entire Southern California region is in the process of significant change in response to reduced defense spending, implementation of air quality regulations, changing demographics of the work force, and structural changes in industry as well as other factors. As the region moves through these economic transitions, it is essential that the City's land use policies are supportive of future economic realities to maintain an adequate economic and fiscal base for the City.

Five planning principles are guiding the preparation of the Framework: cultivate social equity, expand and improve the economy, provide certainty, promote environmental quality, and establish physical form. At every step in the development of the General Plan Framework, the project team has addressed and incorporated these principles into the growth options and associated policies. 

Framework Products 

The final products of the projects will be a Land Use Plan coordinated with a new Transportation Plan, a Policy Plan, and Environmental Impact Report, and an Economic Report. The Land Use and Transportation elements of the General Plan Framework are integrated to define and recommend the most, efficient methods of transit within the Targeted Growth Areas - land that the plan will recommend for more intense housing and commercial development.

The Policy Plan will outline the policies necessary to accomplish a group of identified goals and are designed to guide important decisions involving both private development proposals and public capital improvements. These goals are to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, ensure the provision of adequate infrastructure and public services, revitalize neighborhoods, stimulate the production of affordable housing, support the creation of new jobs, conserve natural resources, enhance public and private coordination, and achieve the vision of a more livable city. 

Preliminary strategies for achieving the project objectives and principles will be discussed at public meetings throughout the city during January, February and March of 

1994. For more information on the General Plan Framework's public participation schedule please call 1-800-xxx-xxxx.

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