May 30, 1994 - From the May, 1994 issue

Inside Planning: Around the City and the Region

TPR May 1994 issue presents recent land use news of Los Angeles and beyond.

TAX CREDIT COMPETITION

This year's fust round of the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (TCAC), a critical source of funding for affordable housing projects in California, closed on April 15 with a total of 120 applications requesting over $70 million in allocations. The 120 applications represents a significant increase in the number of application from last year, making a competitive process even more so. According to TCAC program manager Jayne Raab, "While we were able to fund all eligible projects on our waiting list in the last round, the increased competition means we can't guarantee funding for eligible projects on the waiting list this round." TCAC will be holding their allocation meetings in late June to announce credit reserves. 

EMPOWERMENT ZONE BOUNDARIES APPROVED BY CITY OF LA

The Los Angeles City Council has approved boundaries for one empowerment zone and four enterprises communities for inclusion in the City's federal empowerment zone application. The proposed empowerment zone is almost 19 square miles stretching from Pacoima, Boyle Heights to East Downtown/Alameda Corridor to the Slauson Corridor to Watts. The City Council also directed staff to work with others cities on the joint application including Long Beach, Compton, Lynwood, Huntington Park and the County of Los Angeles. The application is being coordinated by outside consultants Hamilton, Rabinovitz, Alschuler; the Coalition of Neighborhood Developers, Inc., and Envicom. The public participation function will be handled by the Kellogg Institute. The draft application is expected to go before the Los Angeles City Council in early June for approval before the June 30th deadline.

L.A. PLANNING DEPARTMENT GOES GLOBAL WITH BBS 

The Los Angeles City Planning Department has instituted their own electronic Bulletin Board System, or BBS, that can be accessed via a personal computer and modem. The Planning Department BBS provides information on Planning Commission notices and agendas, BZA notices, city zoning code summary and most simple requests such as conditional use, subdivision and environmental review. For more information regarding the Planning Department BBS, call Sam Alsharairi at (213) xxx-xxxx.

LANI MOVING FORWARD: CLINTON INITIATIVE THE STIMULUS 

The Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative (LANI) is the first coordinated neighborhood initiative in the history of Los Angeles. The proposal resulted from a visit by Secretary of Transportation Federico Peña as part of the Clinton Administration's effort to “humanize transportation". LANI is a two-year demonstration program, initiated by Deputy Mayor Rae James which seeks to benefit eight economically disadvantaged and transit-dependent communities in Los Angeles by revitalizing public spaces, stimulating private investments, and promoting neighborhood businesses along city streets and public corridors. 

Run by a nine person board of directors, the City Council has authorized $115,000 for corporation start-up costs and has tentative commitments for $15 million. Project sponsors hope to secure $40 million per year from federal sources. The LANI Board is in the process of hiring an executive director. For more information call, Jessica Stepner at (213) xxx-xxxx.

ENDANGERED LOS ANGELES RIVER: ENVIRONMENTALISTS VS. ENGINEERS 

At the request of local environmental groups, the Los Angeles River has been included on the American Rivers organization's list of 30 endangered or threatened rivers. The 51-mile-long waterway runs from the San Gabriel Mountains into the Pacific at Long Beach Harbor. While most of the "river" is sealed in concrete, a broad coalition of environmentalists, activists, planners and urban designers believe a large portion of the L.A. River can be restored to its natural habitat while at the same time increasing open space and recreation opportunities, and restoring the river's watershed capacity. However, county and federal officials are preparing to build even higher concrete walls along the river at a cost of $346 million to protect against flood damage predictions. Presently, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy as well as the Los Angeles County are working on plans for the river, but cementing of the river could begin as soon as this summer.

LA DEVELOPMENT REFORM 

After releasing his first budget including the controversial proposed consolidation of the Community Redevelopment Agency, Housing Department and other city functions into a Citywide Development Agency, the Riordan Administration is holding off the release of the much anticipated report by Dan Garcia's Development Reform Committee. While the consultants pull together final drafts of the report, the subcommittees are scheduled to meet in mid-May before a June meeting to present the final report to the whole committee.

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HUD BUDGET DOUBLES HOMELESS FUNDS 

Calling homelessness his number one priority, HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros has requested the largest annual increase in programs to help the homeless in the Department’s history. Cisneros' 1995 budget proposes increased funding for the McKinney programs in three key parts. The first portion of the budget seeks $1.2 billion for a homeless grant program that will reorganize the Emergency Shelter Grant, Supportive Housing, Shelter Plus Care, Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation Single Room Occupancy, Safe Havens, and Rural Homeless programs.

The second budget component proposes $130 million for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, which awards grants to nonprofit homeless organizations to bolster their local efforts. Finally, HUD has requested $514 million for 15,000 5-year Section 8 certificates to help previously homeless families obtain permanent housing in the private market. 

In a related development the Los Angeles City Council has voted to direct its lobbyists in Washington to start work on proposed changes that would give local communities a voice in decisions made under the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987. The issue was brought to the council's attention last month when a South-Central organization was given permission to run a large homeless shelter on surplus Navy Housing in San Pedro without community input.

L.A. CITY COUNCIL LOBBYIST REFORM 

After nearly two years of debate, the Los Angeles City Council's Rules and Elections Committee has recommended to full City Council an ordinance aimed at reducing the number of lobbyists required to file with the city. The new proposal sets the reporting threshold at $4,000 in a three-month period. The proposed ordinance would also require greater disclosure of lobbying activities by attorneys and their clients, and would require disclosure statements to be filled by major lobbyist firms and clients.

SACRAMENTO UPDATE 

In what may be the beginning of a post-Proposition 140 trend of legislators either running for alternative office or not seeking reelection, both Marian Bergeson (R-35), chair of the Senate Local Government Committee and Mike Gotch (D-76),chair of the Assembly Local Government are leaving the Legislature to pursue other interests. Bergeson is running unopposed for the Orange County 5th Supervisorial seat, while Gotch has announced that he won't be seeking reelection to a third term. The possibly unprecedented dual vacancies of the two powerful committees could have serious repercussions for land use, planning, development and other important local government issues in the state.

Housing Element reform continues to move forward as SB 1839 (Bergeson) has cleared the Senate Local Government Committee and goes next to the Senate Appropriations committee. The bill is sponsored by the California League of Cities, focusing of the development of performance standards that can be controlled by local governments such as zoning and other land-use controls, instead of relying on the actual production of affordable units. While housing advocates have problems with some of the language in the bill, they are involved with the League in addressing their concerns.

In other news from the State Capitol, SB 1477 (Bergeson), a bill to revise the State Occupancy Standards is being debated in the Senate Local Government Committee. Local officials claim that the 1991 Uniform Housing Code formula for computing maximum occupancy is unclear and are seeking more stringent occupancy standards to relieve overcrowded housing. SB 1477 requires that the Uniform Housing Code occupancy formula apply only to bedrooms and not to living, dining, kitchen or bathrooms. Currently, the Code doesn't distinguish between different types of rooms. Housing advocates are opposing the bill claiming that overcrowding is a face of life in many California cities and stricter occupancy standards would only exacerbate the problem. 

MOCA SPONSORS URBAN DESIGN EXHIBITION 

"Urban Revisions: Current Projects for the Public Realm," an exhibition of 18 innovative urban planning and design projects developed over the past five years for a wide range of predominantly American cities and contexts, will open at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) on May 15, 1994. Organized by MOCA Curator Elizabeth A. T. Smith, the exhibition's underlying premise is to present works that manifest a strong desire to rethink accepted strategies of urban form-giving and embody social, cultural, economic, political, technological and ecological concerns. Emphasizing "real" projects rather than theoretical or self-generated works, the exhibition will chronicle the processes behind and examine the issues raised by each project. Topics of the exhibition include Transportation Corridors as Urban Fabrics, New Neighborhoods in Urban and Exurban Contexts, and Rethinking the Master Plan. For more information, call MOCA at (213) xxx-xxxx.

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