June 30, 1994 - From the June, 1994 issue

Inside Planning: Around the City and the Region


The State's plan for office consolidation in the historic core continue to march forward. The EIR process has begun and the due diligence procedures should be completed in approximately 45 days. According to Dan Rosenfeld, Director of the State Department of Real Estate, adaptive reuse of building in the Historic Core appears to be 40 percent less expensive across the board than new construction, Also, the State is unsure that RFPs for interim space needs will be issued, as some buildings, that are ready to be occupied could serve the State's short-term needs. According to Rosenfeld, "We are very encouraged by the amount of community support we've received so far, and look forward to moving ahead as soon as possible with our plans." 


After more than a year of public participation workshops and volumes of technical analysis, the General Plan Framework Project will be holding its first "issues and opportunities" meeting Saturday, June 11 from 9:00 am to 3 pm at the DWP Headquarters Auditorium at 111 N. Hope Street in Los Angeles. The meeting will be the first public hearing on the results of the city's technical analysis and public input, reviewing the major issues facing Los Angeles such as housing, population, traffic congestion economic development, and the environment. For more information call 1-800-xxx-xxxx. 


Assemblymember Phil Isenberg (D-Sacramento), the author of last year's sweeping redevelopment reform bill AB 1290, in a letter co­signed by Senator Marian Bergeson (R-Orange County), has requested that Gov. Pete Wilson and the Attorney General intervene and challenge an agreement between the LA/ CRA and the County of Los Angeles. The agreement, along with two similar agreements, if allowed to stand, could pave the way from removal of the CBD's court ordered tax increment cap of $750 million. Isenberg maintains that the County agreement violates the spirit of AB 1290 and represents an abuse of redevelopment law as it existed prior to AB 1290.

According to Diana Webb, Chief Deputy Administrator with LA/CRA, the issue of the cap is a " 1977 issue, not a 1994 issue." Mayor Riordan in a letter to the Governor, argues that the agreements with the County and the taxing entities are not a violation of AB 1290. Riordan's letter states, " ... Section 38(b) of AB 1290 specifically contemplated that agreements such as these could be negotiated and concluded prior to the end of 1993 ... " 

In other CRA news, the Los Angeles City Council has amended a Riordan budget request that $25 million of CRA revenue be used to pay off debt for the Los Angeles Convention Center. Although the Convention Center is within a CRA project area, under the more restrictive AB 1290 redevelopment reform law, there must be a finding of "blight" in the area before the money can be used. The City Council is asking for a City Attorney opinion as to the legality of the transfer. 


The Stale Senate and the State Assembly have overwhelming approved AB 1495 by Senator Steve Peace (D-Chula Vista) creating a California Infrastructure Bank to seek out public and private financing for a broad range of facilities including transportation, water, sanitation, ports, and other projects that will boost economic growth. 

"The concept behind the bank is to leverage public dollars by investing jointly with private sponsors today in projects that will spur business activity and create quality long-term jobs tomorrow," Peace explained. "It will also give us the ability to outmaneuver other states competing for scarce federal funds." The bill now goes to Governor Wilson for his signature. 


Henry Cisneros, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced a $7.1 billion program known as "Priority: Home". Under the plan the city of Los Angeles would be eligible for $39 million, with the county of Los Angeles receiving $17 million. The program is still subject to congressional approval. 

Cisneros' proposal would focus on more outreach to the homeless population with a goal of providing permanent housing with local government in charge of the program. "The additional funding would double the dollars we could use to break the cycle of homelessness and despair and use these resources efficiently and sensibly," said Mayor Richard Riordan. 



In opposition to an initiative by Mayor Richard Riordan to transfer $150,000 in riot funds to a downtown business improvement district, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Rita Walters has requested the Community Development Department and the CRA to identify a procedure and funding source to local business associations to support the planning and development of Business Improvement Districts (BID). Although Walters supports BID developments, she opposed the Riordan initiative as the proposed BID was in the Garment District of downtown, an area that was unaffected by the riots. 

''The Business Improvement District concept has gained increasing popularity with local business groups attempting to provide an increased level of service in the face of reduced city finances," said Walters. The first Los Angeles­area BID, Miracle On Broadway, was recently approved, and several other areas including Westwood, Downtown San Pedro and Hollywood are moving forward with BID proposals. 


The Neighborhood Planning and Plan Implementation Division of the Los Angeles Planning Department have been reorganized. The two divisions have been merged and will be called the Community Planning Bureau. The new bureau contains two Divisions and one Section with the following names: Valley/West/ Coastal Community Division; South L.A. Metro Community Division; and Community Hearings Section. Frank Fielding will be heading the Valley division. and Merry Edelstein the West/Coastal section. The South L.A. Metro Division will be headed by Dave Leslie; Jim Anderson will direct the South L.A. section and Lourdes Green the Metro section. Bob Rogers will head the Community Hearings Section. 


SB 517 sponsored by Senator Marian Bergeson (R-Orange County) is in the Assembly Way & Means Committee and is expected to go to the Governor before the summer break beginning July 8th. SB 517 provides a mediation alternative to CEQA and land use disputes that preserves local government autonomy while creating an atmosphere for creative negotiation. 

The League of Cities sponsored housing element reform bill SB 1839 (Bergeson) failed to clear the Senate Appropriations Committee, but supporters have asked for reconsideration. The bill focuses on the development of performance standards that can be controlled by local government such as zoning and other land-use controls, instead of relying on the actual production of affordable units. 

AB 51 authored by Assemblyman Jim Costa (D-Fresno), a housing element bill that is sponsored by the California Association of Realtors, would require that local planning agencies' reports on regional housing be prepared using State Department of Housing and Community Development forms and definitions. AB 51 allows a city or county to transfer up to 25 percent, not to exceed 500 units of its affordable housing needs, to a contiguous city or county. AB 51 is currently in the Senate Appropriations Committee. 


Esther Feldman, director of Special Programs for the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, is leaving the organization to open the Southern California Field Office of the Trust for Public Land, a private land trust. The Trust for Public Land acquires open space land then sells the land to public agencies or other private land trusts fer park and recreational use. 

Assistant Deputy Mayor Sandy Thomas is leaving the Mayor's Office for LA/CRA, although she will officially be an employee of the City Attorney’s office. Jessica Stepner who has been working for the Mayor’s Office on the LANI project through the Urban Innovations Group will be filling her position. 


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