July 30, 1994 - From the July, 1994 issue

Inside Planning: Around the City and the Region

The Planning Report present recent land-use news in the City of Los Angeles and beyond. 


Santa Monica voters have overwhelmingly approved Proposition D and E, clearing the way for a $27 million revitalization project in Santa Monica's Civic Center area that includes new offices, apartments, parking structures and a park. The big winner of the Civic Center Plan is major property holder, RAND Corp., the non-profit think tank plans to invest nearly $15 million to build 200,000 square feet of office for its complex on Ocean Avenue and 350 residential units. According to Suzanne Frick, director of Santa Monica's Land Use and Transportation Management District, "The RAND Corp. has already filed a tentative Tract Map and is actively preparing development plans." 

The two ballot measures - one approved the plan, the other set up the zoning for it - passed by 60 percent to 40 percent. The Plan had been approved by the City Council last November, but a citizens group led by State Senator Tom Hayden fearing the project would crowd the area, creating a traffic and pollution problem in Santa Monica, gathered signatures to put the issue before the voters. A new police station is included in the plan, but funding will have to come from a general obligation bond that meets voter approval. Santa Monica developer Janss Corp. and Houston-based Hines Interests Limited Partnership are expected to pursue the design, financing and final approvals necessary for the residential component of the RAND project . 


Long Beach's Queensway Bay Plan, a major revitalization of Long Beach's waterfront area of downtown, received a major boost with the announcement that Kajima Corporation has entered into an exclusive negotiating contract with the city's redevelopment agency for a major aquarium project, an important project for the area. Kajima Corp. is a partner in Long Beach's World Trade Center and is currently building a world-class aquarium in Tampa, Florida. 


City officials are examining the creation of an Earthquake and Reconstruction Redevelopment area to help the hard-hit community of Sherman Oaks recover from the devastation of the Northridge Earthquake. According to Alisa Katz, Chief of Staff for Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, "It's [CRA] a good tool with a lot to offer the area. We are seeking community input to determine its viability.'' If approved by City Council, tax-increment financing could be used to revitalize the 570-acre area from the Ventura (101) Freeway, to Coldwater Canyon Avenue to the San Diego Freeway (405). Multi-family and commercial structures - but no single-family homes - would be included under the proposal and the plan excludes the power of eminent domain.


The defeat of the June state bond measure for earthquake recovery has resulted in a $400 million funding deficit for about 20,000 quake-damaged apartments and single-family homes which may be left without adequate funding to be repaired and reoccupied. According to LAHD General Manager Gary Squier, "If we don't find additional funding, we will have some serious public policy choices before us. We'll have to decide whether to demolish damaged buildings or let the market rebuild these structures over the long-term. Either way, we are facing the possibility of entire neighborhoods being devastated." The City Council's Ad Hoc Committee on Earthquake Recovery has directed LAHD to work with the Mayor's Office in identifying alternative funding from federal and state officials. 

Voters rejected Proposition 1A, a $2 billion bond measure for quake relief and repairs which would have set aside $575 million for housing. The money would have provided loans of up to $50,000 to uninsured landlords and homeowners unable to qualify for loans from the Small Business Administration or banks. 


Breaking a City Council tradition allowing the local Councilmember to dictate land-use issues, Los Angeles Councilmembers Laura Chick, Jackie Goldberg and Rita Walters joined forces to propose that an in-home day­care center located in a Northridge residential neighborhood be granted a conditional use permit serving up to 24 students. State law grants automatic permission for day-care providers to have 12 children in their homes. Special permission must be obtained for larger numbers. 

Councilman Hal Bernson, who represents the Northridge neighborhood and was originally opposed to granting the permit, joined the unanimous vote to grant the CUP after failing to gather enough Council votes to block the request. Councilwoman Laura Chick has introduced a motion asking the City Zoning Administrator and the City's Child-care coordinator to develop more specific guidelines for child-care centers, particularly for those in residential neighborhoods. 


The Supreme Court has strengthened property rights for developers and homeowners by putting new limits on the power of public officials to "exact" a piece of property in exchange for granting a development permit. The Dolan v. City of Tigard ruling is considered to be a major setback for environmentalist and public officials, particularly in California, where land set asides and similar exactions for public open space, trails and parks arc common practice. This latest victory for property rights advocates surrounded a request by the city of Tigard, Oregon to require that a business expansion permit be conditional on an exaction for a "greenway" behind Dolan's property.

This latest ruling follows a high court decision seven years ago known as the Nollan case, which asserted that the California Coastal Commission had gone too far when it demanded that a homeowner allow a public casement along beachfront property in Ventura in exchange for a building permit to enlarge their house. 


A landmark McDonald's restaurant in Downey has been placed on the 1994 list of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The 1953 red-and-white tile restaurant with its soaring yellow arches was the prototype for at least 1,000 McDonald's restaurant nationwide that have been demolished or remodeled. The Los Angeles Conservancy nominated the historic hamburger stand.



The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has denied a developer's request to build a golf course in the Big Tujunga Wash on the grounds that it would jeopardize a plant commonly known as the slender-horn spine flower. 

Cosmo World Inc. has been trying for several years to win approval for a 355-acre project near Foothill Boulevard, Wentworth Street and Oro Vista Avenue. The spine flower is native to about nine California regions, but federal officials contend construction of the private golf course would threaten the largest continuous site - about 200 acres.


A statewide study of the Congestion Management Program (CMP) directed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) bas concluded its year-long report examining various CMP issues. The Statewide Steering Committee composed of public and private sector interests throughout the state was charged with recommending changes to the CMP statute which has remained virtually unchanged since June 1990 passage of Prop. 111. 

AB 1963 is the vehicle for the committee's recommendations. A new CMP performance element bas been proposed that allows Congestion Management Agencies (CMA) flexibility in implementing additional performance measures that help identify appropriate transportation solutions regardless of mode in the CMP land use program, Capital Improvement Program, and Deficiency Plan. The performance clement is an attempt to ensure that CMAs examine multimodal opportunities without relying too heavily on freeway or surface street improvements. Copies of the final report of the Statewide CMP/ Air Quality Coordination Study are available by calling MTA's CMP Hotline at (213) xxx-xxxx.


This year's Housing Element reform continues to move forward. SB 1839 sponsored by State Senator Marian Bergerson (R-Orange County) has several new amendments including new guidelines for self-certification by cities. The guidelines include requiring cities to zone 120% for allocated units, 90% of discretionary applications have to be approved and 75% of residential applications that have 20% or more low-income units must be approved in order for cities to self-certify. 

Assemblyman Tom Bates (D­Oakland) has authored AB 3152, the Transit Village Development Planning Act, under the bill, a city or county that has adapted a transit village plan must grant a 50% density bonus to housing developers who build within a quarter-mile radius of a rail transit station. Also, in anticipation of lawsuits against denser development inside transit villages, AB 3152 provides more certainty in the development process by awarding "rebuttable presumption" of validity to decisions in a lawsuit that challenges a project. Already, MCA, Inc. has asked to expand a transit village's radius around a rail station from one-quarter mile to three­quarters of a mile in order to apply the transit village design concept to its Universal Studios property. 

Rent control advocates are up in arms against AB 1320 authored by Assemblyman Jim Costa (D­Hanford). The bill would revise the lack of vacancy decontrol provisions in some of the state's strongest rent control laws. With the imminent departure of State Senator David Roberti, one of the Legislature's staunchest proponents of rent control, this could be just the first in a series of attacks on rent control. Los Angeles City Councilmembers Zev Yaroslavsky and Jackie Goldberg have already expressed their strong opposition to the bill.


Peggy Curran, Assistant City Manager of Beverly Hills has announced that she is resigning to become the new City Manager of Telluride, Colo. 

Los Angeles Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, Kelly Martin is leaving the Mayor's Office to be General Counsel to Merisel Corp., a computer distribution company. 

Ki Suh Park has received the 1994 Whitney M. Young, Jr., Citation, given by the American Institute of Architects for significant contributions to society. Park is a managing partner of Gruen & Associates in Los Angeles. 

Denise Fairchild, executive director of LISC in Los Angeles is leaving the organization for unspecified new adventures. 

O'Malley Miller with the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson has been appointed by Mayor Riordan to the Los Angeles State Building Authority.


© 2024 The Planning Report | David Abel, Publisher, ABL, Inc.