August 30, 1994 - From the August, 1994 issue

Inside Planning: Around the City and the Region

CRA, Clinton, CAC, and other recent land use news of Los Angeles and beyond — collected here by TPR.

Empowerment Zone Designation Delayed

The Clinton Administration has delayed the target date for the designation of the 104 winners of the enterprise zones until the end of this year. Originally, White House officials had hoped to make their announcement by October or November. 

The 104 enterprise zones will comprise nine empowerment zones and 95 enterprise communities. According to HUD, there were 519 total applicants of which 78 urban and 88 rural areas applied for designation as empowerment zones, and 214 urban areas and 139 rural area applied to become enterprise communities. 

New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago are considered to be frontrunners for empowerment zones. 

Community Groups Recommend Use of Redevelopment 

Twelve Community Advisory Committees (CAC) formed to help develop revitalization strategies for commercial districts of Los Angeles damaged in the wake of the 1992 civil disturbance have recommended the establishment of redevelopment projects in their communities. 

"Community leaders throughout the city took a close look at redevelopment and determined that it would be the best tool available to rebuild commercial and industrial districts in Los Angeles' recovery areas," said CRA Administrator Ed Avila. 

Community groups representing neighborhoods in the Crenshaw District, the Mid-Cities area, Wilshire Center/Koreatown and the Westlake area near MacArthur Park, have asked the CRA and the Los Angeles City Council to initiate the redevelopment process as a vehicle to generate new economic investment, housing and social programs. In addition to these recovery areas, community groups have already opted for redevelopment project areas in the Broadway­Manchester area, which was underway prior to the civil disturbance, and in the Boyle Heights-El Sereno area. 

The first step in the redevelopment process calls for the Planning Commission to establish preliminary plan boundaries and for the CRA to conduct a blight analysis and other studies in communities being considered for redevelopment. 

Bowen Home-Based Business Bill 

AB 1680 by first-term Assemblywoman Debra Bowen (D-Torrance/Marina Del Rey), allowing home-based businesses to operate in Los Angeles County has been approved by the Senate Local Government Committee. Currently, 77 of the 88 cities in Los Angeles County already have ordinances permitting some types of home­based businesses and AB 1680 won't affect them. However, the city of Los Angeles is the largest city in California that does not issue a business license for a home­based business. 

Some 2,500 L.A. residents apply for, and are denied, a home­based business permit each year. "This [AB 1680] will legitimize home businesses while protecting the quiet of residential neighborhoods," said Bowen. "It'll reduce traffic, improve air quality, generate much-needed additional business tax revenue, and much more." 

Earthquake Panel Delays Building Review Plan 

Concerned over high costs and possible new tougher safety standards, the Los Angeles City Council Ad Hoc Committee on Earthquake Recovery has delayed action for at least a month on a proposal requiring the immediate inspection of steel-frame buildings. The ordinance would give owners 120 days from the date of notification to expose and ultrasonically inspect 10 to 15 percent of the steel frame connections, and report findings to the city's Building and Safety Department. 

City officials estimate that the ordinance would require 1,500 owners of buildings with steel frames to immediately contract for inspections to see if there was any damage as a result of the Northridge Earthquake. 

CRA Takeover Under Study 

In order to conform with state law, the Chief Legislative Analyst's (CLA) office is preparing a report pursuant the specific reasons the City Council should act as the oversight board for the CRA. Also, in response to a motion by Councilmembers Laura Chick and Jackie Goldberg, the Chief Administrative Office and the CLA's office are authoring a joint report on the Council's Administrative responsibilities if they were to take over as CRA' s oversight board. 

The reports should be released by the end of July and the public hearing process is scheduled to begin sometime in early August. 

Clinton Home Ownership Initiative 

President Clinton has signed H.R. 4568, which provides a supplemental appropriation for HUD and Ginnie Mae to continue programs for helping low- and middle-income Americans to own their own home. Specifically, the Act provides: ( 1) increased loan commitment authority of $35 billion for the FHA Mutual Mortgage Insurance program; (2) increased Ginnie Mae loan guarantee commitment authority of $55 billion; (3) an increase of $3 billion in loan volume for condominium and other housing insurance programs; and (4) an additional $18 million in budget authority to subsidize mortgages for the purchase or construction of rental housing.

At the signing ceremony Clinton commented, "Home ownership is one of the foundation stones of the American dream. Renewing and expanding this dream is one of my Administration's highest priorities and deepest commitments." 

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Santa Monica Bay Restoration 

The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Project (SMBRP) draft plan, released this spring, is now being revised following a six-week public review and comment period. The Plan is the result of five years of collaborative study, research, review and action by the SMBRP- a partnership of government, scientists, environmentalists, industry, and the public united to restore and protect Santa Monica Bay. 

During the summer, SMBRP staff and membership will review all comments and incorporate changes. The final draft of the plan will be submitted to SMBRP Management Committee for adoption in September. Later this month, it will be submitted to both Governor Wilson and USEPA for approval with final signoff by EPA Administrator, Carol Browner, expected by May, 1995. 

Riordan Reorganizes City Commissions 

As part of a first-year review of staff and city commissions, Mayor Richard Riordan has made six new appointments to city commissions. Riordan appointed investment banker Jonathan Thomas and Leland Wong of Kaiser Permanente to vacant positions on the Port of Los Angeles commission. Among those being removed by Riordan is Public Works Board member Percy Duran, an appointee of former Mayor Tom Bradley, who is being replaced by Frank Cardenas, an advisor to Riordan's mayoral campaign. 

Riordan also announced that Parks Commissioner Steven Silberman was being replaced by Harbor Commissioner Steven Soboroff; Pension Commissioner John Real is being replaced by Silberman; and Civil Service Commissioner Nancy Zamora is being transferred to another panel, although her replacement has not been named. 

Sherri Franklin was removed as president of the Transportation Commission to serve on the Rent Stabilization Board, but her replacement has not been named. 

Finally, citing "philosophical" differences, Mayor Riordan has asked for, and accepted, Transportation Commissioner Ryan Snyder's resignation. No replacement has been named. Mayor Riordan has also announced his nominations for the new seven-member El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument Authority Commission. They are Philip W. Bartenetti, Tony Cardenas, Juan Gomez­Quinones, Steward Kwoh, Lydia Lopez, Josephine Ramirez and Andres Topacio. 

Park Bond Proposed 

In the wake of the Prop. 180 defeat, the $1.8 billion park and open space bond on the June ballot, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy is exploring the possibility of a much smaller initiative, probably about $500 million, for the November ballot. According to Joe Edmiston, executive director for the Conservancy, "In our analysis of the election results, we found a high level of support for a parks and open space bond in California's urban areas. Thus, we are proposing a scaled down version of Prop. 180, concentrating on urban areas." 

With all four bond measures, including the earthquake retrofit bond, having failed in June, the Legislature will likely be reexamining their willingness to place new initiatives on the ballot. Presently, there are proposals for a new transportation rail bond, two education bonds and a possible prison bond for the November ballot. 

Gambling on Downtown 

Although the odds don't look good, Carlos Vignali, who owns property directly across from the Los Angeles Convention Center, has plans for a major South Park hotel which includes gambling. Because card club-style gambling is illegal within the city of Los Angeles, representatives of the Los Angeles Convention Entertainment Complex, Inc. are exploring a possible ballot measure to legalize card-club gambling in Los Angeles. 

The hotel plans include 2,000 hotel rooms with a 20,000-seat arena for "family-oriented" sports. "The project is very large and has been on the drawing board for about a year," said Carlos Siderman, president of City Midland Development, the construction contractor for the project. The project will be built on the block bound by Figueroa, Pico, Venice and Flower. 

A major downtown hotel in the area has long been considered essential to the success of the recently renovated Convention Center and falls in line with the city's plans for the area, but city officials and business leaders have expressed mixed reactions to the idea of a gambling-style hotel in South Park. 

Councilwoman Rita Walters has expressed her adamant opposition to any gambling operation downtown. 

Land Use Meditation Bill Approved 

Governor Pete Wilson has signed SB 517 by Senator Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach), a measure that seeks to avoid unnecessary lawsuits by promoting the mediation of land use and development disputes. ''Litigation over land use and environmental issues wastes time, money, and talent that we should be investing in California's future," Bergeson said. Gov. Wilson singled out Bergeson' s bill as an important tool in the state’s program to convert closed military bases into civilian economic assets. 

Bergeson' s bill grew strong support from several former judges as well as from practicing mediators, local officials, and planners. SB 517 applies to a wide variety of land use and development issues, including developer fees, Tract Map deadlines, general plans, redevelopment projects, LAFCO, and CEQA cases.

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