October 30, 1994 - From the October, 1994 issue

Inside Planning: Around the City and the Region


City Hall observers saw little "new" policy, rather a litany of existing programs, in the Mayor's recently announced economic initiative proposals. One new proposal, to be submitted to the City Council in October, includes a change in policy to incorporate the Community Redevelopment Agency's (CRA) housing functions into the Los Angeles Housing Department (LAHD). The mayor also called on LAHD to double its housing production over the next three years. 

The Mayor's CRA/LAHD proposal calls for the creation of a new citizen commission to oversee the Community Redevelopment Agency and a new Community Economic Development Department to "ensure cooperation and coordination of critical economic development activities." Riordan's proposal for a new CRA citizen commission will likely run into City Council opposition as the Council debates incorporating itself as the CRA oversight board. The Mayor has said he would veto any City Council takeover of the CRA. 


Santa Monica Sustainable Cities Program passed City Council unanimously on September 21. The Planning Commission has appointed a subcommittee to oversee the implementation of the program, specifically examining sustainable city principles with the Civic Center Specific Plan as well as revising the City's Circulation Element of the General Plan to implement a greater balance of pedestrian and traffic improvements and other innovative techniques. According to John Zinner, Santa Monica Planning Commissioner, "One of the biggest challenges is educating people what sustainable cities are all about."


The Community Redevelopment Agency Board of Commissioners has approved a motion to survey areas in the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood heavily damaged in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and set in motion proposals to establish an emergency disaster assistance program to repair and help communities recover from the Jan.17 earthquake. 

The Commission action also launches a series of community meetings set to begin in October and authorizes joint CRA/Los Angeles City Council public hearings that may or may not lead to establishment of redevelopment projects. The motion does not exclude other areas of the city from receiving federal funds or other assistance targeted for earthquake repair. 


In June of this year, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the well publicized case of Dolan v. City of Tigard that dedication requirements imposed by cities and counties on new development must be in rough proportion to the impacts caused by the development, thereby expanding the Nollan doctrine to a ''proportional nexus". Only three days after handing down its decision in Dolan, the Supreme Court granted review of Ehlich v. City of Culver City and remanded the case back to the California Court of Appeal. This case involves the imposition of two fees on a developer as conditions of approval for development of a 30-unit townhome project.

The California Supreme Court is also busy with property rights cases. In Hensler vs. City of Glendale, the property owner claimed that a prohibition of construction on ridge lines imposed in the approval of his tentative subdivision map resulted in a taking of his property without just compensation. Although the suit was filed three years after the statute of limitations had expired, the Court did hold that, absent the expiration of the stature of limitations, the plaintiff could have attacked the restrictive condition. 

Also, currently pending before the California Supreme Court is yet another important property rights case, De Vita v. County of Napa, which will answer the question of whether an initiative may be used to amend a general plan.


Los Angeles's first Business Improvement District (BID), the Broadway Business Improvement District is now in its fourth month of operation, and with the first assessments due Sept 

1 some businesses are grumbling with complaints of higher than anticipated bills. According to Estela Lopez, executive director for the Broadway BID, "In our first quarter, we implemented unique programs never seen in Los Angeles - a close partnership with the LAPD and our litter abatement program is cleaning the streets. The community's investment in the BID is already paying off."

Meanwhile, the Westwood BID has cleared the Community and Economic Development Committee. The City Clerk will be reviewing area business permits and sending out notifications for public hearing in November. 

Also, Gov. Wilson has signed legislation by Assemblyman Louis Caldera allowing business owners to form districts to improve their neighborhoods and assess themselves for the cost involved. The bill was supported by a number of groups including the Central City Association, the City Council, the Downtown L.A. Property Owners Association and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.


The City of Long Beach, like many California cities, has long tried to severely restrict or ban adult entertainment uses. But with the U.S. Supreme Court's recent announcement to let stand a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking down ordinances restricting adult entertainment, many cities are having to review their ordinances to allow legally acceptable locational requirements. According to Lisa Heap, Zoning Administrator for the City of Long Beach,"We've looked at several possibilities, including the establishment of a particular zone in order to cluster adult uses. However, our final recommendations are both dispersal strategies." 

In light of the Supreme Court's decision, the always controversial issue of adult uses will now have to be revisited by cities across the West, in order to comply with the Supreme Court's decision. 


Understanding Development Regulations is the first book to address in an easy-to-follow question-and-answer format the legal requirements and political decision-making processes associated with California's complex land-use regulations and environmental laws. Drawing on the expertise of attorneys experienced in California land use and environmental law, the book answers more than 200 critical questions while avoiding legalese and citations of authority except in an occasional footnote. 


The book is edited by Robert E. Merritt, partner in the Walnut Creek office of McCutchen, Doyle, Brown and Enerson and Ann R. Danforth, Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Jose. Understanding Development Regulations is available from Solano Press at (700) xxx-xxxx. 

Also, the Los Angeles Housing Department has recently published, Good Neighbors, Housing that Supports Stable Communities, a survey of 26 prototypical multifamily housing designs recently built in Los Angeles and throughout California. For further information, please call Barbara Haywood at (213) xxx-xxxx.


Ethnopolis, a group of planning professionals and academicians, is holding its third annual conference continuing the exploration of urban and social issues within ethnic communities. This year's conference will focus on immigration, English only issues, grass root activism, the media, and other issues of changing demographics in Southern California, particularly Orange County. 

The conference is scheduled for Friday, November 18th from 8:00a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Wyndham Garden Hotel, Citadel in the City of Commerce. For more information, please call May Ying or Jack Wong at (310) xxx-xxxx. 


The Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative or LANI was officially launched last month by Mayor Riordan. LANI will provide first-year funding from the Federal Transit Administration and other agencies to build new storefronts, plant trees and make other improvements in eight blighted neighborhoods. 

The eight areas are Virgil Avenue in East Hollywood; 1st Street in Boyle Heights; Figueroa Street in Highland Park; Jefferson Boulevard in South Los Angeles; Crenshaw and Leimert boulevards in Leimert Park; Magnolia and Lankershim boulevards in North Hollywood's NoHo arts district; around Sunland Boulevard and San Fernando Road in Sun Valley; and Vermont Avenue and 54th Street in South-Central Los Angeles. 

Each area is expected to receive $250,000 this year and up to $2 million next year. However, there are no guarantees for additional funds. According to Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Rae James, “We'll be looking at the Department of the Interior as well as the Department of Agriculture for additional funding, but it will really depend on what the communities want for their areas." 


AB 1320 by Assemblyman Costa, the major rent control preemption bill, was resurrected after the summer legislative recess, but tenants groups continued their grassroots campaign and were able to table the bill. Next year, however, tenants will face a tougher battle when Senator Charles Calderon, who votes consistently against tenants, assumes the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Despite a great deal of effort over the past six months, consensus on comprehensive housing element reform did not come together before conclusion of this year's legislative session. Legal services, Realtors and the State Department of Housing (HCD) worked intensely until the final weeks of the session, but could not find language that the Cities would accept. 

The only significant housing element bill to pass the Legislature this year, AB 51 (Costa), strengthens the law requiring cities to make annual reports on their performance in meeting housing needs, and authorizes localities to transfer fair share housing allocations. 


George Lefcoe, a property rights professor at the USC Law School and former Los Angeles County Planning Commissioner has been elected President of the Los Angeles Planning Commission. 

Former Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Woo has been appointed the Western Regional Director for the Corporation for American Service, President Clinton's national initiative for public service. 

Gordon Hamilton of the Los Angeles Planning Department has been promoted to Deputy Director. Lisa Heap, Zoning Administrator for the City of Long Beach has accepted a new position as Planning Manager for the City of West Hollywood. 

Margaret Diop, planning deputy for Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, has left to be project manager for the Leimert Park project under LANI. Don Chapman will be taking her place. 

Sandy Brown, president of the Westside Civic Federation has been hired by Senator Tom Hayden to be his new district director. 

Greg Spiess, architect and planning professor at USC, is moving with his family to Rhode Island. Finally, the Summa Corporation has changed its name to The Howard Hughes Corporation.


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