April 30, 1995 - From the April, 1995 issue

Inside Planning: Around the City and the Region


As part of a review of Governor Wilson's budget, State Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill has made a number of recommendations on how the operations of the two cabinet departments with major environmental responsibilities - the Resources Agency and the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) - could be improved. Among her suggestions are fee increases for those who benefit from some programs currently being funded to a large degree by the state's general fund. 

Hill suggests raising permit application fees for the California Coastal Commission, and contends fee revenues have not kept pace with inflation. In 1991-92, fees covered about 5 percent of coastal development regulatory programs. Hill also recommends the State Water Resources Control Board reduce the amount of General Fund use by the Board. One recommendation would set fees at a level to "fully fund" the water discharge permit program and another would require eliminating the current $10,000 cap on individual permit fees. Hill's report also recommends fee increases for the Department of Pesticide Regulation and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission. The above recommendations are contained in a 187-page overall analysis of the Stale Budget entitled "Perspectives and Issues."


In a recently distributed brochure entitled "What you don't know about the Southern California Association of Government (SCAG) but should be thinking about,” the Building Industry Association of Southern California characterizes SCAG as an inefficient agency with no clear mission, beholden to no one in a coverage area too big to be effective. According to the brochure, "Federal and state transportation grants provide over 86 percent of SCAG's revenues. Yet, SCAG organizes its staff and activities in its Overall Work Program to address general comprehensive planning issues. The majority of the Regional Comprehensive Plan and Guide addresses issues for which SCAG has no authority." 

The BIA brochure recommends requiring an audit of SCAG to determine whether federal transportation grant funds have been inappropriately spent; amend ISTEA to simplify the creation of smaller transportation serving-serving MPOs as direct recipients of federal grants, even where large MPOs already exist; and require SCAG to develop other sources of revenue to pursue its Regional Comprehensive Plan & Guide. 


Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, has introduced a bill to prevent landfill expansion or construction in the Santa Monica Mountains. AB 407 is intended to address concerns that the Calabasas Landfill would be expanded and other canyons would be proposed as landfill sites. The legislation would make 450,000 acres of land, including the Rim of the Valley Trail, off limits for new landfills and it would prohibit current landfills from being expanded. The protected area includes private land, as well as land administered by the National Park Service, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the state Department of Parks and Recreation. The bill will be heard May 1 in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.

Although the U.S. House of Representatives passed the "Private Property Protections Act," little attention has been paid to the current batch of property rights bills pending in the California Legislature. Assemblyman Keith Olberg, R­Victorville, has introduced a bill requiring any state agency to complete a property taking impact analy­is before commencing any regulatory action that could result in a diminution of value of private property. The bill also allows property owner to sue if state regulations diminish property values and creates a Real Property Ombudsman in the Resources Agency. The bill is expected to be beard in April in the Assembly Judiciary Committee. 


After more than a decade of inactivity Mayor Riordan has announced nominations for the Los Angeles Civic Center Authority. The responsibility of the authority, a civic body that existed from the 1940s to 1982 and reestablished in 1984 by the City Council, is to develop a new master plan for the revitalization of the Los Angeles Civic Center area. The Mayor has announced the following nominations: O'Malley Miller, a partner in the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson, specializing in real property law; Dan Rosenfeld, assistant general manager for asset management for the Los Angeles General Services Department and former deputy director of real estate, Department General Services for the State of California; John Whitaker, partner in the law firm of Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro, specializing in real property law and land use issues; and Robert Yates, General Manager for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. 



After months of negotiations and proposals the Los Angeles City Council is likely to review Mayor Riordan's economic development reorganization plan, which includes a reorganization of the LA/CRA and the City council's proposal to incorporate themselves as the oversight body of the Agency. The Housing and Community Redevelopment Committee chaired by Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas and the Community and Economic Development Committee chaired by Councilman Mike Hernandez are likely to hold hearings in April. Despite Councilman Ridley-Thomas' wish to examine the reorganization proposal and the Council takeover proposal separately, the two proposals are expected to go jointly through the committee process. All of this is taking place at a time when LA/CRA Chair Dan Garcia bas declared the agency is bankrupt, having approximately $9 million for new projects over the next five years. 

In a related CRA matter, Sen, Tom Hayden has sponsored a bill requiring redevelopment agencies to form project area committees in disaster recovery area. According to current CRA law, disaster areas are exempt from forming project area committees. According to Sandy Brown, Chief of Staff for Sen. Hayden, "The Sherman Oaks CRA recovery plan brought to our attention the need to amend the CRA law to ensure citizen participation in CRA recovery projects. Just because there has been a disaster, it doesn’t mean there shouldn't be citizen input." 


On March 15 the Southern California Planning Congress, the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Planning Association, the Los Angeles Chapter of the Association of Environmental Professionals and the City of Los Angeles sponsored a one-day conference on the Los Angeles General Plan Framework for planning and development professionals. While the panelists and audience members praised the Framework for its comprehensive nature, many people raised several issues regarding plan implementation. Panelist J, Eugene Grigsby, Professor of Urban Planning, UCLA, remarked, "I don't think the Framework really addresses diversity or who will be the citizens of Los Angeles in the 21st Century. One problem with general plans is they are usually based on the population of the last twenty years instead of the population of the next twenty years."

Other panelists discussed Targeted Growth Areas, specifically, what are they? The Framework calls for directing new growth along transportation corridors while preserving "stable single-family residential neighborhoods." Several panelists questioned the demand for residential housing along transportation corridors and that many housing units would need to be affordable for low-and moderate-income families. 

Madelyn Glickfeld, Academic Director for the Streisand Center for Conservancy Studies commented, “The Framework calls for adding approximately 13,000 housing units per year­-the equivalent of the number of housing units in Phase One of Playa Vista. I don't know if that's realistic."


Barbara Zeidman, Assistant General Manager for the Los Angeles Housing Department has accepted a new position as director of Fannie Mae's Los Angeles Housing Partnership Office. 

Jaime de la Vega, an associate with Metropolitan Futures is joining Mayor Riordan's Office as Assistant Deputy Mayor responsible for the implementation of the Development Reform Committee recommendations. 

Noted real estate attorney Leonard A. Zax has joined Latham & Watkins' Washington D.C. office where he will head its real estate department. Bob Kramer, a critic of the Burbank Airport Expansion Plan, has been elected to the Burbank City Council.


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