June 30, 1995 - From the June, 1995 issue

Inside Planning: Around the City and the Region

Next Issue: Interview with Wendy Greuel of HUD 

The July edition of The Planning Report will feature an interview with the Housing and Urban Development Field Operations Officer for Southern California, Wendy Greuel. A few excerpts:

On the Community Development Bank: “LA really came together after they were selected as a supplemental empowerment zone. We spent last week with four other cities in the country who also received economic development initiative funds and Section 108 Loan Guarantees. I have to compliment LA; they have made major strides in the development of the bank in comparison to some of the other cities. The other cities are beginning to struggle with some of the same issues Los Angeles has faced, particularly governance, and how the money is allocated." 

On the federal takeover of the Chicago Housing Authority: 'The take­over speaks to the need to transform public housing as part of the reinvention and type of activities that HUD is proposing. This is not an issue here: Los Angeles has an effective Housing Authority, good leadership, and has demonstrated their interest in pursuing privatization and competition in the market place. Those housing authorities that have substantial problems will be required to transition to a new way of doing business to meet the changing demands of public housing." 

DRC: Moving Forward or Moving Back? 

DRC recommendations seem to be moving through City Council faster than many expected. Even some supporters believe that some of the recommendations need further study before being approved. The slow­down will come as departments turn the recommendations into specific implementation programs that provide legal and practical solutions.

Thus far, the City Council has approved proved funding for the Community Plan Updates and in a 14-0 vote directed the Planning Department to begin the process of training outside consultants to review draft EIRs. Other reports that have been approved by the Ad-Hoc Committee include updating the CEQA guidelines, directing the CAO to report on financing infrastructure, setting reasonable time limits on entitlement discretion, reviewing "A" permitting, setting fines for non-compliance with time extensions, and creating a fee study group. Ordinances are being drafted by the departments to provide grandfather protection and to create objective development standards instead of the Site Plan Review. 

Beginning next month, The Planning Report, in conjunction with Progress L.A., will present a monthly update on the status of the DRC recommendations. 

St. Vibiana's: Raze or Restore? 

Following the preliminary report of a seismic study conducted on the 119-year-old St. Vibiana's, Cardinal Roger Mahony closed the historic cathedral. The building was damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and has recently been open only one hour per day. Results of the full seismic report will be announced in early June.

Some supporters of the cathedral want it to remain part of the historic Pueblo area and would prefer to see St. Vibiana's become part of a new cathedral on the site. According to Linda Dishman of the LA Conservancy, "We are interested in reviewing the engineering reports on the structure. We plan to pursue this issue very carefully." 

Ventura Corridor Fee Reductions 

Proposed amendments to the Ventura/Cahuenga Corridor Specific Plan will be presented to the PLUM committee in mid-June. The proposed amendments are a compromise between the current plan and significant changes proposed by the Planning Commission in February and would retain some elements of the current plan, such as parking, TDM, and transit. 

The compromise will reduce fees by over 60 percent, although this reduction is less than recommended by the Planning Commission. The proposed amendments will also allocate a one-time total of $250,000 for streetscaping to five community groups representing the corridor. 

"We're trying to find the common ground that reduces the fee on new development but retains the integrity of the specific plan," said Ken Bernstein, Planning Deputy for Councilmember Laura Chick. 

Declining levels of development along the 17 mile, largely commercial corridor, has caused a reevaluation of the specific plan and trip fee structure. The Ventura/Cahuenga Corridor Specific Plan, passed in 1991, is one of the first plans in the City to link new development to transportation improvements. 

Sacramento Update 

In May, the California Senate passed legislation to allow owners of rent-controlled apartments to adjust rents to market rates when a unit is voluntarily vacated, and will exempt newly constructed rental units from rent control. The bill would particularly affect Santa Monica, West Hollywood and three other California cities with strict rent control laws - Berkeley, East Palo Alto and Cotati. A three year phase-in period prevents new rents from rising more than 25% per new tenant or 50% overall during the phase-in period. Senate Bill 1257 by Assemblyman Juan Costa will be sent to the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee in mid-June, and may reach the Assembly floor as early as July. The bill is expected to pass in the Assembly, where similar measures have passed six times over the last ten years, only to fail in the Senate. 

The Wilson Administration suffered a defeat as the Senate Natural Resources Committee rejected the Administration's attempt to comprehensively rewrite the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). The rejection of Senate Bill 131 (Maddy) lost on a party vote of 6-4. Opponents of the bill concede that some changes in the current version of CESA arc desirable; however, they argue that SB 131 was drafted in such a hurry that it contains major inconsistencies and has not been properly integrated with existing land use legislation. 

When a city or county needs an EIR to adopt or amend a general plan proposing new development that will likely result in additional demands on water supplies, Senate Bill 901 (Costa) requires officials to identify the public water systems that will provide water to the new development, and to request that the public water supplier provide a "water supply and demand" assessment. If the public water supplier determines that its water supplies may be inadequate, SB 901 declares that this determination is a significant environmental effect under CEQA. 

Military Base Closure: California Takes More Hits

The Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division, near Oxnard in Ventura County and the Naval Warfare Assessment Division (NWAD), near Corona/Norco in Riverside County, were two of the 31 bases added to the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) list in early May. The list already includes the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. 


Both newly added bases are primarily research-oriented; and the Navy, which has numerous research facilities in the state, is feeling pressure to shrink its research functions. 

There is speculation that the bases have been added to the list to allow the BRAC to order a comparison report on the sites and appear that they have done their due diligence in making closure recommendations. The BRAC may only study those sites that have been added to the list, and being on the BRAC list does Not necessarily mean that the base will be closed or downsized. 

A preliminary BRAC report, which includes the final list of recommendations for closure for submission to the President will be available in late June. 

California Growing: But Where? 

California's population grew by 392,000 during 1994 to total 32,344,000 at the start of 1995, according to the State's Department of Finance. Los Angeles, the state's largest city, with 3,593,700 residents, lost 23,500 people in 1994. For the second year in a row, San Diego posted the highest numerical gain in population, adding 12,900 in 1994 for a total of 1,197,700. 

San Jose and Bakersfield followed San Diego with the second and third largest population growths. Palmdale, San Buenaventura and West Covina saw their populations exceed 100,000 in 1994. In California's most populous counties-—Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange—populations changed by 0.3 percent, 1.2 percent, and 1. 7 percent (respectively) in 1994. 

Ward Valley: Feds Transfer Land to California

Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbit bas agreed to transfer to California the federal land to be used for the Ward Valley Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility, although the terms of the transfer failed to satisfy Governor Pete Wilson. Mr. Babbit's move came after a report released in early May by the National Academy of Sciences which stated that the project presents no risk to the Colorado River for the drinking water supply of Southern California. The report rejected claims that the Colorado River could be contaminated by plutonium from the facility, which is 20 miles from the Colorado River. Project opponents have vowed to continue opposing the facility. 

Third Annual Affordable Housing Conference 

The Community Lending Department of First Interstate Bank has scheduled its third annual Affordable Housing Conference for June 16 and 17, 1995. Held in conjunction with the USC School of Architecture's Institute for Professional Development, the conference will focus on the opportunities and pitfalls that await professionals in the affordable housing market. Case studies will analyze developments in affordable housing and panels (on which TPR Publisher David Abel will participate) will address rehabilitation, historic preservation, integrated approaches in urban development, marketing single-family homes to low- and moderate-income families, the role of capital markets in community lending, underwriting, and design solutions. 

May Co. Becomes New Home for Otis 

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art will lease the landmark May Company building on the comer of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Ave. to the Otis College of Art and Design, enabling the school to almost double its student body. The 290,000 sq. ft. building was built in 1939, and purchased by the Museum in March, 1994. The facility is expected to open in 18 to 24 months. 

On the Move. .. 

Dalila Sotelo is leaving LAHD to assume the position of Project Manager with McCormack & Baron, a nation-wide developer of affordable housing. 

John Evans is the new planning deputy for Los Angeles City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas. Edward K Shikada, previously Manager of the Los Angeles County's Congestion Management Program (CMP)for the MTA, is the new Transportation Planning Officer for the City of Long Beach. 

Ronny J. Goldsmith, previously the assistant general manager and chief financial officer for Alameda County Transit in Oakland, will become MTA’s new chief financial officer. 

Mayor Richard Riordan nominated Edward S. Gould to the Industrial Development Authority. Gould has extensive experience in the banking industry and is formerly a vice-president of Citicorp and First National Bank of Chicago, based in Los Angeles. 

Sharon Kaplan, principal and vice-president of Psomas and Associates, has been named a member of the Manhattan Beach Planning Commission. 

Lee K. Harrington has accepted a position as president and chief executive of the LA County Economic Development Corporation. Harrington is a former senior vice president of operations and support for the Southern California Gas Company. 

Craig Lawson bas been elected President of the Los Angeles Headquarters Association for 1995-1996. He has served on the Association's Board of Directors since 1991, and is Vice-President for Land Use Entitlements at C.W. Cook Co., Inc.


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