August 30, 1995 - From the August, 1995 issue

Inside Planning: LA City Budget Problems, USC Program for Professionals, and More!

Rent Control Gets Evicted 

In late July the California legislature passed legislation that allows owners of rent-controlled apartments to adjust rents to market rate when a unit is voluntarily vacated. The bill, SB 1257, authored by Senator Jim Costa (D­Fresno) will particularly affect Santa Monica, West Hollywood and three other California cities with strict rent control laws. Under the new law, rent control ordinances cannot apply to single family homes, and those that include condominiums and apartments would be phased out over three years. 

A less-widely anticipated effect is that this new law will likely have significant repercussions on other local cities that maintain rent-stabilized units. The City of Los Angeles, for example, has as many as 26,000 rent-stabilized condominiums, many of them located in the San Fernando Valley. Governor Wilson is expected to sign the measure into law in early August. 

CRA's Day in Court 

The City of Los Angeles has gone to Los Angeles County Court to validate an intergovernmental agreement approved in 1993 that lifts the cap on redevelopment funding for the Central Business District and allows the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to continue collecting up to $2 billion in tax revenue for downtown LA through the year 2014. Attorneys representing the County Superintendent of Schools, party to the original 1993 agreement, surprised the City by showing up at the hearing and requesting a part in negotiations. A second court date will be set in mid-August. 

On a related issue, the CRA Board is also expected to choose a new administrator as early as the first week of August, although the Board's candidate must still be approved by the City Council. 

LA City Budget Problems 

Los Angeles City Controller Rick Tuttle warned in a report released in mid-July that if the City's debt is not closely monitored over the next few years, debt problems may begin to compromise the City's favorable borrowing position. Tuttle said that although Los Angeles is in far better shape than many surrounding municipalities in terms of debt, the City is following a trend that will double debt service on loans by the end of 1996. 

Tides of Change Reach the Marina 

The California Coastal Commission approved in May a Local Coastal Program (LCP) amendment for Marina del Rey. The updated land use plan increases the development densities and building height limits in much of the community, potentially allowing about 2,600 additional residential units, more than 900 new hotel rooms, as well as retail and office space. The plan will go back to the Coastal Commission for final certification in the Fall. 

Friends of Marina del Rey and two other groups have joined forces to file suit over Los Angeles County's plan for redevelopment of Marina del Rey. The lawsuit charges that the plan favors commercial and residential uses instead of the visitor and recreational uses favored under state law on coastal development. 

USC Program for Professionals 

The University of Southern California's (USC) School of Urban and Regional Planning is offering a new degree, the Master of Planning and Development Studies (MPDS), for mid-career professionals. Areas of emphasis include Economic Development, International Urban Development and Environmental and Sustainable Development. The program will be offered at the main USC campus in Los Angeles, in Sacramento, and starting in Fall, 1997, in Washington D.C.

UCLA's New Research Centers

As of the 1994-95 academic year, UCLA's Department of Urban Planning has joined the new School of Public Policy and Social Research. As part of the transition, the school has established two new research centers: the Community Outreach Partnership Center (COPC), which performs applied housing, economic and environmental research to serve local communities, and the North American Integration and Development (NAID) Center. 

Affordable Housing Conference 

The Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH) will hold their seventh annual housing conference, Danger & Opportunity: Affordable Housing in Uncertain Times, on Friday, September 29, 1995 at the Omni Hotel in Los Angeles. Over 50 panelists and speakers—are scheduled, including Gary Squier of the Los Angeles Housing Department, Ann Sewill from the Los Angeles Community Design Center, Peter Dreier of Occidental College, and Eugene Cowan from Riordan & McKinzie. 

In related news, an unprecedented lack of affordable housing is forcing many poor families to spend at least half their incomes on rent, according to a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal advocacy group. According to Census Bureau data, nationally, there were 11.2 million low-income renters in 1993, but just 6.5 million low-rent units, including subsidized housing, resulting in a shortage of 4.7 million homes or apartments, the widest gap on record. 

Sacramento Update 


Sacramento is on the verge of sending a shock through the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). AB 107, sponsored by Assemblywoman Paula Boland (R-Granada Hills), soothes the way for a potential breakup of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) by reducing the number of voters needed to place the breakup proposal on the City ballot.

A related bill SB 699, sponsored by Senator Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica), requires new districts to ensure that they would not be ethnically and racially segregated. Both bills have been passed by the legislature and Governor Wilson is expected to sign both of them. 

Senator Charles Calderon (D­Montebello) has sent the environmental community into crisis alert by introducing a strong challenge to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Calderon, upset at what he considered a lack of response by environmentalists to forge a CEQA compromise with business interests, is proposing to do away with the "fair argument" test, which provides that an agency must prepare an EIR for a project if "it can be fairly argued based on substantial evidence" that a project may have a significant effect. SB 1081 would mean that an EIR will be used only when an agency determines that the project will clearly have a significant effect.

The State Department of Fish and Game has reluctantly complied with a Sacramento judge's decision and has agreed to stop collecting the fees ($850 for an EIR and $1250 for a negative declaration) it charges to developers and timber harvesters for environmental review of land applications and timber harvesting plans. 

The Board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District has added a new factor in the ongoing debate over whether the State Air Resources Board (ARB) should repeal its requirement that automobile manufacturers include a specified percentage of electric vehicles in their product mix in California. The Board voted unanimously to approve a proposal to give purchasers of the zero emission vehicles (ZEVs), a $5,000 discount off of the vehicle's sticker price at the point of purchase. 

Republicans in the House of Representatives successfully reinstated 17 provisions that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from enforcing regulations affecting wetlands protection, automobile inspections, and other provisions of anti-pollution regulations. The legislation also cuts the EPA's budget by one-third and trims the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development budget by one-fifth. The legislation now goes to the Senate, which is not expected to take up the matter right away. 


Jan Mittermeier is the newly-appointed Orange County interim Chief Executive, succeeding former savings and loan executive William Popejoy, who resigned, citing the County's Supervisors efforts to restrict his authority. 

Andy Altman, previously Special Assistant to the Los Angeles CRA Administrator has accepted a new position with the City of Oakland as Manager of Comprehensive Planning. John Spalding, Director of Policy Planning, is leaving the agency to start his own private consulting practice. 

Psomas and Associates has opened a new office in Las Vegas that will specialize in construction surveying and surveying for large projects. Tom Barnes will be the Psomas project manager for the new office. 

Long Beach City Councilman Geoffrey Kellogg was elected Chairman of the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority Finance Committee; Paul Richard, Councilman for the City of Lynwood was elected Vice Chair. 

The Los Angeles Housing Department is searching for a new Assistant General Manager. Requirements include at least eight years of housing and community development management experience.  

Marco Brown, president of the San Gabriel Valley Commerce and Cities Consortium, joined the staff of the Economic Development Corporation of Los Angeles County (EDC) as Director of Business Assistance. 

The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners elected Leland Wong, Regional Director of Government and Community Relations for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and former president of the Los Angeles Airport Commission, as president of the five-member governing board. 

Mayor Richard Riordan announced a variety of appointments to City Commissions during July. Anthony N. R. Zamora, a principal in the law firm of Alvarado, Smith, Zamora & Wolff, was appointed to the Planning Commission. 

Raquelle de la Rocha, a law professor at UCLA's Law School, was appointed president of the City Ethics Commission. Frank Cardenas, an attorney with O'Melveny & Myers, was appointed to the Board of Public Works Commissioners. 

Fernando Guerra, Assistant to the President for Faculty Resources at Loyola Marymount University was appointed to the Board of Transportation Commissioners. Chris Kezios, and educator, was appointed to the Board of Zoning Appeals. Michelle Park-Steel, a comptroller at the Law Offices of Shawn Steel was appointed to the Board of Airport Commissioners. 

Cosette Polena, project manager for the Congestion Management Program for the MTA, has been appointed as the new manager of transportation demand management programs for the agency.


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