November 30, 1995 - From the November, 1995 issue

Inside Planning: CRA Still Strapped for Funds, Azusa Landfill Stays Open, and more!

High Profile Developers Facing Tough Times 

One of downtown Los Angeles' highest-profile commercial real-estate developers, Maguire Thomas Partners (MTP), has laid off 17 people at its downtown headquarters. This move comes just two months after leading partners Ned Fox and Rick Gil broke off to start their own company. 

Although this year marks the 100th anniversary of the well-respected real estate firm Janss Corp., the firm is reportedly closing its shop and letting its partners and lenders take responsibility for its still formidable property portfolio. 

Finally, major housing developer Kaufman & Brood is rumored to be consolidating two of its California divisions: Coastal Valley and South Coast. 

CRA Still Strapped For Funds 

The Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency in late October suffered still another financial blow as property reassessments in the Central Business District (CBD) reduced tax increments by $54 million and forced a $21 million cut in citywide housing projects. The modified budget is expected to go to City Council Housing and Redevelopment Committee in November. 

LA City's Public Works Department Up For Grabs 

A private consulting firm has just recommended a major overhaul of the City of Los Angeles' Public Works Department, including replacing its full-time governing board with a part-time, policy-setting commission. Other recommendations, included in a report by Capital Partnerships that was requested by the City Council's Ad Hoc Committee to Restructure the Public Works Department, included consolidating all waste water functions, transferring street lighting programs out of the department, and reorganizing the remaining bureaus into a single department headed by a director. 

Transit Center Opening 

The MTA and Catellus Development Corp. celebrated the opening of the Gateway Intermodal Transit Center in late October. The center is LA's newest downtown transportation hub and landmark adjacent to Union Station. Noticeably absent from the decidedly lowkey ceremony were most of LA's City Council and Mayor Richard Riordan. Although not entirely completed, the Transit Center does look magnificent. Overheard at the opening: "[The Gateway Center] is beautiful. But for that price tag, the MTA ought to be called LA's Most Treasured Agency."

At its first Board of Directors meeting at the new headquarters, the Board voted to extend the Board chairman's term from one to two years and limit the ability of a Board member's alternate to participate in regular Board meetings and committees. 

Best Reason to Dump a Planner 

In this month's Los Angeles Magazine's Best of L.A, the cover sports a headline that reads: "Best Reason to Dump a City Planner." The reason? The stoplights on Wilshire through Beverly Hills are set to ensure that you hit every red, every night. 

Prop 62: Special Taxes Need 2/3 Vote 

In late September, the California Supreme Court overturned earlier Court of Appeals cases and upheld Proposition 62's voter approval requirements for local taxes. Proposition 62, an initiative adopted by voters in 1986, prohibits a local agency from imposing (1) a tax for specific purposes (a "special tax") unless it is approved by two-thirds of the voters or (2) a tax for general purposes (a "general tax") unless it is approved by a majority of the voters. This Supreme Court decision, Santa Clara County Local Transportation Authority v. Guardino, has important implications for Santa Clara County, 17 other transportation financing agencies, and many California cities and counties. 

Planning: A Good Career Move? 

Employment in the field of urban and regional planning is expected to grow 23 percent by 2005, according to the Spring, 1994 Occupational Outlook Quarterly, published by the Dept. of Labor. 

How does planning stack up? "Average growth will stem from the importance of planning in several fields. Those with certification or a master's degree from an accredited planning program, or a master's degree in civil engineering or landscape architecture coupled with training in transportation or environmental planning have the best job prospects... " 

Azusa Landfill Stays Open 

Shocking environmentalists and water companies, a regional water board voted to allow the Azusa Land Reclamation Co. landfill to remain open two more years after its owners promised to take measures to prevent it from contaminating San Gabriel Valley's water supply on which it sits. The decision may set a precedent for LA's Lopez Canyon Landfill, which is up for a one year extension on its conditional use permit. 

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Sacramento Update 

The Legislature and Governor Wilson have finished acting on bills for 1995. A brief rundown on the status of a few major housing and land use bills considered this year: 

SB 333 (Campbell) standardizes the statute of limitations for most land use lawsuits at 90 days—Adopted. 

SB 901 (Costa) requires a water supply assessment as part of EIR on large development projects—Adopted.

SB 936 (Campbell) allows local officials to count rehabili­tated units and special needs housing, allows more participation in fair-share allocations, and creates a new appeal process—Vetoed by the Governor. 

SB 1066 (Campbell) limits school developer fees on low-income housing, and requires more reporting on developer fee revenues—Failed on the Assembly Floor.

AB 189 (Hauser) rewrites the procedures for using redevelopment after disasters—Adopted.

AB 457 (Ducheny) allows a court to retain jurisdiction over substandard housing and allows local officials to sell properties because of delinquent nuisance abatement assessments—Adopted. 

On the Move ... 

Ann Sewill, the well-respected director of the Community Design Center, is joining the City of Los Angeles Housing Department as Assistant General Manager. 

Deputy Mayor Mary Leslie, the Mayor's top aide on economic development, announced in early November that she will be leaving the Mayor's Office to head a nonprofit foundation. A replacement has not yet been announced. 

Sherman Oaks attorney Robert Scott was elected in mid-October as president of the Los Angeles Planning Commission, replacing George Lefcoe, who resigned last month. Scott has been a commissioner since 1993. 

Following an announcement in late October by Rep. Anthony C. Bielenson (D-Woodland Hills) that he will be retiring at the end of the year after 20 years in Congress, rumors abound that Los Angeles Councilwoman Laura Chick and former Rep. Mel Levine might be interested in the seat. 

Emily Gabel-Luddy, Senior City Planner for the City of Los Angeles Planning Department, was awarded the highest professional recognition for landscape architects. Gabel­Luddy was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), one of just three ASLA Fellows elected for excellence at the National Convention in Cleveland. 

State Senator Tom Campbell, Chair of the Housing and Land Use Committee, is running for Norman Mineta's vacant Congressional seat. Mineta, the former Chair of the House Infrastructure and Transportation Committee, recently announced his resignation. 

Mark R. Finucane was selected in early November as the new director of Los Angeles County's health system by the LA County Board of Supervisors. Finucane was formerly the head of Contra Costa County's healthcare system. 

Governor Pete Wilson appointed Donald J. Saltarelli to the Orange County Board of Supervisors to replace the vacancy left by Gaddi Vasquez, who resigned earlier this year. 

Joyce Emerson was re­nominated by Mayor Richard Riordan to the Board of Information Technology Commissioners. The board regulates cable franchises in the City of Los Angeles. Arthur J. Johnson, currently serving as the interim general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Building & Safety, was nominated by Mayor Riordan to become the department's official general manager. 

John Charnay, president of Charnay & Associates, has been appointed as Chairman of The Stakeholder editorial advisory board. 

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