December 30, 1997 - From the December, 1997 issue

Inside Planning: California ARB’s New Smog Proposals and more!

California ARB's New Smog Proposals 

California Air Resources Board staff has proposed requiring light truck and sport utility vehicles to meet the same pollution standards as passenger cars. These vehicles, which account for 46% of the new car market, are certified to a more lenient gram-per-mile emission standard, designed for work trucks. If this plan—the first of its kind in the nation—is adopted, the new standards would apply to vehicles built after 2004. 

Council OK's 10-Min. Diamond 

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously endorsed the "10- Minute diamond" plan. Framers hope the plan will encourage densification of government offices (federal, State, County and LAUSD), retail, housing, and pedestrian improvements in the area within a ten-minute walk from City Hall. The proposal now goes before the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. 

Special Needs Housing Study 

The L.A. City Planning Department presented findings from its report on special needs housing to the Housing & Community Redevelopment and Planning and Land Use Management Committees early this month. Councilmember Svornich (CD-15) asked for the study as well as a moratorium on new community care facilities, in response to concerns of San Pedro residents that their community hosts a disproportionate share of these facilities. Key findings and recommendations of the study: no correlation between location or density of these facilities and crime; CD-15's burden (5% of 1,300 facilities Citywide) is below the City mean; and the City should support creation of a countywide facility database. Staff declined to draft an ICO or a building moratorium, pending further study. Committee discussions continue January 6. 

City Council Approves Cathedral EIR 

The L.A. City Council certified the final environmental impact report for the $50 million Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Downtown L.A. The 2,000-seat church will be the nation's largest. Construction is set to begin in March 1998 with planned dedication in 2000. 

Ahmanson Ranch Closer to Reality 

Ahmanson Land Co., which practically a decade ago proposed a 3,050-home development in eastern Ventura County, has finally settled the last of fifteen pending lawsuits. A remaining obstacle will be convincing developers to whom Ahmanson Land Co. hopes to sell the land that the project is financially feasible. 

Santa Monica—St John's Hospital 

Over 600 people showed up to the first Planning Commission hearing on the proposed 

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30-year development agreement and EIR for expansion and reconstruction of St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica. Phase I plans call for replacing the existing North Campus buildings with a new 475,000 s.f. facility. Phase II would demolish other existing structures (including some across the street) and build 864,000 s.f. of hospital and "hospital-related development." Planning Commission action is unlikely before January.

Santa Clarita OK's Center City MOU 

The Santa Clarita City Council approved an MOU last month with landowners Newhall Land & Farming and the Castaic Lake Water Agency to jointly plan and develop I 325 acres fronting the Santa Clara River. The City is finalizing a contract with the Planning Center to do work on the area's specific plan, which will be drafted over the corning year. Preliminary concepts call primarily for residential development, perhaps with a golf course. 

Santa Clarita Revises Circulation Element

After being asked by Newhall Land & Farm to reconsider Santa Clarita's Circulation Element, passed initially on Sep. 30, the Santa Clarita City Council approved a revised version, widening two key roadways to eight lanes from six. Arguments that a six lane Newhall Ranch Road and Valencia Boulevard would be at an ‘F’ level of service (fully congested) at plan build-out won out over objections that widening them would open the doors to overdevelopment. Concerns that the City could not control traffic-producing growth in adjacent County-controlled areas figured in the Council's decision. 

Queensway Bay Update 

Sources are confident a memorandum of understanding between the City of Long Beach and San Diego developer OliverMcMillan will be signed as a January 26 end to exclusive right-to-negotiate nears. The 18-acre Queensway Bay project is intended to link the entertainment/retail uses along Pine Avenue to the coming Aquarium of the Pacific and the waterfront.

Newhall Ranch Hearing 

The L.A. County Regional Planning Commission has scheduled a Dec. 17 hearing and possible vote on the Specific Plan for the 25–30-year Newhall Ranch project in north L.A. County. 

Irvine to Try El Toro Annexation 

Anti-El Toro Airport forces in Irvine are rejoicing at the City Council's decision to ask the Local Agency Formation Commission to approve annexation of the land under the Marine Corp. Air Station. Annexation would force the Department of Defense to deal with Irvine as the lead planning agency for base reuse, not the Orange County Board of Supervisors. If Irvine succeeds, it will try implement south County cities' non-aviation plan for the base, but other parties key to reuse decisions—including the Department of Defense—have expressed skepticism about non-aviation proposals for the base.

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