January 1, 2001 - From the January, 2001 issue

TPR Readers Prioritize Challenges Facing Region's Leaders In 2001

2001 is upon us. The "New Millennium" offers a unique opportunity to consider-or reconsider, as the case may be-the way we look at issues of urban sprawl, redevelopment, historic preservation, governance, etc. To provide a candid perspective on what we can expect in the coming year, we asked a wide spectrum of TPR readers and land-use professionals to answer the following question: What will be the dominant State and metropolitan land-use challenges and issues Southern California will face in the coming year?

Jennifer Hernandez

To get serious about repairing urban communities and discouraging sprawl, we need a new generation of environmental leaders with the courage to actually support a sustainable urban redevelopment agenda. Too many current leaders remain captives of the "BANANA" ethic (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone), and need to appreciate the harm they're doing to urban communities. Those of us committed to environmental quality in urban areas must help environmental advocacy groups improve their diversity, and create a proactive agenda that actually supports the creation of the parks, schools, housing, and services needed for quality liveable urban communities.

-Jennifer Hernandez
Beveridge & Diamond, LLP

The challenge is to remember-in times of crises and political uncertainty-that there is increasing public support for livable communities and Smart Growth. Our success in addressing pervasive metropolitan problems rests squarely on our ability to transform this public sentiment into comprehensive, long-term solutions.

-Earl Blumenauer
U.S. Congressman (D-Oregon)

The challenge at the State level is for the Governor's office to exert leadership. In the metropolitan region, the cities-as opposed to the unincorporated areas-must develop more and higher density housing.

-Dan Silver
Endangered Habitats League

The major issues will be how we recycle land in urban areas and local finance mechanisms. Are we going to increase density so we can all live here, and acknowledge that there is a relationship between taxes and services?

-Jan Breidenbach
So. Calif. Assoc. of Nonprofit Housing

2001 will undoubtedly introduce a variety of land-use issues; however no two issues will be of more concern or social substance in California than natural resource management and affordable housing. Increased demands on housing, electricity, gas, water, and public infrastructure will force Californians to once again reconcile taxes, growth and quality of life.

-Larry J. Kosmont
Kosmont Partners

Southern California should pay attention to three things: 1) The hearings now being planned for late February and March by legislative staff that will focus on numerous Smart Growth issues. Several committees are interested in participating in these hearings, and the two Southern California hearings are tentatively set for Los Angeles and San Diego. If all goes well, this will be the biggest showing yet of legislative interest in these issues. 2) Assembly Speaker Hertzberg's Commission on Regionalism is likely to produce policy recommendations that will result in legislation, although its report is not due for several months. Still, the Commission will continue to focus the spotlight on these issues. 3) There will be numerous Smart Growth bills in the Legislature this year, but in light of the dominant issues of energy policy and reapportionment, I'm not making any predictions.

-William Craven
Assembly Natural Resources Committee

Launching renewed community organizing efforts will go hand in hand with getting better outcomes out of government, and ultimately addressing how we grow in the coming years.

-Tenaya Hart
California 2000 Project (C2K)

We must continue to find effective ways of bringing private investments back into our core cities, where a long history of public expenditures have built community infrastructure such as transportation systems, schools, parks, and residential neighborhoods. "Smart Growth" means focusing public policy on overcoming the all-too-inherent trends to develop at our urban fringes, abandoning previous public investments. A focus on brownfields development and resolving the imbalance in fiscal policy that starves core cities would pay tremendous dividends in the years to come.

-Steve Andrews
City of Los Angeles CRA

The dominant land-use challenge will be finding ways to accommodate growth, particularly in housing. California has become too unfriendly to urban growth even as anti-sprawl measures slow down the movement to the periphery. A critical constituency battle within the now dominant Democratic Party will emerge between the slow- and no-growth elements of the environmental movement and the predominately Latino working class. What will be needed is leadership that can span both "interests" and find common ground for the betterment of the State. We will need statesmen, rather than the legalistic, narrow interests who now dominate planning decision-making. God knows where we will find such leaders.

-Joel Kotkin
"The New Geography"

California's biggest challenge will be to accommodate affordable housing near job centers. Continued economic growth, air quality and quality of life depend on it, but politically powerful homeowners object even to market-rate apartments going for $1,500 a month for a one bedroom unit! The political dynamic must be changed so that decision-makers can support housing without fear of NIMBY reprisals.

-Julie Gertler
Consensus Planning Group

First it was education, education, education. Now the power crisis. So Sacramento will evade confronting dysfunctional and pro-sprawl policies governing growth and local government for at least another year. That shifts the responsibility to the regions to engage the public on the interlocking challenges of land-use, transportation, water, air quality, economic development, neighborhood quality of life and community health. Like fixing your roof, it is always cheaper and more convenient to postpone such an ambitious task until the next budget or after the next election. But if the power crisis teaches us anything, it's: Don't wait for the deluge to plan for the future.

-Rick Cole
City Manager, City of Azusa


Competition for alternative uses of scarce available land in urban areas-school sites, industrial sites, power generation sites, parks, and housing, all needed and all in short supply-will dominate land-use discussions.

-Lee Harrington
President, LAEDC

California faces three major land-use challenges. 1) We need to change the groundrules that encourage municipalities in the same metropolitan area to compete with each other for private investment, fueling bidding wars and sprawl that are harmful to each municipality's treasury, to the environment, and well-planned job creation and housing development. 2) We need to find suitable space to meet the growing demand for affordable housing, schools, parks, and public libraries, particularly in cities and older suburbs. Right now, the constituencies for each sector compete with each other for scarce sites. We need, instead, to work collaboratively and creatively develop sites that combine these different uses. 3) We need to end NIMBYism against affordable housing. One way is to expand development of mixed-income housing and mixed-use projects, particularly in areas close to jobs. Let's not build any more housing projects that are 100% low-income.

-Peter Dreier
Urban & Environmental Policy Program
Occidental College

Local electeds and other decision makers need to decide if they are serious about accommodating future growth. And that means bringing in the public as a partner, helping them understand the issues and tradeoffs involved. Interesting studies and inside lobbying just won't do it. We can continue obsessing over the size of this problem or we can start solving it.

-Glenn Gritzner
So. Cal. Trans. & Land Use Coalition

Can California, and Los Angeles in particular, come to grips with the disastrous implications of urban sprawl and recognize that we need to financially support reinvestment in our Downtowns to deal with traffic, pollution, housing and preservation of open space as key land-use issues?

-Carol E. Schatz
Central City Association

Southern California is forecast to grow from a population of 16.2 to 19.4 million by the year 2010.  This dramatic growth must fit between a mountain range and an ocean.  Finding a way to grow in a manner that improves our quality of life is the dominant land use issue of our time.  In short, are we able to build great cities?

-Wayne Ratkovich
The Ratkovich Company

The new regulations for stormwater management on new development will have the effect of overburdening infill, encouraging sprawl and significantly increasing the cost of affordable housing without providing any improvement in water quality. Stormwater management is a public health issue which requires local governments to fund and manage; it should not be a private-sector burden that shows no results.

-Jay Stark
The Lee Group, Inc.

To explore near and long-term opportunities (issue-focused and structural) for state government to realign its policies and programs to encourage and support innovative regional approaches to California's challenges.

-Nick Bollman
Speaker's Commission on Regions

By far the most crucial land-use challenge of 2001 is whether our region is ready to accept, encourage and develop housing at higher densities. Unfortunately, while the need is imperative, the political will is absent, and little change is likely.

-Fred Gaines
Valley Industry & Commerce Assoc.

With the nation's economic boom appearing increasingly tenuous, our region must expedite every opportunity in the coming year to convert older downtown commercial buildings to housing, encourage reinvestment in unique historic residential neighborhoods, and jump-start comprehensive revitalization of our neighborhood commercial districts-before the party's over.

-Ken Bernstein
The Los Angeles Conservancy

The dominant land-use issue for the next year will the continued focus on smart, balanced growth policies and decisions. As we plan for our futures, we need to understand the impact of our decisions on housing, infrastructure, transportation, and the environment-not just what and where the best opportunities might be.

-Bruce Ackerman
Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley


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