January 8, 2007 - From the Dec./Jan., 2006-07 issue

TPR Readers on 2007: What Will Most Improve–or Scar–Metropolitan Los Angeles in the New Year?

As optimism abounds and notions of elegant density, smart growth, and place-making sink deeper into the civic consciousness, 2007 may be the year that the built environment catches up with the city's hopes and dreams. But while a general ethic is gathering, the city still relies on individual actions, so TPR asked readers, "What city planning decisions and/or real estate investments will most improve or scar metropolitan Los Angeles in 2007?"

"The Department of City Planning has a very exciting and aggressive planning agenda for 2007. We will be reorganizing our department into geographic units to more effectively process our entitlement cases, to better connect planners to communities, and to better facilitate the nine new community plans that we launched last year. We will be updating both the housing and transportation elements of the general plan.

"From a city-wide planning perspective, we believe the ten new transit oriented development plans that we are creating for the Expo and Gold Line stations offer a unique opportunity to comprehensively address two of our city's most critical needs. First, the TODs can provide a variety of living opportunities that offer real transportation alternatives. Second, but as important, we can use basic urban design principles to create neighborhoods and commercial centers that invite pedestrian activity-neighborhoods designed for people not cars."

Gail Goldberg

Los Angeles City Planning Director

"In the frenzy to double-deck suburbia we are crowding housing on to every square inch of land. Industrially-zoned properties need protection and cultivation. Physical or virtual centers must focus on jobs-housing balance, attracting quality jobs and minimizing commutes."

Bob Scott

Chair

Valley Industry & Commerce Assn.

"Most important will be developing competitive grants to get parks and open space bond funding from the historic passage of Propositions 84 and 1C to the region. Past experience shows too many viable projects go un-funded while others are hard to understand.

"We need a rational, objective, and coordinated planning approach for parks and open space coordinated with transit, safe and active pedestrian routes, new schools, neighborhood revitalization, and affordable housing, supported by enlightened and streamlined city and county agencies."

Robert J. Reid

L.A. Area Director

The Trust for Public Land

"The city is right-on in looking for ways to use smart growth methods by building in infill areas and complementing new development with public transportation. On a smaller scale, Playa Vista is doing the same thing by providing homes where people work and facilitating a $125 million traffic mitigation plan to help improve 104 key intersections, add new buses and shuttles, and remove long-ignored bottlenecks."

Steve Soboroff

President, Playa Vista

"One of the key initiatives which will most improve the city in 2007 and for years to come is our investment in the mayor's commitment to a green LA. The mayor has created an historic opportunity for the city to become a national leader in environmental health, justice and sustainability beginning with the Million Tree Program.

"It is critical in meeting this opportunity that this program move forward with full support and funding in 2007 and that city move forward with several other key sustainability initiatives: all city agencies become carbon-neutral and integrate climate and health impact assessments into all city planning and development decisions."

Ray A. Landy, AIA

President and CEO, DMJM

"Substantial investments along the Crenshaw Corridor will finally reveal to mainstream developers and equity funds the buying power of the South Los Angeles community and the major returns that await investors savvy enough to get into the urban core early. More importantly, the Crenshaw community will finally get to see top-notch transit oriented development in the Crenshaw Gateway area and will enjoy new housing opportunities, great retail, and good urban form."

Cecilia V. Estolano

CEO

L.A. Community

Redevelopment Agency

"There isn't enough land in the urban core of Los Angeles County so you're seeing a lot of disputes over how land is used. The one that is most troubling to me is the 'land grab' by residential and mixed use developers of industrial land with no thought given to the fate of displaced businesses or workers."

Jack Kyser

Chief Economist, LAEDC

"It is essential that we overcome today's uncertainty about the future of mass transit. During 2007, I hope that strong regional support will emerge for three major projects-the Expo Line, the Gold Line Foothill Extension, and the Wilshire Subway. Taken together, these projects offer a compelling argument, one that strengthens the case for each one of them."

Bill Bogaard

Mayor, City of Pasadena

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"To improve metropolitan Los Angeles in 2007, we should all be focused on building better neighborhoods and communities not just about ‘mega' projects. LA Live, Grand Avenue, L.A. River Master Plan, LAUSD School Development, L.A. Industrial Policy Initiative and most recently Universal are all mega projects that will most assuredly change the face of Los Angeles' landscape.

"Whether or not these projects emerge as models of smart growth will depend on our civic leaders' ability to create linkages and connections for transit, for the pedestrian, and for the community. Otherwise they'll be wonderful independent, disconnected projects that only serve to add to our daily frustrations about Los Angeles."

Renata Simril

Senior Vice President

Forest City Development

"Probably the most telling moment will be when Gail Goldberg unveils her long-term proposal to bring the city's planning and entitlement into the 21st century. The most important issue facing our city is the imbalanced housing market, created by the shortage of homes priced within the means of most of our workforce; any reforms that will enable developers to fast track the building of homes affordable to the thousands of families who are currently priced out of the housing market will be a much-hoped for improvement in the planning process."

Allan Kingston

CEO

Century Housing

"New leadership at both the Planning Department and the CRA is off to a promising start in attempting to tackle real problems with real planning. The first tangible products of their efforts, in addressing the shortage of affordable housing and defining what L.A. means by ‘smart growth,' among others, will appear in 2007 and could set the tone for development in L.A. for years to come."

"Latinos are creating new expressions of urbanity and place-making that the city needs to capitalize on by developing urban design guidelines that encourage economic incentives for street vendors, create mini plazas and design pedestrian friendly streets by removing billboards/utility poles, widening sidewalks, planting shade trees, and encouraging mixed uses and density."

James Rojas

Latino Urban Forum

"The single most far-reaching land use decision could be the hoped-for follow-through on efforts to comprehensively plan the communities along the L.A. River; if successful, this could begin to connect east and west, and even north and south. The jury is out, but I'm hopeful."

Bill Witte

President, Related Cos.

"On a site-specific level, the rezoning of the Industrial District now being considered by City Planning could create a condition that, if flexible and three-dimensional, could encourage investment and imaginative mixed-use development to serve the existing work force population, while generating needed new jobs and affordable housing. Or, if restrictive and two-dimensional, it could deflate interest in the area and actually result in fewer jobs."

Sam Hall Kaplan

Journalist/Urban Planner

"Production of housing that is affordable to low- and middle-income households is one of Los Angeles' key challenges. The city has been studying adopting an inclusionary housing ordinance that would require market-rate housing projects to include affordable units in their developments. The adoption of this ordinance would provide truly needed housing scattered throughout the neighborhoods of the city to give people access to jobs, and schools as well as housing."

Allyne Winderman, AIA

Director of Housing

and Redevelopment

City of West Hollywood

"The most important issue for 2007 is how the new state bond money will get directed and spent. If it is dribbled out to fund ‘business as usual' it will quickly run out, and the public will revert to its suspicion of ‘big government' and ‘big spending.'

"On the other hand, if the state and localities package and leverage the funding (the way Riverside is doing with capital spending on its Riverside Renaissance), then it can be the catalyst for a new era of sustainable investment and development. Since the ‘state' and ‘localities' are just abstractions, it will depend on real leaders emerging to link vision to implementation. Transportation, parks, housing and schools all must be linked to a coherent vision and a 21st century strategy for how California will grow.

"Disconnected growth is dumb growth and we can't afford that- much less invest billions to promote it. Smart growth involves putting the pieces together with private and local public investment to promote economic, environmental and social sustainability."

Rick Cole

City Manager, Ventura

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