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With the debate now settled over Measure S, the anti-develoment ballot initiative that was soundly defeated this week by Los Angeles voters, the City is now pushing ahead with policy changes that will both reform the planning process and capitalize on recent windfalls for transportation and affordable housing.

Earlier today, Mayor Eric Garcetti signed Executive Directive 19, which is intended to streamline the implementation of new housing and transportation projects, as well as deliver on the promise to ban ex parte communications.  Specific components of the directive are as follows:

Updating the General Plan and Community Plans

The Director of Planning is to develop a schedule and program for the review and update of all elements of the General Plan, with periodic reviews every five year thereafter.  This includes updates to each of Los Angeles' 35 Community Plans, which were an issue of contention during the Measure S campaign.

Additionally, the General Manager of the Personnel Department has been instructed to prioritize the hiring of new planners to speed this process.

The Mayor's directive also instructs staff to carefully consider the implementation of Measures M and Proposition HHH as the community plans are updated. The tax initiatives - which were passed by voters last November - provide funding for new transit lines across the city and permanent supportive housing.

Coordinating Planning with the Mayor's Planning Task Force

The Mayor's directive establishes a dedicated Planning Task Force, consisting of liasons from each Department and co-chaired by the Director of Planning and the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development.  The task force is intended to ensure coordination, cooperation and communication between Departments during the Community Plan updates.

Delivering Transporation Infrastructure

Garcetti is also establishing a Transportation Infrastructure Steering Committee, which like its Planning counterpart, will be comprised of liasons from various city departments.  A representation of Metro is also invited to participate.

The responsibilities of the steering committee will include:

  • Reviewing and making decisions on transportation projects
  • Adopting a schedule to reduce the review time for each design submittal from Metro
  • Establishing protocol for cursory reviews of Metro projects
  • Establishing a process to allow transportation projects to proceed while designs are modified
  • Identifying a project manager for each Metro project to represent City agencies
  • Creating a bench of design consultants for as-needed supplementatl design reviews
  • Executing a process to exempt Metro projects from peak-hour and weekend work restrictions
  • Providing co-locating of project-based City employees with Metro, contractors and consultants as Metro's Integrated Project Management Office
  • Empowering middle management to make traffic control decisions
  • Providing direction for Metro to conduct comprehensive utility review and investigation when planning transportation projects

Prohibiting Ex Parte Communications

Lastly, Garcetti follows through on his campaign promise to ban ex parte communications between his appointees to the City Planning Commission, Area Planning Commission and Cultural Heritage Commision and project applicants.  This was another area of contention from the backers of Measure S, who alleged that project applicants were exerting influence on Commissioners through back channels.

Photo by Michael Hayes

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