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With the March election looming on the horizon, the Los Angeles City Council will consider several reforms to its convoluted planning and development processes.

Earlier this week, the Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee approved a report Planning Department, Chief Legislative Analyst, City Administrative Officer and City Attorney which recommends the following steps:

Community Plan Acceleration

Council Members have previously expressed a desire to accelerate the Community Plan process so that each of the 35 plans can be updated every six years, which exceeds the 10-year pace seen in the prior recommendation report.  To achieve this, the Planning Department  is recommending that five teams will handle the process, an expansion upon the three-team scenario proposed in May 2016.

These teams would be launched in a staggered fashion, with two teams starting in 2017 and a third in 2018.  At the same time, existing staff will complete the the new plans that are already being processed.  After this point, two additional groups would be launched.

The Planning Department and Chief Analysts Office will report on the staffing and funding necessary for a five-team approach later this month.

Batching General Plan Amendments

The City would consider all requests for general plan amendments within a specified geographic region simultaneously, so their effects can be evaluated comprehensively.  The groupings would be done according to area planning commission, with bi-annual windows for consideration.

Preparation of Environmental Impact Reports

The Planning Department has recommended that moving forward, applicants be allowed to select and hire from a pre-qualified list of CEQA consultants, who would then prepare environmental documents.

A request for qualifications process is scheduled to begin in Spring 2017.

These recommendations come one month before Los Angeles voters consider Measure S, a ballot measure intended to hamper large developments by placing restrictions on the City's ability to grant general plan amendments and other zone changes.

Opposition to the ballot measure has made for strange political bedfellows, with organized labor, business leaders, market rate developers and affordable housing advocates launching staunch opposition.  Most recently, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has begun making a concerted effort to combat the initiative.

Photo by Michael Hayes

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