City Leaders Launch Reform to Strengthen Planning Process and Protect Neighborhoods

City Leaders Launch Reform to Strengthen Planning Process and Protect Neighborhoods

LOS ANGELES— Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council today introduced reforms to help guide the City’s growth and development, and protect the unique character of our neighborhoods. The Mayor is calling for the update of all of the City's community plans and will include funding in his upcoming budget to support this effort. And in a motion introduced today by Councilmembers José Huizar, Gil Cedillo, David Ryu, Bob Blumenfield, Mitch O’Farrell and Mike Bonin, and seconded by Councilmember Paul Krekorian, the City Council instructed the Planning Department to report back on overhauling the Community Plan program. They also called for recommendations on ways to increase oversight of the environmental review process, and upgrade outdated technology.

City leaders also called for a new Citywide General Plan, a blueprint that guides responsible growth and lays out a framework for key areas of urban life, including transportation, housing and open space. The General Plan has not been fully updated in more than 20 years.

“We have a responsibility to plan for prosperity and growth in ways that reflect the energy of this great City and protect the character of our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “I want Angelenos to have a sense of ownership over the development of their communities and these reforms help us get there. Together, we’re creating a blueprint for the Los Angeles of today, and the Los Angeles of tomorrow.”

The City’s 35 Community Plans lay out guidelines for what can and cannot be built in any given neighborhood. This helps determine the different types of housing that can be developed, the jobs that can be supported in a community and other key quality of life measures. The City Council motion will be heard in the Planning & Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee.

“As the chair of PLUM, my colleagues and I have been working with the Planning Department to review and improve a myriad of planning processes through ReCodeLA and other efforts,” said Councilmember Huizar. “Our 35 Community Plans affect scores of communities, each as distinct and vital as the next, and cover more than 500 square miles across the City. Addressing the backlog and updating our Community Plans is a priority that needs immediate action. Today's collaborative Council action looks to expedite this process so we can bring accountability and transparency back into our General Plan and Community Plan review processes. I thank the Mayor for supporting our Council motion and I am confident that we will have a number of strong recommendations to review in PLUM and the Council in the coming weeks.”

Mayor Garcetti pledged to nearly triple the Planning Department’s community plan staff, to better ensure all plans are updated in no more than 10 years. The Mayor will include $1.5 million in new funding for the Community Planning program and General Plan program, as part of his upcoming 2016-17 budget. He also laid out a plan for ongoing funding for the program to ensure updates are completed – start to finish - within 36 months.

"We must approach planning reform in a responsible way that addresses homelessness, increases and preserves affordable housing, and creates jobs to grow our local economy,” Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell said, “Our motion strikes the right balance, with a look to legislatively tackle the issue of updating the city's community plans in a more timely manner and effectuate an independent CEQA process, while encouraging the kind of investment and infrastructure improvements that will enhance the quality of life for all Angelenos."

Updated plans will provide new guidance and respond to current land use changes, minimizing the need for general plan amendments. Creating a cycle of regular city-initiated updates to Community Plans will ensure these plans are current and reflect community-driven goals.

The City Council’s reform-driven motion requests the Planning Department to report back on options that will improve management over the environmental review process, increasing transparency over the preparation of technical documents including creating a list of professional consultants aimed at streamlining the process.