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Sat, Feb

Trouble Letting Go: Coalition Fighting to ‘Preserve’ Outdated Version of Los Angeles

PERSPECTIVES--Los Angeles is in the midst of a housing crisis, plain and simple. The stock of available dwellings can't sustain a growing population, people are paying a wildly disproportionate amount of their salaries on rent, and building new affordable housing is seen by some developers as a nuisance to be avoided at all costs.

The city's approach to the problem has often been to give developers carte blanche, lifting restrictions and amending city codes to facilitate construction of LA's new iconic structure: the mid-rise mixed-user.

Opposing this development bonanza are longtime residents, the NIMBYs, who decry the new focus on density as a shift in the fundamental values of a city seeking to find its identity and place in the Twenty-First Century.

The battle now looks to be headed to a showdown at the voter's booth as one anti-development group has turned to a classic California method of change, the ballot measure.

According to the LA Times, the Coalition to Preserve LA has announced plans to push forward the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative ballot measure in an effort to thwart the spread of new developments in Los Angeles. 

The CPLA cites Hollywood as a "microcosm" of unrestrained development in Los Angeles. They believe "unlawful favoritism" is being shown to many Hollywood developments seeking amendments to the city's General Plan in order to skirt zoning restrictions on height, parking, and density.

The upcoming Palladium project in particular is called out as one of the 69 major projects brewing in the Hollywood area whose "piecemeal" amendments to the city code begin to add up and create the "Manhattanization of Hollywood."

(One backer decries the loss of the parking lot where the project would rise: "Palladium developers are asking the City to amend the General Plan in order to rezone its back asphalt parking lot from industrial land use to commercial use. The City's General Plan is supposed to preserve the distinct character of neighborhoods and to prevent infrastructure overload.")

The CPLA wants Los Angeles to stick more strictly to the established city planning guidelines, which in many cases are decades out of date. When the city tried to pass new, more modern planning guidelines in Hollywood, anti-development groups successfully sued to stop the plan. 

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According to the CPLA press release, the ballot measure would change development rules in four key areas:  

(1) Direct officials to halt amendment of the City's General Plan in small bits and pieces for individual real estate developer projects, and

(2) Require the City Planning Commission to systematically review and update the City's community plans and make all zoning code provisions and projects consistent with the City's General Plan, and

(3) Place City employees directly in charge of preparation of environmental review of major development projects, and

(4) For a limited time, impose a construction moratorium for projects approved by the City that increased some types of density until officials can complete review and update of community plans or 24 months, whichever occurs first.

Los Angeles Times Architecture critic, Christopher Hawthorne took to Twitter to eloquently contextualize this unique period of Los Angeles history and challenge both sides of the development argument to bring more to the table.  

(Jeff Wattenhofer writes for Curbed LA … where this perspective was first posted.)

-cw

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 94

Pub: Nov 20, 2014