A CONVERSATION WITH MOTT SMITH--The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, which is slated to appear on the November 2016 ballot, has provoked an intense debate on future development in Los Angeles. The Miracle Mile Residential Association, as part of its ongoing effort to inform its residents on the pros and cons of the initiative, has produced several videos on the topic for its MMRA Channel on YouTube. (Photo above: Mott Smith)
Recently, MMRA Vice President Ken Hixon had a conversation with Mott Smith, an opponent of the initiative. Smith is co-founder and Principal of Civic Enterprise. He is a founding board member of the California Infill Builders Association and adjunct faculty in USC’s Master of Real Estate Development Program.
In their discussion, video taped on March 2, 2016, Smith argues that the fatal flaw of the initiative is how it hamstrings revising community plans by mandating that they be consistent to existing development – even if it is the consensus of the community to change the density or uses in a particular area.
Although Smith opposes the initiative, he delivers a very nuanced and frank criticism of the current system of planning and development in LA, which he describes as Byzantine in its complexities. He expertly analyzes the shortcomings of popular urban planning theories and practices – from trickle-down housing strategies to S.B. 1818 density bonus projects and Transit Oriented Development. But he is staunch about his belief that minimum parking requirements are a big part of the problem with LA’s zoning rules.
Smith dislikes generalizations on both sides of the argument and worries that all sides are resorting to “campaign slogans” to sell their positions – something that he avoids in articulating his case against the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative.