PROMISED TRANSPARENCY-Mayor Eric Garcetti must end the disarray and secrecy surrounding his Open Space plans for Los Angeles in light of new earthquake zone maps released last week that show areas of Palms, Brentwood, Westwood, West LA and Pacific Palisades where no new buildings can be constructed, under state law.
Mayor Garcetti and City Planning chief Vince Bertoni have, for four months, been blindly pursuing a new Los Angeles Open Space Plan — behind closed doors — that is silent on the need to plan for, protect and expand Open Space atop the newly-drawn fault lines.
“Los Angeles is years behind such cities as Hayward and San Francisco in planning for inevitable building collapses in a major earthquake,” said Coalition to Preserve LA director Jill Stewart.
“The city of Signal Hill, just down the road, leads California in creating Open Space along its live earthquake fault lines — but Mayor Garcetti and City Planner Bertoni are pursuing a new LA Open Space Plan behind closed doors that’s glaringly silent on planning for Open Space atop the city’s fault lines. And they’re approving buildings close to the faults.”
Many voices, including Preserve LA, the Hillside Federation, LA Tenants Union and more than 20 LA Neighborhood Councils have sent letters and emails urging Garcetti and Bertoni to open their closed-door shaping of the Open Space Plan to immediate, robust public debate.
Preserve LA Director Jill Stewart said, “We joined together with other groups to force Garcetti and Bertoni to open up a single Open Space ‘work group’ meeting to the public on June 7. It was standing-room-only, with deeply concerned LA residents seeking a direct say in expanding and protecting LA’s open space.”
“But last week, city planner Diane Kitching informed a Coalition member that City Planning has peremptorily decided ‘there are no more planned’ public meetings on how to expand and protect the city’s open space,” Stewart added.
The new maps released by the California Geological Survey should be used by community groups, safety organizations and environmental organizations to pressure Garcetti to live up to recent promises about opening the doors at City Planning to the public.
Here are Mayor Garcetti’s unfulfilled “open door” promises made in recent months:
- April 20 – Garcetti’s State of the City speech: Garcetti promises that major plans for LA, including the General Plan, of which the Open Space Plan is a major element, “won’t be written by anonymous bureaucrats in backrooms. They will be written by and with the residents of Los Angeles.” In fact, the public was closed out of key Open Space shaping meetings.
- March 9 – Mayoral Directive 19: Garcetti pledged that within 30 days (i.e. April 9) the city would prepare a schedule and program for immediate public review and update of all elements of the General Plan and the 35 Community Plans. No public schedule or public review of the General Plan is underway and the Open Space Plan ignores earthquake faults as an innovative new element.
- September 2016 – Garcetti, in a letter sent to the Los Angeles Times, vowed to clean up the city’s Environmental Impact Reports — studies criticized for being written by the developers’ consultants, who repeatedly fail to protect the public in areas such as determining if a development is threatened by an active quake fault.
- Last fall, Garcetti promised that the city itself would “select all consultants.” That didn’t happen. Instead, Garcetti’s chief planner Bertoni, pushed for a severely watered-down reform, approved by the City Council this year, in which City Planning creates a list of developer consultants — and the developers still choose who writes their environmental reports.
“The disarray in Los Angeles City Hall and the Mayor’s Office, over how to plan and expand our Open Space, particularly around live earthquake faults, is unacceptable,” said Stewart. “When 25 Neighborhood Councils and major civic groups demand a place at the table, Mayor Garcetti needs to wake up and open the closed doors.”
(Coalition to Preserve LA is a citywide movement of concerned residents who believe in open government, people-oriented planning, equitable housing and environmental stewardship of Los Angeles through advocacy and empowering the community.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.