Fur Flies over Development; Usher versus Perry and More.. as the LA Development-World Turns
Tuesday, March 11, 2008(**Revised at 1:10PM)--It's no secret that it's open-season on the Los Angeles City Planning Department. If it's not the media skewering them, it's the City Council.
But, after a couple of weeks of escalating skirmishes, the turf war over the future of Los Angeles growth exploded on Sunday, March 9, when Jane Usher, the well-connected chair of the Los Angeles Planning Commission, issued an e-mail to the public taking the Los Angeles City council to task for approving a measure that would stop review of environmental, traffic and other impacts for qualifying developments.
Usher basically said, the council could be sued over it.
Naturally, the council was mildly irritated.
City Councilperson Jan Perry verbally reprimanding Usher in today's LA Times
. The Times' David Zahniser, who is an excellent planning & development reporter, failed to note that amongst Perry's contributors for reelection is: Bill Witte, who heads the Related Cos' Grand Avenue project, a private developer leveraging millions of dollars in tax payer subsidies.
Anyone who watches Perry's politicalling for five minutes knows, she should just replace city signage outside her field office with a REMAX sign.
Never mind that Usher's head is being called for on a certain LA blog that's devoted to developer self-love. It'll be interesting to see Usher, who doesn't like to be crossed, take Perry on.
Usher's e-mail came into play a few days after City Councilman Ed Reyes said each councilmember should be in charge of the disposition of the industrial land within their own district. Meaning, that after a couple of years of giving lip service to the notion of actual planning, envision Los Angeles as a whole, it's back to rule by the Gang of 15. (And they've done such an exemplary job so far, haven't they?) Translated: more suburbia, more traffic, more developer placed city councilpeople. Development-by popularity vote, it's so high school
. Reyes, who was once a member of the planning department, should know better.
What's super tragic about Reyes pronouncement is the death mill it tolls for any hope that, on a local level, Los Angeles will contribute to the de-escalation of global warming.
Ask any councilmember, and they're bound to speak effusively about the need to end global warming. But their actions demonstrate--just don't let that get in the way of their re-election campaign and the necessary development industry funding.
Reyes spoke in a debate over whether to re-zone industrial land-use downtown (*an entirely different matter than that covered by Usher's e-mail but a debate that none-the-less put a knife into the concept of overall planning for the city.)
Under Los Angeles City Planning Director Gail Goldberg, the department has advocated that industrial land should be kept as such. And, if, you want to slow down global warming, that strategy makes sense. Keep pockets of industrial land local, reduce traffic, increase the diversity of local jobs etc rather than have such workers commute to un-heard of regions to perform such functions. But the profit margin for developers holding such properties is high and Goldberg did bungle how her department would present their plan for preserving industrial land. Led by such Councilpeople as Jose Huizar, Reyes, Perry, the Council et. all aren't about to give up control over their own little fiefdoms.
Usher, on the other hand, has no intention of chairing a meaningless Los Angeles City Planning Commission. Ergo her e-mail.