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The CPIO Ordinance and Street-Level Planning




There is a crisis in community planning coming to us today, according to Dick Platkin, in the form of a new Ordinance allowing more Council control of CPIOs (Community Plan Implementation Overlay Districts).

While the Ordinance really aspires to formalize what is already admittedly bad practice, as far as I can see, Platkin's argument contains quite a few false alarms. One is that CPIOs fail to address land use issues for land owned by City departments. That's indeed far away from the traditional point of a CPIO anyway, which might rather, say, prevent the permitting of an excessive amount of fast food restaurants in a neighborhood. A CPIO in this way can actually become a community tool.

Platkin, who gets the Ordinance's name wrong (it's the "Community Plan Implementation Overlay Districts Ordinance"), also argues that Council "long ago abdicated their role in planning Los Angeles." If that's so, it might even make sense to give a Councilman a better shot at planning a micro-district than they currently have. With the CRA's future looking very bleak and a Governor coming to Sacto who is likely to grab some of its revenue back, micro-districts may make more sense than community redevelopment as administered by abstruse agency. As Council districts become more fief-like, empowering Council to do more planning via CPIOs make make some sense, or at least level the playing field a little more.

Cary Brazeman and LA Neighbors United also opposes the Ordinance, saying it will "produce more growth than the currently restrictive zoning code." I'm not so sure the Ordinance is the Armageddon that the neighbors believe it will be. If anything, it will give community groups a street-level ability to challenge local planning fiascoes than they presently have.