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More Development, or Better Development?




Jon Regardie of the Downtown News talks to many who are considered "the usual suspects" by neighborhood groups in this synopsis of City initiatives devoted to streamlining the development process in town. LA's development community plans for jumping planning and permitting hurdles were presented to the LA Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday--and it doesn't sound like many neighbors were invited.

But the neighbors, who often yap about exclusion, should mark their calendars for next Tuesday:

The effort involves bringing in an outside consultant. The team of Century City-based KH Consulting Group and Woolpert, a national firm with local offices in Pasadena, won the contract in a bidding process coordinated by the Department of Building and Safety. They are scheduled to go before the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee on Tuesday, Nov. 23.
&c. To get a grip on their mindset, get thee to PLUM, and, er, see you next Tuesday. Transparency is also cited from the First Deputy who would be Efficiency King, Austin Beutner:
He hopes to create a similar online system that allows developers to know where their projects stand as they deal with the up to 17 city departments that can now impact a project. Currently, he noted, developers can get bogged down trying to navigate those departments, all of which have different websites. The goal, he said, is to create efficiency and transparency.
&c. &c. It would have helped credibility had Beutner commenced this slouching towards transparency at somewhere other than the LACoC, but it seems that by "transparency" he means for developers, and not for public input in development.

Here's what we were taught, years ago: when you put a building up on a public street, which it will occupy for thirty-five years at minimum, the public have an interest in what happens on that public street. It's not just my memory: it's the point of Roger Sherman's recent celebrated book, LA Under the Influence.
Architect Roger Sherman contends "that property stakeholder negotiations not only shape a city but also influence the development of its smallest common increment: the individual parcel." Via a number of case studies in Los Angeles he argues that architects should find influence in the negotiating process, taking part in it instead of focusing on a form and making the site and its surrounding conditions yield to it.
And so should neighbors find influence. They can't easily do it by arguing policy, but they can do it by arguing projects. If the Building & Safety revamping becomes arguments about arcane policy points alone, it will devolve. If it becomes about what kinds of projects will especially benefit, the argument will evolve, and engage the communities these firms and this City should also aspire to serve.