Council committee recommends development reforms

LOS ANGELES — The head of the Measure S campaign said she is happy a City Council committee recommended several development reforms, but doesn’t trust the council to follow through on them.

“We are happy to see after eight months of dithering and delays that the city is addressing what we say needs to be changed, but my big problem with what happened [Jan. 31] is when the City Council approves something, the City Council can unapprove it just as quickly,” Jill Stewart, who is campaign manager for the Coalition to Preserve L.A., told City News Service Feb. 1.

“I don’t trust them, frankly.”

The City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee voted to recommend that developers be required to select environmental impact report consultants from a pre-approved city list. EIR consultants are currently picked by developers.

The committee also recommended creation of an ordinance to update the city’s 35 community plans every six years. Some community plans — which provide guidelines for what can be built in a neighborhood — have not been updated in 15 years or more.

Measure S, which will be on the March 7 citywide election ballot, also calls for the city to update its community plans and to prevent developers from hiring their own EIR consultants.

The measure also calls for a complete moratorium on any general plan amendments for two years, or until the city updates all of its community plans, and that is the provision that has caused the most controversy and opposition.

The Coalition to Preserve L.A. contends that general plan amendments — which happen when the City Council grants special permission to a developer to build a structure bigger or taller or with other changes than the area is zoned for — creates a cozy relationship between developers and City Hall.

Opponents of Measure S have said it would harm the city’s economy significantly and make building affordable housing more difficult.

Councilman Jose Huizar, who chairs the committee, told City News Service it was Measure S supporters that helped push the issues to the forefront — but he still does not support Measure S.

“The fact of the matter is, would we be doing this if it wasn’t for an initiative on the ballot? I think it added fire to the city to do it and they are correct, we should be updating our community plans more often, and we should take a look at how we do our environmental impact reports. So to that extent they are doing a good job on alerting us to it and we are fixing it,” Huizar said.

“But their other idea to put a moratorium on general plan amendments I think is just going to bring the economy of the city of L.A. to a screeching halt.”

Huizar also said he believed Measure S would make it difficult for the city to build affordable housing and housing for the homeless.

Mayor Eric Garcetti held a news conference Jan. 31 outside an affordable housing complex he said required a general plan amendment and could not be built under Measure S.

Stewart said the measure’s impact on affordable housing has been exaggerated by its opponents.

“We have looked at 81,500 projects built in Los Angeles since the year 2000, and the amount of affordable housing that required a major zone change or general plan amendment is miniscule,” Stewart said.


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