Proposed Ballot Measure Seeks to ‘Preserve’ an Outdated Version of Los Angeles

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The CPLA cites Hollywood as a “microcosm” of unrestrained development in Los Angeles. They believe “unlawful favoritism” is being shown to many Hollywood developments seeking amendments to the city’s General Plan in order to skirt zoning restrictions on height, parking, and density. The upcoming Palladium project in particular is called out as one of the 69 major projects brewing in the Hollywood area whose “piecemeal” amendments to the city code begin to add up and create the “Manhattanization of Hollywood.” (One backer decries the loss of the parking lot where the project would rise: “Palladium developers are asking the City to amend the General Plan in order to rezone its back asphalt parking lot from industrial land use to commercial use. The City’s General Plan is supposed to preserve the distinct character of neighborhoods and to prevent infrastructure overload.”)

The CPLA wants Los Angeles to stick more strictly to the established city planning guidelines, which in many cases are decades out of date. When the city tried to pass new, more modern planning guidelines in Hollywood, anti-development groups successfully sued to stop the plan.

According to the CPLA press release, the ballot measure would change development rules in four key areas:

(1) Direct officials to halt amendment of the City’s General Plan in small bits and pieces for individual real estate developer projects, and

(2) Require the City Planning Commission to systematically review and update the City’s community plans and make all zoning code provisions and projects consistent with the City’s General Plan, and

(3) Place City employees directly in charge of preparation of environmental review of major development projects, and

(4) For a limited time, impose a construction moratorium for projects approved by the City that increased some types of density until officials can complete review and update of community plans or 24 months, whichever occurs first.

Los Angeles Times Architecture critic, Christopher Hawthorne took to Twitter to eloquently contextualize this unique period of Los Angeles history and challenge both sides of the development argument to bring more to the table.

“The Coalition to Preserve L.A.” is proposing a ballot measure called the “Neighborhood Integrity Initiative”: https://t.co/Zt7scZZ2WS

— ChristopherHawthorne (@HawthorneLAT) November 18, 2015

Which raises an obvious question, what about L.A. does the measure seek to preserve?

— ChristopherHawthorne (@HawthorneLAT) November 18, 2015

The cynical answer would be property values (aka high housing prices), since HOAs have been among most aggressive opponents of new d’ment

— ChristopherHawthorne (@HawthorneLAT) November 18, 2015

A more benign answer would be low-rise residential fabric (“neighborhood integrity”). We do have far more R1 territory than other big cities

— ChristopherHawthorne (@HawthorneLAT) November 18, 2015

More interesting to consider IMO is the fact that two historic qualities of LA are running into one another. And we can’t preserve both.

— ChristopherHawthorne (@HawthorneLAT) November 18, 2015

The first is a city whose chief industry was growth, that was always in flux, that prized newness and change.

— ChristopherHawthorne (@HawthorneLAT) November 18, 2015

The second is a horizontal city, a city that passed municipal height limits before WWI and doubled down on privatization after WWII.

— ChristopherHawthorne (@HawthorneLAT) November 18, 2015

Remarkable thing about LA is that it was for a long time roomy enough to accommodate both sets of ideals, even tho they’re clearly at odds.

— ChristopherHawthorne (@HawthorneLAT) November 18, 2015

But now something has to give. And we need to have a more substantive conversation about what precisely we are trying or want to preserve.

— ChristopherHawthorne (@HawthorneLAT) November 18, 2015

It would be helpful if LA development opponents who are longtime homeowners began by acknowledging+

— ChristopherHawthorne (@HawthorneLAT) November 18, 2015

that they are among the most fortunate property owners in U.S. history, thanks to the magical combination of Prop 13 and skyrocketing values

— ChristopherHawthorne (@HawthorneLAT) November 18, 2015

If you bought a house in CA in the 1970s or 1980s, it’s not simply worth 5x or 10x what you paid. It might be worth 40x or 50x.

— ChristopherHawthorne (@HawthorneLAT) November 18, 2015

Meanwhile those of us who think density and a more vertical city are goals worth pursuing should consider how often in LA’s history+

— ChristopherHawthorne (@HawthorneLAT) November 18, 2015

the ideal of low- and mid-rise cosmopolitanism has been an affirmative, positive and even forward-looking rather than reactionary one.

— ChristopherHawthorne (@HawthorneLAT) November 18, 2015

Finally, and perhaps most important, we should ask that the dedicated opponents of the planning status quo, w/ all its flaws,+

— ChristopherHawthorne (@HawthorneLAT) November 18, 2015

also put forth a set of ideas about what kind of city they want L.A. to be in the future.

— ChristopherHawthorne (@HawthorneLAT) November 18, 2015

And “the one it was in 1970″ is not an acceptable answer. It must include useful ideas about affordability, inequality, climate change &c &c

— ChristopherHawthorne (@HawthorneLAT) November 18, 2015

@HawthorneLAT I’d add environmental justice to the list. Distribution of freeways and industry disproportionately hurts some communities

— Keith Pluymers (@KDPluymers) November 18, 2015


· Activists seek ballot measure for moratorium on L.A. ‘mega projects’ [LA Times]

· L.A. Initiative Seeks City-wide Moratorium on Mega-Projects Pushed by Greedy Developers [Business Wire]

· Los Angeles Building Way More Housing, But Not Nearly Enough [Curbed LA]

· The Average Angeleno is Now Paying Nearly Half Their Income Toward Rent [Curbed LA]

· Downtown LA’s Worst Developer is Also Really Obnoxious [Curbed LA]

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