Archive for the ‘Gail Goldberg’ Category

Gail Goldberg retires

July 20th, 2010

PlanCheck steering committee members had the pleasure of meeting with Gail just a few days after Gail announced her retirement. Gail has always been warm and friendly to PlanCheck and neighborhood council representatives and this meeting was no different. She says she’s not going anywhere and is looking forward to helping us if called upon. Many feel that Gail was not given the latitude and support to do the things necessary in City Planning. She is gone officially as of the end of August. Vince Bertoni is the acting GM until he is either confirmed as the GM or a new one is brought in. Gail emphasized that we need to be aware of staying on top of our Community Plans, Specific Plans and the 12-2 Program. Upcoming plans to be released are Hollywood, Sylmar and Granada Hills. There are others but those are at the top of the list. 12-2 is a system where instead of the applicant going to 12 different departments, all they will do is go to two. Progress was made for the 12-2 program in that there are now “Project Managers” who will see applications from start to finish and City Planning will be releasing a new CDMS system which will track and monitor conditions placed on development approvals. It will be important for neighborhood councils to stay alert to who the next Planning Director will be and hopefully we will have a seat at the table when it comes time to make the choice. It will also continue to be important for neighborhood councils to stay informed and educated. PlanCheck will continue to be the resource for LA City planning issues.

The steering committee plans to meet with Acting GM, Vince Bertoni in early August.

-Cindy Cleghorn
Co-Chair, PPP-OSC

Meeting Report for May 8, 2010

May 16th, 2010

Simplification of the Zoning Code
Guest Speakers.

Tom Rothmann, City Planning Department. Contact Information: Tom.Rothmann@lacity.org
Alan Bell, City Planning Department. Contact Information: Alan.Bell@lacity.org

Tom Rothmann and Alan Bell of the City Planning Department provided an update on the four-Phase Code Simplification Program that is presently underway. The goal is to complete this program in September 2010.

This streamlining of the Zoning Code has been undertaken to update the outdated Zoning Code now in use. Further, the simplification of the Code is seen as an opportunity to make the process more efficient. This is a particularly relevant issue as the City Planning Department staff has been reduced from approximately 400 to 240 employees. Further, the remaining staffers are being furloughed 10 per cent of the time.

The Projected Schedule for this Program will run from April through September 2010 as shown below:

The CPC/Approvals Phase Goal Dates as presented by the Planning Department are as follows:
June 2010. CPC Study Session Presentation – Overview of upcoming 6 ordinances.
July 2010. Multiple Entitlements/Approvals: Synchronize the expiration periods for projects with two or more discretionary land use approvals
Core Findings: Eliminate redundancy and update core findings to provide a better framework for analyzing the merits of proposed development projects
August 2010. Planned Unit Developments (PUDs): Provide opportunities for innovative, high quality master planned projects
1st Half of September 2010. Administrative Exceptions: Provide an abbreviated review process for minor deviations from the zoning code
Plan Approvals Process: Consolidate and make procedures for reviewing proposed modifications to existing projects clear and consistent
2nd Half of September 2010. Specific Plan/Supplemental Use District Streamlining: Create Administrative Clearance’ as an enabling tool in §11.5.7 and §12.32
On June 10, 2010, the City Planning Commission meeting will include a Presentation of an Overview of upcoming six ordinances. This implementation of the CPC Study Session Presentation will be the opportunity for stakeholders to become acquainted with more specific information of the goals of the simplification program.
An update on the Code Simplification will be included at each of the monthly PlanCheckNC Program through the tenure of the Code Simplification Program.

The PlanCheckNC Task Force Zoning Code Simplification Program will be collecting information on the concerns and suggestions regarding the Simplification Program and the proposed changes to the Zoning Code. For further information about this Task Force, contact: Maggi Fajnor, Chair, PlanCheckNC at maggi4f@gmail.com

An electronic copy of the handout for the update presented to PlanCheckNC is available upon request by sending an email to Maggi Fajnor, Chair, PlanCheckNC at maggi4f@gmail.com or to the Planning Department.

L.A.’s Planning Crisis and What Should be Done About it.
Guest Speaker — Dick Platkin, Senior Planner and Policy Analyst with Tierra Concepts. Mr. Platkin is retired from the City Planning Department and now is a consultant in the private sector. Contact information: rhplatkin@yahoo.com

The City’s current General Plan Framework was prepared in 1995 and is based on the 1990 census. The General Plan is in need of an up date to reflect present day population patterns and stakeholder needs. Any plan reviews should use 2010 census data because the city’s situation has changed since 1990. The Infrastructure Elements of the General Plan were written in the 1960s and have not been updated. Further, there have been no data gathered to prove that density bonuses have produced more affordable housing.

Most Neighborhood Councils focus on discretionary actions, not planning. What is needed is for communities to be proactive and initiate “bottoms-up” plans. With 80 per cent of all projects granted by right, one should focus on reviewing the overall Community Plan, rather than on specific projects. The redone plans for Granada Hills and Hollywood both allowed increased density, which meant that more projects will be built “by right.” The Capital Improvement Plan for public agencies’ sectoral budgeting should have been submitted to the City Planning Commission for review and approval, but that never happened, so there has been no review of public development projects.

Retired planner Gary Speth gave one example of this bottoms-up planning. The Northeast Community Plan was community initiated and prepared and was adopted by the City Council on June 15, 1999. Specific Plans and HPOZs are other models for grass-roots initiated planning.

An electronic copy of the PowerPoint for this program presented to PlanCheckNC is available upon request by sending an email to Maggi Fajnor, Chair, PlanCheckNC at maggi4f@gmail.com or request directly from Dick Platkin.

Other Opportunities for Involvement and Contact Information.

Neighborhood Councils that are not receiving the ENS Electronic Reports and/or Project Packets or are noting errors in these reports should contact: Ed Hunt, Area Representative, PlanCheckNC at EdVHunt@earthlink.net. Ed will be collecting data and assisting with problem solving on these issues.

Adrienne O’Niell, Vice Chair PlanCheckNC is coordinating a Task Force addressing issues related to SB1818 ordinance, density bonuses, and other related issues. To be part of that effort contact Adrienne O’Niell at aoniellh@dslextreme.com.

PlanCheckNCLA Programs are held on the Second Saturday of the month from 10:00 am- 12 noon at the Historic Downtown Outreach Center, 114 W 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013. The next PlanCheckNCLA Program will be on Saturday, June 12.

CONTROLLER GREUEL RELEASES FOLLOW-UP AUDIT OF CITY'S PLANNING DEPARTMENT

April 2nd, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                              
April 2nd, 2010                                                       

CONTROLLER GREUEL RELEASES FOLLOW-UP AUDIT OF CITY’S PLANNING
DEPARTMENT
Majority of Recommendations From 2005 Audit Found to be Unimplemented

(Los Angeles) –City Controller Wendy Greuel released a follow-up audit today of how the City’s Planning Department handles case processing.  The audit was a follow-up from a 2005 audit which looked at time and efficiency that the Planning Department handles land-use applications from Angelenos.

“Out of all of the audits I have done so far, this is among the most disappointing, because it appears that the City’s Planning Department was unable to implement the previous audit’s recommendations,” Greuel said.  “While the Department has used some of their resources to update community plans and zoning regulations in order to increase projects that can be built by-right, which reduce case processing times, this is not acceptable four and a half years after the original audit came out.”

The audit found that while the time it takes for a case to be processed has improved, it is still far short of the Department’s own goals and the timeframe recommended in the previous audit.

Controller Greuel also called on the City Council and Mayor to implement the “12 to 2” proposal, which was designed to help streamline the permitting process, but has languished for two years.  “It is symbolic of the City’s stagnant decision making process that little to no action has been taken on this proposal, which was intended to speed up the permitting process,” Greuel said.

Some of the audits findings included:   The Planning Department has not implemented the prior audit’s recommendations to streamline the case processing function

The prior audit recommended a “cradle to grave” approach whereby one planner handles a case from the beginning to the very end, which has not been done.  In 2008, two streamlined teams were created in the San Fernando Valley, however management has not yet implemented the planned reorganization Citywide.

The Department’s current case processing goals may not be realistic and it has not yet established targets, as recommended in the prior audit

Despite having approved case processing timeframe goals, they are consistently not met. Management indicates these goals were developed by previous management without any meaningful process analysis. Management should consider whether the current goals are realistic measures of performance.

Case processing timeframes have improved but fall far short of the Department’s current goals and the timeframes recommended in the prior audit

Commission and Division of Land case processing timeframes have improved since the prior audit, which is not surprising given the number of applications has fallen by 46% and 90%, respectively between FYs 04-05 and 08-09 because of the economic downturn. Zoning Administration case processing timeframes worsened, despite the fact that case filings fell by 40% between FYs 04-05 and 08-09.

Below, you will find the Controller’s cover letter. A copy of the entire audit will be available here: http://controller.lacity.org/Audits_and_Reports/index.htm

April 2, 2010

The Honorable Antonio Villaraigosa
The Honorable Carmen Trutanich
Honorable Members of the City Council

With the local unemployment rate over 12%, it is critical that City government do everything possible to revive our local economy.  One area that has long kept the City from being more “business-friendly”, is that Angelenos spend months and sometimes years awaiting approval for zoning and land-use permits.  These delays stall development in the City, slowing the creation of critical construction jobs.  The Departments responsible – primarily Planning and Building & Safety, need to find ways to work more efficiently in processing these applications.  

My office recently conducted the attached follow-up audit of the Department of City Planning’s case processing activities.  While small improvements have been made in a few areas since our original October 2005 audit, the Department has been unable to take necessary steps to become more efficient.

Out of all of the audits I have done so far, this is among the most dissapointing, because it appears that the City’s Planning Department was unable to implement the previous audit’s recommendations.  The Department gave the reason that budget deficits and other reorganizations have hampered their ability to make the necessary changes.  While the Department has used some of their resources to update community plans and zoning regulations in order to increase projects that can be built by-right, which reduce case processing times, this is not acceptable four and a half years after the original audit came out.

It has now been more than two years since the “12 to 2” plan was introduced to help streamline the permitting process and yet little progress has been made to the reduce the time and number of departments Angelenos must deal with to obtain a permit.  It is symbolic of the City’s stagnant decision making process that little to no action has been taken on this proposal, which was intended to speed up the permitting process.  I urge you to implement the entire 12 to 2 proposal immediately to help cut the bureaucracy and put Angelenos back to work.

I am disturbed by the fact that the City recently implemented higher fees for land-use applications with the expectation that additional staff would be hired to reduce wait times, yet even the Department admits that Angelenos will not see an increase in service.  While the City is facing a massive budget deficit, I find it disingenuous to charge higher fees while the public receives fewer services.  

While audits shine necessary light on the work our City does, we must also ensure that proper follow-up is done and recommendations that are made within these audits are implemented.

The prior audit found that the Department was organized around specialized, isolated functions that relied on redundant use of staff to process land-use cases.  This approach is both inefficient—because multiple people must become familiar with each case—and frustrating to Angelenos applying for permits—because they have no single point of contact.  Additionally, the prior audit found that the Department had not consistently met internal case processing goals. Our follow-up audit found that many of the previous findings remain unresolved and previous recommendations remain unimplemented.

Some of the follow-up audit findings include:  The Department has not implemented the prior audit’s recommendations to streamline the case processing function

The prior audit recommended a “cradle to grave” approach whereby one planner handles a case from the beginning to the very end, which has not been done.  In 2008, two streamlined teams were created in the San Fernando Valley, however management has not yet implemented the planned reorganization Citywide.

The Department’s current case processing goals may not be realistic and it has not yet established targets, as recommended in the prior audit

Despite having approved case processing timeframe goals, they are consistently not met. Management indicates these goals were developed by previous management without any meaningful process analysis. Management should consider whether the current goals are realistic measures of performance.

Case processing timeframes have improved but fall far short of the Department’s current goals and the timeframes recommended in the prior audit

Commission and Division of Land case processing timeframes have improved since the prior audit, which is not surprising given the number of applications has fallen by 46% and 90%, respectively between FYs 04-05 and 08-09 because of the economic downturn. Zoning Administration case processing timeframes worsened, despite the fact that case filings fell by 40% between FYs 04-05 and 08-09.

Given our current economic situation, reforming the Planning Department must become a high priority.  I hope you will join me in ensuring this audit’s recommendations are swiftly implemented.  

Sincerely,

Wendy Greuel
City Controller