Archive for the ‘PlanCheckNCLA’ Category

Planning & Land Use 101 – Oct. 8 in Glassell Park

September 26th, 2016

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2016 — 10 A.M. – 1 P.M.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-7-16-29-amFREE Planning & Land Use 101 crash course with special guests
Craig Weber | Principal City Planner
Department of City Planning | City of Los Angeles
Haydee Urita-Lopez|City Planner
Community Planning Bureau | Boyle Heights Plan | City of Los Angeles
BROUGHT TO YOU BY
www.GPIA.org
www.GlassellParkNC.org
Glassell Park Community Center
3750 Verdugo

Report of August 8 Meeting & Matrix

August 10th, 2015

PlanCheck Report on the August 8 meeting – Lisa Webber, Deputy Director at L.A. City Planning Department presented the latest updates at City Planning.  A copy of her PowerPoint presentation will be posted later.  In the meantime, here are notes from the meeting

Min PlanCheckNC 15.8

Here is the link to the latest updated PlanCheckNC Matrix

PLANCHECK MATRIX SUMMER 2015 UPDATE 4

Annual CEQA Program – May 12

May 7th, 2012

SAVE the DATE
Saturday, May 12 10:00 a.m. -1:00p.m.

Annual CEQA Program
Update Current Issues in City Land Use and Planning

Networking with Citywide Neighborhood Council and Community Representatives

PlanCheckNC Programs are held at the
The Community Exchange*
114 W 5th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Mark your calendars and watch for more information
Please share with interested stakeholders.

Maggi Fajnor, Chair
maggi4f@gmail.com

Cindy Cleghorn, Communications & Outreach
PlanCheckNCLA@gmail.com

Russell Brown, Educational Programs
PlanCheckNCLA@gmail.com

*Parking available on Spring Street $5

IMPORTANT: You are Invited to Help Reform the City’s Development Review Process

February 6th, 2011

Community Invitation

IMPORTANT:  Please share with your neighbors and invite their participation at these upcoming Community Meetings regarding Reforming the City’s Development process.  You can make a difference!

Dear Community Stakeholder:

The City of Los Angeles is committed to reforming the City’s Development Review Process. Once the Department of City Planning has determined that a homeowner’s remodeling project or a developer’s complex complies with the City’s General Plan, many complain that the design, permitting, and review processes are cumbersome.

Therefore, the goals of the reform effort are to reduce processing times, increase transparency, and make the process easier to understand for all stakeholders. The City has engaged KH Consulting Group (KH) to assist in the reform effort. As an important part of the reform process, we need to hear from our external stakeholders. We are therefore inviting key community leaders to provide us with input on what improvements are needed in moving forward versus rehashing the problems of the past.

The four following forums will be held specifically for the community:

Date: February 9, 2011
Time: 6:DO pm-8:00 pm
Place: Marvin Braude San Fernando
Valley Constituent Service Center
Conference Room lB (ln floor)
6262 Van Nuys Blvd
Van Nuys, CA 91401

Date: February 10, 2011
Time: 6:00 pm-8:00 pm
Place: Glassell Senior Citizen Center
37S0 Verdugo Road
Los Angeles, CA 9006S

Date: February 16, 2011
Time: 6:00 pm-8:00 pm
Place: Felicia Mahood Senior Center
11338 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Date: February 17, 2011
Time: 6:00 pm-8:00 pm
Place: Exposition Park
Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune
Regional Branch Library
3900 S. Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90028

We look forward to your participation and insights.

Please RSVP to Claudia Rodriguez at the ,Department of City Planning at 213-978-1283 or
claudia.rodriguez@lacity.org. or online at: http://www.surveymk.com/s/2RSVP

Request for Support

August 17th, 2010

REQUEST FOR SUPPORT

The City Department of Planning has posted the Negative Declaration for the adoption of Citywide Urban Design Guidelines (Guidelines) which has a comment deadline of August 25, 2010. These Guidelines will be an Appendix to the General Plan Framework Element for Multifamily Residential, Mixed-Use, Commercial and Industrial land uses (see project description below). The purpose of the Design Guidelines is twofold: to implement the design values in the 10 Urban Design Principles, a part of the Framework Element, on individual projects; and to consolidate basic Design Guidelines common throughout most Community Plans in one document. The Design Guidelines will establish design expectations for new development based on Citywide goals, policies and objectives.

In response to our complaints, the Planning Department has extended the public comment period on the Negative Declaration to September 7, 2010 in lieu of August 25. This update will be published in Thursday’s date LA Times classified section.

Reportedly, the draft guidelines will be released shortly along with the invitation to participate in public discussion meetings. It is time for Neighborhood Council (NC) land use committees to agendize, review and comment.

In our ongoing efforts to promote judicious communications, openness, and citizen participation in this and all planning processes, we would suggest that NC comments address both procedural and content issue concerns:

First, the date extension does not negate the primary concern that the Negative Declaration was released before the Guidelines; and, secondly, adequate time was not provided to stakeholders (community) for review of the Guidelines, after their release and before the Negative Declaration comment period closed.

Most important, we are concerned that although the letter of the law may have been followed, the process has included only a token outreach, notification and stakeholder (community) involvement and no Neighborhood Council involvement. We advocate a more open process and adequate time to review the actual guidelines. For this and all land use matters, in order for each Neighborhood Council to have the opportunity to review these materials, we urge the Planning Department to allow for and build into the schedule a minimum of 60-days for NC review and comment. In order to understand the process; to be sure NC comments are incorporated into the staff report that ultimately goes to the City Planning Commission and to allow for expanded stakeholder outreach and for participation in the process. It is important to open the dialogue and realize that the NCs not only need to see the actual product that they are commenting on, but also need time to bring stakeholders into the discussion.

The goal should be for a place for stakeholder involvement in the discussions during development of planning products so that community thoughts are incorporated into the proposals making for stronger draft documents. This could also mean that NCs are no longer placed in the position of criticizing Planning Deptment initiatives; but rather would serve as a source of support as initiatives move through the review process. NC contributions should be incorporated into the staff report that ultimately goes to the City Planning Commission. It is important to open the dialogue and realize that the NCs not only need to see the actual product that they are commenting on, but also need time to bring the discussion to their stakeholders. Too often, time is not incorporated into comment periods that allow NCs to meet Brown Act requirements, to say nothing about convening a robust community dialogue.

Below is a sample resolution and additional background information on this proposed project and related process.

RESOLUTION

WHEREAS:
The City of Los Angeles Planning Department’s contemplated Policy Motion regarding Mitigated Negative Declaration does not allow adequate time for Neighborhood Councils’ to deliberate and input,

WHEREAS:
The City of Los Angeles Planning Department has failed to post all background research documentation related to this issue (project),

WHEREAS:
The City of Los Angeles Planning Department has failed to fully disclose the precise text of these proposed changes and how they fit into the General Plan Framework Element;

The [your name] Neighborhood Council endorses the resolution to require the Planning Department to post all background research documents related to NEGATIV DECLARATION-NG-10-280-PL: ENV-2010-715 online; to provide full disclosure of the precise text of these proposed changes and how they fit into the General Plan Framework Element; and to restart the Negative Declaration process at the time these documents are posted to provide for full review of the Guidelines and the Negative Declaration in accordance with CEQA notification and review requirements.

BACKGROUND

The City Planning Department has released the Negative Declaration on Urban Design Guidelines that have not been completed. It is their finding that these Guidelines have no environmental impacts. The Notice includes a close of public comment on the Negative Declaration as August 25, 2010. This date is before the Guidelines are projected to be completed and available for review.

To put out a Negative Declaration before the proposed Guidelines (the Project) are circulated is not good planning practice. They must be circulated concurrently. How can one comment on or review potential impacts without seeing the actual Guidelines? Further, if the actual guidelines differ from that described in the environmental document, then there is a real problem. In that case, the environmental document will have to be updated and re-circulated for public review. It is better planning practice to circulate the environmental documentation concurrently with the actual project description in order to avoid confusion and lack of public trust. While the published environmental notice has an August 25, 2010 deadline for comments, the Negative Declaration is not adopted until the City Planning Commission takes an action on it. Accordingly, there is opportunity to comment on the environmental document up to and including the public hearing before the Planning Commission. The date has not been set for that hearing, but is projected to be either mid-September or October.

Cindy Cleghorn, PlanCheckNC and Lucille Saunders, La Brea Willoughby Coalition, met with Michelle Sorkin and the assigned Intern at the Department of City Planning who are the lead planners assigned to this project. Sorkin said that Los Angeles does not have urban design guidelines as other jurisdictions do and that Guidelines are long overdue in the City of Los Angeles. They have studied 20 or so other guidelines as part of their research. The guidelines will be a tool in addition to Community Plans, Specific Plans and other existing design guidelines. We have been told that two public meetings are being scheduled for August 30 and 31. This is a short time window for scheduling and we would suggest these meetings not be held until the Guidelines have been released and NCs have had an adequate opportunity to review them. Public comments on the environmental aspects on the Citywide Guidelines cannot be addressed without adequate citizen input into the Guidelines. And then, the basic planning process to judge environmental impacts on those Guidelines would follow.

This has been a project of the Department of City Planning as part of their “Do Real Planning” policy for two years, but the process of the release of the Negative Declaration and Guidelines and expected adoption by the City Planning Commission in 2010 are now moving very quickly particularly given how long the City has been working on the Draft Guidelines. They also tie in with the City’s Urban Design Studio that Emily Gabel-Luddy (now retired) and Simon Pastucha established. Gabel-Luddy and Pastucha introduced their design concepts at PlanCheckNC and several neighborhood council groups and coalitions a couple of years ago. Upon adoption of the new Citywide Urban Design Guidelines they will form the basis for a checklist for all projects.

NCs have an opportunity to get involved now but we must do so quickly and work together to get the word out. By sending out this notice, we are alerting NC Land Use Committees so they can agendize and discuss the Guidelines. Attend all public meetings and weigh in at that level and encourage participation by our land use committees and stakeholders. PlanCheckNC will also continue to work to open the Department of City Planning communication loop sooner so we do not continue to find out about these types of projects and issues at this late stage.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION FROM NEGATIVE DECELERATION
NEGATIVE DECLARATION-NG-10-280-PL: ENV-2010-715 Citywide. The proposed project involves the adoption of Citywide Urban Design Guidelines (“Design Guidelines”) as an Appendix to the General Plan Framework Element for Multifamily Residential, Mixed-Use, Commercial and Industrial land uses. The purpose of the Design Guidelines is twofold: to implement the design values in the 10 Urban Design Principles, a part of the Framework Element, on individual projects; and to consolidate basic Design Guidelines common throughout most Community Plans in one document, allowing individual New Community Plans to provide tailored, neighborhood-specific Design guidelines. The Design Guidelines will establish design expectations for new development based on Citywide goals, policies and objectives. The Design Guidelines will illustrate ways for individual projects to promote walkability, maintain neighborhood form and character, and promote creative infill development solutions. The Design Guidelines will apply to all new developments and substantial building alterations that require discretionary approvals from the Dept. of City Planning. As well, they may also be used by staff in other Departments or community members for advisory review of new development applications. Please call Michelle Sorkin a DAY in advance to review the file: (213) 978-1199. If she is not available, please leave message. Documents are available for REVIEW by APPOINTMENT only at: Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N. Spring St., Rm. 621, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Comments can be faxed: (213) 978-1226. REVIEW/COMMENT period ends: Aug. 25, 2010.

Urban Design Guidelines DRAFT to be released

August 16th, 2010

Urban Design Guidelines
DRAFT to be released

Neighborhood Councils and community groups across the City should be alert to the release of the Citywide Urban Design Guidelines for the City of Los Angeles.  This has been a project of the Department of City Planning for some time but the first we’ve heard about its release for public comment and expected adoption by the City Planning Commission in 2010 is just this past week.  With the City’s budget cuts and especially the cut backs in City Planning staff, the process of the release of the environmental document (Negative Declaration) and draft guidelines are a big surprise.   We have an opportunity to get involved now but we must do so quickly and work together to get the word out.  The negative declaration document is out and has a comment deadline of Aug. 25.  Because of our efforts, this date is being extended to September 7, 2010. The draft guidelines will be released any day now along with the invitation to participate in public discussion meetings.   Its time for land use committees to agendize, review and comment.

The Citywide Design Guidelines have been a project of the Department of City Planning as directed by the City Planning Commission and part of their “Do Real Planning” policy.  They also tie in with the City’s Urban Design Studio that Emily Gabel-Luddy (now retired) and Simon Pastucha established.  You may recall that Emily and Simon presented their plans and projects at PlanCheck and several neighborhood council groups and coalitions a couple of years ago.  The Urban Design Studio is part of the City of Los Angeles Planning Department and has completed projects such as: Walkability Checklist, Downtown New Street Standards, Downtown Design Guide, Central City Community Plan: Urban Design Chapter, Placemaking Academy.  For more information on the Urban Design Studio see http://www.urbandesignla.com/   Upon adoption of the new Citywide Urban Design Guidelines there will be a checklist for all projects.

We met with Michelle Sorkin (Project Lead) and Mindy Nguyen (Intern) at the Department of City Planning assigned to this project. The Citywide Urban Design Guidelines are for residential, commercial and industrial.  Lucille Saunders who is with the La Brea Coalition, arranged for our meeting.  Michelle said that Los Angeles does not have urban design guidelines like other jurisdictions do and that they are long overdue in the City of Los Angeles.  They have studied 20 or so other guidelines as part of their research.  The guidelines will be a tool in addition to Community Plans, Specific Plans and other existing design guidelines already in place.

The purpose of our meeting was to ask about the process of the release to the public of first the negative declaration that is currently out for public comment with a Aug. 25, 2010 comment deadline.  Without the guidelines, how can the public comment on that environmental document?   We learned that it is common for the City of Los Angeles to release a negative declaration (CEQA environmental document) prior to the guidelines. It is just how the city does it.   But, even though the published environmental notice has a Aug. 25, 2010 deadline for comments, anyone can comment up to the City Planning Commission hearing which appears to be a month or so away.  Date has not been set for that hearing.  The draft guidelines look to be ready and Lucille and I received copies.  I asked for a digital copy so we can get them distributed.  Michelle said that three public meetings are being scheduled for August 30 and 31.  No other details so far other than the dates and that they will be held in the evening. They are developing a brochure to go with the public notice.  With today’s date of August 13, 2010 we let her know that this is a short time window for scheduling as most of us have meetings scheduled six weeks ahead now.  A longer time should be considered.  Michelle said that even though the published environmental notice indicates the cut off time for comments as Aug. 25, it will be extended as a result of Lucille’s concern.  Michelle’s emphasis that Environmental notices are usually allowed comment up to and including the public hearing before the City Planning Commission met with surprise.

Where do we go from here?  This is part of a work plan that PlanCheck has not been in the loop on.  I’m not sure that we can ever get that information but that may be the missing link.  Had we known, we could publish a list of Citywide work projects that planners are working on so we can check in on their release from time to time.  By sending out this notice, we are alerting our Land Use Committees so they can be looking to agendize and discuss the guidelines.  Attend all public meetings and weigh in at that level, encourage participation by our land use committees and stakeholders.  PlanCheck continues to work to get in the communication loop sooner so we don’t find out about these types of projects and issues at this stage.  Our goals have always been “early notification”.  We need to make sure we are part of the process at the earliest possible stage just like any other project.

Cindy Cleghorn,
PlanCheckNCLA

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