Archive for the ‘Specific Plans’ Category

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 or online at:

City Planning to host Informational Meetings

September 18th, 2010

Note: This notice arrived end of day Friday. The Oct. 9 date and time conflicts with PlanCheck’s already confirmed meeting. Also the deadline for comments is the day before the Oct. 9 meeting. We are working to reconfirm these meeting dates and times and will post here when we know. Thank you.

Please share with your distribution lists:

The Department of City Planning invites you to attend one of four upcoming informational meetings about the proposed Core Findings and Community Care Facilities Code Amendments. For more information about both of these efforts including the staff report and draft ordinances, please see the “What’s New” section of the Planning Department’s homepage: **

Meetings will be held on September 25th, and October 2nd, 6th and 9th at the
following times and locations:

September 25, 10 am – 2 pm
Betty Hill Senior Center
3570 S. Denker Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90018

October 2, 10 am – 2 pm
El Sereno Recreation Center
4721 Klamath Street
Los Angeles, CA 90032
(community room)

October 6, 5-9 pm
Felicia Mahood Senior Center
11338 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

October 9, 10 am – 2 pm
Marvin Braude Center
6262 Van Nuys Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 91401
(1st floor meeting room)

Important Upcoming Dates to Remember:
10/7: Last day for formal written comments to Commission Secretariat on Core
Findings & Community Care (Please note that comments are also taken at CPC on these items both verbal and in writing) 10/14: CPC Meeting, Thursday, after 8:30am, City Hall, 200 N. Spring St., Room 1010, 10th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Please see the attached flyer for more information about these information sessions.

For questions, please contact Gabriela Juarez at or (213) 978-1337.

Gabriela Juarez
Department of City Planning
Code Studies Section
200 N Spring St, Room #763
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Mailstop: 395
Ph: (213) 978-1337
Fax: (213) 978-1334

PlanCheckNCLA Newsletter

September 8th, 2010

Click Here for PlanCheckNCLA News

Request for Support

August 17th, 2010


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.


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,

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

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.


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.

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.

Meeting Report for May 8, 2010

May 16th, 2010

Simplification of the Zoning Code
Guest Speakers.

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

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

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 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:

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 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 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

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.

April 2010 – PlanCheckNC Meeting Report

April 17th, 2010
Tom Rothmann, LA City Planning Code Studies gave an update on the  following:
Zoning Code Simplification – City Planning has been doing an in-depth analysis to revise the Zoning Code.  They expect to have it to the City Planning Commission in the summer.  They are working on the 12.36 section of the Code that involves “multiple approvals”. There will be workshops on this long-in-process revision to the municipal code.  Tom Rothmann and Alan Bell will be at PlanCheckNCLA on May 8 to discuss this revision to the municipal code.
Joint Live-Work –aka Artist in Residence  (Council File: 09-1845):  City Council passed it mid-March and it is waiting for Coastal Commission review.  It was first established as 70% commercial and 30% residential, but now is 90% residential and 10% commercial.  The revision was made to assist with obtaining financing.  They are working on mixed-use Downtown to  incorporate FAR averaging for mixed use for commercial and residential  so as to transfer within unified developments.  Trying to streamline this to allow height in one area and a trade-off for open space in another.  Allows for flexibility.  The old report from 2008  is on the City Planning website.
Truck Garden Ordinance (CPC-2010-445) adopted by the CPC last week.  Itemizes between  truck gardening and farming making the guidelines clear.  Question  about pesticides and this is not a land use issue.  This does not  apply to any large scale agricultural use.  Home occupations rules  would still apply.  This applies to growing small garden items and  selling offsite (such as Farmers Markets).
Shopping Cart Ordinance – (Council File: 08-2070) to restrict carts to store lots (modeled after the  City of Glendale’s).  Report will be to PLUM in about two weeks.  Glendale has an ordinance for any business with 6 or more shopping carts that has been 100% effective.  This will accomplish the following: 1) Standards for any new developments and 2) Systematic program for onsite compliance.  See CF-08-207.
Sober living homes (Council File: 07-3427):  Community care facilities draft ordinance is being brought to the Commissions in the next few months.  Sober Living Homes – Cannot regulate families.  Transient occupancy does not allow occupancies less than 30 day stay.  Dept. Building and Safety can monitor who lives in a facility.
Accessory Dwelling Units (Council File: 09-2589) – With no local policy, the default is the state guidelines which are less restrictive than the interim guidelines under which the City had been operating.  A memo will be issued after it is reviewed by the City Attorney.  The limit will be a 1200 sq. ft. size   Results of the PlanCheckNCLA Survey have been posted on PlanCheckNCLA at IN THE NEWS.
SB1818 – City of L.A. has modified to match to the State of California.  Some modifications because of lawsuit.
Contact information for Tom Rothmann:
PlanCheckNCLA Contact information:  Maggi Fajnor –
                                           Cindy Cleghorn –

PRESENTERS — Creating Community Partnerships –Development and CUPs with

Ira Handelman
Kate Bartolo
Elizabeth Peterson
Ira Handelman – Who is the community ?  Who represents the community ?  Even NCs can’t  say they represent the community, nor neighborhood groups and organizations.  Who makes the deal with the adjacent neighbors?  Even Chambers of Commerce because their focus is “business friendly” no matter what business it is.  We are in a crisis in the City of Los Angeles and we need to understand the consequences of saying “no”.  It’s really about talking and listening.  Things are not enforced by the City now.  A project in your neighborhood may affect other neighborhoods.  In the future we won’t be getting the City services.  Developers aren’t bad guys.  Its understood and expected that people want things closer to where they live.  If you really want something done, a lot of trust is needed and to be realistic.  There are lots of empty spaces to fill.
Kate Bartolo – In the City of L.A. projects are reviewed individually and this makes existing problems worse.  There are bad developers out there.  There’s a new breed of developers and consultants and we need to find out who they are.  She tells her clients that if you lie to her or to the City, you’re fired!  She impressed upon us that working early is key.   Its key because of the needed funding and a lot of details can be worked out early on.  She looks for developments with articulation and forward residential with lowered heights next to existing residential.  Much coordination is done by phone, 7 meetings and 20 conversations.  Suggests “always” to use materials that are similar in the neighborhood, distinctive but common.  Count the ways to “love” the project is based on the upfront time spent on it.  You never get another chance to make a good first impression.  Develop a live, drive and walk in a neighborhood to understand what they want.  It’s all in direct relation to job creation and tax revenue.  The perception to delay increases costs in the long run.  Bring in architects on a pro bono basis.  Ask planners what we can do better.  Don’t judge a project according to the sins of the father.  An example of a dog park created with a dual use of an alley gives the ability to close off the alley for events and created opportunities for first time homebuyers Program.
Elizabeth –  built jazz clubs.  Broken window syndrome, one block at a time, one window at a time.  NCs need to look at infill and support.  Timing is everything.  Have to have a positive impact.  Developments need to be light, bright and airy.  Toy Factory building had only 3  employees and it now has over 500.  Wally’s in Westwood has been challenged by a Homeowners Assn objecting to their new development.   She’s been working on the Magnolia Bakery on 3rd Street with the “universal valet” program which i
s a shared parking program.  Bud Ovrum, Michael LoGrande involved.  Councilmembers have to get out in  front of a project and speak to their likeness for it.  Mixed uses should be horizontal.  What do you want in your area?  Cohesive way.  Place where people will come “can walk anywhere”. What will these  mixtures of uses mean?  DLANC has a list of questions they ask of projects.  For mixed uses, are they pedestrian traffic, landscape  plan, jobs bringing in.  Bring in the naysayers.  Consultants feel powerless and NCs can help a great deal. City is broken and dysfunctional.  How you manage your people and make it all run more smoothly is key.  Go in with solutions.  Marshal own people and get them to agree.  Manage your own meetings.   If compatible with community a project will be successful.  The “its my property” is in the way you present it.   Define CUP, ZC, ZV.  Peet’s Cafe in Downtown LA became a “community center”.  Hold Qimby funds accountable.  Unify around a project:  the benefits and get the problems fixed.  Specific Plan updates are not going to happen.  We are spot zoned and we must look at things block by block.  NCs that actually visit sites are better.  It is the responsibility of the developer to teach how they can have a positive impact on the community.  Proactive development, good uses.  Sr. Leads can be a good resource as well as the Captain — good partners.  A partnership to being good neighbors. Commercial amenities, the centers: represent the neighborhood, needs and services.  Light industrial is not doing well