Urban Fold

L.A. Planning Director's Parting Words

'Sometimes the best incentive you can give is to get out of the way.' -- Con Howe, Los Angeles Planning director, reflecting on his strategy for spurring more housing Downtown.

"Late last month the 55-year-old Howe announced plans to leave his post once he becomes eligible for full retirement benefits in a few weeks. Mayor Jim Hahn is looking for a replacement, and Howe's nearly 13-year tenure will likely end in the next few months.

Though Howe stresses several times that his "swan song" has yet to come, the one-hour tour of Downtown's re-emerging core via a City-issued Honda hybrid becomes a sort of victory lap - and a subtle dig at critics who say he has taken a reactive rather than a proactive leadership role.

"You have to accept the fact that in planning you have to stay around long enough to see results because it doesn't happen fast. Even in strong markets," Howe says. "These types of developments on this scale take years. I worked on the convention center in New York City and there's still open landscape around it. So it doesn't surprise me if things take a while. It's hard to create something in a landscape that for decades has had huge blocks of surface parking."

Thanks to Chris Steins

Full Story: The Last Days of a Master Planner

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