Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s budget for the next fiscal year includes plans to consolidate the City of Los Angeles Building and Safety Department with the Department of City Planning by January 2014. The Planning Report recently sat down with Los Angeles Planning Director Michael LoGrande to learn about the merger’s goals, timeline, and strategies for implementation. The plan has raised eyebrows, given the long-range nature of planning versus the immediate and theoretically expeditious permitting approach of Building and Safety.
Among myriad benefits, LoGrande sees the hybrid department as strengthening the importance of planning in L.A.’s development process by fostering a staff more attuned to the overall goals of the projects they assist. In this way, developers working with the City on projects will be able to pass all approvals through one department rather than many. But could the merger draw focus away from planning? LoGrande believes this grants planning sharper teeth, noting, "The new department will ensure that the community plans are being complied with and implemented."