Planners Express Frustration with Inertia in Los Angeles

"Whither planning in Los Angeles?" Sam Hall Kaplan seeks to find out.

When a Los Angeles County judge sided with residents in December who fought against updates to the Hollywood Community Plan that would have increased density around transit, the decision cast doubt upon community planning endeavors meant to take place across the rest of the city. In light of this event, Kaplan questions whether planning in Los Angeles still has teeth--relaying that "a frustrated gaggle of practitioners" feel the process "has become an ambiguous paper-pushing, in-and-out basket exercise, confusing the public and consuming scarce municipal dollars." 

Discussing the status of the profession with those behind the scenes, Kaplan gives voice to a variety of perspectives: "But then there are the other less shrill and more reasoned planning professionals who, while recognizing a fractured Southland and dearth of informed citizenry and leadership, argue that a sprawling Los Angeles pressured by inexorable growth desperately needs a planning vision to ensure its idiosyncratic character and tentative future—however imperfect the process."

Kaplan—a planner, writer, and academic—has worked as both a design critic for the Los Angeles Times and an urban affairs reporter for the New York Times, along with teaching at Art Center College of Design, Yale, and Princeton. His original critique for The Planning Report reflects the writer's own opinions and research. 

Full Story: Sam Hall Kaplan Opines on LA Public Dissatisfaction with Community Planning

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