Has The Moment Arrived To End Political Interference in L.A. City's Land Use Decisions?

Writing under the nom de plume of the ghost of Ed Logue, an L.A.-based land use professional offers this modest proposal for eliminating political interference and campaign cash from L.A. city planning.

2 minute read

September 14, 2020, 10:00 AM PDT

By Clare Letmon

City Hall

trekandshoot / Shutterstock

In this exclusive op-ed for TPR, Ed(ifice) Locus*—a pseudonymous nod to legendary urban planner Ed Logue, and rooted in the Latin word for 'place'—asserts that decoupling campaign finance from land use planning is a necessary safeguard against the pay-to-play schemes that plague the city's entitlement process. Citing L.A. Metro's Conflict of Interest Code, Locus suggests the time has come for strong ethics rules that prohibit council members from voting on projects for campaign donors to begin to restore public faith in City Hall.

"This may be the moment we have dreamed for, the “time of opportunity” when we can finally do good land use planning in Los Angeles.

Truly revolting allegations of fraud and impropriety are in the papers almost every day, allegations that draw back the curtain on pollution in the municipal “entitlement” processes for real estate development. Yet, out of the trauma of this awful fraud, there may emerge a materially improved set of procedures that could render manifest benefits for improving our lives. 

Top quality urban planners have lamented (privately while in office and publicly after they left) that this city could not truly plan its future because of political interference in land use decisions.  It was City Councilmembers who called the shots, not the professional planners we admired, names like Cal Hamilton, Jane Usher, Con Howe and Gail Goldberg. City Council interference was a given. It was pervasive and was essentially required.

And we all knew that such interference could easily be purchased - for cash."

(*To protect the integrity of ongoing federal investigations into LA City Hall corruption, TPR has taken the unusual step of concealing the identity here of the LA-based land use professional who offers this modest proposal for eliminating political interference and campaign cash from LA city planning.) 

For the full article, visit The Planning Report.

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