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Op-Ed: It’s Long Past Time for Planning Reform in L.A.

Another corruption scandal involving a Los Angeles city councilmember highlights the urgent need for major planning changes in the city.
October 19, 2020, 12pm PDT | Camille Fink
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Downtown Los Angeles

The most recent incident of political corruption in Los Angeles involves City Councilmember Jose Huizar, who i accused of seeking bribes and campaign donations from real estate developers in exchange for project approvals.

"To try to prevent future corruption, the city needs to fix what’s broken about L.A. planning — by fully updating planning and zoning laws according to the recommendations of an outside commission, not the council," argue Rick Cole, Gail Goldberg, and Bud Ovrom.

They point to the root of the problem as an outdated and onerous planning process that gives city councilmembers the ability to approve or deny projects in their districts. Updated planning codes would help with corruption, but real change would require going further by the establishment of a commission to guide reform efforts.

"The planning reform commission should be made up of a diverse group of respected civic leaders from community, neighborhood, business, and labor organizations, including acknowledged planning experts, such as those at the schools of planning at UCLA and USC. To ensure equity, the appointments could not be tilted toward real estate interests or affluent homeowners," say Cole, Goldberg, and Ovrom.

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Published on Tuesday, October 6, 2020 in Los Angeles Times
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