Should L.A. Merge Its Planning and Building & Safety Departments?
On November 15th, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson attended a breakfast held by the American Institute of Architects, a forum for exploring ideas and discussing possibilities for the future of Los Angeles. With the City of Los Angeles facing serious budgetary challenges, no budget solution can be left off the table, no matter how challenging and unusual. The Planning Report presents the following partial transcript of Wesson’s candid discussion on the pros and cons of merging the Department of Building and Safety with Planning.
Council President Wesson approaches the issue by acknowledging that Building and Safety and Planning are the two departments that receive the most complaints. The audience of professionals, however, notes that Planning receives complaints because the City has not invested in upgrading the Los Angeles zoning code since the 1940s, and the functions of both departments do not particularly overlap. Wesson's discussion illustrates the effect that fiscal burdens take on cities today. As American urban areas continue to grow, municipalities are forced to cut the tools they need to accomodate change.