Los Angeles City Planner Imparts Department Priorities

It will come as no surprise to those tracking the built environment in Los Angeles that City Planning currently faces a number of challenges.

2 minute read

July 24, 2014, 10:00 AM PDT

By Molly M. Strauss @mmstrauss

Still, the department continues to pursue a plethora of projects and initiatives. Principal City Planner Ken Bernstein provides an overview of ongoing priorities, updating readers on each one's status. He covers community planning, transit-oriented development, the Great Streets Initiative, Mobility Plan 2035, and Plan for a Healthy Los Angeles.

Addressing a major roadblock, Bernstein explains: "Last December, just as these plans were about to go to Council for final adoption, the City received the tentative decision (with the final decision in February) from the Los Angeles Superior Court striking down the Hollywood Community Plan based on perceived inadequacies in the plan’s environmental impact report... That court decision has had significant impacts and has prevented the speedy adoption of the remaining six plans. It’s meant that much of our community plan program this year is addressing the EIRs for pending plans, rather than achieving final adoption and freeing up our staff to begin new plans in other Los Angeles communities."

Despite frustrations around community planning, the department has successfully seized other opportunities. With two grants from Metro, City Planning is preparing transit-oriented development plans for neighborhoods surrounding Expo Phase II, the Westside Subway Extension, downtown rail stations, and the Orange Line in the Valley. Bernstein describes efforts to "reshape our transportation policies around the principles of 'complete streets'" through a new Mobility Plan, to update a Transportation Element dating back to the 1990s. Finally, he touches on "the city’s first-ever attempt to truly link public health and land use."

This TPR article appears as part two of two. The first segment of the interview with Bernstein, focusing on SurveyLA, can be found here.

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