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L.A.'s New Planning Director Vince Bertoni Shares His Vision

The new director of the Los Angeles Department of City Planning arrives at a pivotal moment for planning in the city, as countywide investment in public transit is blowing up and the flames of old development debates are being fanned.
February 18, 2016, 9am PST | Elana Eden
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In an interview with The Planning Report just after his confirmation, Vince Bertoni shared his vision for the future of planning in Los Angeles, which he says will help the city remain competitive even as demands on the urban sphere change rapidly.

Bertoni wants to steer the city toward synthesizing individual projects with long-range planning—a difficult task in a city notorious for its lack of consistency, consensus, and longevity in planning.

To that end, he's prepared some ambitious—but tangible—goals: He intends to focus on updating community plans “on an ongoing basis,” and to improve the city’s community engagement process by drawing on his experience in the smaller cities of Pasadena, Beverly Hills, Malibu, and Santa Clarita.

"When we do public outreach, we have to do it in a way that engages the diversity of opinions by putting those opinions in the same room," he explains. "They need to be hearing from each other as much as we need to be hearing from them… Over time, they start to appreciate the variety of viewpoints."

In addition to the nitty-gritty, Bertoni shares a holistic view on how cities can create places that remain both livable and competitive in a time when new technologies can effect radical changes in everything from land use to market conditions. The sharing economy is his go-to example.

"We’ve had 100 years worth of planning laws, rules, and zoning that all of a sudden, almost overnight, don’t seem to be effective in addressing these issues," he says.

So rather than try to predict the next Uber or play catch-up after the fact, Bertoni says, the planning community needs to broaden its perspective. "We need to ask ourselves: What does change [itself] mean now?"

Read more on the new planning director's approach in The Planning Report.

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Published on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 in The Planning Report
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