By SARAH CONNOR | Special to the Palisadian-Post
At its 58th annual meeting, the Pacific Palisades Residents Association invited Jill Stewart, campaign director of the Coalition to Preserve LA, and Dick Platkin, former Los Angeles city planner, to speak about controversial issues in the city of LA’s Planning Department approval process.
Platkin summed up the core of the controversy by saying, as a city planner, he was told to approve all proposed development projects (although, to be fair, he was permitted to stipulate conditions to his approval).
Stewart then shared a link to a ULI-LA forum in which Vince Bertoni, the director of City Planning, stated developers are the customers of the Planning Department and “ … what we do is all discretionary.”
Stewart contrasted Bertoni’s statements with the legal requirement that City Planning enforce the city’s zoning code and the presumption that their customers are all citizens of LA, not just developers.
The coalition is a sponsor of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, which will be on the March 2017 ballot. Stewart, famed as a fiery journalist, mentioned that four billionaire developers are funding attempts to defeat the initiative.
The initiative seeks to correct some of the biggest problems with the current city approval process.
Stewart corrected a common misconception by stating that the initiative’s two-year development approval moratorium would not affect the approval of projects that conform to LA’s current zoning code.
The moratorium only would prevent the construction of new projects that violate city zoning. The goal of the moratorium is to prevent developers from using their influence with city decision makers to get exceptions to zoning in order to build non-conforming projects.
A first-hand account of issues encountered by the local Save the Bluffs movement with City Planning was explained.
After the West LA Area Planning Commission unanimously overturned City Planning’s approval of a non-conforming apartment project at 17000 Sunset Blvd., City Planning delayed issuing the related decision for six months and then produced a decision that conflicted significantly with the commission’s findings, as recorded in the hearing transcript. Community members had to go back to the Planning Commission for two additional hearings in order to force City Planning to issue an accurate decision.
PPRA encourages all Palisades residents who care about the quality of life in Pacific Palisades to get informed about the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative at 2preservela.org and to get involved with PPRA, either through volunteering time or making a contribution.
PPRA is a nonprofit organization founded in 1958 to preserve the quality of life in the Palisades. Significant efforts have involved preventing oil drilling, reducing the size of the Highlands development and preventing the construction of a highway to the Valley through the Highlands.
For more information, community members are invited to stay connected with PPRA on Facebook at Pacific Palisades Residents Association page. In addition, join PPRA’s mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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