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12 to 2 L.A. Chamber of Commerce December 2, 2009 Civic Enterprise Associates LLC
What We Want What We Often Get What We Often Get Photos courtesy of Echo Park Valley Historical Society
What We Want What We Often Get What We Often Get
“Creatures of the Code” Convenience Store “3 over 1” or “4 over 1” Condo/Apt. Auto Service Drug Store
Applicant’s Perspective What we want • Certainty • Reasonable regulatory costs & risk • Clear points of authority • Protection when we do the right thing What we get • Everything is discretionary • High regulatory costs & risk • Only the Council Office can resolve conflict • Protection when we build “creatures of the code” • Exposure when we build to local context
The highest levels of government spend too much time dealing with the lowest-level issues.
Preliminary 2006 building permits for multi-family residential buildings containing 2 or more units* Total number of projects = 595 28 projects > 100 units 567 projects < 100 units. 547 projects < 50 units. 411 projects < 10 units (69%) Source: LA City Planning Department
Even the smallest projects needs a lobbyist.It is nearly impossible to develop smaller, more affordable projects without subsidies.
What is the process? Land-use Entitlements • Project application • 12 departments review application and issue staff reports (180 days) • Hearing Officer receives reports and public comment • Hearing Officer issues determination letter with conditions of approval. (90 days) • Applicant negotiates with each department to clear conditions. (90-180 days) Building Permits • Building permit application • Building Dept. issues “clearance sheet” • Applicant negotiates with each department on clearance sheet to obtain clearances. • After all clearances, Building Dept. will check plans, issue corrections and issue building permit.
Where do problems arise? • Departments review applications in a vacuum • Case management is helpful but not sufficient • No formal framework for resolving conflicts among conditions. (Ex. Street-widening.) • Departments defer real review (“to the satisfaction of” conditions) • Culture of negotiating rather than planning the public right-of-way • Perception that efficiency means “permissiveness”
Anecdotes • Housing Department Conditions delay affordable units • Planning Department asks Engineering not to request street widening • Sewer facilities “to the satisfaction of the City Engineer” • Urban Forestry won’t allow tree removal BOE’s street widening would require
What hasn’t worked so well: Coordination at the GM level. What may work better: line-level interdeparmental teams that work together over long periods. A model for success: Adaptive Reuse Ordinance
How Could a Functional Process Work? • By requiring that departments coordinate more at the plan stage • By creating a more transparent administrative process (incl. single IT system) • By creating area-specific, interdepartmental teams • By putting a city staffer in charge of each project from start to finish • By helping create a formal framework for resolving conflicts prior to the hearing • By favoring performance over prescriptive code implementation, even for new buildings
Keys to ARO’s Success • Performance versus prescriptive code implementation • Strong leadership • Line-level teams with decision-making power
“Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex and intelligent behavior.Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple and stupid behavior.”--Visa Founder Dee HockQuoted in “Getting Things Done” by David Allen