Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Eric Garcetti is proposing changes to neighborhood development

Talk to any developer in Los Angeles and they’ll tell you
that the development process in the city is uncertain to
the extreme and often a disincentive to smart growth.
Hoping to cure the city’s development process of its bureaucratic inefficiencies,
City Council President Eric Garcetti has proposed
the “12 to 2” plan. In the following The Planning Report (TPR) interview,
Council President Garcetti describes the type of good planning that L.A. needs
and how his proposal will help rebuild the city’s neighborhoods.

An excerpt from the interview on "Smart Growth" ;

TPR- Before David Zahniser moved from L.A. Weekly to the L.A. Times,
he wrote a strong indictment of the language
and hype around smart growth in L.A.
What is your reaction to his analysis of the evolution of the term “smart growth”?

Garcetti- I don’t disagree with Zahniser that smart growth has,
in many cases, become all things to all people
—that it is too broadly and too loosely used.
In reaction, we can confirm that what we’ve had in
the last two decades has really been, in many cases, dumb growth.
We’ve added people to the region without planning for it,
and we’ve pretended that if we didn’t build anything, folks wouldn’t come.
We know, however, that over the next two decades, most of our growth will be indigenous.
Two-thirds of our population increase in the region
will be from people who are already here having children.
I try to focus on the content of good,
neighborhood-oriented development,
because the average person doesn’t know what smart growth means,
nor should they because it’s been used in so many different ways.
They do know that they need a dry cleaner down the street.
They know that they need a store that they can walk to
instead of having to get into the car and be stuck in traffic.
They do know it would be nice to make friends by riding a bike to a local café where
they can sit on a sidewalk that is pedestrian-friendly and safe.
There was also a piece by Sharon Bernstein in the Los Angeles Times
about transit-oriented development and
how not enough people who live near public transit actually use it.
We do need to reach a tipping point where people will continue to embrace transit options.
But it’s not just about people discarding their car.
The car is too much a part of Los Angeles’ culture
and too much of what we need to navigate the very complex terrain here.
But when you look at the car trips we take,
only one out of three of them is for our commute to and from work.
What we have to do as a city is provide options to people
for the other two trips, whether that is meeting up with friends at a movie
or a trip to visit somebody for a lunch meeting
—that people can actually take a couple car trips off of the street each week
because they have such options as walking,
the subway, the bus, neighborhood circulators like our DASH buses, or bicycles.
In my office, every employee has to carpool,
take public transit, walk, or bike to work once a week.
It’s not a big sacrifice, but in doing so we can quantify how many hundreds of miles
of trips we’re taking off the street each week and
how many pounds of carbon we take out of the air.
Those are the sorts of good planning responses
that I would say are needed for a reaction to “smart growth.”

The Planning Report

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