Major changes in City’s development processes with all 35 Community Plans to be updated every six years, zone-change related General Plan Amendments for neighborhoods will now be considered in groups, and EIR consultants will come from pre-approved City of Los Angeles list
The Los Angeles City Council voted 12-0 Wednesday to require the Planning Department and City Attorney draft an ordinance and other recommendations to overhaul the City’s Community Plan policy, an effort spearheaded by Councilmember José Huizar as the Chair of the City’s Planning Committee. The City Council voted to approve implementation of an ordinance to update the City’s 35 Community Plans every six years, as well as provide the funding needed to do so; increase transparency and public confidence by requiring developers select Environmental Impact Report consultants for General Plan Amendments (GPAs) from a pre-approved City of Los Angeles list, and not by whoever the project developers choose on their own, as is current policy.
Wednesday’s vote comes after Huizar’s Planning & Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee voted last week to move the recommendations to the City Council. The Community Plan overhaul’s main points are in line with an April 2016 motion drafted by Councilmembers Huizar, Cedillo, Ryu, Blumenfield, O’Farrell, Bonin and Krekorian, with the support of Mayor Garcetti. The City’s Planning Department prepared a report, from which PLUM, and now the City Council, have approved key action items.
“Our Community Plans affect scores of communities, each as distinct and vital as the next, and we must require that these plans are regularly updated to allow stakeholders to weigh in on what they want their communities to look like,” said Councilmember Huizar. “We need to expedite this process so we can bring accountability and transparency back into our General Plan and Community Plan review processes – the public deserves no less. The City Council’s support allows us to move forward in addressing what has become a concern in neighborhoods throughout the City of Los Angeles.”
The City’s 35 Community Plans lay out guidelines for what can and cannot be built in any given neighborhood. This helps determine the different types of housing that can be developed, the jobs that can be supported in a community and other key quality-of-life measures. In the City of Los Angeles, 29 of our 35 Community Plans are 15 years old and older, including several that are reaching 20 years this year. In the past 10 years, only three Community Plans have been updated. Six others are in the process of updating.
Wednesday’s City Council action also requires full funding for the Community Plan updates, estimated at $10 million annually – with $5 million already earmarked by Mayor Garcetti in this year’s current budget. The Mayor has been a strong advocate for the plan and has worked with the City Council to support adding staff and funding to ensure an expedited community plan updated program. Wednesday’ action solidifies those plans.
Besides updating Community Plans every six years, and creating a list of City-approved EIR consultants when a General Plan Amendment (GPA) is sought, the Council also voted to batch GPA requests, or combine those requests so that multiple requests in a particular community are heard together every six months or annually, so that the overall impact of all GPAs for an area can be considered together.
The ordinance requests will be expedited with all 35 Community Plans in the City updated no later than 2024 and every six years after that.
Actions by PLUM and the Los Angeles City Council include:
1. INSTRUCT the Department of City Planning (DCP) and the City Administrative Officer to report with the necessary budget resources, staffing needs and funding analysis to implement a six year, accelerated update cycle, and for the DCP to report with a draft ordinance to codify that requirement.
2. INSTRUCT the DCP to immediately implement administrative procedures to batch General Plan Amendments, and to begin working on an ordinance to make General Plan Amendments batching the law.
3. INSTRUCT the DCP to immediately implement EIR Processing Option Two of the DCP report dated January 26, 2017 (attached to Council file No. 16-0422), requiring that all future EIRs associated with development be prepared only by City-approved consultants, and an applicant hire a consultant from the City's pre-qualified list.
4. INSTRUCT the DCP to issue a Request for Qualifications to establish a Pre-Qualified List of environmental consultants.