Saturday, June 28, 2008

Revisiting Planning Director’s SP Visit

Considering all the development-related stories in this week’s issue of San Pedro News, it is apropos to revisit City Planning Director Gail Goldberg’s remarks to San Pedro community members during a 2006 public forum on development. They include references to San Pedro’s community plan, a document that outlines land use for a given area. The community plan is currently being revised, through a public process conducted by the planning department. Under the current maps, Ponte Vista is not within the boundaries of the San Pedro community plan, though some community members are lobbying to change this. Goldberg’s quotes were originally published in More San Pedro on Nov. 25, 2006. – Editor.

On neighborhood councils, developers, and the politics of planning:

“I’ve asked myself the question, is real planning possible in LA? I think it is, if two constituent groups are behind it. We won’t be successful without both of them.

“Number one, the community and the neighborhood councils have to be supportive of real planning and I think they are. Communities want real planning because they need to know what is going to happen in their community and right now they don’t.

“People complain and say, ‘Oh, the neighborhood councils are against every project.’ Under the system we have here, I think a logical response by neighborhood councils is to be against every project because you have no idea what the next one is going to be.

“Number two, the plan needs to have the support of the development community, meaning it’s real. [Developers need to know that] when they look at a plan and they look at a zone, that’s what we want.

“In every other city in this country, the zone on the land establishes the value of the land. That’s the highest and best use.

“If it’s industrially zoned land, it’s worth $20 or $30 a square foot. In Los Angeles, that’s not true.

“The value of the land is not based on what the zone says or what the plan says. It’s based on what that developer believes he can change the zone to.

“That is disastrous for this city. Disastrous.

“I have to believe that the developers are getting sick of this. I have developers who come in to me and say, ‘I bought this industrial land. I paid conversion prices,’ -- meaning they didn’t pay $20 or $30; they paid $100 -- and I say to them, ‘Can you spell speculation?’

“And they say, ‘But, you’ve always done it. You’ve always converted.’

“I’m sorry, zoning has to mean something in this city.”

On preserving San Pedro’s character during the community planning process:

“A new plan has to have a good description – a good urban design section – that talks about the unique qualities of neighborhoods that are within the planning area and how it is that we are going to preserve and enhance those unique and distinctive qualities that make San Pedro very different from other communities.

“This is not a cookie-cutter approach. This is a way to create a plan that is tailored for your community.

“In order to do real planning with real plans and a real planning process, we’re going to be out talking to you about what you want to see in your plan and what your vision is for your community.”

On building community ownership of the plan:

“People ask about my vision for San Pedro. I can’t tell you what my vision is.

“My vision is to create a process where the goals of the city and the goals of the community come together to create a plan that you guys love and will fight for every day.

“I’m convinced that one of the huge problems in this city is that we plan project by project and that must stop. It won’t stop until you get a great plan and you will fight for it and I will fight for it every day.”

Goldberg’s opinion of San Pedro:

“We’re really excited at the prospect of working with folks in San Pedro . . . . I think something really wonderful can happen in San Pedro.

“You have beautiful residential neighborhoods. You have a downtown that just screams for revitalization.

“I can almost imagine it in the future as this fabulous place that people from all over this city want to come to. I’m really looking forward to working with you to create it.”

Regarding downtown San Pedro:

“The community plan has to deal very specifically with downtown. You’re right be concerned about the scale of redevelopment.

“Downtown is a wonderful pedestrian scale that, I think, clearly needs to be preserved. I think you can do that in the community plan by addressing a downtown district and talking about the unique characteristics that you want to preserve.”

No comments: