As my mother said to me, after being divorced for 30 years from my father, and learning he was now, 30 years later, dating another woman: “That does it!”
After last night’s City Council meeting, where Ken Gensers’ valiant fight against taller and more dense LUCE recommendations for Wilshire, Santa Monica Blvd and Pico were defeated 4-3, I realized that the final nail in our coffin has been struck. Now I feel the same: “That does it!”
Ken’s thoughtful objections, with the support of Bobby Shriver and Kevin McKeown, to staff and councilmembers precisely noting that heights and density on those streets should be categorically denied were refused, obfuscated, “put off to later,” and denied. Ken was correct – it is too much!
I did not sign the RIFT petition, feeling skeptical about its purpose, its potential conflict w/LUCE plan and the low 75K annual limit. I have waited six months to arrive at this conclusion of full support of RIFT. I have attended the workshops, read the full draft LUCE document, recommended and had adopted many ideas and changes and have watched the LUCE process proceed. Now, with it having moved from Planning to Council, I have watched to see how the wind is blowing. Wrong direction I’m afraid.
We on the Planning Commission have been repeatedly told that this is a living document, that it can be changed as we go along, that there are unfinished areas to be resolved later, that council can reduce the proposals, start higher and negotiate lower, etc. Unfortunately, that is not what is happening. Once the council has decided, as they did last night, the LUCE plan is very strongly on its way to full adoption – the horse is out of the barn. My 20 years involvement in this city has taught me that as proposals evolve, and gather confirmation and council support it is virtually impossible to make significant changes – i.e. height reductions, lower density. I predict that will happen here. That is why RIFT is our only and best answer to seriously control growth/density.
The SCAG projections are for 215 new residents total per year over the next 20 years. Compare that w/the hundreds of new condos being permitted under LUCE plans for “Activity Centers,” Bergamot, LMSD – a clear disconnect between need and supply. “Workforce” housing pricing is defined as persons with $130,000/year incomes. Is that the kind of “workforce housing” that what you want? Not me.
Where is our Needs Assessment? What are we planning for? The LUCE does not say: “we need this, don’t need that,” except in broad generalizations. The specific plans of action, however, do not coordinate the need (demand) with supply, because we have not assessed the need in the first place.
RIFT says only 75K per year. With the myriad of exceptions, hospital, schools, government, worship centers, senior care housing, affordable housing, under 7500 sq ft. OK anywhere, commercial only, not impacting any R zoned residential development – we will have plenty of development over the next 20 years. The last general plan in 1985, designed for 20 years, saw us build to the projected limit in only approximately 9 years – and then more and more since 1994. I don’t want that to happen again. We need to control the amount of new development in our city. Even if I felt, as I did, that 75K is too little, I had a choice of much more (as currently proposed) or much less (as RIFT says 75K). I choose much less. If I’m making an error, I choose to err on the lesser side, rather than regretting “too much” after it is built.
Attitude: it is clear to me that the “build to bigger, best and highest use” is the prevailing attitude both on the Planning Commission and City Council. This is wrong for our city. Where are the brakes? Where is the “go-slow” approach? Where is the “watch and analyze as we progress” plans? Where do we say NO! – don’t even study this or that?
History in our city has proven that this doesn’t happen. We have chosen not to stop building once a course is set. All the pressures; developers, attorneys, lawsuits, staff time, political will, etc. all conspire to permit ongoing development without strong controls to stop it when it exceeds planned limits.
I still plan to push for reduction of the Downtown District borders, now expanded to both sides of Lincoln –I don’t want towering structures, canyonization on Lincoln like it is now on Colorado, Broadway, 5th, 6th, and 7th. I will push for AFFORDABLE long-term care facilities – $5000-$6000 per month is too much for most of our ever growing senior population, my self and wife included. I say convert existing residential apartments for long-term care to keep the prices down – and yes, regulate the prices.
There is more to be said, but enough for now.
Jay P. Johnson
20-year resident, SMRR member,