Posted: Friday, March 3, 2017 – 3:48 PM
(CNS) – The Los Angeles City Council Friday approved an increase in developer fees to help pay for a pending ordinance requiring the city to update its community plans every six years.
The community plans guide what can and cannot be built in a neighborhood, and 29 of the city’s 35 plans have not been updated in 15 years or more. Updating every six years will cost an estimated $12.55 million annually, according to a report from the city administrative officer.
The City Council recently approved the proposal requiring community plan updates every six years, but it will need to come back for a final vote once city attorneys draft the ordinance.
Friday’s motion, which was approved on a 10-0 vote, increases the General Plan Maintenance Surcharge from 2 percent to 7 percent, which city officials said would raise up to $5 million per year and help pay for the 30 additional staff positions the Department of City Planning will need to conduct the plan updates. The surcharge is placed on developers for any permit, plan check, license or application.
Councilman Jose Huizar said “one of the most fundamental tenets we should have is updated community plans and an updated General Plans, and the city should be ashamed that we haven’t done it in the past. But the good news is that we are finally doing it and we found the funding to do it and make it happen.”
Huizar helped push the motion requiring the increased timetable for community plans as a response to Measure S, which is on the March 7 city ballot. The measure would halt all General Plan amendments, or special permission to developers known as “spot zoning,” for two years while the city updates its General Plan and community plans.
Supporters of Measure S argue the city’s procedure of frequently granting spot zoning requests while elected officials routinely take campaign donations from developers creates a cozy relationship and leaves the impression that City Hall can be bought.
The council recently voted to draft ordinances requiring developers to select environmental impact report consultants from a pre-approved city list, and to clump all General Plan amendment requests by developers in a neighborhood together on a semi-annual basis so officials can weigh multiple development projects and their potential impacts more comprehensively.
Huizar backed the changes and told City News Service in January they came as a direct result of Measure S. But he also said he opposes the measure because the General Plan amendment ban “is going to bring the economy of the city of L.A. to a screeching halt.”
“There is understandable, necessary support around the city for updating our community plans. Everybody says we need to do it, but (Huizar) is the one who has explained how we are actually going to pay for it,” Councilman Mike Bonin said.