Honorable Ed Reyes, Honorable Jose Huizar and Honorable Mitch Englander
and Members of the Planning and Land Use Committee

City of Los Angeles
200 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012-2601

RE: Council File 13-0046 – Proposed Department of City Planning and Development

Dear Councilmembers Ed Reyes, Jose Huizar and Mitch Englander:

The Los Angeles Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA|LA) supports the proposal to create the Department of City Planning and Development by restructuring the departments of City Planning, Building and Safety, Transportation and BOE’s Land Development Group.  AIA|LA applauds the efforts of the departments of City Planning and Building and Safety to set the framework for a better designed and more functional City of Los Angeles. In addition, we look forward to active participation with the restructuring team and regular opportunities to share our thoughts on what fundamental principles such a re-organized department must value in order to achieve the City’s stated goals.

As an organization that represents over 3200 design professionals, the AIA|LA advocates for a robust city department that promotes excellence in architecture, planning, place-making, and social and functional equity.  We also value an organizational model that facilitates better customer service with a more streamlined process that optimizes the City’s staffing resources and ensures better outcomes for development and the community.

We are supportive of a departmental structure that reinforces a citywide long-range planning vision, which better coordinates the elements of development, land-use and circulation, and which collects the planning functions currently distributed amongst various departments, so as to create a more cohesive and functional vision for the City.  We believe this first and foremost for the long-term welfare for the City-at-large.  In addition, we are supportive of a more efficient planning, development and permitting process.   We believe the proper implementation of such a restructuring will be key and we look forward to remaining actively involved in the discussion.

By setting the proper hierarchy of our citywide priorities, we can ensure a successful Department of City Planning and Development:

1. A long-range vision for our city that supports the merits of design excellence and re-asserts authentic place-making as the top priority.
2. Better outcomes for both individual projects and communities-at-large, where we are making places of consequence that are economically, socially, environmentally vibrant.
3. A simplified, predictable and transparent entitlement process.
4. A system that fully implements electronic plan check, integrates a computerized plan check tracking system, and has a Project Manager on each plan check to ensure a level of consistency that removes conflicting code interpretations late in the process.
5. Better standards to ensure quicker turnaround time and improved coordination with procedures to track performance measures.
6. A smart, customer-relations based culture within the department that facilitates greater cooperation between the players.

We look forward to remaining actively involved as the details of this restructuring are further developed.

Very truly yours,

Nicci Solomons, Hon. AIACC
Executive Director
AIA Los Angeles
Last updated: 30-Apr-2013 10:17 AM
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