LA City Planning: Updated 5/26/20 - Message from the Director

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March 23, 2020
Update 5/26/20 
Dear Angelenos:
 
In the midst of COVID-19, City Planning has come together as a Department to embrace the important role that we play in this City, not only in supporting Los Angeles's long-range planning efforts but also in advancing new housing opportunities through the review of project applications. At each step in the process, we’ve taken concerted steps to strengthen our communications, recognizing that in challenging situations, our communities should have immediate access to the latest information. 
 
As a Department, we've worked to foster a culture that values transparency and enjoys closer ties to Los Angeles’s neighborhoods. Whether for project applications or the initiation of new policy initiatives, our workplace is one that values open dialogue with the people and neighborhoods we serve.
 
In recent weeks, we've made some notable strides, reaching new milestones in how we communicate and share information with our stakeholders. These changes make it possible for us to share information related to project filings in real time. In doing so, we've increased the free flow of information and, once again, reaffirmed our steadfast commitment to transparency, openness, and community engagement.
 
Below is a snapshot of some of the ways we have adapted, and continue to adapt, during the pandemic.
 
 
Project Submissions
 
Beginning this month, as soon as a new case is created in our internal tracking system, applicant materials will be uploaded immediately to the Planning Document Information System (PDIS) — City Planning’s database for case summary information and documentation.
 
Making these materials immediately available online means customers no longer have to travel to City Hall to view them in person.
 
Bi-Weekly Case Filings and Web Mapping
 
City Planning’s Bi-Weekly Case Filing Reports provide a list of recently filed discretionary cases. These reports are regularly sent to the City’s certified neighborhood councils and are available to anyone who signs up online. The reports are also archived on City Planning's website, where they are publicly accessible.
 
Recently, we’ve updated the existing reports to link application case numbers directly to PDIS to better integrate and share information across systems. Today, we also display that information on an interactive map, leveraging the capabilities of GIS to visualize potential development trends and patterns.
 
 
Hearing Notices and Letters
of Determination
 
PDIS continues to be a central source of information for cases under review by City Planning. With just one click, users can obtain useful information, including the project description, name of the applicant, and hearing status.
 
Over the course of the last few weeks, City Planning has moved toward posting all public hearing notices and Letters of Determination (LODs) online as soon as they are mailed out. Posting hearing notices and LODs online makes it faster and easier to obtain certain project files.
 
Email Notifications
 
In addition to meeting mandated requirements for the physical mail-out of hearing notices and LODs, City Planning is developing new protocols for emailing hearing notices and determination letters. These standardized protocols will ensure that applicants, interested parties, relevant council offices, and certified neighborhood councils are notified by email anytime a hearing notice and/or determination letter has been mailed out for a project.
 
The Department is also working to standardize the sign-up process for its interested parties lists. Whether for a project inquiry or the submission of a new case filing, City Planning is continuously exploring ways to improve its accessibility in order to keep the public apprised of project-related considerations.
 
 
New Weekly Completed Case Reports and Web Mapping
 
To ensure that people can stay informed, City Planning has developed a new notification report focused on reporting out completed discretionary cases. These are projects that have either been approved or denied upon further review by the Department.
 
Much like the Department’s Case Filing Reports, these electronic reports will be sent to neighborhood councils, relevant council offices, and any individual who signs up to receive them. The Completed
 
Case Reports will be posted on City
Planning's website.
 
Soon, an interactive map displaying all completed discretionary cases will also appear on the website, illustrating where project determinations have been issued throughout the City. This new mapping application will enable the public to locate these projects and to filter locations by community plan areas, council districts, and certified neighborhood councils.
 
In Los Angeles, planning is how we unlock new economic and housing opportunities, and ensure the livelihood of so many of our residents. We’ve instituted these enhancements to support the free flow of information and our citywide community engagement efforts.
 
We continue to leverage technology to increase our access, reach, and visibility, and to help the public participate in decision-making at the local level. Beyond just automating certain services, these new ways of sharing information put Angelenos first, showcasing the creativity, commitment, and dedication of our talented staff.
 
Together, we are Planning4LA.
 
 
Sincerely,
 
Vince Bertoni
Director of Planning

Update 4/30/20 
 
Greetings Angelenos,
 
In the last few weeks, we’ve taken concerted measures to protect the health and safety of our citizens—ranging from the residents and business owners across our City who visit our public counters to our dedicated staff of over 400 employees. In order to practice social distancing, we’ve modified our counter operations at the Development Services Centers to assist customers remotely, using email and videoconferencing.
 
While many of these measures are temporary, they have made it possible for us to maintain normal operations at a time when one in six Americans is out of a job. Moreover, they have allowed us to support Los Angeles’s short- and long-term economic growth, as the work of our policy and project planning bureaus attests.
 
This global pandemic has required us all to conduct our day-to-day lives differently than in years past. As everyone adjusts to a new way of life, we are reassessing how we plan for Los Angeles's future and identifying the best ways to promote jobs and housing.
 
As a general manager, I take great pride in sharing the amazing efforts of our staff. Their commitment to Los Angeles is evident during this time, as is their love of the City many of us call home.
 
Together, we are Planning for LA.
Vince Bertoni,
Director of Planning
Click here to read more
Restaurant Beverage Program
On April 15, City Planning released the framework for a new program that would simplify the approval process for sit-down restaurants seeking to serve alcoholic beverages. The proposed Restaurant Beverage Program would shorten the time for City approvals from months to a matter of weeks. These measures are in line with Los Angeles’s broader efforts to help local and family-owned businesses prepare for the economic recovery ahead.
 
The profit margin from sales of alcoholic beverages has helped restaurant owners stay afloat during sharp rises in rent and payroll costs and, more recently, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Restaurant Beverage Program would create an efficient and easy-to-navigate process, providing opportunities to new startups while also aiding the recovery of existing small businesses, once the stay-at-home orders are lifted.
 
The City Planning Commission will consider the proposed framework this summer, after which it will advance to the City Council for consideration.
 
Revised Ordinance

More information: https://planning.lacity.org/
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Effective: Monday, March 23, 2020 
 
Consistent with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Executive Directive on COVID-19 to limit in-person contact, all City Planning staff will be interacting with customers and project applicants online, through email, and by phone. To facilitate the exchange of documents and plans, a new “drop-box system” is being implemented for all City Departments that staff the Development Services Centers (DSC) at the Metro/Downtown location (Figueroa Plaza), in Van Nuys at the Marvin Braude Building, and at the West Los Angeles office.
 
With City facilities closed to the public, applicants no longer need an appointment to submit an application for a new case filing or condition clearance. Applicants will now be able to file project applications without having to access the public counter or wait for an initial filing appointment. For services that cannot be accomplished electronically and require the submission of physical documents and plans, applicants may use the drop box. The drop box will be available during regular business hours and will be monitored in a secure location outside the three DSCs. Staff will contact applicants via email and phone to provide payment information and to address any issues before the case file is deemed complete. Once complete, the case will be assigned for processing. 
 
Appeal applications will also be accepted in the same manner. Appeal applications will be subject to review and approval by staff to ensure they meet all legal requirements per the Los Angeles Municipal Code.
 
Many of the specialized Planning services offered at the Metro/Downtown DSC will be provided electronically. This includes pre-application reviews conducted by the Housing Services Unit and the Beverage & Entertainment Streamlined (BESt) team, as well as Redevelopment Plans Unit clearances. Home-Sharing application services and payment will continue to be conducted electronically. Condition clearance functions for Major Projects will also continue to be conducted electronically, to the extent possible.
 
We continue to undertake additional health and safety measures. City Planning will continue to evaluate its existing services to ensure that the Department is conducting itself in the best possible way to minimize potential human exposure to COVID-19. We appreciate your understanding and will be sure to keep you updated in the weeks ahead.
 
DSC Operational Plan
 
Metro/Downtown DSC
201 N. Figueroa Street, 4th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90012
P: (213) 482-7077
 
Metro DSC Specialized Services
 
Case Management (City Planning)
 
Housing Services Unit
 
Preliminary Application Review Program for SB 330 Vesting
 
Beverage & Entertainment Streamlined Program
 
Redevelopment Plans Unit
 
Home-Sharing Unit
 
Van Nuys DSC
6262 Van Nuys Boulevard, Suite 251
Van Nuys, CA 91401
P: (818) 374-5050
 
West Los Angeles DSC
1828 Sawtelle Boulevard, 2nd Floor
West Los Angeles, CA 90025
P: (310) 231-2901
 
* Note: DSC are open Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except Wednesday, when operations start at 9:00 a.m.