Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin called Wednesday for the planning department to come up with new and more effective ways of ensuring that real estate developers follow through on the commitments they make to City Hall in return for permission to build.
One day after The Times reported on the city's struggle to make developers keep their promises on specific projects, Bonin said he wants to ensure inspections occur after an apartment building, a shopping center or a restaurant opens.
“It's a question of credibility for the city: Do we enforce the things that we say we're going to enforce?” he said. “And I think it's a question of faith for the public, particularly for all the folks in the community who work so hard to negotiate a project in a way that's neighborhood friendly.”
The Times reported this week on instances in which developers did not comply with the conditions required by the city in exchange for a project's approval. Neighborhood groups have long complained that the city frequently does not check to make sure those requirements are met. City officials say thin staffing and a monitoring system driven mostly by complaints have made it harder to ensure conditions are followed.
In downtown, planning officials required developer G.H. Palmer Associates to put in higher-performing air filters at the Da Vinci, a 526-unit apartment project next to the 110 Freeway, which was partly destroyed in a recent fire. The company did not take steps to comply until after The Times asked the city about it, a Building and Safety official said.
In the Fairfax area, the Grove shopping center was supposed to have an employment office. Years after the mall opened, city officials found that no such job center existed. After complaints were raised with the planning department, developer Caruso Affiliated created an online hiring portal and said the Grove would provide job applications at its concierge desk. Those steps satisfied the city but failed to appease a local consultant who raised the issue.
Bonin, who represents neighborhoods from Westchester north to Pacific Palisades, said he wants the Department of City Planning to look at strategies used by other agencies to make sure that requirements on a completed project are enforced. He suggested L.A. look to the county's Department of Regional Planning, which sets up a specific number of inspections after conditions are put on a project. Under that process, developers must cover the cost of those long-term inspections.
Bonin's proposal, which was signed by Councilman Paul Krekorian, will be sent to the city's Planning and Land Use Management Committee for review.