Controlling City Growth

Shapiro describes the differences between the present City Council approach to the control of development versus the community planning board alternative. One provides centralized control versus decentralized decision-making on proposed development. Neither is requested to consider the real present problems of the city and its neighboring municipalities and no mention is made of the future of this metropolitan complex.

Shapiro speaks to the "bankruptcy" of the City Council approach as driven by the corrupting influence of "campaign-contribution feeding frenzy" and fails to suggest one way in which to control this critical factor that drives government to make decisions that are a cost to the majority for the benefit of a few. Also, he fails to note that there is no present legal imperative to require the City Council to consider the city as a whole and its future.

One way to force the City Council to consider a broader perspective would be to require the council to meet in each of the districts at least once each year for purposes of review of the district and its problems; then, require the council to prepare an annual State of the City Report detailing problems and problem areas within the city and to require programs to deal with those critical problems that beset the city as a whole.

Campaign financing controls are needed that really limit the ability of the developers to bid for every major project to be built in this city.

Project approval must meet criteria that consider the impact upon the whole of the city including available infrastructure, available and and foreseeable transportation modes, available labor, and future needs for transportation, utility rights of way, alternatives to the automobile, educational and recreational facilities, housing opportunity, and the natural resources present in the city.

The strengths of the community planning board approach can be included to assure that the City Council has not neglected local concerns. If a district determines that additional growth cannot be mitigated and the district cannot meet air and water quality standards as prescribed by state and federal law, then give the district the right to override the council decision by referendum. Legislative bodies generally take great care not to be overridden by the electorate and this provision strengthens the ability of the individual council member to protect the district represented.

Shapiro's suggestion is divisive and fails to consider either the immediate or long-range problems besetting the City of Los Angeles in particular and Southern California in general as continued development and population growth beyond the ability of this area to accommodate them threatens not only a way of life but life itself. This menace is not a concern of the developers who buy approval of their projects, make their profits and go on to wreak havoc elsewhere; it is the concern of the citizens of Los Angeles who must live with the consequences of poorly planned or unneeded development and pay for the resulting damages.



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