Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, reacting to complaints of inadequate city planning, called for an ordinance Friday that would drastically curtail the development of commercial "mini-malls."
Bradley also advocated a systematic, five-year review of the 35 community plans that govern development throughout the sprawling city.
Facing a likely 1989 challenge for mayor by Councilman Zev Yaroslavksy, co-sponsor of the successful Proposition U slow-growth initiative, Bradley defended his planning record in a City Hall press conference. But, he acknowledged, "too often planning matters are on a piecemeal basis."
Bradley emphasized that four years ago, he had asked city staff for "a means" to control mini-malls, the compact commercial centers that are built around small parking lots.
"They made an effort, but it was insufficient," he said.
Since then, city officials estimate that each year between 100 and 200 such mini-malls have sprouted higgledy-piggledy throughout the city, raising the ire of nearby residents.
"These mini-malls are frequently the site of loitering, littering, noise, not to mention traffic congestion and unsightly parking lots," the mayor said.
Developers of such malls have defended them as attractive assets to a neighborhood that help support small businesses.
Bradley urged the Planning Commission to model its ordinance after one in West Hollywood, where parking spaces for commercial developments are required to be located either behind a building or in subterranean garages. All parking layouts in West Hollywood are also subject to approval of the city's Planning Department.
Planning Commission Chairman Dan Garcia, who appeared at the press conference with Bradley, said he believes that such an ordinance could be drafted within 60 days. Bradley said he will ask for a moratorium on mini-malls if there is "significant delay" in the ordinance.
Asked whether he feared a rush of applications for mini-mall construction, Bradley laughed and said, "No greater than the rush than has already been occurring."
Under current laws, such developments are "a matter of right" in commercially zoned properties, Garcia said.
"The phenomenon caught on faster than anyone predicted," he said.
Bradley said regular, five-year reviews of the city's 35 community plans would replace a "lack of reliability and predictably" with "a coordinated, consistent strategy."
Such reviews would involve members of the city planning staff, as well as residents appointed to community planning boards.