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Memo Hints at City Planning Department Changes Underway

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Los Angeles's Planning Department has been getting it from every direction lately--an audit by the city controller found it wanting, architects are annoyed, and city budget cuts are forcing furloughs and early retirements. Well, it's not clear what exactly kicked off the changes, but a reorganization is underway. An adaptation of a memo sent last week from department head Gail Goldberg outlines an overhaul to the department, and Ken Bernstein, current head of the Office of Historic Resources, tells Curbed that at least some of the adaptation is accurate. (The memo was published by a worried-sounding lobbyist.) Former Deputy Director Jane Blumenfeld retired this past Friday, and Bernstein will take on her role, overseeing transit-oriented developments, housing policy, sustainability programs, and the Urban Design Studio. But he doesn't call the move a promotion, and says it's really just taking on additional responsibilities--he will continue to head up the Office of Historic Resources.

According to Bernstein, the department will change the way it reviews projects, and now reorganize the process in geographic sections. Bernstein tells Curbed that planners will get training in handling cases across functional lines, so that they'll be able to stay with a case throughout its lifespan. Meanwhile, as far as dwindling staff numbers, Bernstein says that the city used to have seven principal planners, but now only has two--himself and Dan Scott, the head of the San Fernando Valley office. More on the changes in Planning Department as they develop...
· Bill Delvac: Client Alert -- City of Los Angeles Reorganizes Its Planning Department [OurLA.org]