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Architects' Turn to Complain about the Planning Department

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Lately, there's been a lot of people griping about the Planning Department , be it city auditors or Korean developers. Today, the Architect's Newspaper takes a look at how architects are faring in the face of city budget cuts. Because it's been nearly 48 hours since someone complained about the poor planning department, let's listen in!

"Donnie Schmidt, a senior associate at Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, was upset to recently learn that a planning official was taking early retirement in the middle of reviewing a residential addition project the firm was working on. With some plan changes that needed a second look, losing someone familiar with the design was not a happy prospect. “It definitely slowed us down. And we accrued additional costs,” until another city official took on the case and approved it, Schmidt said....

There is also the problem of working for the city. [Pugh + Scarpa] has designed a rooftop shelter and observation platform for the restored 1932 “Tropical America” mural by David Alfaro Siqueiros on Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles. Not only has the city been slow to select a contractor for the municipal project, but officials also have asked architects with city business to reduce their fees by 10%. Pugh said he is upset with the request so [he] has ignored it."

But while Planning Director Gail Goldberg notes that the overall development approval process could be quicker, she also said there are "fewer proposals are under city review during the recession, [and] she said she has not seen any disruptive delays from the manpower cuts." And the biggest problem is likely the one highlighted by Will Wright, AIA/Los Angeles’ director of government and public affairs. With the early retirements and layoffs, the more experienced city workers are exiting. “We’re losing a vast amount of expertise and human knowledge,” he tells the paper. The same sentiment was first mentioned by the LA Times last December.
· Planning Traffic Jam [AN]