The AIA/LA continued its ongoing mayoral candidate forum series last week with City Controller Wendy Greuel. The conversation was once again moderated by LA City Planning Commission President Bill Roschen and LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne. With well over 100 people in the room, the Greuel forum had the best attendance of the forums so far. In her tenure as city councilmember prior to her tenure as controller, Greuel was the chair of the City Council's Transportation Committee, which clearly prepared her to give consistent attention to the concerns of the architects and planners in the audience--calling out Planning Director Michael LoGrande by name and repeatedly using the word "design" (Curbed's unofficial score card had the word used as an adjective, verb, noun, past participle, and gerund). Greuel's speech at the start of the evening began with the proclamation that "Planning in LA should not be an oxymoron," and she ended the night with a promise that if elected, "architecture, design, and planning will be in my inauguration speech." That final rhetorical flourish provoked applause from the audience (an unprecedented response so far for these forums).
Here are some of the evening's most quotable moments:
-- Greuel cited a park-adjacent senior citizen center on Van Nuys Blvd. (we assume she meant the Sherman Oaks/East Valley Adult Center at 5060 Van Nuys Blvd.) as a recent architectural success that should be duplicated around the city. She especially likes how the center opens to the park, making the facility "community focused," "interactive," and "open and accessible."
-- Greuel is very aware of the third rail topic that is parking policy in the city of LA: "You get in some big fights when you talk about parking."
-- Roschen at one point suggested that there are political advantages to delaying progress on community plans or zoning code reform--a notion that Greuel quickly refuted by saying, "people want to know where you can have development," and "there is no political advantage to uncertainty."
-- As for the gratuitous discussion of the Hollywood Community Plan, Greuel admitted she hadn't read the plan but that the city needs to "define TOD" and do a better job of educating the public about the importance of a jobs/housing balance.
-- Greuel also thinks that the city should do a better job in coordinating economic development with its transportation investments: "The Blue Line was a wasted opportunity for economic development."
-- With regard to the other gratuitous talking point, the proposed Downtown NFL stadium, Greuel stated that the plan is "going in the right direction" and that the "tank is not dry" (i.e., there is a lot more work that can be done). Greuel would focus improvements on traffic improvements and connecting the field to the LA Convention Center.
-- Greuel referenced the development of the Anti-Mansionization Ordinance as an example of community engagement facilitating a controversial planning process. That success was possible, according to Greuel, because the Anti-Mansionization Ordinance allowed each neighborhood unique solutions to the problem.
-- Greuel called Carmageddon the "best weekend ever in LA," nearly echoing Hawthorne's argument from the prior week's conversation with Kevin James that building new freeway capacity will not mitigate congestion.
-- Bill Roschen got academic and/or philosophical on several occasions throughout the night, producing these gems along the way: "The canvas for urban design is policy," and "The crisis of modernity is the loss of the public realm."
-- In discussing the capabilities of the LED "architectural lighting" that will be included on the façade of the forthcoming Wilshire Grand project Downtown, Greuel said, "I can guarantee that my face will never be on [Wilshire Grand]."
As with last week's forum, a video documenting the whole conversation is available online (see it above). Next up is City Councilmember Eric Garcetti. Prior mayoral forums featured Councilmember Jan Perry, former Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner, and Radio Talk Show Host Kevin James.
· Here's Mayoral Candidate Kevin James on Planning in LA [Curbed LA]
· Here's Mayoral Candidate Austin Beutner on Planning in LA [Curbed LA]
· Here're Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry's Thoughts on LA Planning [Curbed LA]