The Downtown News reports that City Hall is laying the groundwork for a major restructuring of the planning, permitting, and building process. The shakeup would merge the departments of Planning and Building & Safety, and consolidate the work of 10 other departments, into a single new unit overseen by Michael LoGrande, the city's head of planning. Firm details haven't been announced yet, but apparently they want to make the switch before the new Mayor is sworn in on June 30. The changes come in response to decades of unhappiness at LA's long, convoluted, and sometimes contradictory planning and permitting process. DN's reporting indicates that architects and planners are happy with the plan to put the planning chief at the head of the merged department. Will Wright from the American Institute of Architects's LA chapter said "long-range planning and community planning and creating a vision for the future should be the priority. If all they're doing is entitling projects and expediting projects and reacting to the way developers are moving forward, we don't have a system that encourages smart development." Business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and Central City Association were more circumspect, wanting to know more before giving the plans a thumbs up or down. A report on the plan is expected this week.
· Officials Seek Merger of Planning, Building and Safety [DN]