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Los Angeles City Council To Consider Ways To Streamline Permitting Process

March 5, 2013

LACityEntitlementProcessOne of the difficulties of getting a project permitted and approved is working with the different requirements of different city departments.  Sometimes, the requirements of one department conflicts with the requirements of another department.  Resolving those conflicts can add a significant amount of time to the permitting process.

The Los Angeles City Council is going to consider proposed structural changes that could streamline the permitting process. A report from various departments is due to the City Council by March 14.

From the Los Angeles Downtown News – Eighteen months after the city adopted a $600,000 plan to reform its notoriously Byzantine development permitting process, implementation has been slow. Now, city leaders are considering more radical changes, though they may sound familiar to veterans of City Hall.

In July 2011, consultants KH-Woolpert delivered a slate of proposed reforms, including long-term initiatives such as a five-year plan to overhaul the city’s 1946 zoning code. It also established a case management office that many say has improved coordination among staffers from the city departments involved in planning, permitting and inspections.

However, the plan’s long list of action items has not yet resulted in the major changes that many hoped would occur.

“I think reform is probably too great a word to describe what has happened,” said Carol Schatz, president and CEO of the Central City Association, a key driver in streamlining the permitting process.

Some say the KH-Woolpert plan has fallen short in part because it did not address what is widely considered the fundamental problem with L.A.’s development system: Too many departments have authority on approvals, and projects are routinely held up by conflicting directions from different agencies.

Previous efforts to reform the process centered on consolidating those departments so that individuals hoping to open a restaurant or raise a building would interface with fewer agencies and inspectors. The most notable consolidation effort, known as “12 to 2” because it would have reduced the number of agencies that applicants dealt with from a dozen to two, withered in 2010. The effort failed partly because some department heads resisted the prospect of relinquishing their roles in the process.

With the KH-Woolpert plan yielding only modest results so far, officials are now essentially turning back to consolidation.

Last month, the City Council directed various departments to propose…to read the rest of the story, please click here.

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