Gail Goldberg out as L.A. city planning chief *

They're calling it retirement, effective July 16. "On behalf of the people of Los Angeles, I want to thank Gail Goldberg for her dedicated service to our City, and wish her the best in her retirement and future endeavors," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says in a statement. "Her tenure as head of our City’s Planning Department was defined by the integrity that has become the hallmark of her career in planning. Gail’s strong leadership helped bring together distinct members of the planning community and cultivated a department committed to developing streamlined processes." The key to what's really going on here, of course, is the kind of person that the mayor appoints in her place. Here's what Mark has at LA Biz Observed, and at Curbed LA.

* Coverage from Josh Stephens at the California Planning and Development Report:

Goldberg's efforts to streamline the department met with mixed results. Downsizing forced the department to adopt more efficient structures, but in the process the department lost such veteran planners as Jane Blumenthal, who had guided the evolution of the city's zoning code. Moreover, the department under Goldberg was the subject of yet another scathing audit by current City Controller Wendy Greuel....

When she was hired, Los Angeles was at the height of its building boom, and plans for smart growth development and new ways of thinking -- championed by both her and Mayor Villaraigosa -- were taking hold in the city. The slowdown in construction and the subsequent loss of both revenues and general plan funds took their toll on the department. Nevertheless, Goldberg leaves a legacy of new programs and strategies, including greater attention to public engagement, pedestrian-oriented planning, bicycle planning, historic preservation, and restructuring of the department's finances.

Howard Fine at the Los Angeles Business Journal:

Goldberg, 66, was recruited in 2006 by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to lead L.A.’s planning department and to bring more transit-oriented development to the city. She has led overhauls of more than a dozen of the city’s 35 community plans and sought to make the department more responsive to both community and developer concerns....

But Goldberg has come under attack from homeowner activists for approving too many developments. Also, developers said the department stalls development plans.

Gene Maddaus at LA Weekly:

Goldberg came to Los Angeles from San Diego with a vision for high-density development around transit corridors.

But she was quickly accused of using density bonuses to allow developers to overbuild, all in the name of affordable housing. In an L.A. Weekly story in 2008, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky called her a "density hawk." When Planning Commission President Jane Usher resigned, she charged that Goldberg had allowed developers to run the show at City Hall.



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