Earlier this week, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa named zoning administrator Michael LoGrande to succeed Gail Goldberg as the leader of city planning efforts. When she was chosen in 2006, Villaraigosa stressed she was the result of a national search and was the best of the best. This time, not so much: LoGrande came out of City Hall and is billed as a guy who knows the system. Now Mark Winogrond, who served Villaraigosa as interim planning director and vetted Goldberg for the mayor, strongly rips the selection of LoGrande in a piece for The Planning Report. Excerpt:
The skill of a good city planner – more importantly, of a good planning leader – is the ability to step away from a project and see how it fits into the context of the City’s vision, the Department’s goals, and the governing rules. At that time, I was disappointed to discover that Michael did not have that capacity. He had antennae very attuned, especially for his few years in public service, to the internal politics and pressure, and the importance of a particular project to the real power brokers....
Nothing in his past has demonstrated that he is able to create teams who are willing to follow him into the tunnels of Hell in order come out the other side having shaped a better Los Angeles.
The decision has been made. Like with prior Supreme Court appointments, we can only pray that he surprises us and shocks us, with his independence, his leadership, his patient understanding of the complexities of making a better city in the midst of false crises and urgency.
It should be noted, I guess, that The Planning Report's publisher, David Abel, has spent much of the past year promoting Villaraigosa foe Ron Kaye around town. (Including numerous emails to LA Observed flakking this or that Kaye position.) Kaye on LoGrande: "OMG, Michael LoGrande as Planning Director, they got to be kidding."