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Greuel Says Audit of Planning Dept. is 'Among the Most Disappointing'

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A condo building under construction in Century City, 2008 | Photo by Here in Van Nuys via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr

A condo building under construction in Century City, 2008 | Photo by Here in Van Nuys via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr
Following up on a 2005 audit that examined the time and efficiency the Los Angeles Planning Department handles land-use applications, City Controller Wendy Greuel was left disturbed. "Out of all of the audits I have done so far, this is among the most disappointing, because it appears that the City’s Planning Department was unable to implement the previous audit’s recommendations," she said in a statement. "While the Department has used some of their resources to update community plans and zoning regulations in order to increase projects that can be built by-right, which reduce case processing times, this is not acceptable four and a half years after the original audit came out."

The audit couldn't have better timing. As budget woes lessen the department's workforce, efficiency is key with lean resources.

Last week Korean Air Chairman Y. H. Cho told an audience at Town Hall L.A. that the company's redevelopment of the Wilshire Grand hotel is being stalled by the city's planning process. "We would like to see the development process go a little quicker," he said, as quoted by blogdowntown. "We understand that balancing the city budget is a priority at this time. But your city leaders must not let today’s challenges slow down tomorrow’s gains." The project would replace the 1952 hotel with two high rises--one a 65-story office building and the other a 560-room luxury hotel with condos.

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"With the local unemployment rate over 12%, it is critical that City government do everything possible to revive our local economy. One area that has long kept the City from being more 'business-friendly,' is that Angelenos spend months and sometimes years awaiting approval for zoning and land-use permits," Greuel wrote in a letter to the Mayor, City Attorney and City Council. "These delays stall development in the City, slowing the creation of critical construction jobs. The Departments responsible - primarily Planning and Building & Safety, need to find ways to work more efficiently in processing these applications."