Tag: Neighborhood Councils

Urban Planning Meetings Rarely Discuss Water Supply

Published / by dcoffin / Leave a Comment

L..A's recent drought has been going on far longer than the statewide drought. California's last drought was declared in 2008 and it ended in 2011 then re-declared it in 2014.  L.A's drought was declared in 2008 and was never rescinded. So why has L.A.'s drought been so persistent and growing by the day?

The City of Los Angeles has been pretty effective at hiding the problem from the standpoint of planning. And Neighborhood Councils? Forget about it.

Having been to many planning and land use meetings where new projects come up for discussion and a vote, I can't remember any time that water was ever brought up during the question and answer periods except for the times I brought it up like here and here and here.

My experience is that few if any city council members or neighborhood council members know anything about the Urban Water Management Plan, Water Supply Assessments, or SB 610 or 221.

During these meetings the discussion around projects generally revolves around the height of the project, the traffic impacts of the project, traffic studies, and finding ways to mitigate the impact of the additional of 2000 or so vehicle trips that the project will generate daily. From there the are discussions go on to window heights, set-ins, low income units, etc., but not water is never discussed.

All of those these other issues are really quite local (though traffic clearly has a cumulative effect over the region) and most can presumably be mitigated. Help with mitigation its usually provided by a deputy council member or staffer from the councils office who step's in and suggests how these things can be addressed by the city such as adding thirty seconds to a stop light or adding a left turn lane.

What is never talked about is water supply. Water is something that really can't be mitigated anymore since there are no more William Mulholland's and now it has become a zero sum issue.  It's easy to see why the city would rather talk about traffic, construction, building height's since people are more familiar with those things and those issues are arguably solvable.

Water on the other hand pulls into the discussion something that is far more regional and can't be mitigated. The city of Los Angeles has a history of saying it has water for these projects when it really doesn't. So they want the issue to stay behind the curtain. Projects usually describe the city's water supply in environmental documents behind statements like this:

A typical project environmental report declares that water is not a problem.

People should be demanding that local planning committees and councilmembers to take water supply more seriously and ask more questions before giving the green light to projects in areas with diminished resources.

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