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Critic's Notebook: Why things look bleak for L.A. city planning

August 5, 2010 |  5:39 pm
City It's back to the status quo at the Planning Department. And that's unfortunate news for anybody concerned about the shape of public space in Los Angeles, the city's fading reputation as a home for cutting-edge architecture or the balance of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's time in office.

When Gail Goldberg announced in late June that she was leaving her post as planning director after nearly five years, the city's pundit class shifted into high gear, ruminating on whether she was pushed out, which she appears to have been, organizing panel discussions — one of which I took part in on Wednesday evening — and putting together open letters to the mayor about the kind of candidate who might excel in the job. As it turned out, they were a step slow: The mayor tapped Michael LoGrande, 39, a veteran of the department and most recently its top zoning administrator, to take Goldberg's place before the chair in her City Hall office had a chance to cool. LoGrande was confirmed Wednesday by the City Council.

That left events like Wednesday's panel at Southwestern University Law School — a hydra-headed affair featuring nearly a dozen panelists and moderated by planner and former councilmember Michael Woo — with an after-the-fact feel. LoGrande himself gamely showed up, offered some understandably cautious if rather dour opening remarks and then took a seat in the front row, which did little to promote a conversation full of candor or unvarnished opinion.

Keep reading Christopher Hawthorne's Critic's Notebook.

Los Angeles Times file photo.