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What does planning director have in store for L.A.?

November 29, 2010 | 12:00 pm

Whollywood2

Michael LoGrande, who replaced Gail Goldberg in August as L.A.'s director of city planning, remains something of an enigma to many Angelenos. Unlike Goldberg, a longtime planning director in San Diego who was brought here after an ambitious national search, LoGrande was rather quietly plucked by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa from within the planning department's substantial bureaucracy. Before being named to the top job LoGrande had been working as the city's chief zoning administrator; now he finds himself running the planning department of a city in major flux -- a city trying to negotiate a transition from its past as a private, car-dominated place to its future as a denser metropolis with an expanding mass-transit network.

In the spirit of introducing him to a wider public -- and to hear how he is adjusting to his new post, not to mention new initiatives he is working on -- I'll be joining LoGrande in an onstage conversation this Wednesday evening at Occidental College. The event, organized by The Times and Oxy's Urban and Environmental Policy Institute, begins at 7 p.m. at Johnson Hall on the Occidental campus. Prior to the onstage conversation urban planner James Rojas will be conducting an interactive workshop, beginning at 5:30 p.m., on creating a more livable Los Angeles. The UEPI also has prepared a letter to LoGrande urging his department to take a more active and far-sighted role in helping reshape Los Angeles for the 21st century.

More details on the Wednesday event, which is free and open to the public, can be found here. To RSVP, send an email to uepi@oxy.edu. And if you have suggestions for topics you'd like me to cover with LoGrande, or specific questions for him, please leave them in the comments.

-- Christopher Hawthorne

Photo: The W Hollywood, built around a Metro subway stop, is a symbol of a denser and changing Los Angeles. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times.

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