All that glitters is not gold

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All that glitters is not gold

Richard Platkin By Richard Platkin A s a professional city planner, whose career included 20 years with the City of Los Angeles, and now nearly six subsequent years as a city planning consultant and teacher, your recent guest column about the myriad of zoning overlays in Los Angeles was technically accurate, but nevertheless misleading.

The Dirty Little Secret of L. In some policy circles government regulations are considered to be the bane of economic prosperity.

In fact, this was this outlook that gave rise to the deregulation of the telecommunications sector under the Ronald Reagan administration, and Wall Street under Bill Clinton. Story continues below Pin on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn At the local level this siren song of deregulation is now focused on zoning, an administrative approach to regulate land uses approved by the United States Supreme Court in Village of Euclid, Ohio v.

Under zoning, local governments have the legal authority to control public and private land, including such building requirements as use category, size, height, parking, and All that glitters is not gold. Zoning also means that speculators cannot easily and quickly move into and out of real estate projects based on rapidly changing market conditions.

To put it bluntly, rigorous zoning is a barrier to real estate bubbles, such as the Great Recession that began in But, in Los Angeles, a city whose economy has been stagnant for nearly two decades, advocates of deregulation are now focused on the city's elaborate zoning code, including its regulatory expansion through the California Environmental Quality Act CEQA.

Put simply, these advocates believe that Los Angeles will flourish if its regulatory "impediments" to speculative investment are reduced.

But, as I hope to explain, all that glitters is not gold.


Zoning deregulation is already underway in Los Angeles, but it will not prove to be an economic cure-all for several reasons. Most of Los Angeles is not privately-owned land: To begin, only about 20 percent of the land area in Los Angeles are private lots, with the remainder being streets, parkways, sidewalks, parks, schools, power lines, horse trails, and other public and quasi-public land uses.

Zoning deregulation is not capable of improving the slow deterioration of the city's public infrastructure and public services. It can't sweep streets, pick-up garbage, fix potholes, and repave crumbling sidewalks.

Your Answer

It can't plant an urban forest or implement the City's bicycle master plans. It can't maintain public parks and revive recreation programs. Furthermore, zoning deregulation can't address a complaint heard throughout the entire city: Los Angeles is filled with zoning violations that undercut the quality of life in neighborhood after neighborhood.

While it is technically correct that many of Los Angeles's privately owned lots have special zoning conditions, such as "T"s, "Q"s, and "D"s imposed by prior legislative actions, City Planning administratively clears these conditions as part of the building permit process.

For better or worse, the public seldom knows about these conditions, their internal ministerial administrative approvals, and the resulting building permits. This means that most, certainly over 80 percent, of the city's building permits are granted "by-right.

While these cases technically require a formal action, and the public could, in theory, appeal these decisions, this seldom happens.

The primary reason is that no one is mailed a notice about these cases, and the written approval letters are only sent to immediately adjacent property owners. This means that the first inkling that most neighbors have of a project's official approval is the sound of bulldozers and hammers when construction begins.

In contrast to these by-right and easily administrated cases, only a small percentage of building permits need formal relief from the city's zoning code through open discretionary actions.

All That Glitters Is Not Gold: New CTS Release v | Procedural Worlds

In these cases, nearby property owners are mailed a notice of such actions as a zone variance, a zone change, or a conditional use permit. Depending on the type of discretionary actions, these reviews also allow open access to building plans, as well as public hearings, formal debates, environmental assessments, and the right of appeal to an Area Planning Commission, and in some cases all the way to the City Council.

Needless to say, investors, contractors, and realtors want to either avoid these requirements or make sure that they can quickly navigate them. They have little to worry about, however, because decision makers approve nearly every application for relief from the zoning code, usually with additional conditions.

But since the Department of City Planning has no enforcement authority and the Department of Building and Safety does not undertake proactive code enforcement, and only sporadically responds to complaints about code violations, most zoning conditions are simply decorative.

Public objections to proposed discretionary actions are often offset with conditions that sound great, but are not regularly adhered to by contractors, building owners, tenants, and building inspectors. This means that the real zoning and planning process in Los Angeles is market forces, not the layers of zoning requirements and special zoning conditions that apply to a majority of parcels.

When the City's Department of Building and Safety cannot grant a building permit outright, developers can almost always obtain these additional approvals with minimal effort.

The zoning rules and the official city plans that appear to hamstring their projects are, in fact, just token technical barriers that are nearly always skirted with few changes to the market-preferred project.

At most, these requirements slow down some projects and occasionally require modifications in scale or design in a small minority of cases.

Casting Aside Zoning Restrictions: But, don't worry, City Hall is casting aside even these modest barriers to unimpeded market forces.Mar 24,  · Another drawback from public policy is India's decision to double the tax on gold imports-- recognition in the growing trend of nations to tax the binge in .

Why All That Glitters Is Not Gold. Athlone McGinnis June 9, Girls; Comments. Its not all bad all the time but it always heads there. It might take 6 month, might take 6 years but it always comes out.

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She was a hometown beauty, a pageant-winner, and an aspiring actress -- a description that fit. "All that glitters is not gold" is a well-known saying, meaning that not everything that looks precious or true turns out to be can be applied to the people, places, or things that promise to be more than they really are.

While early expressions of the idea are known from at least the 12th century, the current saying is derived from a 16th century line by William Shakespeare.

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Outward appearance can be greatly misleading.

All that glitters is not gold

Gold is a very valuable metal. It has an attractive glittering appearance too. But it does not mean that everything which glitters like gold .

All that glitters is not gold? (metallic engine oil)