Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

The director of the Los Angeles city planning department is stepping down, according to Mayor Eric Garcetti, who Monday nominated a Pasadena planning official for the post.

Michael LoGrande has served as the head of the Planning Department for six years. He has been with the agency for 18 years.

Garcetti did not provide a reason for LoGrande’s departure. The mayor requires city department heads to re-apply for their positions each year.

Garcetti’s nomination of Pasadena Planning Director Vince Bertoni to fill the position is subject to the Los Angeles City Council’s approval.

Bertoni will bring “fresh ideas and an intricate understanding of our city’s complex planning process,” Garcetti said.

“Vince Bertoni’s experience both here in Los Angeles and across the region will add tremendous value to our city’s planning efforts,” according to the mayor.

“He is a professional who leads by collaborating and consensus-building — skills that will help him balance the diverse needs of our communities, and facilitate real progress in the ongoing conversation about development in this city,” Garcetti added.

Bertoni has been Pasadena’s Planning and Community Development Director for the past five years. According to the mayor’s office, he “successfully managed Pasadena’s city planning program through a General Plan update, a comprehensive visioning process that happens just once every 20 years.”

LoGrande said he is “proud to hand the reins to someone with as much experience and knowledge as Vince.”

“I have no doubt he will continue the positive momentum right where we left off,” he said.

The mayor’s office noted that under LoGrande’s leadership, 50,000 residential units and more than 20 mixed-use projects were approved, a revamp of the city’s zoning code was started and a mobility plan was adopted.

An exact timeline of LoGrande’s departure was not immediately released.

Mayoral spokeswoman Vicki Curry said a contract is being worked out with LoGrande for him to stay on for about three months during the transition.

Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and a critic of development practices in Los Angeles, said he hopes Bertoni’s nomination signals a turn away from “mega-developments” toward the “human- scale” and pedestrian-friendly projects that seem to characterize development in Pasadena.

“Pasadena has been very sensitive to the character of communities, and if he (Bertoni) brings that spirit to the job, that will be a very big improvement,” according to Weinstein, who said development practices in Los Angeles have led to a “collection of sore thumbs.”

Weinstein is a member of the Coalition to Preserve L.A., which recently announced a ballot initiative effort aimed at halting what he calls “spot- zoning,” a routine practice in which the city grants exceptions to developers who want to build projects that are denser, taller or have a different purpose than is allowed in a particular neighborhood.

Weinstein noted that Garcetti was the “architect of these skyscrapers in Hollywood” while serving as the councilman for the area, and was a supporter of granting exemptions.

“We hope that this is a change of direction by the mayor, and that the new administration will look at things more carefully and consider impacts in the neighborhoods,” Weinstein said.

— City News Service 

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