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Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Howe Sad!

HoweBeleagured and criticized Los Angeles Planning Director Con Howe is going to retire his $240k a year post, announced just two days before Christmas, under the radar of most.

The Planning Department had been under attack from numerous quarters, however earlier in the year Howe insisted he had no plans to retire. Though the buzz is Mayor Hahn was eager to see Howe go, spokes-flacks for both Howe and the Mayor denied he was pushed. The LA Times notes that Howe is the 12th department head to resign this year. Howe is only 55 but his 12 years of service allows him to retire with full benefits and having served in similar posts in other cities, allows him to pop up somewhere else, double dipping, should he choose to go that route.

A nationwide search is underway (more consultant dollars - maybe they can swing by the Mayor's office and give resume tips) for a replacement. Howe will serve until one is chosen, assuming Hahn doesn't already have someone in mind. Apparently few are sad to see him go, even this letter writer to the Daily News:

What a thoughtful and wonderful Christmas, oops, holiday, present City Planning Director Con Howe has given Los Angeles with his retirement announcement. It's also time for some of the old guard in the Planning Department to consider joining him, especially those who have fought the concept of neighborhood-development specific plans and neighborhood council empowerment for neighborhood land-use decision making.

Along with selecting a replacement, the issue of neighborhood council land-use planning and land-use decision-making empowerment should go on the City Council table. Given this news, and with upcoming Los Angeles city elections, the time and the opportunity to pursue real neighborhood empowerment may never be better.

--Tom Paterson
Valley Village

Since I know we have some of you planning folks out there, feel free to share your thoughts. Overall this is a boring news story, but yet another sympton of the sickness that is City Hall.


Anonymous Anonymous said:

Con Howe is a very nice man who was very comfortable in maintaing the status quo. He was alerted may times as to the dissatisfaction of his 'customers', he was to revise the planning code, as building and safety did....but he never did that. A deal was worked out with Howe to enable him to stay to get his pension(of course at the resident's expense)with the Mayor's office........and so he behaved like a good soldier and will get paid for following orders. The Mayor's office clearly, very clearly had issues with Howe and made them known. To some degree this bright and nice young man was his own worst enemy. He rejected assistance offered to him by successful general managers and others in the City.

December 28, 2004 7:18 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

What is most incredible is that Con's personality is very much like the Mayor's. He doesn't initiate and only reacts when pushed. Perhaps someone can get the Mayor to resign. He too would get a full pension !!!!! Intersting how Hahn didn't see himself in Howe. But I guess that was because Howe is honest and a nice man.

December 28, 2004 7:20 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Con is a nice man. My guess is he was forced out by the Mayor. I heard Cindy M. wants the job.

December 28, 2004 10:24 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

What job doesn't Cindy want? Next thing she'll want LAWA head.

December 28, 2004 10:33 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

12 Department heads and slews of commissioners - Sounds like rats fleeing the sinking ship to me!

December 29, 2004 8:54 AM  

Blogger CD14Lover said:

I am glad to see he will go. It is my belief he perputuaded racist views at the Planning Department and gave preferential treat to certain communities, he especially did not care for much of our planning issues in Boyle Heights and CD14. Hope we get someone that has a citywide planning vision and not just a council district by council district planning effort. No more liquor stores or junk yards in CD14!! We do not need anymore affordable housing or industrial development. We need single family homes and commercial development.

December 29, 2004 6:12 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I wouldn't blame Howe for the junkyards and liquor stores in CD 14. He's just the hired gun.

Take your gripes to your councilman who know wants to be Mayor. At least the current Mayor is trying to do something for that community.

December 29, 2004 10:18 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

From CD8 Resident:

When Council District 8 residents complained to Howe about the lack of nightlife in the Crenshaw area, his response was "that's what BBQ joints are for." Nice man? Don't think so.

December 29, 2004 10:51 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Maybe he likes ribs.

December 30, 2004 8:19 AM  

Blogger CD14Lover said:

What is the Mayor's stance on Industrial Development? Is he for no more New Industrial Development in the City? If it is a yes, can we put the new stuff in San Pedro and see how his neighbors like it. He will probably put it in Wilmington like he has for the past few years.

December 30, 2004 10:29 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Industrial development can be a good thing. For example, take a look at the Biomed Center that is being proposed around USC/County Hospital.

I know Antonio likes to take credit for it, but take a look at this 2001 article outlining the beginnings of this project and how Polanco/Molina were the politicians behind it.

Antonio only got interested in this effort after he lost the Mayor's race in 2001 and got a job with Eli Broad.

Industrial development could be good.

Biomed Center Plan Sets Off Bitter Turf War - Los Angeles County, Pasadena, California compete for biotechnology center

Los Angeles Business Journal, May 21, 2001 by Laurence Darmiento

Hoping to accelerate the growth of the region's sluggish biomedical technology industry, USC and Los Angeles County are exploring the joint development of a biomedical industrial park in the Boyle Heights area.

The effort is being led on behalf of USC by billionaire Eli Broad and on behalf of the county by Supervisor Gloria Molina. It would be situated on land near County-USC Medical Center and the USC Health Sciences Campus, according to those familiar with the project.

But even though it is in its nascent stages, the project is already embroiled in a political controversy with what some feel is a competing proposal to turn Pasadena into a regional biotech corridor.

Sen. Richard Polanco, D-Los Angeles, who represents Boyle Heights, just last month gutted an unrelated bill and inserted new language that would throw the state's support behind the County-USC project. He is also seeking $200,000 for a state feasibility study.

However, a $250,000 state feasibility conducted last year at the behest of Sen. Jack Scott, D-Pasadena, already found that Pasadena would be the prime location for a proposed Cal State biotech center, given its proximity and ties to Caltech -- a leading generator of biotech spinoffs -- as well as to the Huntington Institute and other facilities.

"The question I raise is, why should the state spend money on two sites only 10 miles apart?" said Scott. "The (Pasadena) study is already completed. It was very thorough and objective and reached the conclusion that Pasadena would be an ideal location for a biotech corridor."

The proposed $20 million Pasadena center would include a biotechnology workforce training center, research laboratories, process manufacturing and a biotechnology business incubator. The center would also emphasize bioinformatics, a rapidly expanding specialization combining biology and computer science.

Room for both?

Supporters of the USC proposal say that they do not necessarily see why the two centers could not co-exist, given the size of the region and potential future growth of the biomedical technology industry.

"I see it as compatible. We have three major academic research centers in Los Angeles (USC, UCLA and Caltech). There is a lot of innovation coming out of those labs," said Jane Pisano, USC's senior vice president of external relations. "(But) we in L.A. have not been that successful as San Diego or the Bay Area in capturing innovation and translating it into jobs. Why should we export jobs from L.A. County that are based on technology that is created here?"

USC has already completed its own feasibility study for the Boyle Heights park, but officials have decided not to release the results of that study until a county feasibility study is completed, which is expected in a few weeks.

However, Pisano did say that the USC study found that up to 110 acres of underutilized county and private land in Boyle Heights could be assembled for a biomedical park, and that the envisioned park could generate up to 8,500 high-wage jobs.

Drawing on its proximity to the county hospital, the private USC University Hospital and other USC medical facilities in the area, the proposed biomed park is intended to serve not only startups but more-established biotech concerns as well.

"Almost always, successful biotech parks are located next to academic medical centers," Pisano said.

The proposed center would not incorporate an existing biomedical device center USC opened last year on its main campus after receiving a $100 million gift from entrepreneur Alfred E. Mann, she said.

The Board of Supervisors voted in November to conduct its own feasibility study of the Boyle Heights proposal at the request of Molina, who represents the area.

Miguel Santana, the supervisor's assistant chief deputy, said that Molina strongly supports the idea of a Boyle Heights biomedical park and is eagerly awaiting the results of the feasibility study, being conducted by Ernst & Young.

"It's the supervisor's vision that it would be an effective use of land for the county to have a biotech park, from an economic standpoint in providing jobs and tax revenue," Santana said. "It's an exciting concept, but one that is in a very preliminary, exploratory phase."

Idea's origination

The idea for the Boyle Heights park originated out of discussions held by the Board of Overseers of the Keck School of Medicine, USC's growing medical school, which was given a big boost with a $110 million gift from the W.M. Keck Foundation in 1999.

Broad, a member of the Keck board, is chairing a committee overseeing the project. The committee includes two other board members: developer Ed Roski Jr. and David Lee, a wealthy L.A. venture capitalist.

"It's really in the very rough, early stages," said Broad, in an interview early last week. "The scope has not yet been fully worked out."

The two projects face upcoming legislative tests. The Senate's Education Committee is expected to consider Polanco's bill, SB 1162, later this week after delaying consideration last week. A Scott bill, SB 327, that would provide $200,000 in funding for the Pasadena center, is still making its way through the Legislature.

Meanwhile, Scott said that supporters of the proposed Pasadena center are close to identifying a specific site out of three possibilities. He also questioned the ability of the supporters of the USC project to put enough land together, noting that Polanco told the Education Committee that some of the potential land includes a county juvenile hall.

"Locating a place for a juvenile hail is not real easy," said Scott, who sits on the Education Committee.

Polanco could not be reached for comment at press time.

Whatever the outcome of the projects, the idea behind both is to help jumpstart the region's biomedical industry, which is seen as lagging behind not only the Bay Area but also San Diego.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group

January 01, 2005 3:16 PM  

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