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The Los Angeles city planning department is concluding a series of listening sessions to obtain resident input on the comprehensive update of the municipal zoning code.

The goals of the update include offering a wider variety of zoning options that protect and enhance communities; to reflect the diversity of Los Angeles and allow each neighborhood to maintain a distinct sense of place; to more effectively implement the goals and objectives of the general plan and the city’s 35 community plans.

The next listening session will be held this evening at 6:30 p.m. at 3731 Stocker St., Suite 201. This South Los Angeles session, was recently added because South and East L.A. were not part of the original schedule.

Armen D. Ross, president of the Crenshaw Chamber of Commerce had this to say about the importance of the listening sessions being held in every community: “The 67-year old zoning code applies equally to each street and neighborhood in the city. If neighborhoods in the central, north and west areas of the city are allowed to comment on a document that will literally change the way their neighborhoods look and function, the opportunity should be equally spread to every neighborhood in the city. South LA was built based on a now antiquated document. The rest of the city was built on the basis of that same document, and if they are to now live by a new standard while preserving their current way of life, people living south of the 10 freeway should be accorded equal opportunity to improve their neighborhoods.

“The community plan in Baldwin Hills, Leimert Park, Crenshaw and West Adams was recently reviewed and a new updated community plan is being considered for approval by the city council. That sounds good, but, it took years for that process to culminate and it still leaves a major portion of South LA untouched. Things have surely changed since the planning department started that review and with the emphasis for the code to now, reflect the changes in the city, the diversity and to recognize the need to have development along transit corridors, the discussions need to happen anew.

“South L.A. is crying for new commercial and residential development that will attract major retailers, fine dining restaurants, boutique hotels, designer shops and remain a haven for local small businesses. New development brings new infrastructure, the infrastructure needed to house Wifi, high speed and high resolution Internet, and the capacity to expand as new hi-tech products come to the market place.

South L.A. cannot compete in its current state. If it is to compete, improvements are needed. If the voices of Los Angeles need a listening tour, the voices of South Los Angeles need a listening tour. I hope the new city fathers recognize that the whole is the sum of all of it’s parts.”

Individuals who can not attend the listening sessions can still voice their opinions through the planning department’s website.