Alex Fisch: Culver City to Overhaul General Plan for First Time in 50 Years

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The state imposes very few constraints on what we can do with our general plan.  We can, and should, envision the quality of life, aesthetics, and day-to-day patterns that will define the Culver City of the future.

In the coming months, Culver City will begin a comprehensive update of its general plan for the first time in at least 50 years.  The general plan is the city’s constitution for future development—the document from which all local planning decisions flow and the basic blueprint for all future public and private physical development.  It will guide the City’s zoning code, which lays out the rules for what buildings and activities are allowed where, and City Council’s decisions about specific proposals for years to come.

Even a quick review of the City’s current general plan, which is available here, reveals the power of the document.  For example, the introductory narrative, amusingly titled “Vision… In the Year 2010,” accurately describes today’s Culver City in many ways.  Culver City continues to distinguish itself with its distinct neighborhoods, high-quality local services, and diverse economy. However, references to “quality housing at every income level” and “excellent to fair traffic flow,” combined with relative silence regarding issues of equity, fiscal and environmental sustainability, and public health demonstrate that it is time for a complete review and update.

The state imposes very few constraints on what we can do with our general plan.  We can, and should, envision the quality of life, aesthetics, and day-to-day patterns that will define the Culver City of the future.  Rather than targeting some projected number of future residents for whom we will plan, we should imagine the lifestyles that we want to make possible.  Our vision should be inspiring and shared. We need the ideas and voice of the breadth of our community and the wisdom of subject matter experts in every area that affects life in our city.

The process of developing the general plan has been described as a local “constitutional convention.”  This is a helpful characterization in that our best chance to articulate a thoughtful and shared vision for our future is to ensure that all competing interests are well-organized, well-represented, and well-balanced in the process that will unfold over the next several months.  Beyond process, however, we must dare to dream of a better future.

For some background about creating a general plan that meets the demands of our moment, visit: reinventingthegeneralplan.org/principles/  

To learn more about Culver City’s general plan update process and sign up for updates from the City, visit here.

And if you would like to talk about the general plan update process, feel free to contact me directly at alex.fisch@culvercity.org.

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