COVID-19: Regional Planning response to the pandemic
Drones for Planning - A Higher Standard
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Regional Planning (DRP) utilized its Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS” also known as “drones”) Program to continue its commitment to land use planning efforts. Drones enable planners to conduct challenging site visits while practicing social distancing and limiting physical contact with the public. Therefore, the UAS Program has aided the safety of both the public and County staff, especially during the pandemic. By incorporating drone technology to complement its planning efforts, DRP has taken a proactive role to better serve the community.
The UAS Program improves the quality of public service and increases work productivity by resolving many common challenges in the field related to safety, accessibility, and efficiency. The UAS Program is comprised of four planners who have become FAA certified UAS pilots. Twenty one drone inspections have been conducted on 79 parcels of land and yield a time savings of 69% when compared to a traditional on-foot inspection. The program supports all planning functions, including entitlement processing, permit compliance, compliance monitoring, and site surveys.
Los Angeles County Community Climate Action Plan Update
The move to a virtual meeting experience, during a time when many found themselves homebound, created an opportunity for increased public engagement for the Los Angeles County Climate Action Plan. A quick switch from a pre-scheduled in-person event to a live online webinar increased public engagement by 500%. The pre-scheduled workshop was to be held on March 25, 2020 at the East Los Angeles Library. On March 19, 2020, the Governor issued the statewide COVID-19 pandemic stay-at home order, forcing the unforeseen closure of County facilities, including the workshop venue.
In the course of six days, a small village of Regional Planning staff immediately restructured the hands-on workshop to a live webinar by identifying Zoom as the appropriate virtual platform, learning the technical specifications of Zoom, and transitioning all workshop activities into a distance-learning experience. Staff became proficient in a new virtual platform and successfully reached a wider audience than before. The event grew from 30 to 180 participants.