The Federation salutes and says good-bye to long-time Calabasas Planning Commissioner, Gary Klein. Gary passed away on July 31st due to injuries he suffered from a recent car accident. Gary was an active member of the Calabasas community and most certainly one of the most knowledgeable planning executives the city has ever had the privilege of sitting on its Planning Commission.
“Calabasas’ Citizen of the Year in 2009”, Gary was an innovative planner for the city of Los Angeles for many years and then headed up his own planning company after 2006 in Calabasas. As the president of the Calabasas Park Homeowners Association (CPHA) he was instrumental in helping many Council members get elected and re-elected.
Gary served as a Planning Commissioner for the last 11 years and was not timid about correcting or disagreeing with the city’s Community Development Director or with planning staff when needed. As the Chair of the last General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC) Gary was instrumental in helping to ensure Calabasas’ 2030 General Plan defined what makes Calabasas a special place, delineating a vision for the city’s future and formulating action-oriented programs to achieve that future. Gary’s efforts are cemented in the city’s future – the General Plan is a blueprint that defines not only how the City will evolve through 2030, but the steps the community will take to make this vision a reality.
After the General Plan was adopted, during the subsequent Development Code process, Gary again brought his expertise to the table and one of the endeavors he embarked upon was to try and incorporate a planning policy that he had both initiated and successfully implemented in the City of LA into Calabasas’ Development Code. He wanted to help the city’s antiquated subdivisions and overlay districts, the Calabasas Highlands, Bird Streets and Old Topanga mitigate the visual impacts of huge homes being greenlighted and built ontop of small lots by using a different method to calculate height. In other words, he had developed a formula to calculate height that involved grading and building homes into the small lot hillsides or lots as opposed to on-top, while not reducing square footage. It was smart and savvy planning policy.
To his credit, Gary in his customary fashion, stuck to his guns despite the fact that his “innovative thinking” was perceived as a “challenge” to the Community Development Director and triggered the standard “anti” response – in this case, a contractor who worked on the Civic Center was even brought in to testify (erroneously) that the City of LA had abandoned his method.
Gary was a very colorful character and had a passion and penchant for collecting knives – beautiful, old, antique, knives of significance and knives of artistic and unusual beauty. He had a personal collecting style all of his own and he could impart an astonishing amount of background and historical information on seemingly any one of his collectibles.
He had character and intelligence. Gary Klein was a great resource and happy to share his land-use expertise anytime with anyone who was interested in learning. He was a great citizen of the city of Calabasas and the Federation sends our sincere condolences to his family, friends and to all who knew and admired him.
P.S. We’ll miss seeing you at the Corner Bakery Gary….