With many communities torn on issues of development, there might be a revolutionary new way for the City of Los Angeles to find out exactly what the community wants to be developed and where.

A new approach to zoning and codes that starts by asking “what does a community want?” could be the answer to often conten-tious debates about development.

The Planning and Land Use Committee of the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa del Rey will host a presentation on “Form-Based Codes” at its October meeting, at 6 p.m., Tuesday, October 11th, at Covenant Presbyterian Church Westminster Fellowship Hall, 6323 W. 80th St., Westchester.

Participants are asked to enter Westminster Hall from a parking lot on the north side of church.

Communities all over the country scramble to stop or transform development proposals that don’t measure up to what stakeholders want or their towns need. Unfortunately, today’s zoning regulations are not much help, even with all the work that many community members have put into community plans.

Conventional zoning — which separates different land uses and prescribes densities — is blamed for allowing everything from big-box shopping centers to bland, out-of-character apartment buildings.

And it has turned planning debate in many communities into arguments over numbers — “How many units?” “How many parking spaces?” “Is that setback big enough?” — instead of discourses on the desired vision for a community’s future.

During the past few years, an alternative to conventional land use regulations called “Form-Based Codes” has arisen.

These new regulations are based upon community-visioned urban design goals and they articulate an appropriate range of housing types and desirable commercial uses by focusing more on the size, form and placement of buildings and parking, and less on land use (residential vs. commercial) and density (housing units per acre).

There are still regulations, such as minimum and maximum heights of buildings, but overall, there is more opportunity for stakeholders to control the actual outcome of what gets built and more flexibility for landowners to respond to changing market demands.

The process is far more predictable for everyone and, as a bonus, requires less city staff time.

Alan Loomis, from the noted planning and architecture firm Moule & Polyzoides, will make a presentation about this innovative new concept.

He and his colleagues have been involved with the creation of form-based codes for the City of Azusa, downtown Ventura, downtown Newhall in Santa Clarita and Albuquerque, New Mexico, among other municipalities in California and the Southwest.

PREPARED? — The Neighborhood Council of Westchester/ Playa del Rey will host an Emergency Preparedness Workshop coordinated by Los Angeles Fire Department Paramedic and Neighborhood Council Board Member, Jeff Elder at 7 p.m. Thursday, October 20th, at the Westchester Elks Lodge, 8025 Manchester Ave., Playa del Rey.

MASTER DEBATERS — Senior Sean Mumper and sophomore newcomer Matt Contreras of the Loyola Marymount University debate team have earned a pre-season number one ranking in an independent Internet poll in which more than 200 National Parliamentary Debate Association members voted.

Mumper and Contreras are ranked number one among all associate debate teams, beating out powerhouse schools such as Missouri, ranked second; Lewis and Clark, ranked fifth; Claremont, ranked seventh; and UC Berkeley (ranked ninth and tenth).

“Loyola Marymount University has a rich tradition in forensics,” said Jay Busse, LMU debate director.

“LMU teams have placed first in over 200 invitational tournaments in policy, value, parliamentary and Lincoln-Douglas debate in more than four decades of intercollegiate competition, including wins at Harvard, North Carolina, Emory, Texas and USC.”

Mumper, a double major in political science and mathematics, is familiar with the pressure that a high pre-season ranking can bring. He and Alex Merton (class of ’05) finished the 2004-05 season with a ninth place national ranking; especially impressive since over 1,000 teams across the nation compete in the debate association.

Contreras, also a double major in communication studies and political science, adds a strong international relations perspective to the team, and is no stranger to debate association success.

As a freshman, Contreras went undefeated at Claremont’s national parliamentary tournament and ranked as top speaker at Berkeley’s Golden Gate Invitational.

TRAVELING WITH KIDS — Take a long car trip with a child, and you’re bound to hear that famous question: “Are we there yet?”

Just sitting in the airport generates enough questions from young travelers to keep their parents hopping until well after takeoff.

Young, inquiring minds want to know everything from how those big planes manage to get off the ground to where the luggage goes after it has been checked in.

As an overall effort to get young people interested in aviation — and to save parents from not knowing the answers to aviation-related questions asked by their nine-year-old — Los Angeles World Airports (the City of

Los Angeles agency that operates the city’s four airports, including Los Angeles International Airport) — has launched an interactive children’s Web site.

This site features age-appropriate games that teach young people about aviation and how the airport works.

The site is currently online at www.lawa.org

Just click on “About LAWA” and “LAX’s Kiddie Web site.”

For younger children, ages six to nine, there are crossword puzzles, mazes and word searches.

Older children, ten to 13 years old, can explore the airport through a scavenger hunt or learn about different climates through a game called “what to pack.”

Los Angeles World Airports created this kid-friendly Web site to encourage young people to learn about aviation and stimulate interest in travel and tourism.

Heck, even parents might learn a thing or two.

“This site gives young people a fun way to learn about aviation, planes and travel in general,” said Barbara Yamamoto, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) community relations director.

“Flying can be a real learning experience for children, and we wanted to give them an opportunity to learn a little about aviation on their computers at home or even on Mom and Dad’s laptop in the terminal while they wait for a flight.”

The games and puzzles were created by the staff of the LAX Community Relations and Information Technology divisions, including Tazien Fatma, a college student from Santa Monica College who is part of the LAWA Gateways Internship Program.

“I am thankful for the wonderful opportunity provided to me by LAWA. I was able to learn new skills while working on the project and I look forward to continually updating and improving the site in the coming months,” she said.