Regarding to Sam Hall Kaplan's rather futile support of grass-roots groups for city planning:
Planning, for a growing area such as Los Angeles, is a process governed by economics and performed by developers, investors, and nameless politicians. The economics arise from what the populace does--not from what the populace says that it wants.
Therefore, grass-root groups of today, as those that worked with the Los Angeles Planning Department in the mid-70s, are not going to change the planning resulting from growth motivated by populace-behavior and economic gain.
The populace that says what it wants has little or no power. The populace that changes what it does, has complete power. Such a populace does not exist in the nature we observe.