Op-Ed: The Next Mayor of Los Angeles

Last Updated: May 8, 2012

3780 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010, USA

The Next Mayor of Los Angeles

As a city, how shall we select our next Mayor? What criteria will we use to analyze their leadership capacity?

Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA|LA) coordinated a series of forums with five prospective mayoral candidates. The forums served as an opportunity for the community to hear more about each candidate's vision for the future of our city. The forums also provided a chance to examine the candidate's leadership capacity to move our city forward, as well as their views about the role of architecture and design. Although each of the candidates have nearly a year to further refine their campaigns, a few notable observations are worth sharing.

Most of the candidates agree with each other on broad principles, so like all things true, the devil is in the details. Who will have the managerial skills, the charm, wit, and leadership capacity to inspire the City of L.A.'s organizational structures to align around common goals for a better designed city? Answer: We'll have to listen and learn (?)

Core themes emerged from these forums: the need for wider and more effective community outreach, fiscal repair, regulatory streamlining, and more civic engagement from our design-thinkers.

Each candidate agreed that "place making" is a priority - however, in our opinion, they also fell short in detailing with a clear passion their favorite place and sharing what lead to its success - the where, the how and why, the what! In other words, we look to our civic leaders for not only strong opinions but even stronger passions about effective places and latent opportunities for urban change. AIA|LA and architectural professionals as a community welcome the opportunity to foster discussion amongst the candidates and to inspire design-based visions for a world-class built environment within Los Angeles.

While the candidates expressed a general idea about the importance of architecture and design, we look forward to seeing a specific vision emerge from each, one that resonates with confidence about sustainable, multi-modal transformations to our urban city. Let's abandon generalities and as a citizenry demand a well-considered, step-by-step catalytic action plan. We need an implementable, process-oriented road map for how we become a fully integrated, green, connected and walkable world-class city. In our opinion, much of this will begin with Charter Reform so that the city departments can be substantially and substantively reorganized to strengthen and optimize internal connectivity, communication, performance, and efficiency - and so that we can fashion forward-thinking urban spaces and design solutions on all the projects that are being executed within the City - including those by other public agencies (such as LAUSD, METRO, LACCD, Airport, Harbor, County, State and Federal, etc.) that have such a profound impact on our built environment.

Finally, let's look to new models and paradigms for the public-private partnerships that will be essential to fund and construct catalytic projects like Park 101, the Hollywood Central Park, the Figueroa Corridor and the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan.

As the campaign progresses, we encourage the design community wherever possible to remind our candidates that great cities stem from a collective will to make great spaces and thus architects and related design professionals must play an essential role in shaping our future. The door is opening and they're listening to what we have to say - so now is the chance to influence their campaigns and to let them know what we care most about as design leaders.

Nicci Solomons, Hon. AIACC Executive Director AIA Los Angeles

Last updated: 10-Dec-2012 08:53 AM
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