From the desk of Will Wright, Hon. AIA LA
Director of Government & Public Affairs
On Tuesday, April 6, 2021 Los Angeles City Council passed a motion instructing LADBS, LACP, and LAFD to report back on the feasibility of an ordinance to expand Fire District 1. The proposed expansion would include all areas within the City covered by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Very High Severity Zone and the City’s High Wind Velocity Zone, as well as, high density population centers.
Their report back also needs to include an assessment on how such an expansion might impact housing affordability, as well as, the utilization of mass timber.
To address some of the misinformation about the scope, impact, and objectives of the original motion, we recently met with the office of Councilmember Blumenfeld (the author of the motion), to share our concerns for why this approach may not be in the best interest of fire/ life/ safety, especially as it relates to embodied carbon, optimal land-use, and complete & healthy communities.
We were grateful for the opportunity to have an open dialogue. But our prime concern is still outstanding – if and when City Council wants to pass ordinances that impact the built environment, we urge them to connect with AIA Los Angeles early in the process. Not once it’s already out of the gate.
Although wildfire prevention, especially in the wilderness urban interface (WUI) of our city, remains an imperative priority for the architecture community, we must also mitigate that risk with more resilient cities. Cities that help cool the planet and decarbonize our built environment, so that those wildfire risks are lessened over time with lower carbon emissions.
Expanding Fire District 1, may not be the correct ’tool’ to best achieve the objective of the motion’s desired outcome. Our city’s wilderness urban interfaces need their own, costume-tailored code regulations that are unique to the geography of the area. And if Fire District 1 is indeed expanded to reach more areas of the urban core, then we need to modernize certain provisions of a regulation that was first created in 1987. We need to harmonize our regulations so that we’re achieving greater fire/ life/ safety along with (not counter to) the outstanding urgent priorities of affordable housing, livable density, lower VMT’s, cleaner air & water, and healthier eco-systems.
As we move forward, we want to be constructive, helpful, and pro-active – especially when it comes to optimizing density in our urban core, and at the same time, mitigating any unnecessary risks and impacts in our wilderness urban interface areas of our city that are more prone to wildfires, etc.
As we aim to achieve net zero carbon in all new construction, we want to ensure that all prospective opportunities to lower the embodied carbon of our built environment remain priorities and that techniques like CLT and Mass Timber remain permissible when and if that becomes the best solution for any particular site.
If you’d like to get more involved in this effort, please reach out to me at Will@aialosangeles.org and I’ll include you in our advocacy efforts.
For more information, please refer to Council File: 19-0603.
Action Needed Now — Support Our Nation’s Infrastructure
Now is the time for the Biden Administration and Congress to address America’s aging building infrastructure.
The American Jobs Plan, as proposed by the current Administration, includes significant investment in our nation’s public building infrastructure. AIA is calling on members of Congress to craft bipartisan legislation to turn these investment proposals into reality. For more details on the proposals related to AIA priorities, click here.
Addressing our infrastructure needs now, especially as the nation rebuilds after the pandemic, makes sense for the economy and the future. It will boost the economic recovery, provide good-paying jobs, and improve our public buildings—including schools, hospitals, civic centers, and affordable housing.
While architects are eager to join with Congress to build America’s 21st-century infrastructure, to meet this challenge Congress must act NOW — and WE MUST ACT NOW by voicing our support for an infrastructure plan!
Let your member of Congress know: AIA supports federal investment in our aging building infrastructure and needs bipartisan solutions to address those critical needs. Tell them AIA stands ready to be a valuable resource and advisor as to how retrofitting and new construction can make buildings more resilient energy efficient, and better performing in order to meet the needs of the 21st century.
Thank you for all you do.
Mike Davis, FAIA
Chair, AIA Government Advocacy Committee
Various committees of AIA California recently completed their review of legislation of interest to the profession, and are making recommendations for the AIA CA Board of Directors to consider when it meets on April 16.
More legislation will be reviewed later when amendments add language that more clearly identifies the purpose of the legislation. To date, our committees reviewed 77 legislative bills and are making recommendations on 45 of them.
The committees that reviewed the bills are:
The Advocacy Advisory Committee for general legislation
The Urban Design Committee for legislation affecting urban planning
The Housing Congress and Urban Design Committee for housing legislation
The Committee of the Environment Advocacy Subcommittee for environmental/sustainable design legislation
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE the recommendations these committees are making to the AIA CA Board of Directors. Let us know what you think.