From the desk of Will Wright, Hon. AIA LA
Director of Government & Public Affairs
AIA Los Angeles
DTLA 2040 and the updated proposed draft of the New Zoning Code
Have you had a chance to review a draft of the newly proposed Zoning Code for City of LA? Are you concerned that an area immediately adjacent to our Civic Center (Chinatown) may possibly be downzoned from 6 to 1 FAR to 2 to 1 FAR for a substantial area of it? Are you intrigued by the new complexities of a hybrid form-based zoning code and its potential impacts on design innovations? Or if it will allow for more flexibility and better outcomes for complete and healthy neighborhoods?
Los Angeles City Planning just released draft updates to the new Zoning Code and the Downtown LA Community Plan (DTLA 2040) and we’d like to organize a roundtable discussion to collect feedback from architects and designers so that we can share a comprehensive set of recommendations to support and improve the process to ensure more equitable outcomes.
The new, updated drafts have just been released by Los Angeles City Planning and will be heard by the City Planning Commission on June 17th:
Please join a roundtable discussion with your peers and share your feedback, etc.
Session 1: Thursday, June 10 (4pm – 5pm) – via zoom
Session 2: Monday, June 14 (4pm – 5pm) – via zoom
You’re also encouraged to review the updated drafts and share feedback directly with CPC and LACP (and please copy Will Wright).
Written comments to the City Planning Commission may be submitted by email through June 15, 2021 at 8:30 AM to email@example.com.
URGENT CALL TO ACTION ON THE PROPOSED MOTION TO EXPAND FIRE DISTRICT #1
Please connect with your Councilmember and inform them about the negative, harmful impacts that expanding the boundaries of Fire District 1 will have on City of LA’s priorities to ensure greater housing affordability and availability.
Council File #19-0603 and the motion from Councilmember Blumenfield’s office passed forward from LA City Council’s Public Safety Committee and will next be considered by the Planning and Land Use Management Committee.
The prime reason to oppose this motion is that City Council should not be legislating the building code piecemeal, and instead trust the fully vetted process of administering code updates by trusted building officials, architects, and engineers via the established code cycle of the ICC, LADBS, and California Building Officials (CALBO).
The secondary reason is that this motion to expand the boundaries of Fire District #1 in our urban centers will actually do more harm than good and is not the correct tool to ensure greater safety in the wilderness urban interfaces (WUI) and very high fire severity zones of our city.
Based on an excellent report prepared by the Department of Los Angeles Building and Safety, a possible expansion of Fire District #1 is NOT necessary and that, in fact, modern codes have eliminated the need for fire districts in the first place. City of LA is the only municipality in LA County to have fire districts.
In addition, the new California Building Code, effective July 1, 2021, allows new Type IV (A,B, and C) and renamed Type IV (Heavy Timber) in fire districts. Therefore, this council-led initiative to expand fire district boundaries is at cross-purposes from the latest building code updates being administered statewide.
Key findings include:
LADBS contends that existing Los Angeles Building Code provisions provide adequate safeguards to ensure that responsible construction practices are utilized for new multifamily and commercial structures in Fire District 1 and has no further recommendations.
-“expanding Fire District 1 to more areas of the City would result in an overall increase in construction and materials cost.”
-“an expansion of Fire District 1 would likely reduce the financial feasibility of affordable housing projects and may result in fewer affordable housing units in the City”Also, this paragraph helps to support the idea that FD1 should be eliminated all together, especially as it relates to strengthening City of Los Angles’ pro-housing policies:
Also, this paragraph helps to support the idea that FD1 should be eliminated all together, especially as it relates to strengthening City of Los Angles’ pro-housing policies:
“Survey of Other Jurisdictions: Ten local jurisdictions were surveyed whether they have adopted Fire Districts or any similar requirements which impose regulations beyond what is required by the State. Seven of the jurisdictions are within Los Angeles County (Los Angeles County, Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Long Beach). One of the jurisdictions is within Orange County (Fullerton). The remaining jurisdictions are the City of San Diego and City of San Francisco. Out of the ten jurisdictions surveyed, none of the jurisdictions have adopted Fire Districts. Although all of the jurisdictions have adopted local amendments to the California Building Code, they are relatively minor in impact (i.e. imposing more restrictive fire sprinkler requirements, requiring more stringent roofing material classifications, prohibiting wood shingles, etc.). None of the jurisdictions surveyed limit type of construction and maintain consistency with the minimum standards set forth in the California Building Code.”
Los Angeles City Planning Calls for a More Equitable Housing Strategy
Thanks in large part to the advocacy of Abundant Housing LA, architects, and affordable housing providers, LACP has recently released a report underscoring the need to ensure that we distribute affordable housing citywide and that all council districts need to embrace a more equitable framework to housing production and zoning capacity.
Please read the report here and be on the look out for a series of new policies and program proposals that will be released via the Housing Element Update Process, which will address housing production, access to affordable units, preventing displacement, and strengthening existing tenant protections.
2021 Housing Needs Reports
Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH) and California Housing Partnership recently released their annual county-level housing needs assessment. This data is helpful for when you as architects interact with community groups and civic leaders so that we can continue to emphasize the urgent need to produce more affordable housing in our communities.
2021 AIALA Call for Issue Briefs
Do you have a specific idea or recommendation for how the City of LA can improve their entitlement process? Or do you have an initiative that you’d like to see AIA Los Angeles drive forward?
We are presently seeking and reviewing ideas and initiatives from AIA members that will help shape the direction of the 2021 AIALA Advocacy Platform.
The California Legislature is at the halfway point. By the end of this week, bills need to pass the house in which they were introduced in order for them to remain alive this year. For example, Assembly Bills (AB) must pass the State Assembly by this week in order for them to be heard and voted on in the State Senate. The same applies to Senate Bills (SB), of course; they must pass the State Senate by the end of this week in order to be considered by the State Assembly. Most bills that do not pass the house of origin deadline this week can be considered at the beginning of 2022. Others will have failed and are considered dead.
AIA California took positions on 45 bills this year, so far. There are other bills that have become relevant to AIA California with amendments, and will be reviewed shortly.
Here is a status update on those original 45 bills.
Of the 45 bills, 25 remain alive and are still moving through the process. 15 bills have been put on hold until 2022, and 5 have failed passage and are dead.
Bills Alive and Moving
AB 75 – School Bond – Support
AB 107 – Licensing for Military Partners – Oppose Unless Amended
AB 306 – School Employee Housing – Support
AB 345 – ADU – Support
AB 411 – Housing Bond – Support
AB 491 – Housing – Support
AB 512 – Housing – Support
AB 561 – Housing – Support
AB 571 – Housing – Support
AB 965 – EV Charging Standards – Oppose
AB 970 – EV Charging Permits – Support
AB 1329 – Functional Recovery – Support
AB 1401 – Parking Requirements – Support
SB 5 – Housing Bond – Support
SB 6 – Housing in Commercial Zones – Support
SB 8 – Housing – Support
SB 10 – Housing – Support
SB 12 – Wildfires – Support
SB 15 – Housing – Support
SB 22 – School Bond – Support
SB 68 – Building Electrification – Support
SB 490 – Housing – Support
SB 596 – Greenhouse Gases and Concrete – Support
SB 728 – Housing – Support
SCA 2 – Public Housing – Support
Bills on Hold Until 2022
AB 62 – COVID-19 Tax Credits – Support
AB 115 – Housing – Support
AB 224 – Housing – Support
AB 617 – Housing RHNA Allocation – Oppose
AB 682 – Cohousing – Oppose
AB 919 – Statute of Limitations – Support
AB 1030 – Land Surveyor Scope of Practice – Oppose
AB 1161 – Zero Carbon Energy for State Buildings – Support
SB 30 – State Building Decarbonization – Support
SB 74 – Keep California Working Act – Support
SB 475 – Sustainable Communties – Support
SB 499 Land Use – Support
SB 695 – Housing – Oppose
SB 765 – ADUs – Oppose
SB 809 – Housing RHNA Allocation – Oppose
Bills that Died
AB 67 – Sea Level Rise Working Group – Support
AB 880 Housing – Support
AB 1026 – License Fee Discount for Veterans – Support
SB 31 – Building Decarbonization – Support
SB 617 – Solar Energy Permit – Oppose
For links to each of the above bills, please click here.
Architects in Action: Legislative Agenda 2021
A virtual event – July 14-16
Architects in Action is AIA’s premier annual policy and advocacy event for citizen architects and component leaders. Join us virtually July 15-16 for two days of dynamic keynote speakers and thought-provoking conversations featuring award-winning architects. You’ll also have an opportunity to participate in online workshops, join the AIA Advocacy & Relationships team for a listening session, and meet someone new at a virtual networking break.
Architects in Action 2021 builds on the 30-plus year legacy of the State & Local Government Network Annual Meeting, providing a forum for AIA advocacy leaders to discuss pressing legislative issues and learn directly from one another.
Register today so you don’t miss out on your surprise gift! The first 150 individuals to register for the opening reception and panel discussion featuring recent Citizen Architect Award winners will receive a special gift from the AIA State and Local Policy Team.