JULY 12, 2018
PHOTO: Photo: Will Wright

From the desk of Will Wright, Honorary AIA|LA
Director of Government & Public Affairs



On Thursday, July 12th, the Los Angeles City Planning Commission will ‘reconsider’ the revised Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance.

Some of the new considerations will include provisions that prohibit ADU’s in hillside areas and will also prohibit detached ADU’s between the primary dwelling unit and the street.  Both of these limitations, in my opinion, may hinder the production of much-needed affordable housing due to certain generalized conditions.  Rather than prohibit entirely, there should be some built-in flexibility in mind, especially for unique sites throughout the city where adding a new ADU in front of an existing house may actually be perfectly compatible with an existing neighborhood.

In fact, certain hillside lots may be ideal locations to add ADU’s, especially if those lots are near transit lines and/or in communities where the development pattern has included accessory dwelling units since the inception of those neighborhoods.  So to prohibit ADU’s in all hillside areas, no matter the specific condition, is severely misguided and a step in the wrong direction if our city wants to seriously address our regional affordability challenge.

The ADU ordinance also includes provisions for manufactured homes and “moveable, tiny houses”.

“Moveable, Tiny Houses” must meet the following criteria:

  • Licensed and registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Meets the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) 119.5 requirements, and certified by a qualified third party inspector for ANSI compliance
  • Cannot move under its own power
  • Is no larger than allowed by California State Law for movement on public highways
  • Has a room of at least 120 square feet and no more than 430 square feet of habitable living space, including bathrooms and fixed counter


The new ordinance also helps clarify parking requirements for ADU’s and removes the requirement for parking if the ADU is within one-half mile of a transit stop, if that transit stop is on a prescribed route with a fixed-schedule.

With the advent of on-demand public transit that will respond to smart/ dynamic routes in the near future, I trust that our ordinances will eventually be updated to not be so dependent on fixed routes and instead look at opportunities to adhere to greater flexibility within certain areas, neighborhoods and districts.

Also, as emerging technologies (and old-fashioned, too!) begin to facilitate easier off-the-grid living, I’d also trust that the ordinance will be updated so that it doesn’t require the ADU to be connected to electric utilities.

Other provisions in the ordinance allow for ADUs to be up to a maximum of 1,200 square feet, and no greater than two stories.


AB 565 (Bloom) Building standards: live/work units.

AIA Los Angeles member Ric. Abramson, FAIA went to Sacramento in June 2018 to testify support for AB 565 (Bloom) and provided recommendations for helpful amendments.

According to AIA California Council, AB 565 (Bloom) will require the building standards codes to have updated and more clarification of the definitions of live/work units.  The purpose of AB 565 is to create more certainty for those who design and develop these units.  Abramson realized the need for this clarification when he designed and developed his own live/work space, and approached his State Assemblyman, Richard Bloom (D – Santa Monica) with a proposed solution.  Bloom recently amended Abramson’s solution into AB 565, which was approved on June 21 by the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee with a 12-0 vote.

This bill would require the Department of Housing and Community Development, commencing with the next triennial edition of the California Building Standards Code adopted after January 1, 2019, to develop and submit for approval by the California Building Standards Commission the definition of “live/work unit” in the California Residential Code, and to develop or update, as applicable, and submit to the commission for approval the definition of “live/work unit” in the California Building Code. The bill would require the department to consider in those determinations, among other things, reflecting the types of combined live and work occupancy in commercial zoning districts and home occupation occupancy in residential zoning districts.

Click here to read more about AB 565 (Bloom).

And click here to read the legislative analysis of AB 565 here (read the Senate Transportation and Housing analysis).


AIA National Innovation Awards

The Innovation Awards recognize the exemplary use and implementation of innovative technologies and progressive practices among architects and designers, their collaborators, and their clients, in support of the design, delivery and operation of buildings or research in practice and academia.

All AIA Members, nonmembers, and academic institutions are invited to submit provided the following criteria is met:

  • Entrants must not be Innovation Awards Jury Members, or work for a firm or organization in which other employees are Jury Members.  Submissions by jury members or by any firm or organization of which they are members or have a substantial interest are not permitted.
  • All entries must receive permissions from owners and other team members and acknowledge that permission as part of the submission.​


The 2018 Jury:

+ Stephen Van Dyck, AIA (Chair), LMN Architects, Seattle
+ Andrew Cocke, ZGF Architects, Washington, DC
+ Jeffrey McGrew, Because We Can, Oakland, California
+ Robert Otani, Thornton Tomassetti, New York City
+ Kat Park, Assoc. AIA, SOM, San Francisco
Alexandra Pollock, AIA, FX Collaborative, New York City

For Eligibility, Submission Details and a list of Past Recipients, PLEASE CLICK HERE.


Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA
Director, Government & Public Affairs
American Institute of Architects- Los Angeles Chapter

3780 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 701
Los Angeles, CA 90010

(o) (213) 639-0764
email:  will@aialosangeles.org