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

The 21st annual Legislative Day at City Hall

In early December, over the course of several days 120+ architects and emerging professionals participated in our virtual meetings with Councilmembers, Department heads, and the Office of Mayor Garcetti.  In total, we coordinated 20+ meetings culminating in a meeting directly with Mayor Eric Garcetti, which also featured AIA National Gold Medal Winner Ed Mazria, FAIA who helped to share our advocacy request for the City of LA to adopt as a reach code the 2022 Zero Code For California.

We are coordinating several more follow-up meetings with Council member offices in January to pursue next steps in how to quicken LA’s adoption of The Zero Code.

Here are some of the ideas that evolved from our discussions with City Hall leadership:

Adaptive Reuse 2.0

In conjunction with the LACP Urban Design Studio and the leadership of Ken Bernstein, we are coordinating a series of working meetings to identify opportunities to advocate for for an expansion of the current adaptive re.use guidelines to apply citywide, and to update the provisions of the existing ordinance to account for more recent projects, etc.  Updating the existing adaptive reuse ordinance will be an essential part of our strategy to ensure quicker economic recovery as we reprogram existing space in light of all the lessons we’re learning during our ongoing pandemic.

Architects to Self-Certify Tenant Improvements

One of the many ideas that evolved during our discussions with LA City Hall during our Legislative Day meetings was the need to implement strategies to quicken the ability for architects to deliver solutions to reprogram existing buildings, especially with an overabundance of ground-floor retail and the need to adjust workplaces (post-pandemic).  Various other municipalities have established a successful program that enables architects to self-certify basic tenant improvements, which in turn will allow for LADBS to dedicate more resources to plan check and inspection of more complex projects.  We are very early in the process of advancing this discussion.  Next steps will include connecting with the local chapter of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and with the Central City Association (CCA) to identify existing programs, best practices, and a collaborative advocacy framework for how we can implement such a program citywide.

Los Angeles City Planning & Testing the Code

We are in early discussions with LACP leadership to develop a series of workshops that will enable architects to take the new zoning code “for a spin”, and to test the proposals that are being developed by the ongoing Re.Code LA initiative, which will modernize and update the City’s zoning code with a hybrid, form-based approach.  The objective of this series of workshops is to further connect architects to city planners and allow them to hash-out in advance any provisions that may unintentionally impact design excellence and innovation.

LADWP & On-Site Staging Requirements

To date, we have organized a series of three meetings to identify strategies to improve LADWP’s protocols and requirements as it relates to on-site staging requirements for labor to access and maintain electric transformers for multi-family housing.  Recent revisions to protocols have impacted project feasibility by requiring a certain area of the lot to be open to the sky so that equipment can be parked on-site to service and maintain transformers.  However, this open-to-the-sky requirement not only lessens the amount of housing that can be built on a particular lot, it also creates a diminished urban design experience for our neighborhoods.

To date, LADWP has been open to hearing our ideas, but we still need to work with them to identify proactive solutions that will address their safety concerns, and at the same time, ensure that we’re developing our urban infill lots/ sites/ parcels in a more effective manner.

If your housing projects are being impacted, please share your response via a survey we’re coordinating to better understand the scale.  We’re especially interested to calculate how many units of housing we’re losing due to these newly interpreted provisions.


LADWP Staging Area Change – Call to Action

If your projects are being impacted by LADWP requirements, please connect with me directly so that we can prioritize our response.

If you’re interested in any of our ongoing government affairs initiatives, please reach out to Will Wright ( to get more deeply involved.