August 29, 2023

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

AIA|LA City Leaders Breakfast Reception w/ Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath
August 4, 2023
Hosted By: HLW International
Presenting Sponsor: Gannett Fleming

Top Take-Aways of the ideas exchanged:

  1. Establish an EIFD to help fund the extension of the Metro K Line to Mid-City, WeHo, and Hollywood.
  2. Synthesize all of the design criteria of the affordable housing capital stack to align with ONE agency.  Perhaps LACDA?
  3. Establish countywide incentives to help empower adaptive reuse projects. Will property tax-abatements become that vehicle?

AIA|LA City Leaders Breakfast Reception Deputy Mayor Jenna Hornstock
August 17, 2023
Hosted By: Steinberg Hart
Presenting Sponsor: Gannett Fleming

Top Take-Aways of ideas exchanged:

  1.  Mayor Bass with Executive Directives 1, 2, 3, & 4 is placing front & center a framework to promote equity and efficacy: by expediting affordable housing production, increasing access to shelter, optimizing city-owned land for housing, and empowering small business development.
  2. Prioritize ‘transitional’ housing as a typology that serves the need of low-acuity clients.  And scale it up tenfold = 2000+ unit projects (rather than 200 +/-).
  3. Allow the “market” to deliver more unsubsidized affordable housing by removing all of the regulatory burden/ ambiguity.



AIA LA Supports Revising the LID Ordinance – Council File 22-0600-S54

We support LASAN’s efforts to update the Low Impact Development Ordinance by changing the threshold from 500 square foot of impermeable surface area to 5000 sq.ft., with the explicit goal of making housing development less encumbered with the complexity and added-time of obtaining a LID clearance, especially for smaller residential projects and Accessory Dwelling Units.

Originally, back in 2021 when we approached LASAN we advocated to have the LID clearance ‘sunsetted’ for all housing development until we were able to collectively resolve our ongoing housing affordability crisis. In addition, with new regional stormwater strategies in place with funding sources from both Measure A and Measure W, the LID ordinance is often at cross-purposes with those more comprehensive and resilient regional strategies to collect, absorb, and clean stormwater.

Therefore, we’re pleased to see that progress is being made to address this issue in the current draft ordinance and 100% applaud LASAN’s leadership in advancing this initiative.

After reading the proposed updated draft ordinance, however, a few questions remain:

I. Does a mixed-use housing residential project with over 5,000 square feet of impermeable surface area that includes within it a ‘parking lot, a.k.a. parking garage’ now become subject to the LID clearance?

II. What about a mixed-use housing residential project over 5,000 square feet that includes within it a ‘restaurant’?

III. Which begs to question: Why would a 9,999 square foot commercial mall or industrial park NOT be subject to LID, but yet a 5,001 foot mixed-use residential project (with a parking garage or restaurant within it) be subject to LID?

Most likely, I’m just not reading the proposed draft ordinance correctly.  Implicitly, I know what it’s trying to say – but, as a document, it never actually gets around to saying it!

Perhaps it will be helpful to ensure that the ordinance is made more clear by stating as “Where as” clause the objective that is summarized in the June 27th City Attorney’s Report — but is not made explicit within the ordinance: “With the proposed changes in the LID ordinance, a majority of residential land use projects – Small Scale projects – would no longer be subject to LID requirements.”

Let’s work with LASAN and the Office of the City Attorney to have that sentence added to the ordinance (or at least a FAQ memo) to clarify intent and to reduce any unintended ambiguity that the ordinance, as currently written, may accidentally deliver. Additionally, it will be helpful to define “Small Scale Projects” directly in the LID ordinance, as well or the FAQ memo.  Currently, the definition of ‘small scale’ is  only referenced in the MS4 permit application.

We look forward to working with City Council to identify and ‘sunset’ additional departmental clearances that are either no longer necessary and/or creating undue complexity as it relates to the timely and cost-effective delivery of housing.

To read about the existing LASAN Low Impact Development Requirements, CLICK HERE.



LADWP: Project Powerhouse & Amortization of Line Extensions

Sometimes good news happens!

In September 2021, after extensive feedback from the AIA membership, we submitted a letter to the LADWP Board of Water and Power Commission with several recommendations for how to improve development services.

In the last few months, due to the power and direction of ED #1 LADWP has established Project Powerhouse, which helps expedite the delivery of 100% affordable housing projects and amortize the cost of line extensions // utility upgrades that will benefit the entire block, not jus the first new projects but those that come to follow.

LA Times recently celebrated that effort in an editorial.   Additionally, the American Public Power Association celebrated the news that LADWP’s Board voted “to make permanent the practice of LADWP covering the substantial cost of underground line extensions for 100% affordable and permanent supportive housing developments in Los Angeles.”
Next up:  a policy to prioritize placing transformers in the alley rather than the front sidewalk?  Or perhaps, a requirement to underground all utilities for a healthier tree canopy?  Or maybe just more tolerance for trees to co-exist with infrastructure?



Quarterly Meetings w/ LADBS 

We’ve confirmed dates for our series of quarterly meetings with w/ Osama Younan, P.E. – General Manager, LADBS.  These quarterly forums serve as an opportunity for AIA members to connect directly with LADBS leadership and to hear status updates and emerging initiatives.  Kindly register via the links below.

These meetings will be on zoom again this year (for the time being).  Please email specific items and issues that you’d like to add to the agenda at least one week in advance.  We’ll tally the issues and share with Osama in advance so that he can best prepare responses with his team.

  1. RSVP HERE = Tuesday, October 10 (12pm – 1pm)
  2. RSVP HERE = Monday, December 11 (12pm – 1pm)
Join us for the 2023 AIA|LA City Leaders Breakfast Series to help shape the future of Los Angeles!
These interactive forums will give you the opportunity to meet directly with key individuals transforming our region and to:
  • Learn about the latest priorities and initiatives our city leaders are advancing.
  • Provide direct insight and feedback on how to best improve those initiatives.
  • Gain access to key decision-makers.
  • Be a part of the solution for a healthier, sustainable, and economically competitive Los Angeles.
Register today to attend one of the next seven receptions in the 2023 series presented by GANNETT FLEMING.
  • Invite your colleagues to join you.
  • Prepare your questions and feedback.
  • Be prepared to share your ideas.
  • Network with other professionals in the AEC community.
  • Make a difference in the future of Los Angeles!
We look forward to seeing you at the next breakfast reception.
Friday, September 8 (8am) @ Tighe Architecture 
September 22 (8am) @ HED
Alix Walsh O’Brien, FAIA & Krisztina Tokes – Chief Facilities Executive Office, LAUSD
Thursday, October 12 (8am) @ NAC 
Friday, October 13 (8am) @ Location TBD in Pico/Fairfax area
Hydee Feldstein Soto – City Attorney, City of Los Angeles
Thursday, October 19 (8am) @ KTGY
Friday, October 20 (8am) @ AUX Architecture
Friday, October 27 (8am) @ Grimshaw


LACP Design Review Sessions

In 2023, we will be coordinating thirty-six virtual design review sessions, which will serve as opportunities for architects and designers to help the Los Angeles City Planning’s Urban Design Studio critically review upcoming projects throughout the City.

Upcoming sessions include:

Tuesday, September 5  (10am – 12pm)
Tuesday, September  12 (10am – 12pm)
Tuesday, September 19  (10am – 12pm)
Tuesday, October 3 (10am – 12pm)

Join us here w/ RSVP to gain zoom access.



Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA
Director, Government & Public Affairs
t: 213.639.0764