From the desk of Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA
Director of Government & Public Affairs
AIA LA has been meeting with Councilmember Raman’s office to discuss the implementation of a draft motion to address the embodied carbon of the built environment with the inclusion of a whole-building Life Cycle Assessment (WBLCA).
To review the draft motion, click here.
If you have specific recommendations to help us improve this draft motion, please contact me at email@example.com and we can connect you with the working group that is helping to shape this initiative.
Quarterly Meetings w/ LADBS
Important Update from LADBS:
The 2022 California Building Standards Code Took Effect January 1, 2023. All projects submitted on or after January 1, 2023 are required to comply with the 2022 Edition of the California Building Standards Code, as amended by the City of Los Angeles. To learn more about the California Building Standards Code, please click here.
The City of LA amendments to these code are published on the LADBS.org website and can be found here.
PVP 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 Angles City Planning’s Urban Design Studio critically review upcoming projects throughout the City.
Upcoming sessions include:
+Feb 7 (10am)
+ Feb 14 (10am)
+ Feb 21 (10am)
+ Mar 7 (10am)
Join us here w/ RSVP to gain zoom access.
This free on-demand course just released by AIA California as part of its mission to help design professionals reduce our collective carbon footprint.
Free New Tools for Planning Low-Carbon Buildings
New tools allow for actionable carbon reduction strategies and goals to be set at the beginning of a project when data is scarce but the potential for carbon emissions reduction is high. This session reviews how architects can use these tools during pre-design to chart a course to decarbonization, present the most impactful low-carbon design strategies to clients, and carry these strategies through the project life cycle. Presenters demonstrate the open access Early Phase Integrated Carbon (EPIC) assessment to model buildings and discuss the results. The session also reviews methods and assumptions for early-phase carbon modeling to understand the model results in greater detail while illustrating the finer points of planning low-carbon buildings.
A key year in advancing AIA’s legislative agenda
By Greg Menti
After a strong 2022 when AIA claimed several legislative victories on Capitol Hill, 2023 is shaping up to be another pivotal year in advancing AIA’s public policy agenda.
AIA’s 2023 Lobby Day takes place on Wednesday, February 15, and will focus on two bills: the Democracy in Design Act and the Resilient AMERICA Act.
AIA actively seeks a bipartisan and bi-cameral bill that would prevent the federal government from establishing a mandate on architectural design style; the passage of the Democracy in Design Act is a critical legislative goal for AIA this year.
“If passed, future Administrations could not mandate a preference on a design style or a prohibition on a design style. AIA thinks it is particularly important to depoliticize architectural design,” said Kara Kempski, senior director of Federal Relations and Strategic Alliances at AIA. “Those design choices should be left to the community stakeholders who will use the building and the design team working on the project.”
The Resilient AMERICA Act, another bipartisan bill, would increase federal investment in pre-disaster mitigation through FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program.
“As important as it is to clean up after natural disasters, AIA’s long-time position is that we should be spending more time and resources before disasters occur to better mitigate the damage, especially in communities that are least able to pay for those recovery efforts,” said Kempski.
AIA’s Lobby Day, says Kempski, emphasizes that passing these legislative measures equates to smart governance. “This is the appropriate role of the federal government, not mandating design styles, not waiting for disaster to strike, but helping communities do what they need to do to be better prepared (and to better insulate from threats) in the future.”
As of now, more than 250 AIA members are signed up for the first in-person AIA Lobby Day since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Kempski emphasized that virtual Lobby Days have benefited AIA, the in-person event “provides additional opportunities for members to get fellowship with one another and quality time with their elected officials.”
“There’s nothing like coming to Capitol Hill and experiencing the energy and earnestness that exists in the national complex,” she said. “Virtual meetings still have a place, but there’s nothing like being in Washington, D.C., to advance your federal advocacy agenda.”
After the conclusion of AIA’s Lobby Day, AIA plans to devote resources to a few major legislative areas for the remainder of the year. First, there are several tax opportunities that AIA would like to see addressed and implemented.
To start, there is a current issue with research and development (R&D) expenses relating to when firms can claim the deduction. Firms were previously able to deduct those expenses in the calendar year they were incurred, but now that deduction needs to be “amortized” – or spread – over five years.
“This is a challenge because that increases the tax burden for firms and can disincentivize investment in research. This is something Congress needs to fix urgently and make retroactive,” said Kempski, adding that there is bipartisan support for fixing this issue.
Additionally, there is an opportunity to expand the historic preservation tax credit used by architecture firms of all sizes. Kempski says there is bipartisan support for this initiative as well. “There are efforts to expand that tax credit for smaller projects, increasing the credit for projects under $2.5 million, which expands the reach of the credit to more communities and design firms.”
Lastly, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) significantly changed the 179D tax deduction, and implementing that will be important for architects. Kempski said AIA would continue to work with members to ensure that the impact of those changes is fully understood and as favorable as possible for architecture firms.
Additional Legislative Focuses
Another major focus for AIA revolves around supporting students interested in architecture by addressing student loan debt.
“There are a lot of very talented students who look at architecture and don’t think that the math makes sense with how much it costs to get a degree, all the additional requirements for licensure, and then the starting salary rates,” said Kempski, noting that the recently passed Retirement Parity for Student Loans Act is a step in the right direction.
Kempski said that AIA commissioned a survey in 2022 to give an updated view of the impact of student loan debt, specifically on architecture students and recent graduates. With the results of this survey released late last year, AIA will work with the new Congress on legislation to address the issue.
Additionally, AIA will focus on creating additional affordable housing units. According to Low Income Housing Coalition data, roughly four affordable housing units are available for every ten low-income families. AIA had called for more affordable housing development in the Buildings Are Infrastructure campaigns last year. While some investments passed in the previous year to support the weatherization and electrification of homes, Kempski notes that AIA wants to see affordable housing included more robustly. As such, AIA is calling for the federal government to increase its investment in affordable housing supply this year.
Following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), AIA has been working with members to ensure that the grant money supports the work AIA member firms are doing across the country.
“In both the IIJA and the IRA, many of the grant opportunities available for the building sector are competitive grants, meaning that applications are necessary. We have had and will continue to host a series of webinars to push the word out to AIA components and members that when working with clients, there’s money out there,” said Kempski.
The IRA was the most significant federal investment in climate action in American history, according to Kempski, but that will only be true if the money is actually spent. “The more people use these tax credits and take advantage of these competitive grants; then the legislation can work as intended. AIA members and components are uniquely positioned to help ensure communities across the country are reaping the benefit of these investments.”
AIA will provide additional updates on legislative progress throughout the year.
AIA Leadership Summit 2023
After two years of virtual gatherings, AIA’s premier chapter leadership training event returns to Washington, DC, February 14–17 with a new name and an exceptional program. Join us at AIA Leadership Summit 2023 (formerly Grassroots) for four days of vital leadership training designed to help you be an effective leader in your chapter, firm, and community.
2022 AIA LA ADVOCACY SUMMARY REPORT
On behalf of the regional LA architecture and design community, AIA Los Angeles (AIA LA) has been actively involved advancing (or opposing) numerous initiatives that will impact the built and natural environment of our communities.
A status summary of those efforts can be found here.
Increasing the capacity for more housing and urban infill development:
- Local Implementation of SB 9 = The California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency (HOME) Act.
- DTLA 2040 & The New Zoning Code
- Housing Element Update (City of Los Angeles)
- Community Plan Updates – Los Angeles City Planning
- Livable Communities Initiative / Transit-Rich Corridors / Analogous Citywide Regulations / Mid-Scale Development (Council File: 21-1230-S2)
- Opposition to Expansion of Fire District #1
- Adaptive Reuse (Citywide)
Improving Development Services and promoting a healthy, functional, equitable and more inclusive city:
- City of LA Mayoral Candidate Forums
- LADWP Development Services
- BUILD LA // LADBS & BOE Permit Streamlining
- Zoning Code / Reorganization of Administration Provisions (Processes and Procedures Ordinance) / Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) Amendment (Council File: 12-0460-S4)
- Design Review Sessions w/ LACP Urban Design Studio
- Healthy Buildings, Healthy Places Program
- Building Decarbonization and All-electric new construction. (CF 22-0151)
- Embodied Carbon Motion
- Low Carbon Concrete Motion
- AIA LA Legislative Day(s) at City Hall
A CALL TO ACTION: APPLY TO SERVE AS A CITY COMMISSIONER
On her first day in office Mayor Karen Bass declared a state of emergency on homelessness in LA.
On December 16th, Mayor Bass signed Executive Order #1, instructing city departments to streamline the review of 100% affordable housing projects within 60 days. This will help to expedite the process to obtain permits and departmental clearances for affordable housing and temporary shelter.
Earlier this week, she officially launched the “Inside Safe” initiative, which will help place many of our unhoused neighbors into motel and hotel rooms via a master-leasing program.
AIA|LA has been advocating for urgent actions like this for the past 8+ years and we applaud Mayor Bass’ commitment to addressing our regional housing crisis.
But more needs to be done and done more holistically. Now is the time for all architects and designers to step up and get directly involved. Although Mayor Bass announced her mayoral transition leadership team of over 100 civic leaders, there does not seem to be one single architect consulting her on how to transform the governance of our city. (I recognized many of the names, but didn’t note an architect. If I’m wrong, please let me know.)
We need systemic changes to how our city makes decisions, manages resources, prioritizes outcomes, and we need to completely re-design the hierarchy of the City’s executive branch to ensure greater operational effectiveness. We need to more coherently design the decision-making tree.
And this is where you come in!
AIA|LA encourages its membership of 4500+ architects, designers, emerging professionals, and students to apply to join the new Mayoral administration and to serve on our City’s numerous Boards & Commissions.
Please apply here and contact me at Will@aialosangeles.org so that AIA|LA can support your nomination.
We are also encouraging architects and designers to submit their resume for leadership roles in city departments and on the Board of Public Works. The City of Los Angeles is experiencing a substantial personnel challenge and many of the departments have vacancy rates of over 25% due to recent early-retirement programs, etc. Not only are these excellent jobs, these are vital positions to ensure that we have the human capacity to address our region’s most pressing issues.
APPLY TO SERVE AS A CITY COMMISSIONER
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA
Director, Government & Public Affairs