From the desk of Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA
Director of Government & Public Affairs
Earlier this month, the Executive Committee of the AIA LA Board of Directors voted to sign on to a letter of support for AB 1657 (Wicks). The Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2024,, which has also been endorsed by AIA California, “if adopted, would authorize the issuance of bonds in the amount of $10,000,000,000 pursuant to the State General Obligation Bond Law. Proceeds from the sale of these bonds would be used to finance programs to fund affordable rental housing and homeownership programs, including, among others, the Multifamily Housing Program, the CalHome Program, and the Joe Serna, Jr. Farmworker Housing Grant Program.”
Led by Housing California, a coalition of affordable housing, homelessness, and housing justice organizations signed on to a joint-letter of support. In addition to AIA Los Angeles, other organizations supporting the initiative include: California Housing Partnership, Enterprise, CSH, Hollywood Community Housing, Linc Housing and many others.
CLICK HERE to read the letter of support.
AIA LA Supports the extension of Executive Directive #1 — Council File: 23-0623
Today (June 27) Los Angeles City Council voted on a motion from Council President Paul Krekorian and Councilmembers Nithya Raman, Katy Yaroslavsky, and Bob Blumenfield. Endorsed by AIA LA’s Executive Committee earlier this month, AIA LA is on the public record with our support.
The motion instructs the Director of City Planning and the Office of the City Attorney to prepare a draft ordinance to codify the provisions of Executive Directive #1 (ED 1) to the fullest legal extent possible, and to make these expediting procedures permanent.
ED 1, which was signed by Mayor Karen Bass on December 16, 2022, is an emergency declaration to expedite the permits and departmental clearances for temporary shelters and 100% affordable housing projects. It also exempts 100% affordable housing projects from discretionary review and Site Plan Review “as long as such plans do not require any zoning change, variance, or General Plan amendment.” According to the Los Angeles Business Council, “in the few months it has been in place, ED 1 has dramatically expedited the production of affordable housing, with nearly 1,600 units approved in an average of just 37 days, with another 2,600 new units in the pipeline.”
The motion also directs LACP, LAHD, LADBS, LAFD, and LADWP to report on “the effectiveness and impact of ED 1,” and to include recommendations on how to overcome any existing ‘programmatic gaps’ and staffing needs that will help advance the goals of the Housing Element and RHNA Rezoning Program.
In addition, the motion directs the Chief Legislative Analyst (CLA) to request input from AIA Los Angeles, as well as, SCANPH, Los Angeles Business Council, and the Supportive Housing Alliance “on additional policy changes that can further enhance the City’s ability to expedite the development of affordable and supportive housing.”
If we hear directly from the CLA, we’ll let you know. (I’m curious if anyone will pro-actively reach out, or if we need to ‘knock on their door’ with a friendly reminder.)
In the meantime, if you’d like to join our working group to provide recommendations on how best to expedite and streamline the development of housing, please reach out to me at email@example.com.
One key recommendation will be to expand the scope of ED #1’s provisions to also include all mixed-income housing, as well. We need housing for all and all types of housing are essential to addressing the severity and impact of this regional crisis.
On June 30th, Los Angeles City Council is scheduled to vote on a proposed ordinance that will amend the Site Plan Review (SPR) process “to exempt deed restricted affordable housing units from SPR threshold calculations, as well as certain mixed-use developments that dedicate 50 percent or more of the total project Floor Area to restricted affordable units.”
As you know, the Site Plan Review Process is not only expensive (fees) but adds a significant amount of burden and uncertainty to the process of bringing housing to the market because it creates a discretionary review process and creates litigious vulnerability and the potential for significant delays. Many developers will ‘leave density on the table’ and not optimize the land-use of their site in order to by-pass SPR. By raising the threshold and encouraging more mixed-income and affordable housing projects, exempting housing developments from SPR will benefit our city and facilitate the quicker production of much-needed housing.
To read the revised draft ordinance, please CLICK HERE.
As long as we have our ongoing housing crisis, I recommend that we exempt ALL housing projects from Site plan Review, as long as those housing projects have a licensed architect (an AIA member) from Los Angeles-area directly involved with the project.
CONCERNS About The Wildlife Ordinance – Council File: 14-0518
On June 20th, LA City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee approved as amended the draft Wildlife Ordinance and will next be heard by the full City Council later this summer.
Although we are extremely late to the ‘decision-making’ table, I’ve heard an extensive amount of concern for the unintentional and negative impacts that this draft ordinance will have on the architecture profession and its efforts to deliver creative and environmentally effective design solutions in our area hillsides and wildlife corridors. Of course, we support strategies that protect and nourish wildlife, promote bio-diversity, and sustain healthy ecologies. However, sometimes even well-intended measures have substantial flaws and by more effectively engaging the architecture & design community those flaws can be ameliorated.
We are currently drafting a set of recommendations to share with LA City Council on how to improve the draft ordinance and we welcome your input and ideas. Please share your specific recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 14th so that we can make sure to integrate your concerns into our memo to LACP and City Council.
Primarily, we are asking LACP and City Council to more effectively utilize the resources of AIA Los Angeles to help facilitate case studies to test the feasibility of the ordinance. The concerns I’ve heard from AIA members is that the ordinance is being inadvertently ‘weaponized’ to severely limit the development of housing in our beloved hillside areas by making many projects no longer feasible. The ordinance may also severely divert the personnel resources of LACP (and other city departments) towards an onerous, complex, and time-consuming entitlement process that drains resources away from implementing and executing policies that help deliver affordable housing more quickly. Furthermore, I’ve heard substantial concern from AIA members, that as currently written, the ordinance exposes the City to substantial litigious risk, which we as a city can absolutely not afford.
I think anyone concerned about our city budget will want to more closely examine ordinances and policies that may end up costing the city untold millions of dollars in legal entanglements.
On July 19 and 20, LADBS is hosting a series of live webinars to provide updates and coordinate Q & A sessions with the AEC industry.
Residential / Building Code – WED, July 19, 2023 (10:00 AM – 11:00 AM) = RSVP HERE.
Affordable Housing – WED, July 19, 2023 (11:00 AM – 12:00 PM) = RSVP HERE.
Solar – WED, July 19, 2023 (2:30 PM – 3:30 PM) = RSVP HERE.
Electrical Code – THUR, July 20, 2023 (9:00 AM – 10:00 AM) = RSVP HERE.
Mechanical Code – THUR, July 20, 2023 (10:30 AM – 11:30 AM) = RSVP HERE.
Plumbing Code – THUR, July 20, 2023 (1:00 PM – 2:00 PM) = RSVP HERE.
Fire Sprinkler Code – THUR, July 20, 2023 (2:30 PM – 3:30 PM) = RSVP HERE.
So far this year we’ve hosted breakfast receptions with Mayor Karen Bass, Council President Paul Krekorian, Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky, and LADWP General Manager Martin Adams. These forums serve as an opportunity for AIA members to connect directly with civic leaders, to ask questions about policy priorities, and to share ideas and recommendations on how to improve development services, etc.
Upcoming receptions include:
Los Angeles City Planning Webinars on Adaptive Reuse Draft Ordinance (Citywide)
As one of the six prime strategies of the Housing Element Rezoning Program, LACP organized three public webinars about the draft ordinance. On behalf of AIA|LA I’m convening an ad hoc working group of subject-matter experts to review the draft ordinance and to make specific recommendations on how to make the ordinance more effective and feasible. If you’d like to get involved with that process and/or you have specific recommendations to share that will improve the ordinance, please email me at email@example.com
Your feedback will be essential to ensuring more optimal outcomes and greater project feasiblity.
Adaptive Reuse RESOURCES:
Adapting Offices to Housing: Affordable, Market-Rate, and Luxury by David Thurman
- LABC & UCLA’s May 11th Report = Tackling the Housing Crisis: Streamlining to Increase Housing Production in Los Angeles
- CCA Adaptive Reuse White Paper
- City of Los Angeles PLUM Committee Consideration Items for the Proposed Hollywood Community Plan
- HR&A Hollywood Targeted Feasibility for the Hollywood CPIO District
- AIA LA Recommendations to Improve & Advance Adaptive Reuse Citywide
- Hollywood Chamber of Commerce HCPU and CPIO Letter
- Hollywood Community Plan Peer Review & Analysis
- California Housing Legislation Highlights
- Adaptive Reuse Ordinance Draft Released 5/23/2023
- Citywide Adaptive Reuse Fact Sheet
Looking forward to hearing your ideas on how to advance next steps!
AIA LA Roundtable Discussion with Deputy Mayor Jenna Hornstock (HOUSING)
Later this summer, we plan to convene a roundtable discussion with Deputy Mayor Jenna Hornstock to take a deep dive into providing specific recommendations on how to improve housing opportunities in the City of Los Angeles. As the Deputy Mayor of Housing, Ms. Hornstock has decades of experience (CRA/ LA, METRO, SCAG, a former LA City Planning Commissioner) implementing policies and procedures to improve housing outcomes. Our roundtable discussion will serve as a forum to strengthen a collaborative partnership between AIA|LA and the Mayor’s Office, as well as, identify proactive initiatives and strategies to improve our ability to deliver more housing opportunities citywide. Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be involved in this roundtable discussion. To make the meeting as effective as possible, we’ll plan to limit participation to 15 to 20 housing experts from AIA Los Angeles.
We have scheduled this roundtable for Thursday, August 17 (8am). RSVP to email@example.com
AIA NATIONAL: Architects in Action 2023
Virtual | July 13-14
Each year, AIA National’s State and Local Policy team hosts a legislative affairs and advocacy conference for component staff and member-leaders. The 2-day virtual event, known as Architects in Action, attracts between 200 and 250 participants. At Architects in Action, participants hear and learn about state and local legislative trends, meet with colleagues from across the country, and share advocacy-related lessons.
There will be a total of 4 keynote sessions which will be about 75-90 minutes and 4 breakout sessions which will last about 60 minutes. Each session will have a 30 minute break before the next begins.
This year’s Architects in Action features Michael Lehrer, FAIA, Kevin M. Holland, FAIA, and Deputy Mayor Jenna Hornstock, Hon. AIA|LA from Los Angeles, as well as, many other notable speakers.
CLICK HERE for a list of speakers.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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, July 11 (10am – 12pm)
Tuesday, July 18 (10am – 12pm)
Tuesday, August 1 (10am – 12pm)
Join us here w/ RSVP to gain zoom access.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA
Director, Government & Public Affairs