From the desk of Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA
Director of Government & Public Affairs
AIA LA City Leader Breakfast Receptions
So far this year we’ve hosted breakfast receptions with 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:
AIA LA Roundtable Discussion with Deputy Mayor Jenna Hornstock (HOUSING)
Early 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 email@example.com 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 will plan this meeting for late June – DATE/ TIME TBD.
COMMUNITY PLAN UPDATES: Downtown LA & Hollywood
According to Los Angeles City Planning, the next step is for the City Attorney to review the implementing ordinances to “ensure clarity of regulations and consistency with state law.” It is expected that this process will take another six months to a year.
On April 24th, I attended a special meeting of the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management committee to share our support for the community plan updates and to request that City Council organize the following (with the support of Los Angeles City Planning):
- An official working group of architects, city planners, and plan-check engineers from LADBS to ‘test-drive’ the specific provisions of the new zoning code on real-world development projects.
- An official working group of architects, city planners, economists, and land-use lawyers to analyze these newly adopted zoning provisions and modify/ amend any specific regulations that create harmful, unanticipated outcomes that interfere with project feasibility. Flexibility is key and we must anticipate and respond to changes in the market as effectively as possible.
I also took a moment to share our sincere gratitude for the leadership, expertise, and commitment of the staff at Los Angeles City Planning. This has been a multi-year (since 2014), inclusive, and accessible planning effort and we truly respect the ongoing relationship that LACP has bestowed upon AIA Los Angeles and our 4,500+ members of architects, designers, students, and emerging professionals. It’s important for us to recognize LACP for their monumental progress to date and congratulate their planning staff for a high level of due diligence, community outreach, and professional insight.
FYI – according to LACP, “In addition, the PLUM Committee adopted a majority of the amendments requested in the letters from Council District 1 dated April 21, 2023, Council District 9 dated April 21, 2023 and Council District 14 dated April 21, 2023. Per the PLUM Committee’s action, modifications in the comment letters from the Council Districts supersede the modifications outlined in the two Director of Planning’s Memo to PLUM Committee, where they conflict.”
Hollywood Community Plan
On May 3rd, LA City Council also voted to approve the updated community plan for Hollywood, which will add capacity for 35,000 more units of housing. As many of you may already be aware, this community plan was originally updated in 2013 – however, that plan was struck down by Judge Allan J. Goodman in December 2013, and LACP had to begin the process over again.
Proposed Site Plan Review Amendment & Council File: 22-0268 — Deed-Restricted Affordable Housing Units / Site Plan Review Exemption / City Zoning Code / Amendment
City Planning Commission recently voted to adopt provisions that would streamline the approval process for affordable housing by increasing the threshold for site plan review, which is currently at 50 units of housing. The amendment would exempt counting deed restricted affordable housing from the site plan review threshold.
However, pursuant to a letter from the Central City Association, they make an excellent case for exempting all housing projects from Site Plan Review, especially during this ongoing housing crisis. The CCA letter points to LACP’s April 27th memo for why it is important to address this issue, which delays all housing projects with a redundant layer of review (even if the project is compliant with all zoning requirements).
LACP’s Urban Design Studio is currently working on a draft proposal that would help projects by-pass site plan review by scoring a certain percentage of points by achieving specific design outcomes as outlined in their Healthy Buildings, Healthy Places initiative. Perhaps the compromise would be to mandate the design performance criteria outlined in their initiative in return for exemption to the site plan review process, which triggers CEQA, etc.
More about the proposal can be found here.
For a list of all of the proposed code amendments, please CLICK HERE.
LADBS – Accessory Dwelling Unit Conversion, Information Bulletin: P/BC 2023-150
On April 28th, LADBS issued an information bulletin “to provide information on conversion of structures to ADUs. It applies to permitted structures and to unpermitted structures existing prior to January 1, 2018.”
Guidance on general building code requirements included the following:
- Means of Egress
- Fire protection
- Interior Environment
- Energy, Green Building, Plumbing & Electrical Codes
- Plan-check requirements
- Typical clearances
- Inspection Requirements
- Certificate of Occupancy
The complete information bulletin can be found here.
LADWP 100% Affordable Housing Power Service Planning Design Process Webinar
On May 10th, LADWP organized an informational session with the development community to provide a comprehensive overview of all the steps LADWP was taking to help facilitate electrical power connections to new 100% affordable housing projects.
Key takeaways from the discussion included:
- LADWP will offer pre-development high level guidance meetings
- LADWP will change its methodology for calculating costs for needed line extensions to connect the new housing projects to the grid.
- LADWP is offering expedited timelines for submittal reviews, designs, etc.
- Mayor’s Contact for the AH100 program = Joe Luckey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
An initiative of the AIA|LA Government Outreach Committee w/ the Leadership & Support of Omgivning
On March 7th, on behalf of AIA|LA and our 4500+ members, we shared with Mayor Karen Bass specific recommendations to improve and advance Adaptive Reuse citywide. We look forward to the opportunity to further connect with her and her senior advisors to integrate these recommendations into their 2023 priorities and initiatives.
Implementing these recommendations will help the City of Los Angeles address a multitude of challenges related to economic development, housing availability, affordability, & supply, and will serve as a roadmap for immediate climate action (embodied carbon & resilience, et al.), as well as, opportunities to enhance, preserve, and revitalize our neighborhoods.
If you are interested in joining a multidisciplinary working group of subject-matter experts to further advance these recommendations, then please reach out to me at email@example.com.
CLICK HERE to read the recommendations.
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.
- RSVP HERE = Monday, May 22 (12pm – 1pm)
- RSVP HERE = Monday, September 25 (12pm – 1pm)
- RSVP HERE = Monday, December 11 (12pm – 1pm)
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, June 6 (10am – 12pm)
Tuesday, June 13 (10am – 12pm)
Tuesday, June 20 (10am – 12pm)
Join us here w/ RSVP to gain zoom access.
FROM AIA NATIONAL = R&D Taxes: Tell us Your Stories/Take Action
May 10, 2023
Dear AIA members,
We understand that many architecture firms are already bearing the impact of new tax liabilities from research and development (R&D) related federal tax deductions. AIA is aggressively advocating for a congressional ‘fix’ to eliminate this burden on architecture businesses. However, we need your help informing policymakers about the significant hardships presented by the new R&D business tax amortization requirements. These stories will be critical to ensuring that the voices of architects are heard on this important issue.
As background, in 2017, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) which reduced corporate tax rates and the top rates paid by individual filers. One of the several provisions in the legislation meant to pay for those rate cuts was a change to how businesses may deduct R&D related costs. Prior to January 1, 2022, these deductions could be expensed in the year in which they were incurred. Now, five years after the bill’s passage, costs related to R&D are no longer available for immediate deduction and must be amortized over 5 or 15 years for domestic or international expenses respectively. Additionally, the definition of qualified research for R&D credit-related expensing purposes was narrowed to a negative effect. In sum, these changes are adversely affecting architecture firms who had previously been taking advantage of a substantial up-front deduction for R&D costs.
To rectify this problem before it took effect, AIA sent a letter in December 2022 to Congress urging federal policymakers to correct the statutory application of harmful tax law changes that threaten innovation, valuable building science research, and the creation of high-performance buildings. Subsequently, AIA invited members to join their voices with a nationwide Call to Action to enhance pro-business advocacy on this issue: AIA March action alert. AIA staff also produced a memo in the same month further detailing the nuance prompted by the TCJA.
Fortunately, Congress recently introduced legislation that would remedy the R&D tax problem for businesses, the American Innovation and Jobs Act (AIJA, H.R. 2673/S. 866). We need your help to ensure Congress acts sooner rather than later.
To grow bipartisan Congressional support for the AIJA, we need architects to reinforce our federal lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill with authentic advocacy grounded in lived experience. We recognize that architecture firms wish to continue their valued research and development. Doing so leads to important evolutions in building sector resources that better serve communities and the people who live within them. As such, we welcome your insight into how the R&D policy change has impacted AIA members.
We ask that those who feel comfortable to share experiences to please submit your feedback directly to AIA via the email@example.com email account as soon as possible. Please note that any information you provide may be used in a future AIA op-ed or Capitol Hill policy meeting. Please include information about whether your information is to be kept confidential (anecdotal information) only or if you are comfortable with AIA sharing your story and information.
If you would like to connect for a discussion before putting anything in writing, please request a meeting via the firstname.lastname@example.org email account.
Lakisha Woods, CAE – EVP/Chief Executive Officer
Emily Grandstaff-Rice, FAIA – 2023 AIA President
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA
Director, Government & Public Affairs