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Posted on an as-relevant basis, issue updates brief members, and those interested in the built environment, on the status of regional or citywide measures effecting architecture and land use. Actions taken by AIA|LA staff on behalf of the profession are also tracked. These briefs may serve as platforms for next-steps by individual members.

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Working Group to Expedite Housing Production and the Affordable Housing Development Fast Track Program

Motion filed by Councilmember Curren Price 
Filed December 2018 // Scheduled for January & February 2019
Waiting for a Public Hearing at LA City Council’s Housing Committee in early 2019
Essentially, the Working Group to Expedite Housing Production and the Affordable Housing Development Fast Track Program will make it easier and less costly to building affordable housing citywide.

As stated by the motion, “There is a growing consensus that in California, the process by which new housing is approved can be cumbersome, time consuming, and expensive. In response to growing concern over the state’s housing shortage, efforts are being made at the state and local level to streamline the process for constructing new housing projects and reduce costs associated with the approval and construction of new housing. Recently, the City of Sacramento adopted a proposal reducing certain development impact fees for affordable dwelling units to a zero dollar rate in an attempt to remove some of the barriers to new housing development. The City of Los Angeles should explore all possible avenues for reducing the timeline, process, and costs related to the construction of new affordable housing. The reductions should remain in place until a permanent solution can be found, or until the City determines that reduced revenues are detrimentally impacting the ability to fund necessary infrastructure.”

The goal of this legislative initiative is to establish a working group to prepare a report of recommendations to to expediting housing production, including but not limited to the following:

1. a housing development fee assessment, evaluating all fees associated with the approval and construction of new housing projects including development impact, permit, processing fees and any other fees associated with housing development and report on the feasibility of reducing those fees to or near zero for priority projects;
2. a review of the current process for approving new housing projects and identify opportunities to streamline and expedite the process; and 3. the feasibility of creating an ‘Affordable Housing Development Fast Track Program’ which would allow affordable housing projects to benefit from an expedited approval process.
3.  the feasibility of creating an ‘Affordable Housing Development Fast Track Program’ which would allow affordable housing projects to benefit from an expedited approval process.

The City of LA Departments involved include:

City Administrative Officer, with the assistance of the Planning Department, Department of Building and Safety, Housing & Community Investment Department, Department of Transportation, Bureau ofEngineering, Bureau of Sanitation, Los Angeles Fire Department, and Department of Water & Power, in consultation with the City Attorney. (As well as the Department of Recreation and Parks that assesses their park fees on each Housing development)
Observation (Will Wright’s analysis):
As noted by the fact that over 10 different city departments all interact/ interface with the private sector’s production of housing, and that each of those interactions and/or transactions takes time, money, energy and effort I think one outcome of this working group would be to recommend that when it comes to housing, that the City consolidate all of their interactions with the private sector to one (and only one) department.  For the sake of clarity, let’s call it a virtual department.  I know that’s a moon shot.  But one of the reasons that it takes so much time, money and effort to deliver housing is that there are way too many departments that one has to interface with.
So what would this virtual department look and feel like?  To be overly simplistic, let’s call it a GROCERY STORE.  As the customer, I walk into the grocery store with my shopping cart.  A well-designed store is one that allows me to easily navigate through its wide assortment of offerings and select what I need and interact with the cashier upon my exit.  Sure, there is the deli counter and the butcher, the sommelier, the promoters offering honey tastings and cheese dips and the people stocking the shelves to give me insight and direction.  But those interactions are by choice.  Essentially, all of the items on the shelf are the products, clearances, entitlements and services that I need to obtain to deliver housing according to the standards and protocols and regulations we’ve established.
I don’t mind paying for groceries, as I imagine most housing providers don’t mind paying essential fees.  However, I am so thankful that I don’t have to personally negotiate with every single individual or department that is part of the supply chain and the grocery stores overall operational & administrative infrastructure.
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