November 8, 2022

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


Save the Date = December 2, 2022

This year we will be meeting with members of the Los Angeles City Council, as well as, departmental managers with LADBS, Bureau of Engineering, and Los Angeles City Planning to discuss the 2022 AIA LA Advocacy Platform.  This year’s platform will focus on recommendations to prioritize housing production and preservation, and include specific solutions to address our ongoing housing and homelessness crisis.

In addition to a full slate of meetings scheduled for Friday, December 2nd, we will also be coordinating several additional meetings the week of December 5th to 9th.

Please reach out to Will Wright if you’re interested in getting more involved. 


AIA LA shared a letter with Mayor Eric Garcetti and mayoral candidates Rep. Karen Bass and Rick Caruso expressing strong support for the role of the Chief Design Officer in the Office of the Mayor of Los Angeles.

Our great city faces enormous design challenges and opportunities that comprise each mayoral candidate’s top priorities (homelessness and a lack of affordable housing, climate action and resilience, preparing the public realm for the 2028 Olympics & Paralympics, to name the most pressing etc.) We believe the executive leadership of the Chief Design Officer can work directly with all city departments on behalf of the Office of the Mayor to implement a visionary agenda for the built environment, and improve the form, function, and urban design of the city.


On behalf of the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA|LA) and our 4500+ members, we strongly rebuke the racist remarks, derogatory comments, and hateful behavior made at the meeting between former City Council President Nury Martinez, Councilmember Kevin DeLeón and Councilmember Gil Cedillo.

Our heart goes out to the families and communities that were insulted by their repugnant discussion in the context of redistricting our council district boundaries, and it is inexcusable for anyone to tolerate such cruel remarks without standing up and speaking out against racism in all actions.  Their discussion behind closed doors brings the systemic issue to light and we must focus on how to address the broader issue of race-based tribalism in the way that our City Council makes decisions that impact us all.  As professionals and as members of impacted communities, we do not agree with politics that seek to undermine any members of our community.   

DTLA 2040

Due to the recent controversy at Los Angeles City Council and the upcoming mid-term elections, which will provide us with at least five new City Councilmembers, the Planning and Land Use Management committee has yet to schedule a public hearing to adopt the DTLA 2040 Community Plan and new zoning code.  

We need to reach out to both Council President Paul Krekorian and the Chair of PLUM, Councilmember Harris-Dawson encouraging them both to provide the leadership to advance the community plan, which has been in the works for nearly a decade.  The timely adoption of the DTLA 2040 community plan is instrumental to reach our housing goals and is an integral part of the City of Los Angeles Housing Element Update.


As a follow-up to the June 29th AEC Industry Roundtable, on October 19th we organized the 2nd roundtable in our series of opportunities to bring together representatives of all of the architecture, engineering, and construction organizations in the Los Angeles area.

In addition to networking opportunities to further establish multi-disciplinary partnerships and collaborations amongst the 40+ AEC industry organizations, this roundtable served as a forum to learn more about the workforce development programs and initiatives of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, as well as, an opportunity to learn more about the DEI provisions in the Infrastructure Act as researched by Dr. Rhianna Rogers with the RAND Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy.

Building Equitable Pathways in Los Angeles County

Presentation by Jermaine Hampton – Director of Workforce Development, Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation & Jose Pelayo – Program Manager of Workforce Development, Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation

This presentation provides a high-level overview of the work LAEDC facilitates throughout the L.A. region. In addition, this presentation will provide some insight on challenges and gaps within the regional workforce and economy and how LAEDC is combating those challenges.

What You Need to Know About DEI & The Infrastructure Act

Presentation by Rhianna C. Rogers, Ph.D. – Director | RAND Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy

The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) includes $550 billion in new investments for roads and bridges, water infrastructure, resilience, internet, and more. It also represents an opportunity for the sector to innovate its approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). With the Infrastructure Act and relevant DEI provisions as the backdrop, Dr. Rhianna C. Rogers – inaugural director of the Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy at the RAND Corporation – will discuss ways to truly incorporate and advance DEI ideals and outcomes across Act projects and beyond.


LADBS released its report last month, which established a path forward to achieve 100% electric buildings for the City of Los Angeles.

City Council’s PLUM Committee reviewed the report on October 4th and adopted it as amended to establish an ordinance that will go into effect on April 1, 2023 to require all new buildings to be fully electrified.  Affordable Housing Projects will have an effective date of June 1, 2023 for full compliance.

Exemptions were provided for manufacturing and industrial facilities, hospitals & laborites, cooking appliances for restaurants and cafeterias and emergency backup life-safety systems.  Newly constructed, attached ADU’s will be able to use the existing systems of the original dwelling units. 

By the way, the Strategic Growth Council of the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research, recently posted an update to the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program Draft Round 7 Guidelines, which include a requirement that projects “are powered entirely through electricity with no connections to natural gas infrastructure”.

This is a gigantic step forward to achieving healthier and more resilient outcomes for affordable housing projects statewide.


I’ve been working with members of the AIA LA Committee on the Environment and AIA CA COTE to advance a draft embodied carbon motion with Councilmember Raman’s legislative director, Josh Nuni.  

The big idea:

  1. For projects > 50,000+ sq feet, Life cycle analysis for projects
  2. For projects > 50,000+ sq feet, create a carbon budget
  3. Buy Clean California program on all projects
  4. Low Carbon Concrete Ordinance, modeled after the Marin County Ordinance

Next steps include:

  1. Finalize the draft motion and integrate the feedback received from both CD 4 and LADBS
  2. Consult with the departments to gain their early input (LADBS, CEMO)
  3. Build our coalition of support (SEAOSC, USGBC-LA, etc.)
  4. Map out potential opposition from industry groups, etc. and gain a better understanding of their concerns.
  5. Understand labor’s POV on the draft motion and how it may impact the building trades, etc.

During our discussion with Mr. Nuni, as a way to identify prospective opposition and to better understand the nuances of numerous additional perspectives, he was curious why a recent effort to address embodied carbon failed to move forward at the State level.  From my understanding, SB 778 (Becker), which would have added “concrete” to the Buy Clean California Act, failed to reach a consensus because it “mixed in” performance standards into a fixed mandate that may have inadvertently created uncertainty with regards to a more objective measurement of compliance. 

To address that prospective opposition, Scott Morris of the Low Carbon Concrete Initiative helped to create compliance sheets to help assist the implementation of lower embodied carbon policies:

Proposed Compliance Sheets: Low Carbon Concrete Compliance Form (Cement)

Proposed Compliance Sheets: Low Carbon Concrete Compliance Form (Embodied Carbon)

AIA and City of Glendale’s Building Electrification Initiative

AIA Pasadena & Foothill chapter president Winston Thorne, AIA shared a letter to support City of Glendale’s initiative to adopt local amendments to the 2022 Edition of the California Building and Energy Code Pertaining to Building Electrification, Solar Photovoltaic, and Electric Vehicles.

With continued local advocacy for Cites addressing environmental issues in the built environment, we as design professionals are well positioned to conduct the business of architecture at intersections where public and private stakeholders attempt to find common ground.  A case for decarbonization at the local level advocates that “Big things have small beginnings”.

Last Tuesday evening, I had the opportunity to speak at the City of Glendale’s Council meeting with the intent to convey the importance to adopt the proposed reach codes to include the following items:

  • building electrification, 
  • solar photovoltaic, 
  • electric vehicle charging

This action item on the City Council’s agenda was to refine the proposed amendment further as presented.  A lot of discussion regarding perceived economic hardships for quick service restaurants (QSR) as they transition to an all-electric cook line;  which may in turn change the patron’s experience of the food and the establishment’s brand identity.  I emphasized to Council, staff, and business owners that they should rely on the design professionals to address some of these valid concerns – “belief in the process”.  As the building/equipment technology evolves, so will the procurement process to meet the demand, and validation with a design professional will support the Owner’s efforts to a solution.

Leading up to this meeting, earlier this summer, local coalitions, in concert with AIA Pasadena & Foothill Chapter, attended workshops, and meetings, and worked diligently to realize the City of Pasadena’s approved local ordinance for building electrification. Proving that advocacy works with the right intent and clarity of purpose.  

It will only be a matter of time before the City of Glendale too will join the +50 Cities in California that adopted reach codes.  With the intent of heading in the right direction.

“It is the way forward for all of our Communities”  

–  Winston Thorne, AIA, NOMA, NCARB, CSBA – President, AIA Pasadena & Foothill Chapter

2022 AIA LA Legislative Day at City Hall

Save the date:  AIA|LA Legislative Day at City Hall 

December 2 & 5 – 9, 2022

This is an especially important year because we will have a new Mayor for the City of Los Angeles, numerous new city council members, a new City Controller, and a new City Attorney – therefore, this year’s advocacy platform needs to resonate deeply with the values and priorities of the architecture community.


Vision Statement: We are here to advocate for equitable and sustainable neighborhoods.

Themes to finalize:


  • Housing – build better urban neighborhoods (need timeline from officials for each ask)


      1. Streamline Affordable Housing: Gio Aliano, AIA and Nathan Bishop, AIA to share specific recommendations for how to improve the regulatory process, funding challenges and contradictory requirements
      2. Streamline Permitting in general: restructure the clearance process. Adopt recommendations from GO!
      3. Mobility Plan: rescind the application of street widening requirements in the Mobility Plan – ASAP. As an option, prioritize widening sidewalks with landscaping as essential public space.
      4. ADUs: Direct City Planning to clear up some barriers/challenges to permitting ADUs throughout the city. GO! To provide specific list


  • Expand Adaptive Reuse Citywide: Karin Liljegren, FAIA will share specific recommendations to ensure that a citywide adaptive reuse ordinance is effectively implemented.[ Let’s prioritize how this improves the provision of housing).
  •  Empower LADWP:  Building Decarbonization and Urban Design


        1. As we aim to build more affordable housing and 100% electric buildings, it is essential that LADWP has the funding resources needed to upgrade the infrastructure of our electrical grid, AIA|LA recommends that we:
          1. Leverage grand funding resources from SCAG, OPR, and HCD to upgrade the grid.
            1. REAP 2.0 grants
            2. Infill Infrastructure grants
          2. Build support for a comprehensive capital improvement bond to pay for the undergrounding of infrastructure, and the urban cooling strategies (tree canopy, shade structures, health & wellness kiosks, etc.)
          3. Improve design standards and internal procedures to optimize site feasibility, quicken the delivery of housing, and ensure that LADWP is not a barrier to achieving greater housing affordability.


  • Appoint Architects to City Commissions, Design Review Boards, and the Board of Public Works


      1. With a new Mayor and new council members coming into office, it’s vital that we remind them of the civic responsibility of the architect and leverage our profession’s willingness to serve.


  • Embodied Carbon (GO! Recommends that this be pursued outside of the advocacy platform, as part of the Building Code Committee’s work at the State level)


      1. AIA|LA has developed a draft motion with leadership from AIA|LA members involved with AIA CA COTE, which we will share with Councilmember Raman pending approval from the AIA|LA Board of Directors.
        1. Draft Motion =
        2. To mandate completion of whole building life-cycle assessment (LCA) analysis
        3. To create a framework that sets limits on the embodied carbon allowed (“carbon budget”) for new construction of buildings larger than 50,000 SF.
        4. to prepare and present an ordinance that updates the Los Angeles Building Code to require Buy Clean California limits on all projects.


  • And more…..
  • The 2028 Olympics & Paralympics (move to 2023 Advocacy Platform?)


    1. As we prepare our region to welcome thousands of people to our streets, sidewalks, and public realm, AIA|LA recommends for city leadership to leverage the newly launched City of LA Regional Alliance Marketplace for Procurement (RAMP) platform and commit a dedicated funding source to support capacity building, financial, & administrative resources to facilitate the ability for community groups, neighborhood organizations, local & emerging artists and designers, schools, and faith-based organizations to directly participate in the neighborhood beautification efforts, streetscape improvements, urban design improvements, and landscape installations that we all know will be essential to presenting LA in a fair, equitable, and inclusive manner.  It will be advantageous to our region to celebrate the cultural and ethnic diversity of our neighborhoods by entrusting and empowering local community groups to lead, direct, and execute these improvements.  Otherwise, our region will be overwhelmed by corporate branding, etc.

For examples of previous AIALA Advocacy Platforms:

AIA LA GO! Committee Accomplishments for 2022 (so far…)

  1. How has your Committee made progress in connecting academia and practice? 

For the 2022 term, AIA LA Government Outreach (GO!) Committee has primarily worked in two arenas: Policy and Good Governance. A portion of our Good Governance advocacy was done in conjunction with Cal Poly Pomona students and this type of academic collaboration is something that we could expand in the coming years.  

As part of this Good Governance advocacy, we’ve interfaced with AIA members to identify impediments to designing and delivering shovel-ready housing projects and brought these issues to the city’s leadership. Through this open and practical approach, we have been able to enact significant improvements to Los Angeles’ permit approval process. 

An example of this is our engagement with Osama Younan, the General manager of LADBS, with whom we’ve been meeting on a quarterly basis for the last several years. In these conversations, we’ve discussed building permitting issues centered around Accountability, Interdepartmental Communication, and Building Clearances– categories determined through extensive dialogue with AIA members and the building community. This process has been instrumental in developing a common understanding of the issues we face and has set us on a path toward streamlining the permit process.  

  1. How has your Committee made progress in connecting community (AIA membership as well as outside organizations) and practice?

The AIA GO! committee has concentrated our Policy efforts on working with Los Angeles’ leaders to make housing more affordable and equitable. We chose this focus because, as architects, we’re well positioned to address the complexities of Los Angeles’ housing issue that so deeply impacts every community. 

An example is our work with the Los Angeles Planning Department on the policy language for the implementation of SB9 in Los Angeles. Through extensive conversations, the GO Committee (spearheaded by GO! co-chair, Tracy Stone) was able to identify issues that would inhibit the effectiveness of SB9 and suggest improvements that would allow the law to be more widely applicable. Many of the GO! committee’s suggestions were incorporated into the policy that was passed by the city council.


  1. How have your Committee’s efforts, events, programs, and initiatives promoted the value of design and relevancy of our profession?


The AIA GO! Committee has worked to increase AIA LA and our profession’s relevance by working with Los Angeles’ leadership to call attention to and address housing, planning, and building permit approval issues that affect our profession and community.


Examples of this engagement are the AIA GO! committee’s participation in arranging the AIA LA hosted mayoral conversations and our quarterly meeting with the leadership of the LADBS, LADWP, Los Angeles Planning, and other key agencies.

The AIA LA & LACP Professional Volunteer Program (PVP)

As we launch into 2022, we have numerous upcoming opportunities for architects & designers to participate in the AIA LA Professional Volunteer Program (PVP), which is a collaborative design review program organized by AIA LA & Los Angeles City Planning (LACP)’s Urban Design Studio.

The virtual design review sessions 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.

Nov 8, 2022 10:00 AM
Nov 15, 2022 10:00 AM
Dec 6, 2022 10:00 AM
Dec 13, 2022 10:00 AM
Dec 20, 2022 10:00 AM



Recently Signed Housing Bills Relevant to the Profession of Architecture
By: Scott Terrell

As we all know, California is facing a housing crisis. The 2022 Statewide Housing Plan estimated that California needs to build approximately 2.5 million units of housing over the next eight years. The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) estimates show that the state will need 180,000 new units of housing each year just to keep up with existing demand, including 80,000 units for low-income residents. However, California only averages less than 100,000 new units a year.

As a result, housing prices in our state have soared, topping the $800,000 mark for the first time in history. At the same time, over half of renters are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing, with 80 percent of low-income renters spending more than 30 percent.

In an attempt to address this crisis, Governor Newsom recently announced his signing of a number of bills that make up his 2022 housing and homelessness package. A list of those bills with summaries can be found here. Below are a few bills of note.

Updates to ADU Laws

AB 2221 (Quirk-Silva) – This bill clarifies and expands requirements for approval of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and junior dwelling units (JADUs). Specifically, it does the following:

+ Requires a permitting agency to “approve or deny” an application to serve an ADU or JADU within 60 days. If a permitting agency denies an application for an accessory dwelling unit or junior accessory dwelling unit, the bill requires a permitting agency to return in writing a full set of comments to the applicant with a list of items that are defective or deficient and a description of how the application can be remedied by the applicant within the same timeframes.
+ Expands the definition of “permitting agency” to any agency that might issue a permit to a project applicant, not just the planning department.
+ Adds front setbacks to the list of local development standards that local governments cannot impose if they would preclude construction of an attached or detached ADU.
+ Clarifies the following: a) An ADU can be attached to or located in a detached garage; b) Local ADU ordinances do not supersede state ADU laws.

SB 897 (Wieckowski) – This bill makes numerous changes to the laws governing accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs). Specifically, it does the following:

+ Adjusts the minimum height limits that a local agency may impose, as follows: 16 feet height limitation for a detached ADU on a lot with an existing or proposed single family unit; 18 feet height limitation for a detached ADU on a lot with an existing or proposed multifamily dwelling unit; 18 feet height limitation for a detached ADU within one-half of one mile walking distance of a major transit stop or a high-quality transit corridor; + additional 2 feet to accommodate a roof pitch on an ADU that is aligned with the roof pitch of the primary dwelling unit; and 25 feet or the height limitation in the local zoning ordinance that applies to the primary dwelling unit, whichever is lower for an ADU attached to the primary dwelling unit.
+ Prohibits a local agency from denying a permit for an unpermitted ADU because of a building standard violation unless it is a health and safety violation.
+ Specifies that construction of an ADU does not constitute an occupancy change under the local building code or trigger a requirement that fire sprinklers be installed in either the ADU or the primary dwelling unit.

+ This bill would require a local agency to review and issue a demolition permit for a detached garage that is to be replaced by an accessory dwelling unit at the same time as it reviews and issues the permit for the accessory dwelling unit.
+ Clarifies the following: a) Standards imposed on ADUs must be objective; b) Any requirement for a zoning clearance or separate zoning review for either attached or detached dwellings will be constructed in compliance with all other local building standards.

AB 916 (Salas) – Prohibits a city or county from requiring a public hearing as a condition of reconfiguring existing space to add up to two bedrooms within an existing dwelling unit.

Adaptive Reuse of Commercial Facilities

AB 2011 (Wicks) – Enacts the “Affordable Housing and High Road Jobs Act of 2022” to create a ministerial, streamlined approval process for 100% affordable housing projects in commercial zones and for mixed-income housing projects along commercial corridors, as specified. The bill would also impose specified labor standards on those projects, including requirements that contractors pay prevailing wages, participate in apprenticeship programs, and make specified healthcare expenditures.

Specifically, the bill does the following:

Allows housing to be built by-right in infill areas currently zoned for office, retail, and parking uses.

+ Housing that is 100% affordable to lower-income households will be allowed anywhere in these areas that is not on environmentally sensitive land or on or next to industrial land.
+ Mixed-income housing will be focused along commercial corridors that are wide enough to accommodate density and new transit. At least 15 percent of the units would be required to be affordable to lower-income households.
+ For rent projects could, alternatively, provide at least eight percent of the units for very low-income households and five percent for extremely low-income households.
+ For sale projects could, alternatively, provide 30 percent of their unit for moderate-income households.

SB 6 (Caballero) – This bill enacts, until January 1, 2033, the Middle-Class Housing Act of 2022, establishes an expedited process to allow residential development on existing developed lots currently zoned for commercial office, retail, or parking, such as strip malls or large “big box” retail spaces. This bill requires the development of residential units at a minimum density to accommodate affordable housing, abide by existing local planning and development ordinances, pay workers union wages, and prioritize the use of a skilled and trained workforce (although the law provides an “off-ramp” if fewer than two bidders bid for a contract under the “skilled and trained workforce” requirement).

Specifically, the bill does the following:

+ Allows residential development on parcels zoned for commercial retail, office, and parking.
+ Requires housing development to meet or exceed the density deemed appropriate to accommodate affordable housing.
+ Expands the state’s ministerial housing approval process to include commercial properties.
+ Subjects the development to labor requirements, local inclusionary ordinances, and other local zoning, parking, and design ordinances.

A more detailed breakdown of AB 2011 and SB 6 can be found here.

SB 1695 (Santiago) – This bill requires that any notice of funding availability issued by HCD state that the adaptive reuse of property for affordable housing purposes is an eligible activity as long as it is for an affordable multifamily housing loan program. This bill defines “adaptive reuse” as the retrofitting and repurposing of an existing building to create new residential units.

Parking Requirements:

AB 2097 (Friedman) – This bill prohibits public agencies from imposing or enforcing parking minimums on developments within ½ mile of a major transit stop, as specified. Allows a city or county to impose minimum parking requirements on developments located within one-half mile of public transit if the city or county makes written findings within 30 days stating that not imposing minimum parking requirements would have a substantially negative impact, as specified.

The legislative process is not the only place housing policy is being considered in California. In fact, there are 52-housing related measures on local ballots throughout the state this election. According to the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, “the issues covered in these measures vary widely, including votes on changing local land use approvals, creating new sources of revenue for local housing initiatives, and establishing new or expanding existing tenant protection policies.”

AIA California is working to ensure that architects have a seat at the table to proactively lead positive changes in housing. We will continue to do all that we can to ensure that architects can use design to impact our communities for good and improve the quality of life in California.

More information on the bills in the Governor’s housing and homeless package can be found here.

Solutions to the Housing & Homelessness Crisis in Los Angeles County

Additional projects and specific budget wins that Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo worked on for the Los Angeles community include:

$50 Million for the LA County + USC General Hospital Reuse Project, which will transform the 19-story building into affordable housing and additional support for homeless Angelenos.
$15 Million for Homeboy Industries, which will assist in expanding existing support services, including critically important housing assistance.
$5 Million for The Hope Village, a project proposal that re-imagines the geographic area encompassing Men’s Central Jail, Los Angeles County Care First Village, Homeboy Industries, and the California Endowment’s Center for Healthy Communities Campus to expand housing and social services for unhoused, formerly incarcerated people and the surrounding community.
$5 Million for Impact Justice, which will open doors to professional development and living wage jobs for formerly incarcerated people and provide temporary housing solutions to individuals leaving prison.
$14.96 Million for Encampment Resolutions, awarded to the City of Los Angeles and County Continuums of Care to serve 500 women and families living in Skid Row.
$150 Million for the Portfolio Reinvestment Program, which will further preserve targeted units in downtown-oriented areas and continue increasing the state’s affordable housing stock.
This past week, I held an informational budget hearing on how Los Angeles County, the City of Los Angele


Equity in Architectural Education guides now available

WASHINGTON – November 4, 2022 – The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) have published a supplementary edition of the Guides for Equitable Practice, focusing on schools and institutions.

Equity in Architectural Education provides actions and prompts intended to inspire discussions about creating welcoming environments to attract and retain those currently underrepresented in academia and in the profession. This resource defines the concept of culture in architectural education while describing its impacts on the workforce. Equity in Architectural Education deepens the understanding of architecture education culture for anyone involved with it, students or professionals.

Readers familiar with architectural education will still find this resource helpful to absorb perspectives from people in other roles. Other audiences include anyone working in firms with interns or newly graduated emerging professionals, prospective students and their families, high school and career counselors, administrators, and hiring managers, who may be less familiar with the characteristics and idiosyncrasies of architectural education.

Access Equity in Architectural Education on AIA’s website.