Measure S and The Future of Los Angeles

As you may already know, Measure S is on the ballot on March 7th and it is an issue that deeply effects the future of the City of Los Angeles, the built environment and the architecture profession.


AIA|LA reached out several AIA|LA Past-Presidents and Gold Medalists to share their individual thoughts.  We will be sharing those thoughts over the course of the next few weeks.

The AIA|LA Board of Director’s voted to oppose Measure S in January 2016 back when it was referred to as the 'Neighborhood Integrity Initiative'. The Board voted to re-iterate that opposition at the January 2017 board meeting and instructed staff to communicate that opposition in a constructive manner and to elevate the architect’s role as the bridge builder between developers who are investing rapidly in the transformation of Los Angeles and communities who may feel uncomfortable with the intensity of our current development boom.


Yes, the AIA|LA opposes Measure S - but we also want to share with the public our pro-active ideas for how we can ensure Los Angeles evolves as a more beautiful, equitable and prosperous place and yet preserves its authentic character.  For well over the past twelve years, we’ve been strong advocates encouraging City Council to invest more robustly in an inclusive community outreach process to update community plans.  However, that investment has never occurred at the scale we’d like to see - hence the community backlash that is manifested in the Measure S initiative.


We’ve noticed how divisive Measure S has become between professionals (architects, developers, city planners) and the community-at-large.  Therefore, rather than inflame that division, we’d like to deliver a carefully crafted article that captures the voices of a diverse set of design professionals and offer that blended perspective as a bridge that connects the two camps so that we can underscore the role of the architect to serve clients AND communities with a thoughtful approach to inclusive community outreach.


To read the Measure S initiative in its entirety, please CLICK HERE.


AIA|LA is on the record in opposition to Measure S and has joined the “No on S” coalition.  However, we also have ideas for how we as a city can address the many valid concerns expressed by the proponents of Measure S and the neighborhood groups that are presently afflicted by the rapid changes of LA’s built form.



• For those who may not be familiar with Measure S, how do you describe its urgency?  And the urgency to personally either vote yes or no on it?

• In your interaction with your family, neighbors and friends (not involved in A/E/C industry), how do you describe or characterize their concern for the current transformation of Los Angeles?

• In your opinion, what is the exact problem Measure S  wants to fix?  Is it the traffic?  Is it displacement? Is is political graft and corruption?

• In your opinion, will Measure S fix any of those problems? Are these problems metrics of other inputs unrelated to local politics?  Will the impacts of Measure S help or will it make the problems worse??

• If Measure S passes/ fails, what becomes the next urgency of the architecture & design profession to better bridge this divide between professional architects and community members?

• What is the role of architecture, technology, innovation, environmental performance to mitigate the impacts that proponents of Measure S are most concerned about?  (Traffic, displacement, graft)

• If LA can be all cities to all people, then how do all of those different looks and layers interplay with each other?


• Beauty!  What are some opportunities to ensure we are building more beautiful places?

• In general, do you believe that the majority of new projects in Los Angeles are well designed?  If so, share some of your favorite examples?  If not, tell us what you feel is off-balance?  Are these problems the result of the building code, the zoning code or market forces (or all three)?

• Do new projects, in general, lack authenticity?  Is development at the scale we are currently experiencing causing our city to become less beautiful and delightful?

• What needs fixing? What are the challenges LA faces as a global city?  

• Is there an existential crisis that Los Angeles must overcome in order to have a healthy, sustainable and resilient future?  If so, what lies at each of the extremes?  Describe the crossroads?

• Is community planning essential to a city?  Or is planning a futile exercise?  Or a combination of both (much like painting the golden gate bridge)?

• What advice do you have to Developers as your clients to make a project better?

• What is it that developers just don’t get?  What are some of their 'easiest to fix' mistakes?

• Describe your design process?


• What facilitates inclusive outreach?  How do you best engage a community so that your project is improved?  How do you frame the ‘inputs’ so their feedback is relevant/ useful?

• The planning process - what are your suggestions to improve the city’s planning process?

• What cities do you work in that have excellent planning and community input processes that allow for your projects to be superb?!


• Is Los Angeles City Council too involved in land-use decisions?  Or not involved enough?  

• Should land-use be depoliticized and thus be delegated to planning and design experts? 

•  If so, how do you best build the trust of the community so that they begin to allow experts to deliver excellence?

The Future of Los Angeles:  Density and Land-Use 

• LA is currently home to four million people.  Given your insight of world-wide conditions, how many people do you anticipate ‘wanting’ to call Los Angeles home in 2040? 400,00) more?  Another million?  Another four million+?

• Some feel LA needs to reconcile its past with a more sustainable future - that it needs to embrace a vision that is vastly different than from its past.

• Describe LA in 40, 50, 100 years from now?  What does it look like?  How do people get around?  How do they civically engage with each other?  What do their homes look like?

• Is it possible for a city to embrace a multitude of future visions for our city?  If so, how?  

• What can the AIA|LA do to better inform the public, to embrace the dichotomy of several co-existing conditions, each integrated in complementary manner?

For more information, please contact:

Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA

Director, Government & Public Affairs

American Institute of Architects/Los Angeles Chapter

3780 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 800

Los Angeles, CA 90010

tel: (213) 639-0764