The AIA|LA Advocacy Report
May 24, 2018
from the desk of
Will Wright - Director, Government & Public Affairs, AIA Los Angeles


The Phased-merger of LADOT and the Bureau of Street Services

On Tuesday, May 22nd, the Los Angeles City Council introduced a motion to analyze the feasibility of merging the Bureau of Street Services (BSS) with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT). Such a merger will greatly impact the public realm and potentially streamline our ability to ensure a safer, healthier, more verdant, functional and more beautiful public realm. Perhaps! This is an issue that AIA|LA has been advocating for these pat eleven years. In fact, I remember back in 2007, during our annual Legislative Day At City Hall, when members of the Political Outreach Committee gave out copies of Allan B. Jacob’s Great Streets – a seminal book that reminds us all that our streets and sidewalks serve as the outdoor living rooms and community centers for our neighborhoods. In fact, to many the public realm serves as our garden and our kitchen, too.

The motion, authored by Councilmember Joe Buscaino and Councilmember Nury Martinez, directs the City Administrative Officer and the Chief Legislative Analyst to report back with a phased action-plan to implement the merger of BSS with LADOT. The motion also asks the CAO and CLA to provide recommendations on how to best improve existing street-related functions of other departments, and to potentially transfer those functions to the merged LADOT/ BSS department. Street Trees, utilities, watershed management!

One model to look at is Denver’s Department of the Public Right-A-Way Services.

This is an initiative that I am extremely passionate about about and will be doing my best to ensure that more architects, landscape architects and urban & environmental designers have a seat at the decision-making table to ensure that this merger moves beyond simply streamlining the process, but is also expanded to ensure that we are working together as a city to deliver the best experiences possible in our public realm for humans and our shared natural eco-system alike.

This will be especially important as we rely on our public realm to deliver us to each other, to connect our communities, and to uplift our daily lives with a safe, healthy and spiritual city.

County of Los Angeles ADU Ordinance

On May 22nd, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance to provide homeowners greater flexibility to build accessory dwelling units, which will help expand our region’s supply of affordable housing options.

From Board Chair Sheila Kuehl:

“This ordinance enables County property owners to be part of the solution in the fight against homelessness. Building ‘granny flats’ can help alleviate our affordable housing crisis, while providing additional rental income for the families who build them. I strongly encourage homeowners to consider whether this opportunity can work for them. When it comes to reducing homelessness, we need all hands on deck and everyone in.” 

To read more about the newly adopted ADU ordinance, CLICK HERE.


News from AIACC about the proposed Sales Tax on Services Legislation
A Senate Committee heard legislation earlier this week (SB 993 – Hertzberg) that would have imposed a sales tax on most services, including architectural services.  Due to very strong opposition, including from the AIACC, the bill was only heard but not voted on.  Translation: the bill did not have the votes to pass.  There will be another hearing on the bill in June, but we believe it will be an informational hearing only.
The AIACC joined a coalition of over 100 groups opposing the bill, and 134 Members responded to our very targeted call-to-action and sent messages to their State Senators, who sit on the Senate Committee considering the bill, urging them to vote No on it.

On behalf of AIACC, Mark Christian, testified in opposition of the Bill at the public hearing last week.


Architect Jeff Potter, FAIA, Appointed to Texas Governor's School Safety Panel

Architects across the country continue to lend their expertise on designing safe and secure schools

Austin, Texas – May 22, 2018 – The American Institute of Architects (AIA) announces the appointment of architect Jeff Potter, FAIA, to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s roundtable, which is intended to identify enhanced safety and security solutions for the state’s schools and communities.
“Jeff has dedicated his career to designing schools and facilities for the health, safety and welfare of children,” said Texas Society of Architects Executive Vice President/CEO James Perry. “His expertise will be a valuable asset to the search for solutions that Texas—and other states—require to help prevent these tragedies.”

As part of the roundtable, Potter will advise on the design of safe and secure schools. Like many architects across the country, Potter has an expertise in the field. He has spent the last three decades designing primary and secondary education facilities with his firm POTTER, located in Dallas and Longview, Texas.

“Architects are experts in designing buildings to protect our citizens,” said AIA President Carl Elefante, FAIA.  “Architects have developed best practices and a high level of expertise in designing safe and secure schools while also maintaining open and positive learning environments. AIA is committed to working in a bipartisan manner at all levels of government, with elected officials, first responders, teachers and other stakeholders to guarantee that public policy supports the highest standards for building codes and school design practices across the United States.”

Texas is the latest state where the governor is turning to an architect for design solutions that will improve school safety. Earlier this year, AIA Florida began working with Florida Governor Rick Scott, state legislators and the Florida Department of Education to develop design standards and best practices for the state’s schools.

“In the short time since the abhorrent event at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, there have been many lessons learned,” said AIA Florida Executive Vice President Vicki Long, CAE, Hon. AIA. “We stand ready to support AIA components and elected officials in Florida and Texas by sharing our valuable insights. It’s important that all stakeholders in this issue—especially policymakers—recognize architects as valuable resources on this issue. Smarter, safer design of schools will not prevent these tragedies, but it would help mitigate the damage and save lives." 

John Schneidawind

(202) 626 7457

Architects Advocate Action on Climate Change Develops Election-Year Tool to Empower Members on Environmental Issues

The Catalytic Action Platform outlines steps that architecture firms and “citizen architects” can take to advance the cause of finding solutions to climate change

Chicago, IL—Eighteen months after its formation, the nonpartisan grassroots network Architects Advocate Action on Climate Change (Architects Advocate) has grown to more than 900 firms and over 2,400 individual members. Now, the group is focusing on ways to activate firms and citizen architects.

“Maybe more than any other profession, architects are trained to build consensus around multiple—and often competing—interests and stakeholders. We need to deploy these skills towards a redesign of the systems that impact all of society. This is leadership in the truest sense. To achieve the ultimate goal of transforming to a carbon-free economy, we need to go to the polls and make choices based on issues, not parties,” said Architects Advocate co-founder Tom Jacobs.

To shape and accelerate the process, the network created a Catalytic Action Platform that is tailored to both individuals and firms to serve as a roadmap for activist efforts.

Citizen architects—individuals who commit to being guided by science and prudence, to being nonpartisan, and to taking action—are encouraged to take ownership of their role as employers of the government officials who represent them through participating in the Open Letter drive. Already signed by 1,500 architects nationwide, the document highlights the need for continued growth of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. Citizen architects are encouraged to use the letter (available at when contacting incumbents and candidates to find out if they commit to bipartisan climate action.

At the firm level, members are encouraged to support existing initiatives like the 2030 Commitment by the AIA and the We Are Still In coalition, which represents the broadest cross-section of the U.S. economy ever assembled in pursuit of climate action. Architects Advocate also recommends firms include fossil-free fund options in their 401(k) plan offerings, allowing their employees to align their financial resources with their environmental values.

Jacobs said that Architects Advocate Action on Climate Change prioritizes results over organizational structure. “As a leaderless network and platform of architects, we are highly nimble and able to mobilize quickly; something that can be challenging for more traditionally structured groups like the AIA, which represents 90,000 members. The opportunity before us is to innovate advocacy by meshing both approaches, to combine the advantages of our grassroots network with the initiatives and resources of the AIA.”

For more information, visit

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 701
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(o) (213) 639-0764
Last updated: 24-May-2018 01:05 PM
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