AIA|LA Government & Public Affairs Report
From the desk of Will Wright - January 23, 2018

AIA|LA Design Access City Hall:  Connecting Architects & Designers with Civic Leadership

Historically, AIA|LA’s premier annual advocacy event has been our Legislative Day at City Hall, which began in 1999 when Michael Lehrer, FAIA was President-elect of AIA Los Angeles.  In 2018, with greater emphasis on promoting initiatives that highlight best-practices and underscore AIA|LA’s core values of inclusion, mobility, social equity, housing affordability, and resilience- and, as a direct result of our recent strategic planning process- we have decided to rebrand Legislative Day as AIA|LA Design Access City Hall.

The primary objectives of Design Access City Hall are: to highlight the leadership of the architecture & design profession, help advance planning and land-use goals, zoning and building code innovations, urban design guidelines and other regulatory concerns that impact the built and natural environment of the Los Angeles region, and ensure that we are able to build more housing opportunities for all Angelenos while preventing further displacement. Design Access City Hall will also serve as a way to celebrate programs and strategies that are already working to ensure that neighborhoods are complete communities with a well-balanced housing to jobs ratio and integrated with a diversity of incomes and cultures.

Strategic objectives include:

  • To change the nature of the architecture profession and inspire architects to become more civically engaged = to be a designer and a citizen are one and the same.
  • To change the culture of our city and our city leadership = architects and system-wide design-thinking needs to become a more integral aspect of their mental landscape.

We aim to achieve this initiative with the following three tactics:

  • An open and inclusive initiative that is strategically programmed with relevant and progressive action-items and policy platforms, which will further connect the shared values of of a multi-disciplinary group of architects, urban designer, city planners and policymakers to help make a healthier, more beautiful and more highly functional Los Angeles region.
  • A committed group of task-force member volunteers (Political Outreach Committee) comprised of architects that establish an annual slate of issue briefs and policy recommendations.
  • Targeted meetings with council members, deputy mayors, general managers and commissioners.  We aim to schedule the critical mass of these meetings on one day (date TBD) at Los Angeles City Hall.

Additional meetings will be coordinated throughout the year with other public agencies in the region; such as METRO, Los Angeles County, LAUSD and the cities of Culver City, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Inglewood, Beverly Hills, etc.

Will you join us?


To be successful, AIA|LA Design Access City Hall will rely on a committed group of AIA members to serve as a critical leadership resource.  If you’re interested in getting more involved, please contact Will Wright directly and make plans to attend the first Political Outreach Committee (POC) of 2018.  

AIA|LA Political Outreach Committee 
Tuesday, February 20 (6pm - 8pm)
Location TBD
Los Angeles, CA

POC Leadership:
2018 Chair: Douglas Hanson, AIA, ASID - President, Hanson LA
Vice-Chair: TBD
Past-Chair: D. Rocky Rockefeller, AIA - Senior Partner, Rockefeller Partners Architects

Recode LA:  Process and Procedures Amendment Ordinance

I am working with Tom Rothman from the Los Angeles Department of City Planning to organize a roundtable discussion on the Process and Procedures Amendment Ordinance.  

Tentatively scheduled for February 2018, the objectives of this roundtable will be to allow AIA members to share critical and constructive feedback and ideas on how to improved the draft ordinance.  The proposed ordinance will cut in half the number of project review processes for gaining entitlements and permits for development projects across the city.  It will streamline and clarify the process and consolidate the decision-making pathway for how the City reviews development project proposals, etc. The proposed changes will enable a more consistent standard of review and help safe the City and the project applicant time and money.

Once a date has been confirmed, the AIA|LA Board and the Political Outreach Committee will be notified.

CEQA Committee: Los Angeles County Business Federation

As of January 2018, I’ve been appointed to serve the BizFed CEQA Committee as Co-Chair along with Larry Kosmont (President & CEO, Kosmont Companies) and Jennifer Hernandez (Partner, Holland & Knight LLP).  As a co-chair, and as a liaison to AIA Los Angeles, I plan to create a roundtable program that will focus on the practical implementation of existing CEQA streamlining tools and look to recognize best-practices to expedite defensible CEQA processes for plans and projects throughout the LA County region.

Qualifications-Based Selection Advocacy w/ American Council of Engineering Companies, California

In late 2017, AIACC’s Mark Christian put me in contact with Jennifer Teasdale, Policy Outreach Coordinator for the American Council of Engineering Companies, California   Together, we plan to organize an ad-hoc working group to further promotes best-practices in QBS.  As you may know, QBS is a competitive procurement process that encourages project owners to hire professional services based on their qualifications and competence (rather than relying solely on the lowest bid).  Two AIA members volunteered to work with me on this early-stage effort:  Debra Gerod, FAIA (Partner, Gruen Associates) and Millard A. Lee, AIA (Principal, AC Martin).  
Deborah Weintraub, AIA from LA Bureau of Engineering has also reached out to me schedule an exploratory conference call.

If you, or anyone else from your firm, is interested in getting involved please have them contact me directly.  

Early Warnings: A list of statewide issues I will be tracking in 2018

AIA|LA defers to AIA California Council on all legislative issues related the California legislature and AIA National on all federal legislation.  However, in effort to serve the local membership, I do track state and federal matters and find ways to further support AIACC and AIA National with additional resources and direct input from AIA|LA members.

SB 827 - Senator Wiener.
If adopted, SB 827 would mandate denser & calling zoning near transit by creating density and height zoning minimums near transit (within half-mile of a high-connectivity transit hubs).

SB 831 - Senator Bob Wieckowski.
If adopted, SB 831 may help Californians build accessory dwelling units by lowering the costs of fees and streamlining regulations.

METRO's Sustainability Council

Gary Gero, Chief Sustainability Officer for the County of Los Angeles, presented the draft LA County Sustainability Plan framework to METRO's Sustainability Council on January 12, 2018.

Five Take-Aways included:

1.  The Goals of the LA County Sustainability Plan:
  • Develop a comprehensive framework.
  • Demonstrate leadership and innovation.
  • Serve as a template that other cities can adopt for their climate action plan.
2.  The ten key elements of the sustainability framework include:
  • Water
  • Energy
  • Climate
  • Air Quality
  • Land-use and transportation
  • Open Space, Recreation and Habitat/ Biodiversity
  • Resource recovery and waste management
  • Public health and well-being
  • Economy and workforce development
  • Housing
  • With Equity & Resilience woven throughout.
3.  There is a need to research and further develop data-sets that will help LA County have a better understanding about prospective population growth as a direct result of climate change from a global perspective and the magnitude of climate refugees we may absorb in California due to human migration patterns, etc.  As the rest of the world becomes less climate-friendly, will California become even more attractive as a destination?  Are current population projections adequate?  Or will we have millions and millions more people desiring to live in California and in Los Angeles County?

4.  Some novel elements of a sustainability plan include such factors as universal broadband access, criminal justice reform, human dignity, sustainable food production, diversity and other social conditions.

5.  STAR Communities is a LEED-type rating system for community sustainability.

My big questions:  Is there a current assessment and/or analysis of LA County’s carbon footprint? Is there a protected analysis of what the LA County’s carbon footprint will be once their Sustainability Plan becomes implemented?  Can the delta between these two values be utilized vis-a-vis cap-and-trade credits to help fund the cost of implementation?

A fellow member of the Sustainability Council, Bryn Lindblad from Climate Resolve, mentioned that METRO is working on a draft policy on displacement in transit-oriented communities.  

For more information, please contact Will Wright.
Last updated: 18-Jan-2018 02:07 PM
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