Measure S and the Future of Los Angeles

Michael B. Lehrer, FAIA – 1999 AIA|LA President

This is an ascendant time for our great City of the Angels.  We must not take it for granted.

Several generations of massive investment--in our schools, transportation, clean air, conserving and restoring our natural resources such as water and the LA River--have made our City more livable and desirable than it has been since the early 50’s. It is ironic that in this great moment for LA--much like the national scene right now-- some Angelenos want to stop this trajectory.  Proposition S puts our City at risk.

Deliciously diverse, walkable and bikable communities abound and civic pride-- from South LA to Sylmar to Silverlake—abides. What we are still missing is more and affordable housing-and-all-the uses-that support-today’s-urban-life near to where people work and play.  It is the only thing that can —if anything can—reduce traffic congestion.

The insidious effect of the new initiative will be a trickle down lack-of-housing. There will be less and less affordable housing, so that cheaper housing will be filled by people of more means. More people of lesser means will then become homeless. It's a perfect storm of damage to the future of our city, and our neighborhoods. 

The initiative radically restricts housing and development; legitimate concerns about lesser quality development must be answered with higher collective, legislative, and political leadership for design excellence and thoughtful urbanism and architecture that cherish streets and quality pedestrian experience is what we must always focus on and demand.


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

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


Last updated: 16-Feb-2017 01:36 PM
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