The AIA|LA Advocacy Report
May 3, 2018
from the desk of
Will Wright - Director, Government & Public Affairs, AIA Los Angeles



LOCAL

METRO’s Draft Vision 2028 Plan


After nearly 18 months of outreach and research, METRO’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation has released their draft Vision 2028 Plan and are actively soliciting public comments. The deadline for feedback is May 24, 2018.

If adopted by METRO’s Board at their June 2018 meeting, Vision 2028 will set Metro’s strategic direction and help set the tone for both the Long Range Transportation Plan and the NextGen Bus Study. The objectives of Vision 2028 will be to help provide greater mobility to everyone, whether walking, biking, riding transit or driving.

The goals of Vision 2028 are to:

1. Provide high-quality mobility options that enable people to spend less time traveling;
2. Deliver outstanding trip experiences for all users of the transportation system;
3. Enhance communities and lives through mobility and access to opportunity;
4. Transform Los Angeles County through regional collaboration and national leadership; and
5. Provide responsive, accountable, and trustworthy governance within the Metro organization.

Of special interest is to review METRO’s ACTION MATRIX, which is a summary of action items that are proposed over the course of the next ten years.

I welcome further debate on whether or not METRO’s mission should remain primarily focused on mobility, or if their mission should evolve beyond advancing regional mobility to also address broader healthy place making and quality-of-life initiatives. My theory is that if mobility is really all about human connectivity, then with the advancement of technology, there will be more and more challenges to keep people better connected to each other – and if our mobility priorities risk cutting-off each other from ourselves in ways that are yet unforeseen, then how can we best mitigate speed and ease with a greater and more fundamental connectivity to healthy and natural eco-systems. Perhaps that’s too big a bite of the apple to chew, but in my opinion we need to find a way to double-down on our mobility investments so that they continue to add to the quality of life for both the passenger/ pedestrian moving through the city, as well as, the public realm that serves as our collective front-yards (aka, the sidewalks of life) of the person(s) we are all moving past.

For a copy of the 40-page Vision 2028 Plan, please CLICK HERE.

If you’d like to share your written comments to METRO, contact Tham Nguyen, One Gateway Plaza, Mail Stop 99-25-1, Los Angeles, CA 90012 or nguyentha@metro.net.

Likewise, if you’re interested in meeting with an ad-hoc working group of AIA|LA members, please contact Will Wright at will@aialosangeles.org with your level of interest. We will be organizing an ad-hoc meeting on May 16th (4pm) in Downtown LA to shape written comments on the Vision 2028.



STATE


SB 961 (Allen) = Neighborhood Infill Finance and Transit Improvement (NIFTI-2) Districts

Remember when the State of California funded affordable housing with the California Redevelopment Agency? Are you passionate about identifying new funding sources to build affordable housing, especially in areas near high-frequency transit stations?

Well then…you may be interested to learn more about SB 961 (Allen), which is currently working its way through the California legislative process. Drafted by, MOVE LA, the same organization that helped facilitate countywide support for us to pass both Measure R and Measure M, SB 961 will expand and improve Neighborhood Infill Finance and Transit Improvement (NIFTI) districts to place a more direct emphasis on developing new affordable housing within a half-mile of a rail transit station, or within 300 feet of a high-frequency bus rapid transit boulevard. If it passes, SB 961 will create the opportunity for local jurisdictions to create NIFTI-2 tax-increment financing districts.

If a NIFTI-2 is created with a commitment of at least 40% of the tax increment to affordable housing, the funding processes can be streamlined since it will not be required to seek voter approval to bond against the tax increment.

A NIFTI-2 also facilitates a communities ability to directly invest in the transit system, the stations and first-mile/ last-mile infrastructure, which a prime mechanism of safer place making for our communities.

Also, rather than burden each new development with the high-costs of required parking, a NIFTI – 2 can direct tax increment funds to be invested in publicly-owned district parking facilities (Think the economic & community development advantages created when both Pasadena and Santa Monica developed district parking facilities). District parking facilities can help reduce the costs as much as 25% of both market rate and affordable housing projects, and therefore allow lower rents.

If you’d like to read more about SB 961 (Allen), please CLICK HERE.

You are also encouraged to share a letter of support directly with the author of the bill and copy both zak.castillo-krings@sen.ca.gov and will@aialosangeles.org

A sample sign-on letter of support is HERE 

YOUR LOGO HERE

April 23, 2018

The Honorable Ben Allen
California State Senate
State Capitol, Room 5072
Sacramento, CA 95814

  RE: Senate Bill 961 (Allen) — NIFTI-2 — SUPPORT

  Dear Senator Allen,

We strongly support SB 961 to allow local jurisdictions to create Neighborhood Infill Finance and Transit Improvements-2 (NIFTI-2) districts. This new version of the tax increment funding tool will create significant new local revenue streams to fund affordable housing and other needed improvements near rail transit stations and along commercial corridors served by rail and bus. SB 961 is especially responsive to our critical need for affordable housing near transit, since it requires at least 40% of tax increment funds be used for development of housing affordable to households with incomes below 60% of area median income.

Ever since redevelopment agencies were abolished in 2011 local governments have struggled to find reliable funding sources to invest in neighborhood improvements, infrastructure and, especially, affordable housing. Meantime, investments facilitating access to transit have become increasingly important as residents and businesses struggle with traffic congestion and air pollution, cities endeavor to expand transit service, and we all must take responsibility for reducing GHG emissions.

In communities all over California there are lengthy and often underutilized commercial corridors served by high frequency transit—typically bus—where NIFTI-2 investments could help create mixed-use mixed-income transit-oriented neighborhoods that walkable and and are desirable places in which to live. We applaud the eligible uses of funding: for better rail stations and bus stops, better first-last-mile access such as improvements to sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes, for urban greening, and for detached and decoupled parking structures that would take the cost of building and/or providing parking off the balance sheets of developers and local service and retail establishments and restaurants—making it easier for them to succeed.

Land prices along these corridors are likely to be lower to begin with, which will also reduce the cost of building both market rate and affordable housing. The key to NIFTI-2’s success could be the provision to make it possible to issue bonds backed by the NIFTI-2 tax increment without requiring voter approval, which will substantially increase the likelihood that these financing districts will be more widely implemented that other versions.

We appreciate your leadership on this issue and look forward to working with you to ensure the approval of SB 961. We believe this bill will enable local governments and the private sector to work together to create mixed-use, mixed-income, transit-oriented neighborhoods with both market-rate and deed-restricted affordable housing.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME AND ORGANIZATION/COMPANY HERE
OR JUST YOUR NAME


State Bill Could Boost Santa Monica's Affordable Housing, Public Transit Goals
By Jorge Casuso




NATIONAL


AIA COTE and the Federal Emergency Management Administration

As a member of the AIA Committee on the Environment, Michael R. Davis, FAIA has shared the following statement and encourages architects and architecture firms to contact FEMA:

Recently, the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) removed the reference to "climate change" from their strategic plan. This is especially troubling considering that FEMA is responsible for coordinating the government's disaster response. Removal of this key terminology promotes an "alternate reality" and a perception that climate change is not responsible for the increase in many of our natural disasters. As architects and design professionals, we recognize that climate change is a real threat. It cannot be ignored and therefore, we must act to make our voice heard on this issue.

The AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) drafted this letter to FEMA for architecture firms to sign. Please sign this letter on behalf of your firm urging FEMA to retain language related to climate change in their strategic plan. 

Last year was the costliest year ever for weather disasters - now is the time to act.

Please sign the letter to FEMA on behalf of your firm or bring it to the attention of a firm leader today.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE LETTER

[YOUR FIRM’S LOGO]

(DATE)

Mr. William “Brock” Long
Administrator
Federal Emergency Management Administration
500 C St SW
Washington, DC 20024
RE: FEMA’s Removal of 'Climate Change' from FEMA Strategic Plan

Dear Administrator Long:

We, the undersigned, are writing to alert you of our concerns about the recent shift by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to remove the reference to ‘climate change’ in the agency’s Strategic Plan. The undersigned architecture firms urge you to retain this language in an effort to continue the progress made with regard to climate change and its impact on weather patterns that impact the built environment and other aspects of the environment.

In addition to FEMA’s removal of the terms ‘climate change’ from its strategic plan (that sets out the agency's priorities for the next four years), FEMA has also neglected to mention terms related to scientific predictions of rising surface temperatures such as climate, global warming, sea-level rise, or weather.

Why it matters to us: FEMA is responsible for coordinating the government's response to natural and manmade disasters and now joins at least two other federal agencies — the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of Housing and Urban Development — in this move. By deleting key terminologies associated with the primary mission of your agency and the others, it gives the perception that this reality is simply not occurring.

Last year, one of the hottest years in modern history, was also the costliest year ever for weather disasters, setting the U.S. back a record-setting $306 billion in spending aid and relief cost. By adopting this change, it appears that FEMA is ignoring a critical factor that exacerbates natural disasters (and the ensuing damage): climate change.

The plan states: "Disaster costs are expected to continue to increase due to rising natural hazard risk, decaying critical infrastructure, and economic pressures that limit investments in risk resilience. As good stewards of taxpayer dollars, FEMA must ensure that our programs are fiscally sound. Additionally, we will consider new pathways to long-term disaster risk reduction, including increased investments in pre-disaster mitigation."

In comparison, the 2014-2018 FEMA Strategic Plan highlighted the necessity to adapt to future climate-influenced risks by stating:

"Scientific evidence indicates that the climate is changing and significant economic, social, and environmental consequences can be expected as a result. A changing climate is already resulting in quantifiable changes to the risks communities face, showing that future risks are not the same as those faced in the past. State, tribal, territorial, and local demands for climate-enabled risk management information and tools are expected to rise and evolve as the need to adapt to climate change increases. The emergency management community will need to adapt appropriately to these changing risks as they strengthen their risk-management programs."

As practicing architects, we agree that climate change is a very real and immediate threat to further destruction from weather events. We strongly encourage the agency to reconsider the incorporation of the terms “climate change” to properly and adequately embrace the quickly changing needs of citizens across the country and the changing needs for the built environment.  

Eliminating accurate data and causation will severely impact our ability to meet client demands, fulfill our contractual obligations, and carry out the duties of our licensure to protect the public. Eliminating words that define a real and present danger to the future health of people on this planet will do nothing to further the Agency’s mission to mitigate the effects of disasters and establish both pre- and post-disaster assistance programs and standards.  

Sincerely,

[Your Signature]
[Your Contact Information]



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
email: will@aialosangeles.org
Last updated: 03-May-2018 02:45 PM
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