Measure S and the Future of Los Angeles
Steven Ehrlich, FAIA – 2015 AIA|LA Gold Medal
“Citizens of Los Angeles are rightly concerned about urgent issues of urbanization, gentrification, traffic and homelessness. An attempt to address these problems, Measure S includes some sensible constraints on development, such as not allowing developers to hire their own consultants to do traffic and environmental impact studies. However, the measure overreaches and ultimately would do more harm than good. It should be opposed.
That’s because our first priority must be housing. The city is facing a critical housing shortage, both market-rate and affordable. Rents are in the stratosphere and tens of thousands of homeless people are on the streets. Measure S would effectively halt new housing construction, banning all development requiring a zone change, general plan amendment or height allowance increase for at least two years. Zone changes are almost always needed for new housing because the General Plan is badly out of date. One good thing about Measure S is that it shines a spotlight on the glaring need for city officials and planners to update the General Plan.
Measure HHH, passed in November, allows for the construction of 10,000 low-income units. Affordable housing projects are planned to be built on unused city land including parking lots, minimizing displacement. Measure S would block all these projects, prolonging the suffering of our most vulnerable residents.
We architects are challenged to increase density in Los Angeles while preserving neighborhood character and delivering sustainability. We must be the bridge among community groups, developers and city officials, finding solutions to complex problems that work for all income levels. What is needed is thoughtful planning and inspired, real-world design--not over restrictive ballot measures--to create a dynamic and livable 21st century city for all.”
-Steven Ehrlich, FAIA
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
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