from the desk of Will Wright

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Last week was a busy week.  In addition to finalizing the program agenda for our upcoming ENCOMPASS: Inclusive Architecture design conference, I met with several people to discuss a range of issues concerning the healthy, beauty and functionality of Los Angeles.

The Underground Museum

Early in the week, I met with the team at The Underground Museum to identify opportunities for the AIA|LA to interact more often with this community-based art space.  The museum is located on Washington Blvd. in Mid-City and serves the community with access to museum-quality art works for free.  We discussed prospective programming ideas and identified a prospective pathway to partner more often on our various initiatives, especially as it relates to facilitating greater cultural awareness to a diverse constituency otherwise often overlooked when it comes to cultural programming.

The Underground Museum was launched in 2015 along with MOCA as an effort to share exhibitions developed by the late artists Noah Davis.

Transit Oriented Communities

On Tuesday, our monthly Political Outreach Committee featured a presentation from Los Angeles City Planner Matt Glesne on the city’s draft Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) program,  which will provide incentives to ensure more mixed-income communities and greater housing affordability for all via added density bonuses and parking reductions.

We are encouraged by The Department of City Planning’s leadership and diligence on this effort to ensure that Los Angeles evolves into a healthy and vibrant community and that smart density and housing affordability become opportunities for healthier lifestyles and ecosystems.

While we are highly supportive of their efforts, we encourage some additional considerations, which we think will make the program even more robust:


  • Lower the parking minimum on Tier 2 from .5 per bedroom to .5 per unit.
  • Lower the parking minimum on Tier 3 from .5 per unit to .25 per unit.
  • Lower the parking minimum on Tier 4 from .5 per unit to 0 required parking.
  • For special need affordable units that requirement should be reduced to 0.3 stalls/unit.  (These requirements are part of AB 744).

The market will still provide the parking that they feel they will need to make sure the project is economically feasible.  However, if and when a project has the potential to be more affordable because of less burden to provide parking, then that will benefit Los Angeles with more flexibility and diversity in housing opportunities.

On Properties Zoned as Public Facilities:

If located within a half-mile of a Major-Transit Stop, the TOC program should allow PF parcels the same zoning provisions as those parcels immediately adjacent to the PF parcel and subject to the same density bonus incentives.  This will help re-develop under-utilized properties and allow public agencies such as METRO, LAUSD, et al a more streamlined approach to making sure they are delivering their services as expeditiously and as efficiently as possible.

We think these additional considerations will greatly improve the TOC program and will facilitate more mixed-income communities throughout our city.

Los Angeles County Arts Commission

The week ended with a in-depth discussion with the Los Angeles County Arts Commission about a prospective design competition for Accessory Dwelling Units.  Representatives from LA Más and Nous Engineering also joined the discussion.  As a initiative directed buy the County’s Homeless Initiative Strategy F4 the completion will spur interest and generate momentum for the development of a countywide Second Dwelling Units Pilot Program.

Along with the Department of Regional Planning, the Arts Commission is inviting the AIA|LA to help shape and direct the objectives of the competition, which is anticipated to be finalized in May 2016.  According to the County’s strategic objectives, "The goal of the Design Competition is to help bring attention to the County wide efforts to increase affordable housing stock for the homeless, preserve current affordable housing and promote the development of affordable housing for families and individuals.  The examples of accessory dwelling units generated by the Design Competition will provide concrete examples that individual homeowners and community members will consider assets in their neighborhoods.”

If any of these initiatives sound compelling to you, I invite you to reach out to me directly and we can identify a way to get you more involved.  

AIA|LA is its membership and I depend on your guidance and expertise to help realize these design impacts.

Last updated: 17-Apr-2017 10:52 AM
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