The AIA|LA Advocacy Report
May 31, 2018
from the desk of
Will Wright - Director, Government & Public Affairs, AIA Los Angeles


Accessory Dwelling Units

On Tuesday, May 15th, The Los Angeles City Council Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) committee approved the revised Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance, which will next be heard by the full City Council for final approval.

The ADU ordinance also includes provisions for manufactured homes and “moveable, tiny houses”.

“Moveable, Tiny Houses” must meet the following criteria:

• Licensed and registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles
• Meets the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) 119.5 requirements, and certified by a qualified third party inspector for ANSI compliance
• Cannot move under its own power
• Is no larger than allowed by California State Law for movement on public highways
• Has a room of at least 120 square feet and no more than 430 square feet of habitable living space, including bathrooms and fixed counter

The new ordinance also helps clarify parking requirements for ADU’s and removes the requirement for parking if the ADU is within one-half mile of a transit stop, if that transit stop is on a prescribed route with a fixed-schedule.

With the advent of on-demand public transit that will respond to smart/ dynamic routes in the near future, I trust that our ordinances will eventually be updated to not be so dependent on fixed routes and instead look at opportunities to adhere to greater flexibility within certain areas, neighborhoods and districts.

Also, as emerging technologies (and old-fashioned, too!) begin to facilitate easier off-the-grid living, I’d also trust that the ordinance will be updated so that it doesn’t require the ADU to be connected to electric utilities.

Other provisions in the ordinance allow for ADUs to be up to a maximum of 1,200 square feet, and no greater than two stories.

Los Angeles County Affordable Housing Action Plan

Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning is hosting a webinar on Tuesday, June 12 (11am – 12pm) on their recently completed Affordable Housing Action Plan. The Action Plan shares a series of policy recommendations related to ADUS, affordable housing linkage fees, preservation of existing affordable housing, inclusionary and mixed-income housing. The Action Plan also includes policy recommendations to both increase the supply of affordable housing and preserve the affordable housing that we already have.

To register for the Webinar, CLICK HERE. It’s free.


Building Performance: What to Look for Now, Part III

AIACC asked noted experts on building performance to alert us to today’s most important topics in building performance and sustainability. This is the third of three reports of their responses.

  • Kevin Fleming, AIA, of DLR Group

We’re anticipating big things with a new research project around bio-phase change materials(Bio-PCM).

Our research initiative, titled Thermal Mass 2.0, aims to measure and prove the ability of phase change materials to effectively cool and heat facilities and increase thermal comfort. While the space industry has used PCMs for years, they are often petroleum based and break down after a few cycles of change. What we are testing is a vegetable-based composition that can change phase at room temperature—not 32 degrees—so we can evaluate more effectively for thermal comfort.

We are very excited to partner with Professor Harvey Bryan at Arizona State University, Phase Change Energy Solutions, Agua Fria Union High School District, and Chasse Building Team. We have installed Phase Change Energy Solutions’ Bio-PCM at a large, new facility at Canyon View High School just outside of Phoenix, Arizona, and have integrated the monitoring and measurement into a living-lab partnership for the school’s curriculum.

  • David Kaneda, FAIA, of Integral Group

1. Requiring some kind of ZNE design is well on its way to becoming code in CA.

2. Many CCA’s (Community Choice Aggregations) are offering “zero carbon power” sourced from hydro and renewables or green power sourced from renewables only. If all electricity were zero carbon, designing NZE buildings might not be necessary.

3. As more PV gets installed, California is having a problem named the duck curve, in which too much power is generated around noon, and the grid cannot use it. This has led to strange results; when that has happened, California has had to pay other states to take excess power. Many places in Hawaii do not allow major new PV installations to push power back onto the grid. Time-of-use charges are shifting to peak in the evening. The cost of electricity to run buildings could eventually fall.

4. The sales of electric vehicles (EVs) (which typically are charged at work or at home) is exploding. Predictions are for as high as 85% penetration by 2035. Many buildings will not have a service big enough to charge a large number of cars. This is already an issue for apartment complexes and will continue to be.

5. There is a potential for autonomous vehicles (AVs) to greatly reduce the total number of cars on the road, as AVs can be used by multiple people throughout the day, like taxis. For facilities with large parking garages, thought needs to be put into how you use those spaces if they are no longer fully utilized.

6. Passive energy designs: using thoughtful siting, good daylighting design, cool roofs, low-e windows, well insulated walls, thermal mass, and night flushing seem to allow for high performance and more durable energy savings compared to complex, sophisticated smart buildings, especially in a smaller building not run by a sophisticated facilities manager.

7. On the other hand, there is big interest in sophisticated smart buildings, especially for residential applications (Nest, Alexa, smart light bulbs, etc.) and large portfolio holders who can hire sophisticated facilities managers.

8. PV has gotten cheap enough that looking at using it for vertical façades, rain screens, etc. is becoming commonplace.

9. Batteries are getting cheap enough that they are being considered for uses from reducing demand charges, to storing PV power in the low rate afternoon to be used at the high rate early evening, to microgrids for back-up power in lieu of a diesel generator. Battery storage will become a key strategy in the next generation of energy efficient/net zero energy buildings.

10. LEED has driven a growing awareness of creating healthy buildings that spawned the Well Building standard and focus on issues like circadian cycles, endocrine disrupting chemicals, etc. The Living Building Challenge, as well as Google, has brought a focus on using “healthy materials” in buildings.

11. Cities seem to be actually changing zoning and development standards to get a better mix on residential/commercial/retail in local communities so one can live, work and play in an area without needing to own a car.

12. Low cost, evolving technology, such as teleconferencing software, sophisticated cell phones, Wi-Fi and video signal compression are allowing people many more options in where and how they work.


AIA Film Challenge

The fourth annual Film Challenge will launch in summer 2018, inviting architects and filmmakers to collaborate to bring architectural stories to life. This year, we’d like participants to highlight architects and civic leaders working together toward positive community impact. The Film Challenge is designed to garner maximum engagement and encourage quality content based on the campaign’s theme: Blueprint for Better.

To launch the 2018 AIA Film Challenge, a new documentary short will expand on the theme. We will tell the story of collaboration between architects and civic leaders to rebuild a specific community.

Watch 2017's documentary short, “Midtown. A Blueprint for Better.”

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
Last updated: 01-Jun-2018 10:48 AM
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