AIA|LA Government & Public Affairs Report
From the desk of Will Wright - September 22, 2017


This past week, I participated in five different discussions that all related to each other in a couple of ways.  First, each meeting fundamentally was about the need for us to build more housing and to build that housing more expediently.  However, another theme emerged that connected the our current housing crisis to the pattern and the process for how decisions get made.  Let’s call that pattern the decision-making tree.

In my strong opinion, the schematic road map that describes the step-by-step process for how we get housing built in California needs to be completely re-designed.  We need a new road map.  This new decision making tree can be influenced by biometrics so that a more efficient process can be ascribed to define the procedures one must take.  This decision-making tree needs to be clear, concise, flexible and adaptive.  The procedure needs to be resilient and it needs to be scalable.

From blended financing, procurement, project delivery, to zoning and land-use, the building code and lean construction, all of the steps and procedures (all of the decisions) deserve a re-think on the schematic design of what steps to follow and what actions to take.

To me this is a design challenge.  What does that road map look like?  What is the best-looking and most functional decision-making tree we can design??


Five Take Aways

On Tuesday, September 19 (10am), I attended a public hearing organized by The Department of City Planning on their proposed Process and Procedures Amendment Ordinance.

1.  DCP is proposing streamline the entitlement and approval process for development projects by clarifying and consolidating the procedures needed to seek approvals,
2.  Among other considerations, DCP is recommending an Alternative Compliance process that will enable an applicant to request relief from a development standard if an alternative standard is consistent with the ‘intent’ of he original standard.
3.  Measuring ‘intent’ is an aspect that the design community can be more intrinsically involved with.  Here is an opportunity for AIA|LA to share leadership insight.
4.  Public Comment on the proposed Process and Procedures Amendment Ordinance is open until November 7th.  You can either email city planner Bonnie Kim with ideas/ comments to OR you can share comments directly via the new MARK UP system that the DCP is utilizing to receive feedback directly on the 
5.  I encouraged DCP, as part of the larger narrative of this effort and to gain wider support for this ordinance to measure the time savings and the cost savings that DCP will benefit from, as well as, the time and cost saving that the private sector will receive once this ordinance is implemented.  With regards to potential cap-and-trade credits, I also encouraged DCP to measure the carbon footprint of the current process and to analyze the net reduction in that overall carbon footprint once the new, streamlined process is put in place for approvals.  In my opinion, if we can begin to measure the sustainability benefits of smart policy, we can begin to pay for the administration of those smart policies with carbon credits, etc.

For more information on this proposed ordinance, please CLICK HERE.

AIACC Housing Congress

On Wednesday, September 20th I travelled down to San Diego to participate in a half-day forum with the AIA California Council about identifying housing problems and offering solutions.  We also discussed ADU implementation and the recent package of housin-related legislation that is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

We organized the impediments to delivering housing in three groups:  regulatory, financial and socio-demographically.  In my opinion, in addition to a housing supply problem, we have a human-connectivity challenge.  So to truly address our housing crisis, I think we need to ‘re-fine’ the problem.  This isn’t just about supply & demand - and I don’t think we are ever going to be able to simply build our way out of the crisis.  Instead, we need to identify some strategies to listen to each other more often, and to learn to tell better stories, to share narratives that evoke a greater sense of empathy and help restore a human connectivity that has been severely lost.

Earlier this year, AIA National adopted RESOLUTION 17-3, Housing Humanity - Elevating the Human Experience with the intent "to elevate the discussion and the duty of the AIA to prioritize and develop a member engagement strategy to address the challenge of housing affordability and homelessness and their impact on society.”  We are anticipating that a formal announcement of this resolution will be made public soon.

For more details about this resolution and others recently passed by AIA National, please CLICK HERE.

Design For Dignity:  Task Force

On Thursday, September 22nd we coordinated our third in a series of ongoing task force meetings to further advance the priorities of “DESIGN FOR DIGNITY”.  This meeting was held at Abode Communities and served as a chance to share more ideas in response to a design competition proposal that task-force members Gio Aliano, AIA and Noel Toro, AIA are currently leading.  

A rough hewn draft of the responses includes:
  • Design Competition:  something real, a genuine outcome!  Site-specific.  Acquire or borrow those sites. City-owned land.  
  • Viability of the property and how the community will react to that!  
  • How the homeless will react to where to move!
  • METRO - joint-development,
  • Temp facilites.  FEMA
  • ACTION ITEM - Obtain the City of LA opportunity sites RFQ list and share with the group
  • San Francisco competition - to select the sites. Community program. Resillience.  100 Resilient Cities.  SF Resilience.
    • Multi-disciplinary.  
    • Perception - people don’t really understand the problem // empathy.  Branding world!  
  • Rotating series of places that service the needs.  A moveable city!  
  • State Architect - planned checked, temp facilities, 
  • OUTCOME of the completion - how to deliver services to help dignify the act of being homeless?  Infrastructure of supportive services!
  • Implementation is the problem.  
  • Ted Hayes - geodes near the 110.  
  • The have nots, the can nots and the will nots.
  • Search here for the Map of parcels/ real-estate owned by the City of Los Angeles.
The second half of the task-force meeting was dedicated to an idea that architects Jennifer Schab, Richard Prantis and Corrina Gebert are leading, which is to design an infographic and/or road-map dedicated to helping to demystify the Byzantine process one must undertake to obtain housing.

  • VISUAL COMMUNICATION - focus on an individual seeking housing.
    • Step UP, Path CLARE, Chrysalis
    • A roadmap to how to obtain services.
    • A flowchart, step by step guide.  
    • ACTION ITEM - to share the Coordinated Entry System - County of LA process paperwork and to re-map that process!
    • CUP - street vendor guide.  What to do if you get arrested?  Can we date??  
      • The healthcare navigator.
    • Is there a value to slums, ghettos, shanty-towns?
    • Graphic Novel, narrative of how one found their way out of homeless?

Our 4th task force meeting will be on Tuesday, October 10 (6pm - 8pm) at MVE + Partners.

City Leaders Breakfast Reception w/ City of LA CAO Richard Llewellyn

The City of LA is focused on having a better understanding of their real estate portfolio and is updating its database to optimize the utilization of its assets.
The CAO recently issued an RFP for the Measure HHH Facilities Program and HCID will issue its call for projects for permanent supportive housing in October 2107.

The CAO is open to hearing ideas from AIA|LA on how to build housing cheaper and faster.  They are willing to support a few demonstration (pilot) projects to see what innovations may enable us to more quickly respond to our housing crisis.  

With regards to the Civic Center Masterplan, there is still time to share critical input through the EIR process.  I think two areas of interest that need to be further analyzed are the opportunities to explore more joint-use facilities with County, State and Federal agencies, as well as, to identify optimizing the current facilities with innovations in workplace design and space allocation, etc.

As to my question if the City of Los Angeles will ever become a housing provider and develop more workforce housing for its personnel, the initial response was that housing development is best left to the private sector. I agree, mostly. However, I do see the need for the City to pursue more innovative housing delivery options for its workforce.

We discussed that the prime benefit of the Olympics in 2028 will be to serve as a catalyst and as a deadline for completing many of our infrastructure goals.  We also will receive $160 million from the Olympics to support youth sports and wellness programs.

More resources:
Last updated: 25-Sep-2017 09:29 AM
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