from the desk of Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA

The ENCOMPASS: Inclusive Architecture design conference was a tremendous success.  Some of the action items that we will prioritize as a result of the dialogue include:

1.  Update the AIA National Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice to include a chapter on Best-Management Practices for Inclusion.
2.  To allocate more financial resources towards stipends and scholarships to support greater diversity in emerging professionals
3.  To outreach more effectively to K-12 STEAM programs and involve more architects in mentorship opportunities with SPARC, ACE and other social platforms that will encourage tomorrow’s professionals to become architects.   Call to actions include:  
a.  To donate more architecture books to K-12 libraries.
b.  To encourage more women, minorities and people of color to get involved with STEAM.
c.  To organize more design charrettes with community colleges.
4.  To get more involved with NOMA’s annual Summer Camp program.  The 8th annual event will be on July 15, 22, 29 and August 5th.  Full details can be found here.

AIA|LA staff will discuss this list and strategize ways to prioritize an implementation strategy with the support of a ENCOMPASS TASK FORCE we will soon convene.

On May 24th, we will co-present our 3rd in a series of roundtables with the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office at the A+D Museum.  Building Forward LA is an initiative to ‘futurist’ policies and procedures that influence how we design and build our city’s architecture to ensure greater resilience and higher environmental performance.  The May 24th event will feature presentations from David Herd of Buro Happold and Caroline Kreiser, AIA of Miller Hull.  Ms. Kreiser will present Seattle’s Bullitt Center.

On April 25th, the program featured a presentation from SOM about their LEED Platinum U.S. Federal Courthouse in Downtown Los Angeles.

To attend the May 24th event, CLICK HERE to REGISTER.

On May 11, Governor Brown released the revised annual budget for The State of California.  The $124 Billion budget blueprint includes a strong theme of fiscal caution and also does not reflect any ‘what ifs’ associated with the fate of The Affordable Care Act and its prospective impact on the state’s financial health.

One of the features that most prominently impacts the architecture profession is the fact that missing from the budget for 2017-2018 was. The $400 million that was allocated last year for affordable housing.  Why?  Well, even though the state legislature is currently mulling over as many as 130 different bills "to address the state’s affordable housing crisis through tax credits, developer incentives, streamlined approval processes for development and other ideas” Governor Brown remains adamant that local jurisdictions must make it easier to build housing before the State will continue to throw money at the problem.

In my opinion, this makes sense.  We can’t tax ourselves more to pay for a problem that we’re not willing to solve at the local level.  Last year, Governor Brown’s By-Right Development proposal was defeated by Labor and Environmental organizations that did not want to relinquish local control.

Therefore, several pending matters are of vital interest for AIA|LA to support:

  • To make it easier (and quicker) to build Accessory Dwelling Units, which will add to our housing supply and increase the vitality of neighborhoods with the diversity of more mixed-income residents.
  • To make it much harder for local residents and government agencies to block new projects, like by requiring a two-thirds vote for any local ordinance “that would curb, delay, or deter growth or development within a city.”
  • To streamline CEQA.
  • To up zone strategically, especially near major transit stops.

The California Economic Summit Housing Action Team recently released their ONE MILLION HOMES FRAMEWORK  which is an “all of the above” strategy to streamline development and ensure prosperity and greater housing affordability for all Californians.

To take substantial action to advance these issues - 
1.  To advocate via the LA 2040 General Plan Update process for a more inclusive city that embraces a multitude of visions for its future and for a zoning code that embraces innovation, environmental performance and flexibility.
2.  To advocate for an “All of the Above” housing strategy that focuses on streamlining production and affordability for all housing types.
3.  To advocate for more resources to be allocated towards design and that we empower Department of City Planning to have more architects and urban design professionals on staff.
4.  To advocate greater support for the 2017 Roadmap to Shared Prosperity, which also includes provisions for expanding our pool of skilled workers, more homes and greater watershed resilience.

At the request and encouragement of Tori Kjer and The Trust For Public Land, I reached out to AIA California Council to request support for legislation to place a $3.5 billion general obligation bond measure before the voters.  AIACC is currently reviewing and debating under the leadership of Gwynne Pugh, FAIA and the AIACC Urban Design Committee.

According to Mark Christian, If SB 5 passes the legislature, is signed by the Governor, and ultimately approved by the voters, the bond revenue uses include:
·         Create and expand neighborhood parks in park-poor communities
·         Park rehabilitation grants to local governments
·         Restore existing state park facilities
·         Grants for river parkways and urban creeks
·         Money to conservancies
·         Enhance and protect coastal resources
·         Competitive grants for projects that plan, develop, and implement climate adaptation and resiliency projects
·         Clean water projects
·         Flood protection
"Some of this money would be used to construct or improve/restore park facilities, thus would lead to work for architects,” says Mark.  "Like all general obligation bonds, this bond measure would be paid off using general fund revenue (tax dollars)."

Governor Brown signed SB 1 on Friday, April 28, which will raise $5.2 billion per year for road and bridge repairs.

Funding Basics = NEW REVENUE
  • $52.4 B transportation funding package over 10 years
  • 12 cent fuel tax indexed to inflation
  • 20 cent diesel tax, plus $5 increase on diesel sales tax
  • New vehicle fee by value ($25 - $$175
  • New $100 EV fee in 2020
What does it Fund:  $200 million per year for road maintenance in ‘self-help’ counties according to performance criteria,  $100 m per year is dedicated for Active Transportation and the remainder to see split in half between state highway system maintenance and operation and cities and counties by formula.  The 4% tax increase on diesel fuel will be for public transposition ($750 m annual).

New Planning Money:
  • SB 375 $25m annual to local planning grants
  • Cimate adaption - up to $20m for local grants
Other Provisions:

Cal Trans Highway Design Manual to adhere to ‘complete streets’ concept
Increasing contracts to small, minority-owned and disabled veteran-owned business
Establishes an advance mitigation program
Creates suggestions for congestion corridor programs

Funding impacts: (over 10 years)
LA County - $1.54
LA City - $905 million

City of Los Angeles and LADBS "Report to the Development Industry
On Wednesday, April 26th I attended the "Report to the Development Industry” forum held at LADBS and heard from Ray Chan, Nick Macerich and Ashley Atkinson from the Mayor’s Office and LADBS General Manager Frank Bush about all the procedures that the City of LA was leading to help streamline development.

Attached for your reference are the presentation materials, as well as a summary of industry feedback. In addition, a video of the presentation is available here.

+ On Partnerships

Gary Lee Moore, P.E. announced that included in next year’s budget will be a program that allows BOE to serve as the case manager for all B-permits, which will save time and money for project applicants and developers.  There will also be an online B-permit application process.


My question that I asked the group was a question no one was prepared to answer - so my question remains:

What is the average cost of all City of LA permits and fees per unit of housing?  Will a lump sum payment system ever be feasible?

I’ve heard that the total cost of fees may easily range from $30,000 to $60,000 per unit of housing and that doesn’t include fees to LAUSD and any additional costs associated with labor provisions, etc.  If you or any of your clients have an itemized list of all fees paid for permits, regulatory compliance, etc., then please share that information with me directly.

The premise is that we understand that there will always be a cost to the City to administer development services and it is understandable that that cost needs to be recouped.  However, is there a more efficient manner to charge that total fee and therefore streamline the process.

As the City of Los Angeles takes further steps to implement their "Universal Cashiering" and Payment system (which will allow fees across departments to be paid at the same location/time, rather than having to make separate transactions), that we advocate for the following to expedite housing production:

1. That the city itemize the total cost per unit of housing for entitlements, permits, inspection, quimby, arts, LAUSD, etc and regulatory compliance for a range of housing typologies.
2. That it becomes possible to make a one-time lump sum payment to cover all of these fees comprehensively.
3. That the total cost of fees per unit of housing be custom-tailored to the typology and affordability of the unit of housing to be produced.
4. That pre-development fees are vouchered, especially for government-funded affordable housing units so as to limit the cost burden to the government of paying the carried interest on the money that the housing provider has to borrow in advance to pay for the fees. 

We need to have greater awareness of the total cost of fees and regulatory compliance, we need a more efficient manner to pay these fees

AIA|LA City Leaders Breakfast Series
May 18 - Ken Kahan, President of the California Landmark Group
May 19 - Ray Chan, Deputy Mayor of Economic Development for the City of Los Angeles
June 16 - Mike Alvidrez, CEO of Skid Row Housing Trust (Please note, this event may be postponed in order to further promote the upcoming “Design For Dignity” conference.  Stay tuned!
More programs to be listed soon…...

Urban Design Review Sessions with the Department of City Planning
We are still coordinating two sessions per month to review substantial development projects that are either 50+ units of housing or 50,000+ sq.ft of commercial development.  This is a vital opportunity to share critical design input with City Planners.  I highly encourage more architects to participate in these sessions.  

Upcoming dates include: (10am - 12pm) = Los Angeles City Hall, Room 501
June 6
June 20
July 11
July 18
August 1
August 15
August 29
September 5
September 19
October 3
October 17
November 7
November 21
December 5
December 19

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: 19-May-2017 02:37 PM
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