Thursday, January 27, 2011

Public Meetings on Development Review Process Reform

Dear AIA|LA POC - in addition to the three meetings that LADBS is scheduling to conduct professional outreach with regards to Development Reform, the Department of City Planning is also coordinating four sessions in early February.  I am forwarding this to you in case you have interest in attending.

For info on the LADBS' sessions:  CLICK HERE.


Dear Community Stakeholder:

The City of Los Angeles is committed to reforming the City's Development Review Process. Once the Department
of City Planning has determined that a homeowner's remodeling project or a developer's complex complies with
the City's General Plan, many complain that the design, permitting, and review processes are cumbersome.
Therefore, the goals of the reform effort are to reduce processing times, increase transparency, and make the
process easier to understand for all stakeholders. The City has engaged KH Consulting Group (KH) to assist in the
reform effort. As an important part of the reform process, we need to hear from our external stakeholders. We are
therefore inviting key community leaders to provide us with input on what improvements are needed in moving
forward versus rehashing the problems of the past.

The four following forums will be held specifically for the community:

Date: February 9, 2011 
Time: 6:DO pm-8:00 pm 
Place: Marvin Braude San Fernando
Valley Constituent Service Center
Conference Room lB (ln floor)
6262 Van Nuys Blvd
Van Nuys, CA 91401

Date: February 10, 2011
 Time: 6:00 pm-8:00 pm 
Place: Glassell Senior Citizen Center
37S0 Verdugo Road
Los Angeles, CA 9006S

Date: February 16, 2011
Time: 6:00 pm-8:00 pm
Place: Felicia Mahood Senior Center
11338 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Date: February 17, 2011
Time: 6:00 pm-8:00 pm
Place: Exposition Park
Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune
Regional Branch Library
3900 S. Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90028

We look forward to your participation and insights.

Please RSVP to Claudia Rodriguez at the ,Department of City Planning at 213-978-1283 or

Alan Bell, AICP
Deputy Director

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

List of CRA/LA projects slated in their recent $930 million memo


Here is the list of the projects slated for CRA/LA funding, per the recent transference of $930 million to the City of LA.  If this is truly greenlighted by City Council, then ideally this will be LA's version of an economic stimulus plan.  We'll see.  There's a lot of "what if's" here.

Very truly yours,

Will Wright
Director of Government & Public Affairs
/ los angeles
A Chapter of

Download now or preview on posterous
47062572-cra.pdf (2309 KB)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

AIA|LA - Advocating for Better Urban Design.


I am frustrated with the way last night's meeting didn't seem to address how the AIA or the committee could help transform the City, its leaders, and its citizens by advocating.  Instead I heard Architects continue describing a scholarly view of a future utopia that all of us in the room all agree too, while the AIA and publications spend a lot of their efforts supporting the exact opposite view. 

So when will we create a real action plan that advocates our view points to the City as whole, not just scholarly investigation?  (I know RailLa is trying to engage the public, however it too seems scholarly or presented in a way that only the enlightened will participate.)

Attached is a 2 page PDF file containing a few advocacy topics with solutions I have generated.  (The same as written below.)

Feel free to distribute this email and my suggestions to whomever.  If you or any would like to contact me. just email or call, 323.356.8098.  I am willing to volunteer as needed.  

Douglas Peters, 

3810 WILSHIRE BLVD #1103 
T 323.356.8098 
F 323.843.9769 


We MUST advocate our views to the skeptical public.  This skeptical public is why City leaders are unable to transform the way we live.  The City leaders represent the people and when the NIMBYs are the loudest and most well funded advocates, we will either never succeed, or success will come to slowly. 

Problem:  AIA home tours are Single Family Home tours in very remote exclusive neighbors with the status quo Los Angeles Architects.  These tours promote that we as Architects are still only interested in the Single Family Home as our "bread and butter" income or that real creativity can only be expressed by creating a Single Family Home.  We have a great history of Los Angeles Architects with innovative Multi-family projects which many surpass the Single Family Homes on these tours.  
Solution:  I understand the tour is a big revenue generator for the AIA, so lets expand it.  Start having "home" tours with multi-family urban projects at the same time.  

Why:  If you want to fix transportation, you must tie it to improved density.  Maybe these added urban projects will remove the myth of danger and a lack of "sex appeal" for these types of urban projects.  It could show how traffic can decrease when services are within walking distances.  
How:  Find Single Family Homes that people want on the tour that are also located conveniently (via drive/park or shuttle) near stations or bus.  Have MTA donate passes for the day.  Have the next home a stop or two away (shuttle or bus from a station) with a multi-family project in-between.  Provide a map with interesting places to eat and make a day of it.  (I think the tour attendees will enjoy not having to worry about where to park their car when visiting these projects.)  I am sure liability is one concern, but that can always be handled with waivers, etc.

Problem:  Publications.  The general public is inundated with the Single Family Home as utopia.  This myth is now spreading to all corners of the developing world.  
Solution:  Do a quick study of the standard newsstand magazines and newspapers articles (general public readers like Dwell, LA Times, Home Beautiful), that feature Single Family Homes or more importantly don't feature transit oriented urban developments. 
Why:  Know your competition when trying to reach your audience.   
How:  Get donations for a market research group to complete the study and publish the results widely.  Debunk the myth.  

Additional Solution:  These forums don't need to cater to like-minded Architects and Citizens, but instead they should involve the other skeptical communities by placing the forum at unexpected events and places.  The forums should be in the heart of the NIMBYs front yard (Hancock Park, Beverly Hills, Mid-City, Venice, etc.).  There are several "minor celebrities" who live and frequent the walkable parts of Hollywood, so have them speak to their experiences and create a buzz.   As was stated last night, show how sexy our viewpoint is.
How:  Speak to a talent agency asking if any of their "talent" fits this lifestyle and is interested, the Sierra Club/"Green" types.  Make it connected to an event that the City is interested in, maybe start the first forum with "NFL stadium:  Downtown, City of Industry, or the Coliseum and what is the team name and mascot?"  The arguments will begin with a discussion of transportation and our identity as a City.  


Many in our community see riding public transportation as only for the less fortunate.  Our City uses the car culture as a status symbol.  There are times where I feel the MTA and our City leaders only an alternative and not the preferred method of transportation.   Improving the image of being a rider will likely increase ridership, which should increase demand and support for forward thinking.  

Solutions:  There should be a campaign that makes driving ANY car today as taboo as it is driving a Hummer, a non hybrid vehicle, or not recycling.
How:  Work with ad agencies to find a way to infuse our message into the media culture on a pro bono basis, donations, or working with MTA's existing advertising department.  Get ad space donated on billboards, magazines, articles, etc.  Our citizens want to be "Green" yet they don't seem to understand that the consumption of the automobile itself is far more polluting than if it were a hybrid. 

Solutions:  There should be a campaign that makes living in a SINGLE Family Home today as taboo as it is living in a trailer home or living on the "wrong side of town".
How:  Same as above while adding:  Many Architects I know don't understand that actual land given up to support the Single Family Home is not "Green".  I have heard many times that it can all be off set with the magical "zero energy house", while again the act of making the home and maintaining it is far more energy than it can ever give back.  And the natural land lost is far more destructive.  


Increased ridership and improved perceptions could be accomplished with an improved view of how Los Angeles and Angelos are unique.  Improving the experience will likely increase ridership, which should increase demand and support for forward thinking.  

Problem:  We live in an amazing climate (weather), and yet the buses, bus stops, and subways don't take advantage of the natural beauty.  
Solutions:  We should have some new form of technologies "moon roofed buses" or skylit subway tunnels via street skylights.
Why:  We could show how LA is an innovator and truly the artistic capital of the world.  
How:  Meet with facility managers and MTA designers to work with them on solutions.  

Problem:  A felling of a lack of security or a perception you are entering an underworld.
More general lighting in the Subway terminals and bus stops.  More reflective colors that gives the space distinction and creates a sense of place.  
 Once again we can show our creativity, while adding way-finding and signaling "place" not just "space".  This could reduce the crime level because the areas would seem apart of the public's domain not the "underworld's".  
How:  Meet with facility managers and MTA designers to work with them on solutions.  

Monday, January 10, 2011

SPUR Report: High-Speed Rail to Reshape California's Growth

NYC's Active Design Guidelines

Attached, please find links to New York City's recently released "Active Design Guidelines".  This is an excellent document that was jointly developed between AIA|NYC and the NYC's Department of Design and Construction under the leadership of Commissioner David Burney, FAIA.

Essentially, the guidelines serve as a manual of strategies for creating healthier buildings, streets and urban spaces - with an overall emphasis on promoting greater physical activity in a more sustainable environment.