Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Implementing Parking Reform Briefing

 Fellows Lindsey Hilde and Roy Samman have recently completed a thorough briefing on the impacts and potential benefits and burdens to the Los Angeles region of implementing emerging parking reform policies. The report is now available to view by clicking "Download the Full Report" below.

Report By: Lindsey Hilde, Roy Samaan
LASC Project Fellows, 
Masters Student in Urban Planning at UCLA

Project ID: 104

HildeSamaan - Parking Reform Policy Brefing Paper-2.pdf Download this file

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What's Your Design Story?

What's Your Design Story?  
Share it with AIA Los Angeles in 1000 words or less.  
The most inspiring story wins a pair of AIA|LA Home Tour Tickets!

Design Relevance.
by Will Wright

Over the past eight years that I've worked for AIA|LA as a design advocate, I've often reflected on one very simple question:  When did design become so damn important to me?

Was it as a grad student at the Art Center College of Design?  Was it as a development executive at a Venice Beach film production company?  Or was it during my early travels to places like Sumatra and Sri Lanka?  

It's taken me several years to realize the answer.  Design scratched the service of my subconscious when I was eight years old.  In December of 1979 my Mema (what my brother and I called our paternal Grandmother) gave me a gigantic roll of blank newspaper stock for Christmas.  It weighed a ton and was as tall as me and nearly as big around.

I'd pull the roll of paper out of the closet, unroll ten of twelve feet of it on the tile floor in the foyer and begin drawing an imaginary network of city streets, sidewalks and parkways - a make-believe subdivision map.  Then, I'd trace the dotted lines for parcels and meticulously draw the floor plans of all the houses on the streets, adding landscaping and swimming pools and embankments for trees and hidden forts.

Since my Dad worked for a home builder in the late 70's (He used to drive a white El Camino with a car phone like the one used in the Six Million Dollar Man) he often had subdivision maps and floor plans in his office.  Most of the floor plans that were being built in the Texas suburbs in the late '70's were rather uninspiring.  Also, the subdivision maps always struck me as repetitive with nonsensical patterns.  As a kid that explored daily the streets of our neighborhood, I knew that the street grid needed to provide something beyond the practicalities of flow, access and easement.  The street grid needed to motivate, inspire and encourage exploration.  The street pattern needed to be organized in such a way that enhanced the performance of the neighborhood.

Of course, I wasn't really aware of what was inspiring my sensibilities.  All I cared about was drawing elaborate maps of imaginary suburban tracts, and then filling in those parcels with houses and floorplans that captured my imagination.  I was a huge fan of large balconies and interior courtyards, and I loved hiding the garages as far behind the houses, as possible.  Front porches and ambling walkways, tree swings and trails to ponds and creeks were on the forefront of my mind.  In fact, for some of the homes, I'd instantly convert the garages into game rooms and dared to imagine what would happen if one was to let the lawn become wild and abandoned.

As an eight year old kid, design wasn't the buzz word that it is now.  However, in retrospect, I can see the relevance design played in fueling my imagination and making my experience as a suburban explorer all that more adventurous.  We had a sprawling network of blank streets unadorned with houses, that had yet to be built.  We had access to the underground labyrinth of our neighborhood's stormwater system, where its tunnels let out on Willow Creek and were tall enough that you could stand up straight, as long as you ducked beneath the cobwebs.  Ah, Willow Creek with its water moccasins and bottomless pits.  You could hunt for crawdads in the mud, even.  Or blackberries in the brambles!

The neighborhood grid pattern was my playground and its borders (the pine woods of suburban Houston, Texas) enabled easy access to unchartered territory.  Urban exploration, guided by the design layout of a neighborhood's street pattern, allowed me to grow up in a world that was more about the what-if's of all the rough-edges and less about the predictable manipulations of the subdivision developer.  However, as a thirty-nine year old, I am just now realizing that perhaps, just perhaps, it was designed that way on purpose!

It's been a while since I thought about that blank roll of newspaper stock.  Perhaps it's time to search through the attic and re-examine what those neighborhoods would look like now thirty years later.

-Will Wright
Director of Government & Public Affairs
AIA Los Angeles

That's my design story.  What's yours?  

Share it with AIA|LA to win a pair of AIA|LA Home Tour tickets.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

CALL TO ACTION: AB 710 - Request for Support Letters

Dear friends,

Here is another statewide proposal, which may help us build urban infill more sustainably.

Please find attached a draft letter of support for AB 710, which your organization may want to adopt and/or modify with your own recommendations upon further review.

AB 710 is being introduced by Assembly Member Skinner as the Infill Development and Sustainable Community Act of 2011.

"AB 710 would decrease the minimum parking requirements in transit intensive areas, thereby increasing project feasibility and lowering project costs.  AB 710 also provides some flexibility to local jurisdictions that may require higher minimums if written findings are made based upon substantial evidence in the record including a parking utilization study."

I believe this bill will be discussed on April 27th at the next Assembly Housing & Community Development Committee meeting.

Very truly yours,

Will Wright
Director of Government & Public Affairs
/ los angeles - A Chapter of
The American Institute of Architects
3780 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 800
Los Angeles, CA 90010
213.639.0764  phone
213.639.0767  fax

AB710_Asm Housing Comm_Sample Support_4.7.11.docx Download this file

ab_710_bill_20110415_amended_asm_v98.pdf Download this file

Monday, April 11, 2011

Call To Action - Support the "Modified Parking Requirement District" Ordinance - (April 28) City Planning Commission

My Dear Friends,

The Los Angeles Department of City Planning is proposing an innovative planning tool, and needs our support to help it through the public process.

The proposed "Modified Parking Requirement District" ordinance [see attached] will provide for some much-needed flexibility with regards to parking requirements through-out the City of Los Angeles.  As we are all well-aware, excessive or mis-aligned parking requirements often impair our ability to have a vibrant, sustainable and healthy city.

The MPRD ordinance will enable greater flexibility so that specific areas of the city can benefit with a more custom-tailored approach to parking regulations.

In my opinion, excessive parking requirements:
1.  prevent sustainable urban in-fill,
2.  drive-up the cost of housing and development in general,
3.  spread thin our neighborhood-serving public amenities, (if you have to walk past a parking lot, then you're walking past a missed-opportunity for it to be something worth walking to!)
4.  encourage excessive driving by making it too easy to find parking,
5.  contribute to environmental degradation, 
6.  increase the heat-island effect, 
7.  and further propel pollutants into our rivers and oceans.

Please make plans to attend the April 28th City Planning Commission meeting to express your support and/ or commentary.  Your guidance will help this planning tool become a real possibility.  At the March 30th public hearing, the opposition came out in full-force.  So that is why it will be helpful to have your support on April 28th when the item advances to the City Planning Commission for further consideration.

For more information, I encourage you to reach out to:
Tom Rothmann
City Planner
Code Studies, Office of Zoning Administration
City of Los Angeles

Very truly yours,

Will Wright
Director of Government & Public Affairs
/ los angeles
A Chapter of
The American Institute of Architects

3780 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 800
Los Angeles, CA 90010
213.639.0764  phone
213.639.0767  fax

MPR_complete public notice new.pdf Download this file

Friday, April 8, 2011

America Fast Forward - Advocate NOW!

Dear AIA|LA POC:  On behalf of LA Biz Fed, I am writing to encourage you and your firm to submit letters of support to your local representatives for the America Fast Forward campaign.  Attached, you will find helpful resources provided by Biz Fed's CEO, Tracy Rafter.  As you all may be aware, AIA|LA joined Biz Fed three years ago and we've been an active participant in a vast array of their advocacy and outreach efforts.

I'm also going to work with Nicci Solomons to make certain that we are able to submit letters of support on behalf of AIA|LA, as well.

Feel free to touch base with me if you have any questions or concerns.

Truly yours,

Will Wright
Director, Government & Public Affairs
AIA Los Angeles

As you may know, the "30/10" effort to fast-track funds approved by LA County voters under Measure R has been extended to a NATIONAL CAMPAIGN called America Fast Forward.


It’s not often that our California congressional delegation ever works TOGETHER to deliver the goods to LA. But we have a moment in time where that may be occurring.

The Business community must stand up and add fuel to that positive fire and send letters of support next week.


·          BizFed’s letter is attached here. Feel free to use it as is. Or a more generic template also attached.

·          Edit however you choose. Put it on your letterhead to call out your own efforts.

·          Every single organization or individual company name adds to the impact.

·          Attached is the contact list for our congressional members AND each one notes how many BizFed businesses are in their district which helps strengthen the voice to which they listen

·          Send us a copy for the record of collective impact

We cannot let up on this effort that has significant and broad regional and national implications for transit & highway improvements and expansion, which results in massive job creation and gridlock reduction.


(And in case you missed it, here are some highlights from news last week of the national effort...)

Wednesday (March 30)
Breakthrough for Villaraigosa’s Transit Funding
It was billed as an event of “Biblical proportions” – Democrats and Republicans, labor and the Chamber of Commerce all backing a creative transit funding proposal from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who's been pushing this plan for more than two years.  Villaraigosa wants to start building LA County transit projects now, not 30 years down the road when a voter-approved .5 cent sales tax can pay for it. He’s convinced more than 100 mayors to back his “America Fast Forward” proposal for federal loans and credit guarantees.

 ·         America Fast Forward: Innovating Transportation
Los Angeles Mayor 
Antonio Villaraigosa visited Washington, D.C. yesterday to garner support for a national expansion of his 30/10 transportation initiative, called America Fast Forward.

 ·         Villaraigosa and Boxer are Joined by GOP and business leaders in call for more federal transportation money (LA Times)

·         What LA’s 30/10 Plan Could Mean for Transit Funding Nationwide

Even the AFL-CIO is blogging its support about the plan – read it here.
MoveLA was also at the press conference; read their blog
Read highlights of the America Fast Forward plan, developed by Metro,
Check out the America Fast Forward website


Tracy Rafter, CEO

BizFed, Los Angeles County Business Federation

818.429.0862 ~

A Grass Roots Alliance of 70 Top LA County Business Groups

Mobilizing Over 107,000 Businesses

BizFed AFF Letter-McCarthy SAMPLE.docx Download this file

CACongressionalDelegationw BizFed#.pdf Download this file

AmericaFastForward_SupportLtrTemplate.docx Download this file

Wednesday, April 6, 2011