Wednesday, June 29, 2011

AIA|LA Supports the Multiple Approval Procedural Revisions Ordinance

June 29, 2011

Honorable Ed Reyes
and Members of the Planning and Land Use Committee
City of Los Angeles
200 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012-2601

RE: SUPPORT for Multiple Approval Procedural Revisions Case No. CPC-2010-1495-CA

Dear Councilmember Reyes:

On behalf of the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA|LA), we are writing to express our support for the Multiple Approval Procedural Revisions, which will help clarify several sections of the City of Los Angeles zoning code.

The proposed revisions will help streamline specific sections of the zoning code and ensure more predictability in the development process by clarifying language regarding the "utilization" of approvals. The revisions will create more consistent procedures for the review of projects that require multiple approvals and will "synchronize" expiration dates of approvals in the effort to maximize efficiencies within the Planning Department.

Streamlining the approval procedures section of the zoning code will eliminate planning staff redundancies and simplify administrative processes, which in turn will help save the City money and enable more planning staff resources to have the time to focus on envisioning and executing urban planning on the behalf of our City, as opposed to untangling bureaucratic burdens. Overall, these revisions will benefit the community by establishing a more transparent project review system, which will allow all stakeholders to more accurately assess the proposed project in context with its surrounding area. In short, it will help bolster additional certainty and facilitate the development of a more livable city by enabling planners, developers, community-stakeholders and architects to concentrate on improving the project for the benefit of all.

The AIA|LA applauds the efforts of the Department of City Planning to streamline approval procedures in the effort to maximize efficiencies. Furthermore, we strongly advocate that additional resources be applied towards a more comprehensive revision of our zoning code.

We look forward to partnering with you on that endeavor.

Very truly yours,

Nicci Solomons, Hon. AIACC
Executive Director
AIA Los Angeles

For more information, please contact:
Will Wright
Director, Government & Public Affairs
AIA Los Angeles
Tel: (213) 639-0764

Multiple Approvals Support 6 28 11.pdf Download this file

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

AB 710 Will Reduce the Cost and Increase the Supply of Affordable Housing

Here’s a complete set of readings for you, ranked in priority order.

1.       “AB 710 Will Reduce the Cost and Increase the Supply of Affordable Housing.” 
a.       This is the brief I co-wrote with Don Shoup and Mike Manville from UCLA. 
b.      Summary: Parking reductions tied to affordability covenants have had only induced market-rate developers to produce a trivial number of affordable housing units.  Still, current parking codes constrain even developers of affordable housing.  AB 710 will not significantly alter the existing incentives for market-rate developers to provide affordable housing.  Moreover, it will significantly enhance the existing incentives and likely boost production among both affordable and market-rate developers.

2.       SB 1818 Parking Incentives—Multiple Cities
a.       A summary I produced comparing the SB 1818 parking reduction and existing parking codes in California’s seven largest cities—the locales where AB 710 will have the greatest impact.
b.      Summary: SB 1818 offers no parking benefits for any units larger than a two bedroom, further evidence that AB 710 will not undermine important incentives.

3.       “The High Cost of Free Parking,” Chapter 5
a.       An excerpt from Don Shoup’s revolutionary treatise on how our approach to parking regulation has destroyed cities, damaged housing affordability and brought any number of additional evils.
b.      Summary: On pages 141 to 153, in particular, Shoup presents studies showing how the costs of providing parking are inevitably passed on to the renters, buyers and other end-users of real estate.  He also cites a study showing how housing with less parking commands lower market prices.

4.       The Victoria Transportation Institute’s “Parking Requirement Impacts on Housing Affordability”
a.       A broad overview of how parking costs flow through to housing prices

5.       SCANPH’s “Parking Requirements Guide for Affordable Housing Developers”
A 2004 document that makes excellent points about parking requirements.  Specifically:
a.       Parking requirements increase development costs
b.      They reduce the space available for other amenities and services
c.       They produce less attractive designs

My favorite quote: “Is All This Parking Needed? No. Parking requirements have largely been arbitrarily determined and do not usually reflect the verifiable parking needs of the people who will make use of a development.”

6.       Excerpt from the Dukakis Center’s “Maintaining Diversity In America’s Transit-Rich Neighborhoods: Tools for Equitable Neighborhood Change”
a.       This report is often cited by those opposing AB 710. Interestingly, the only mention of parking requirements is on the two pages I’ve attached, in which the report says quite clearly, reducing them makes housing more affordable.

Provided by: 

Mott Smith

3. Shoup Chapter 5.pdf Download this file

4. VTI Parking & Housing.pdf Download this file

5. SCANPH Parking Report.pdf Download this file

6. Excerpt from Dukakis Study.pdf Download this file

1. AB 710 Will Increase Affordable Housing Supply.pdf Download this file

2. SB 1818 Parking Incentives -- Multiple Cities.pdf Download this file

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Impact of AB1X-26 and AB1X-27, measures to dissolve redevelopment Prepared Remarks by CEO, Christine Essel

Complete Statement Attached

Impact of AB1X-26 and AB1X-27, measures to dissolve redevelopment

Prepared Remarks by CEO Christine Essel,

Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles,

To the CRA/LA Board of Commissioners on June 16, 2011

Yesterday, the Legislature passed two bills. The first dissolves California’s redevelopment agencies. The second creates an opportunity for the City of Los Angeles to choose to have CRA/LA continue its important work.

But there is a price. For the CRA/LA to continue, we would have to pay our prorated share of $1.7 billion by January, 2012, and we would have to pay a very steep annual amount to the state every year after that. Based on current information, we estimate the January 2012 payment would be roughly $70 million and the annual payment thereafter would be roughly $38 million. This annual amount may fluctuate based upon changes in future tax increment.

If the city does not elect this option, the CRA/LA would be dissolved. A successor agency, which could be the city under a county-appointed oversight board, would take over our assets and wind down our work program. If the city does not elect to pay this price and the CRA/LA is eliminated, then Los Angeles additionally would not receive any amounts beyond its AB1290 share for many more years.

Although this is a significant blow, at a time of state-wide economic recession, there is a path for the CRA/LA to survive.  That path, because of the substantial loss of revenue, would require us to look at our available resources and determine how best to manage them.  We also will be meeting with our attorneys in closed session to review litigation options.  The California Redevelopment Association has strongly criticized this legislation, which is bound to lead to litigation.

Even with reduced resources, we shouldn’t give up this Agency’s important work.  Ensuring our survival also would ensure that:

o   CRA/LA can continue to employ its unique land-use tools and regulatory authorities to revitalize neighborhoods with the dedicated, long-term attention such work requires;

o   That our knowledgeable and experienced staff can continue to implement a critical work program targeted to job creation and economic development;

o   We will continue to provide much needed capital to spur private development and produce housing developments that can catalyze the economy and eliminate poverty.

Perhaps this legislation’s most destructive impact is the uncertainty and disruption it is creating for so many across the agency, the city and beyond.  So we will look to the City to act quickly to ensure our survival.  This will allow Los Angeles to keep more of its tax dollars in place and sustain city priorities and projects.

About Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles

CRA/LA ( is a public agency regulated by the State of California and operating within the City of Los Angeles. CRA/LA makes strategic investments to create economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for the people who live and work in our neighborhoods. CRA/LA manages 31 redevelopment projects areas and three revitalization areas in seven regions: East Valley, West Valley, Hollywood & Central, Downtown, Eastside, South Los Angeles, and the Harbor.


CRA_CEOBudgetStatement_06_16_11.pdf Download this file


On Thursday, June 16th on behalf of AIA|LA, Will Wright attended an industry stakeholder meeting at LADBS about the draft 
Strategic Plan for Development Reform:  Building a Better LA.  This meeting was a follow-up to the list of recommendations that we provided back in January 2011.

***AIA|LA members are encouraged to review the Development Services Strategy Map (see below) and nine action priorities for the strategic plan and provide written comments directly to Will {at} by June 21st so that we are able to deliver prompt and insightful feedback.

The Strategic Plan will enable to City of Los Angeles to implement technical and procedural improvements to the development review process.  These changes will 
transform the process so that it becomes more transparent, predictable and efficient with the vision to make Los Angeles "a premiere place to live, work and visit."

AIA|LA President-elect Stuart Magruder and Board Director Angie Brooks were also in attendance to encourage Planning Director Michael LoGrande to engage AIA|LA directly as a leadership resource in the City's efforts to conduct comprehensive zoning code reform.  AIA|LA members Tom Avilla, Simon Ha and Chava Danielson also attended the session to share their thoughts about the draft plan.  Mr. Avilla noted that
 for the City to become more accountable, pre-design phase 'zoning approvals' will provide greater clarity and certainty.  Because interpretation of the zoning code may often be difficult to predict, having the City offer 'zoning approval' prior to the design process will help architects deliver better solutions in advance.  Often, waiting for 'zoning approval' after construction drawings and plan check, creates design conflicts that could have been resolved more effectively at the beginning of the process.

Overall, we're confident that the Strategic Plan for Development Reform will streamline the process and result in a healthier, more delightful  and economically competitive Los Angeles.

This is your chance to share your thoughts so that we're able to better articulate the design perspective to the City's development consultants and decision-makers.

-The AIA|LA Design Advocate.

Strategy Map and Focus.pdf Download this file

LA Dev Reform-Exec Sum 2 page.pdf Download this file

City of Los Angeles Development Reform

LA Dev Reform-Exec Sum 2 page.pdf Download this file

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wright meets with Brenner, District Director for Assemblymember Mike Gatto

On Wednesday, June 15th, on behalf of AIA|LA, Will Wright met with Stacy Brenner, District Director for Assemblymember Mike Gatto.  Wright informed Ms. Brenner about the importance of AB 710 (Skinner), which will "modify the description of sustainable communities to additionally include communities that incentivize infill development.  AB 710 will help infill projects by lowering the parking requirements to "one parking space per 1,000 square feet of nonresidential improvements and one parking space per unit of residential improvements for any new development project in transit intensive areas".

AB 710 passed the assembly floor on June 2nd with 76 ayes and 0 no's.  It will next be considered by the California State Senate.

Additionally, Wright and Brenner discussed the importance of the encouraging more communities to weigh in on the current redistricting process, which will have significant impacts on political boundaries.  At present, several of the legislative districts around Downtown LA are being analyzed and may shift dramatically.  Constituents are strongly encouraged to get involved with the process and to share their local perspective with the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

Healthy City and RedrawCA have also created an interactive community outreach tool that encourages citizens to share thoughts on how they define their neighborhood boundaries.  Redistricting has long range political impacts and needs to be implemented with a true understanding of what constitutes a holistic and complete community, and at the same, what will have the most positive impact on our region's environmental health and economic prosperity.

Wright also updated Brenner on some various CEQA Reform initiatives and will make plans to include Brenner in future conversations as he makes a wider effort to build a coalition of many other business and environmental organizations.

If you are interested in CEQA reform, or in any of the above - you're encouraged to contact Will Wright directly at (213) 639-0764.

-The AIA|LA Design Advocate

Monday, June 6, 2011

AIA|LA Design Conference - The Architecture of Transportation - June 24 (8:30am - 5:15pm)

We're delighted to feature Mobility 21 as a Community Partner of the upcoming Architecture of Transportation Design Symposium.  Attached, please find the latest details.

Please promote widely.  Your support will help ensure that our event is a success!

Also, as a community partner, you are welcome to have two (2) comp passes.  Please let me know the contact details for who you'd like us to register and I will make sure to take care of that in advance.



archo of transpo june 24_.pdf Download this file

Vision California : Charting Our Future.

Vision California Summmary.pdf Download this file

CEQA and Development Reform for the City of Los Angeles

CEQA and Development Reform for the City of Los Angeles

Although CEQA is a California statute, local agencies have significant discretion in how they implement its ever-growing requirements. As Los Angeles and other Southern California cities look to stimulate job recovery by promoting sustainable development, there is an opportunity to make major improvements in the way that environmental review and entitlement approvals are implemented at the local level. We identify below some practical solutions that Los Angeles and other cities can make to incentivize quality smart growth development.

Streamline Environmental Review for Re-Use Projects.

ISSUE: The Los Angeles Adaptive Re-use Ordinance has stimulated economic growth and revitalization of historic buildings in the downtown area, Hollywood and other parts of the City. A key incentive of that ordinance is the elimination of CEQA review for re-use projects that do not require discretionary approvals, such as zoning approvals or use permits, resulting in a streamlined approval process that can substantially reduce development costs, timeframes and risks. However, the existing ordinance is limited in its impact, as it only applies to residential and hotel projects in buildings constructed before 1974.

SOLUTION: The City could significantly stimulate economic development by expanding the ordinance to eliminate CEQA and site plan review requirements for re-use of newer buildings, as well as commercial uses, such as office and retail development. These projects enhance the City's sustainability goals by encouraging revitalization of existing buildings, which is inherently more environmentally friendly than demolition for new construction. Further, the expansion to promote a greater variety of uses should stimulate development in the City's commercial corridors, thus promoting new employment opportunities.

Exempt Urban In-fill Projects from Unnecessary Environmental Review.

ISSUE: CEQA contains a statutory exemption for urban in-fill projects that comply with applicable plan and zoning requirements and do not create any significant impacts to traffic, noise, air quality or water quality. Although a significant number of development projects in urbanized Southern California fall within the scope of that exemption, that exemption is rarely used. The City of Los Angeles often bases its refusal to apply the exemption on its imposition of a list of standard mitigation measures on virtually all development projects.

SOLUTION: Qualified development projects should be allowed to use the urban in-fill CEQA exemption by incorporating the City's list of standard environmental conditions as project design features. By doing so, the City will be able to protect environmental standards without requiring applicants to comply with unnecessary, time-consuming and expensive environmental review requirements. As a first step, the City could create a pilot program where the use of the exemption is limited to certain project types and/or a community area supportive of new development, such as Downtown.

Comply with Statutorily-Mandated CEQA Deadlines.

ISSUE: CEQA contains strict deadlines for the environmental review process. For example, the city must determine within 30 days after accepting an application whether to prepare an EIR or negative declaration, and must complete and certify an EIR within one year of accepting the development application as complete. As a practical matter, these deadlines are routinely ignored by local jurisdictions, leading to review processes that may last several years.

SOLUTION: Given that EIRs are typically prepared by consultants retained and paid by developers, the failure to meet statutory deadlines are a significant source of frustration and financial risk, resulting in a major disincentive to investment in Southern California. In light of budgetary and staffing constraints facing local cities, they can achieve compliance with these deadlines by allowing developers to fund the use of dedicated staff or third-party consultants throughout the environmental review and approval process for designated types of projects.

Alston & Bird Attorneys Named Among Top 25 Land Use Attorneys in California

Ed Casey and Shiraz Tangri have been named to the Los Angeles Daily Journal's 2011 list of the Top 25 Land Use Attorneys in California. According to the Daily Journal, attorneys were chosen based on their work on projects, entitlement and litigation, as well as their overall body of land-use related work in 2010 and 2011.

Casey was lauded for two recent courtroom victories representing Playa Vista, the largest mixed-use development in West Los Angeles, which involved a complicated environmental impact report (EIR) process.

Tangri was cited for his work on several major energy and infrastructure projects in Los Angeles County, including successfully defending at trial the approval of a super-tanker terminal at the Port of Los Angeles set to be the only West Coast marine terminal capable of accommodating the largest petroleum ships.

For more information about CEQA and development reform, please contact Shiraz Tangri, a partner in Alston & Bird's Environmental & Land Development Practice Group.

Atlanta | Charlotte | Dallas | Los Angeles | New York | Research Triangle | Silicon Valley | Ventura County | Washington, D.C.

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This material  intended to be informational and does not constitute legal advice regarding any specific situation.  This material may also
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AIA|LA POC - Important Development Reform Meeting


To clarify, there is not a Political Outreach Committee meeting scheduled tomorrow night, Tuesday June 7.  Instead, I encourage each of you to attend the upcoming Development Reform Meeting, which is on June 16 (9am).

Additionally, I encourage each of you to register for the upcoming AIA|LA Design Conference, which will give you a chance to earn 12 HSW learning units.

CLICK HERE for more info;

Important Development Reform Meeting:

I want to thank you again for attending the first round of input meetings on development reform.  On behalf of the Mayor's Office of Economic and Business Policy and the Central City Association, we now want to reconvene to review the preliminary work that has been completed to date by KH Consulting Group and Woolpert, Inc. 

Be one of the first stakeholders to provide input on the draft Strategic Plan and the various proposed changes and recommendations which are to be implemented over the next three years.

This review/feedback session will be hosted by the Central City Association and held:

Date: June 16, 2011

Time: 9:00 am - 11:00 am

Place: Department of Building and Safety - Figueroa Plaza
          201 N. Figueroa Street
          9th Floor Board Room

Parking: There is metered parking on Figueroa Street, Fremont Avenue, and Diamond Street.  There is also parking next door to Figueroa Plaza at the Health Department for $8.  Enter off of Fremont Avenue, just south of Temple.  Parking is also available below Figueroa Plaza for $26 for more than two hours.  LADBS does not validate.  Enter off of Figueroa.

We really need and appreciate your participation!  Please, try to attend.

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


archo of transpo june 24_.pdf Download this file