Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Webinar Invite: The Benefits of Active Design for Business & Real Estate Development

Please feel free to pass on this webinar announcement!

Creating Healthier Communities Through Design:
The Benefits of  Active  Design  for  Business  &  Real Estate  Development

Tuesday, September 27th | 2:00-3:30pm EST | FREE
Register for the webinar

Webinar featuring: Hugh Morris, National Association of Realtors | Kevin Green, Midtown Alliance | Lee Sobel, EPA Office of Sustainable Communities | Joanna Frank, NYC Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) Program

Creating healthier, more active communities, streets, and buildings doesn’t just help address the growing obesity epidemic and the related surge in chronic diseases facing the U.S. and countries across the globe.  In an increasingly mobile world, healthier community design is essential to attracting people and businesses, growing economic development, and creating jobs. More than ever, people are putting a premium on places that offer transportation choices, recreation opportunities, and healthy, fresh food options—and the business and real estate community can help meet this growing demand. This webinar will explore the business case for active, healthy communities, as well as the role that companies in Atlanta, New York City, and other communities across the country are playing in these issues.

Part  of  a  webinar  series  on  how  to  encourage  active  and  healthy  design:  
JUN E 28 2011
:  Creating Healthy Communities Through Design Webinar  
: Becoming  a  Fit  City:  Top  Opportunities  in  Healthy,  Active  Design

For  details  on  upcoming  webinars  or  other  information,  please  contact  Kate  Rube:
This session is under review for 1  CE  /  CM  Unit  through  cosponsorship  with AIANY  and  the  APA  Metro  Chapter

Webinar sponsored by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and AIANY



Kate Rube

Active Design National Training Manager

Active Des ign Program, City of New York

Center for Architecture / AIA New York Chapter

536 LaGuardia Place

New York, NY 10012

p 212.358.6118 | f 212.696.5022


AIA|LA Civics Committee - SPEAKER OPPORTUNITY - Harbor Gateway North Neighborhood Council

Dear AIA|LA Civics Committee:

On behalf of AIA|LA, I am looking for a volunteer that is available to speak to the Harbor Gateway North Neighborhood Council on Tuesday, October 25 (7pm) about potential neighborhood improvement ideas.

Please let me know if you're interested and available.

Your involvement in this endeavor will serve as an excellent opportunity to become more civically engaged with a Los Angeles Neighborhood Council and to share a designer's perspective on how we can all work together to improve our communities.

Your commitment to this endeavor will be most appreciated!

an AIA|LA volunteer(s)

Tuesday, October 25 (7:00 - 8:00pm)

135th St. Elementary School
801 W. 135th Street
Los Angeles, CA  

A brainstorming session on neighborhood improvement ideas, which will include facade improvements on major streets, creating more parks and open space AND identifying the potential funding opportunities available through the Los Angeles Community Development Department.

To share your design expertise with a neighborhood group passionate about improving their community!

Neighborhood Council CONTACT PERSON:
Rosalie Preston, Chairperson
Harbor Gateway North Neighborhood Council
(310) 768-3853 office

Very truly yours,

Will Wright
Director of Government & Public Affairs
AIA Los Angeles

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

CALL TO ACTION: Please Support AB 710 (Skinner) - Infill Development & Sustainable Community Act of 2011

Dear Senators DeLeon, Padilla and Price:

From what I hear, we are just two votes short of having AB 710 (Skinner) pass in the California Senate.  Therefore, it is with strong passion that I am writing to encourage you to VOTE YES to SUPPORT the Infill Development & Sustainability Community Act of 2011.

I am also reaching out to my LA-area colleagues with encouragement to register their support directly with you, as well.

AB 710, if passed, will create parking standards appropriate for small lot/infill developments; unless the jurisdiction makes written findings that more parking is required for the specific area.  The goals of AB 710 also greatly complement the objectives of the proposed City of Los Angeles' Modified Parking Requirements District Ordinance.  Together, these policies will help make Los Angeles more economically and environmentally sustainable!

Overall, well-balanced parking requirements:
1. facilitate sustainable urban in-fill,
2. lower the cost of housing and development in general,
3. enhance the accessibility of neighborhood-serving public amenities,
4. disincentivize excessive driving by encouraging more pedestrian behavior,
5. foster opportunities to promote environmental conservation,
6. help lower the heat-island effect,
7. prevent auto-related pollutants entering into our air, rivers and oceans.

AB 710 is a win-win for Los Angeles.  It encourages sustainable development and will provide an economic boost to the region by enabling many urban infill projects to go forward without the undue burden of expensive parking requirements.


AB 710 will spur job development in the construction industry, promote urban development, reinforce California’s competitiveness for federal transportation dollars, and support the implementation of SB 375.

The real focus of AB 710 is to provide for the development of residential and commercial units on small lots in urbanized areas, near established transit corridors. The development of these small lots is beneficial to our communities and environmentally preferred, but more expensive than traditional development. AB 710 mitigates this increased cost requirement by decreasing the cost from excessive parking requirements – requirement not originally meant for small lots in urban settings.

These smaller urban lots require less dedicated parking space than other types of developments. In most cases, this is due to the number of and convenience of other transportation options and the proximity of housing to employment, schools, and commercial establishments.

Urban development is a critical component to the state’s environmental, economic, and public health goals. AB 710 helps the state reach all of these goals.


Local and regional agencies in California are leading the way in planning new and revitalized communities that provide more economic, environmental, public health, and equity benefits. Developing these new communities in existing urban areas will help reduce the expansion of the current development footprint, while also providing more transportation and housing options near job centers, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide more green space.

This planning philosophy will call for less single-use, low- density developments and more ‘infill development,’ where housing and housing mixed with commercial and retail facilities are built more efficiently using less space.

Sustainable development is another primary goal of the state. California has taken steps over the last several years to establish programs and policies to help incentivize sustainable regional/local planning and development efforts; however, there is still much that can be done to remove barriers and incentivize new development with public transit and alternative transportation options. One such barrier, which has been highlighted in many studies, is the standard requirement for parking units that is applied to all developments, regardless of the actual need for them. Most regional and local communities still use a single-use, single-family home standard for parking, even though these developments are located in heavily-urbanized and transit-rich planning areas. AB 710 would decrease the minimum parking requirements in specific areas, thereby increasing project feasibility and lowering project costs.

For more information, please contact:

Will Wright  
Director of Government & Public Affairs  
AIA Los Angeles  

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

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

3. Shoup Chapter 5.pdf Download this file

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

The Proposed Koreatown Sign District :: It's the size of a small city.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Move LA: For Immediate Attention SB 791 Steinberg Transportation Bill

Dear Friends and Colleagues of Move LA,
We want to call your attention this morning to SB 791 (Steinberg) and seek your support for this very important bill. We strongly believe that this bill can help create one of the most useful tools we need to meet our county’s and state’s urgent transportation needs.
This legislation, if enacted and signed into law, would enable Southern California transportation commissions, like LA Metro, as well as our metropolitan planning organization, Southern California Association of Governments, to place before voters an anti-congestion fee proposal that could be approved by a majority of voters rather than 2/3.
Funds would be raised by a fee on gasoline or diesel fuel, paid at the pump.  These funds could be used only for congestion reduction projects and programs that reduce congestion on arterial roads, highways and freeways, including transit projects and operating costs, or bicycle and pedestrian projects, or even goods movement related projects such as grade separations on freight lines.
We understand that SB 791 could also be used by neighboring counties to fund jointly beneficial projects and programs that reduce congestion, such as Metrolink system enhancements.
In 2008, Los Angeles County voters miraculously voted to support Measure R by more than 2/3 vote and fund many important transit projects.  But, it should not require miracles to ensure our basic transportation and economic system needs.  SB 791 will provide a sensible and practical approach to this crucial objective.
We have attached the bill and some support materials.
We request that you and your organization or firm contact the following to express support for SB 791 as soon as possible:

Senator Darrell Steinberg, President Pro Tem of the California State Senate
Address:  State Capitol, Room 205, Sacramento, CA 95814   
Phone:  (916) 651-4006     Fax: (916) 323-2263     Email:

Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal, Chair, Assembly Transportation Committee
Address:  State Capitol, Room 3152, Sacramento, CA 95814   

Also, contact your own California State Assembly member or California State Senator and other members of the Assembly Transportation Committee to support SB 791. A roster of all members of the Assembly Transportation Committee is attached.

Please copy/email Diane Forte on faxes (preferred) or emails that you send or other contact made, so that we can keep track of the support.
Thank you!!
Denny Zane
Executive Director
Move LA
310-310-2390 office, 

Diane Forte

PS:  Also, please forward to your distribution list.  Attached is a sample support letter from your organization, for you to modify (preferred), or, a sign on letter (provide name, title and organization...deadline this morning.)

SB 791 Bill text
Assembly Transportation Committee roster and contact info
SB 791 2-page explanation
Sample support letter
Sign on letter

110823_SB_791_Amendments_(RN1125281).pdf Download this file

Sample Letter_Enviros_SB791.pdf Download this file

SB 791 2_Pager___8.16.pdf Download this file

SB 791 Support _ Sign On Letter_11am.pdf Download this file

California State Assembly Transportation Committee.pdf Download this file

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Developing densely :: Estimating the effect of subway growth on New York City land uses

Developing densely :: Estimating the effect of subway growth on New York City land uses
by David King (Columbia University)

Abstract: In the early twentieth century, New York City’s population, developed land area, and subway network size all increased dramati- cally. 􏰀e rapid expansion of the transit system and land development present intriguing questions as to whether land development led subway growth or if subway expansion was a precursor to real estate development. 􏰀e research described in this article uses Granger causality models based on parcel-level data to explore the co-development of the subway system and residential and commercial land uses, and attempts to de- termine whether subway stations were a leading indicator of residential and commercial development or if subway station expansion followed residential and commercial construction. 􏰀e results of this study suggest that the subway network developed in an orderly fashion and grew densest in areas where there was growth in commercial development. 􏰀ere is no evidence that subway growth preceded residential devel- opment throughout the city. 􏰀ese results suggest that subway stations opened in areas already well-served by the system and that network growth o􏰁en followed residential and commercial development. 􏰀e subway network acted as an agent of decentralization away from lower Manhattan as routes and stations were sought in areas with established ridership demand.

185-1428-1-PB.pdf Download this file

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Invitation ThinkBike Workshop Los Angeles

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Dutch Missions of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

ThinkBike LA Banner
You are invited to attend
ThinkBike Los Angeles

ThinkBike LA Opening Session

Thursday, September 22nd
9:00 - 10:30 AM
Los Angeles Department of Transportation  

Main Conference Room / CalTrans Building
100 South Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012


Register for the Opening Session 


ThinkBike LA Closing Session
Friday, September 23rd
3:30 - 5:30 PM
Los Angeles Police Department

Deaton Hall Auditorium
100 West 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Register for the Closing Session

On September 22nd and 23rd, 2011, the Consulate General of the Netherlands, in cooperation with the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, will host ThinkBike, a unique, bi-national bicycle promotion and design workshop.


Bikeway design experts from the Netherlands will lead a series of workshops in Los Angeles to discuss how the Netherlands has successfully implemented a comprehensive program to promote cycling and to make specific recommendations on how Los Angeles can improve the comfort and safety of its bicycle route network. Over the course of two days, the Dutch design experts will work closely with teams of Los Angeles designers and community stakeholders to generate project proposals that feature innovative design ideas to meet the multifaceted cycling needs of Angelenos.


Opening Session (September 22nd from 9:00am to 10:30am): Welcome address by Consul General Bart van Bolhuis and Jaime de la Vega, General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. Dutch guests will share with elected officials, department heads, and business and community leaders how the Netherlands has instituted programs and policies to increase bicycling.


Closing Session (September 23rd from 3:30pm to 5:30pm):Closing Session led by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Consul General Bart van Bolhuis. Teams of local and Dutch experts will unveil to the public the project proposals resulting from the intensive, two-day design workshops.


The Netherlands Embassy works with North American cities through the ThinkBike initiative to bring Dutch bicycling experts together with local planners, engineers, transportation experts, community representatives and advocates to help improve conditions for biking. A recognition of Los Angeles' growing stature as a bicycle-friendly city, this event promises to be an exciting opportunity to showcase what cutting-edge bikeway design can do for Los Angeles.


Press contact: Jennifer Katell



Join us after the Closing Session at Angel City Brewing for informal conversation food and drinks. Free bike valet provided by LACBC. 

Follow us on Twitter Find us on Facebook
hashtag: #thinkbikela

This email was sent to by |  
Dutch Missions of the Kingdom of the Netherlands | 4200 linnean avenue | washington | DC | 20008

Friday, August 19, 2011

Job Opportunity :: Editor and Communications Manager Needed

Editor and Communications Manager Needed

Seeking an editor for a small but respected publication covering public policy, land use, urban planning, and infrastructure in the Los Angeles area. The position will also serve as communications manager for a yearly conference covering green technology and policy.

The ideal candidate will come with a strong educational background with a degree in the liberal arts. He or she should be perceptive, flexible, organized, and independent, and know how to craft clear, correct prose. Candidates should have a combination of expertise in journalism/PR and interest in public policy/land use--or vice-versa. Comfort with networking and the ambiance of the public sector is a plus, and familiarity with and fascination for Los Angeles is essential. This is a mid-/entry-level position, but is appropriate only for someone who learns quickly and is wise beyond his or her years.

Candidates should have several years of experience in policy, planning, community development, local government, and/or PR/journalism. Prior knowledge of desktop publishing is an asset but not isnecessary.


Working under the direction of the publisher, the editor bears responsibility for all content (mainly long-form interviews) and ancillary operations, including marketing, subscription management, and special projects. This is a small operation with an unusual view on life of the city, and the job offers a unique, demanding, and rewarding experience for the right candidate.

Communications Manager

Working under direction of the managing director of a conference that features some of the best and brightest of their respectivefields, the communications manager will oversee marketing and PR of the event through print and digital media (the communications manager will produce weekly email blasts, a quarterly print newsletter, and will update the conference website when necessary, which is to say, frequently). The communications manager is also responsible for tracking and maintaining databases of contacts and participants. Additional miscellanea require a solid problem-solving ethos and the ability to manage multiple projects at the same time. The conference’s in-house planning and management team require that the communications manager be flexible and willing to take on new tasks.

Please submit a resume and/or questions to With apologies, a high volume of emails may preclude responses.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

LABDS Industry Training - 2011 Los Angeles City Building Codes

LABDS Industry Training - 2011 Los Angeles City Building Codes

LADBS Code Training Flyer 8-18-11(2).pdf Download this file

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

AIA|LA Breakfast Reception w/ Senator Kevin de León :: Friday, August 26 (8:00 - 9:30am)

Please make plans to attend our upcoming breakfast reception with Senator Kevin de León, which will be on Friday, August 26 (8am) at the offices of HNTB Architecture.

This reception will serve as an excellent opportunity to hear what's on the Senator's mind, as well as, provide a chance to share leadership and insight perspective from the architecture & design community.

The AIA|LA Political Outreach Committee presents...
"VISION 2020: Leading Los Angeles into the Future"
the eighth annual AIA|LA Breakfast Series
Senator Kevin de León - District #22
Friday, August 26 (8:00 - 9:30am)
HNTB Architecture
601 West Fifth Street
Suite 1000
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Advance Registration Required.


AIA|LA recommends to ride METRO. No-host parking provided.

As for the agenda/timeline:
8am - coffee, breakfast/ networking
8:15am - Sen. de León speaks for a few minutes about the various initiatives he is working on, especially with regards to how AIA|LA can provide additional insight, outreach and leadership
8:30am - Q&A roundtable discussion with the architects/designers present.
9:15am - wrap-up & conclusions:  "What can AIA|LA do to serve as the most effective resource to advance various State of California & Senate District #22 initiatives?"
9:30am - end

Senator Kevin de León was elected to served the 22nd Senate District in November 2010. The district includes all or parts of the City of Los Angeles, Alhambra, East Los Angeles, Florence-Graham, Maywood, San Marino, South Pasadena, Vernon, and Walnut Park. Senator Kevin de León previously represented the 45th Assembly District.

Senator De León has spent a lifetime fighting to empower working families and the poor-as a community organizer, English as a Second Language and U.S. Citizenship teacher, and an advocate for public schools. During his five years at the California Teachers Association, De León fought for additional funding for "high-priority schools" in low-income neighborhoods, more school construction, and health insurance for children.

As a Senior Associate for the National Education Association (NEA) in Washington, D.C., De León advocated for more resources for schools in low-income neighborhoods. He also coordinated a team that fought schemes to take funds from public schools in the form of taxpayer-funded vouchers. At the NEA he also thwarted efforts to impose academic censorship on public school teachers.

Shortly after completing his freshman term in the Assembly, De León was appointed Chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee making him the first Latino Chair of this fiscal committee in the last one hundred years. The Appropriations Committee is responsible for reviewing all bills with a fiscal impact. As a result, virtually every bill goes to the Appropriations Committee making it the single most powerful committee in the Assembly.

In addition to his leadership responsibilities while an Assemblymember, Senator De León served on several important policy committees including Health, Natural Resources, Governmental Organization and the Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media committee. De León also served on the Joint Committee for Emergency Services and Homeland Security and several select committees including the Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Growth Management, International Trade, and the Preservation of California's Entertainment Industry select committee.

Currently, De León is a member of the State Allocation Board (SAB) which distributes state school construction bond funds approved by the voters. Since De León joined the Board in 2007 the SAB has allocated nearly $1.4 billion in voter approved bond funds for new school construction, modernization, career technical education, and joint-use school projects across the state. Those funds are vital to ensuring that our schools are safe and are wired for modern technologies.

In addition to his focus on improving public schools, De León is committed to improving the air quality in his district, which is criss-crossed by six freeways and has some of the country's worst air quality, as well as expanding park space in critically underserved communities. De León authored legislation that was later inserted into an omnibus measure signed into law creating hundreds of millions of dollars available for alternative fuel research and development.

To improve access to park space to underserved communities, De León authored legislation signed into law in October by Governor Schwarzenegger establishing a needs-based competitive grants program for the distribution of $400 million in Proposition 84 funds for local park assistance and development. That measure will allocate the single largest investment in local park space creation in the nation's history and will insure that those funds are targeted to areas with the highest needs. De León is also a member of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Board, where he is putting his vision for creating green space in heavily-urbanized and park-starved communities to work.

De León has also authored innovative legislation to assist families without access to employer-based retirement plans save for retirement by putting one of the nation's most respected institutional investors, CalPERS, to work for average working Californians. That measure would authorize CalPERS to offer Californians that do not have retirement plans available at work individual retirement accounts (IRA's) to create a financial nest egg when they retire.

The Forty-Fifth Assembly District has been tragically plagued by gang violence. While walking neighborhoods during his first campaign De León stumbled across bullet casing on side walks just feet where children were playing and has ever since been determined to the get handgun ammunition that fuels this violence out of the hands of criminals and gang-bangers. Along with Sheriff Baca and LAPD Police Chief Bratton, De León has championed legislation to require handgun ammunition purchasers to acquire a permit showing they've passed a background check. That permit would cost less than a fishing license and would prevent an estimated half million rounds of ammunition being sold to criminals every year in this state.

Senator De León grew up in the San Diego barrio of Logan Heights. He was the first in his family to graduate from high school. He attended UC Santa Barbara and graduated from Pitzer College at the Claremont Colleges with Honors. He has one daughter.

For more information, please contact:

Will Wright
Director of Government & Public Affairs
AIA Los Angeles

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

Monday, August 15, 2011

CRITICAL JUNCTURE for CA Public Private Partnerships

There are still a few days to make calls to get important changes made to laws governing the ability to utilize PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS to get infrastructure projects DONE in CA!


Dear Supporters of SB 475:

Thank you so much for your support on this important bill.  We just sent off the attached final letter with the signatures of 51 organizations from up and down the state.  This could not have been done without your help, so again, thank you.

This bill is at a critical juncture right now and needs as much active and vocal support as it can get.  If you (and your members) can begin making calls to legislators on the Assembly Local Government Committee (where the bill is currently lodged) urging them to both reconsider and support this bill, it would go a long way toward providing us with more tools to build a 21st  Century infrastructure here in California.  The members who either voted in opposition or whose vote was not recorded are as follows:

Assembly Member Luis Alejo – Vote not recorded - 916-319-2028

Assembly Member Steven Bradford – Vote not recorded - 916-319-2051

Assembly Member Nora Campos– Voted No - 916-319-2023

Assembly Member Mike Davis – Vote not recorded - 916-319-2048

Assembly Member Richard Gordon – Voted No -916-319-2021

Assembly Member Ben Hueso – Vote not recorded -916-319-2079

It would also be helpful if you could reach out via social media on this issue as well.  If you have a Twitter account, you may be interested in using one of the following tweets:

1.       Just signed on 2 letter supporting Rod Wright's SB475. Combines private sector innovation w/ public sector #jobs4CA. #cabudget

2.       Just signed on 2 letter supporting Rod Wright's SB475. Let's get this bill passed in Sacramento 2 create #jobs4CA. #cabudget

3.       Just signed on 2 letter supporting Rod Wright's SB475 stuck in LocalGovt. Asm members didn’t cast votes 1st time around. #cabudget

4.       Excited 2 join statewide orgs supporting SB475. Opportunity 4 biz & labor to partner 2 create better infrastructure & #jobs4CA. #cabudget

5.       Great public-private partnership opportunity w/ SB475, currently in LocalGovt. Let’s get it passed! #jobs4CA. #cabudget

Note: please use the cabudget hashtag (#cabudget), since most people in Sacramento follow it.

Thank you again for all of your support on this bill, and I look forward to working with you in the near future on other items to advance our state’s economy.



David A. Flaks | Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives
Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation
444 S. Flower Street, 34th Floor, Los Angeles CA 90071
T: (213) 236-4834 F: (213) 622-7100 | |








Tracy Rafter, CEO

BizFed, Los Angeles County Business Federation

818.429.0862 ~

A Grass Roots Alliance of 85 Top LA County Business Groups

Mobilizing Over 150,000 Businesses

Undersigned Letter in Support of SB 475 8-2011.pdf Download this file

AIA NYC - Active Design Guidelines and the FIT-CITY Conference Series

Hi Will and Margot,

Nice to talk with you earlier today! I’m writing to follow up with a few additional ideas for your October 7th convening, and I’d love to stay in touch; please let me know anything else I can help with, or if you have other questions. I’m also attaching agendas for the last Fit City convenings; I do not have the agendas for the first two Fit City meetings, but you can find the reports documenting these conferences at:

1.       Agenda items: Our general format for Fit City meetings has involved the following--
--Presentation of the health evidence about growing obesity levels, diseases related to obesity, costs of obesity, and the connection of these issues to built environment strategies (I would suggest also heavily emphasizing the co-benefits of these strategies, esp. the economic benefits of creating walkable, bikeable, active and health communities)
--Built environment strategies/approaches that work: This could include overviews of relevant sections of your design guidelines, the ADG, etc., as well as 2-3 case studies of good projects that exemplify active design and lessons learned from those examples. On the project side, this is a good opportunity to highlight and gain buy-in from developers, architects, etc.
--Political support/leadership: Remarks from dept heads and other important officials abt the important of these issues, the role that their agency/org plays, etc.

2.       Other Agenda ideas:
a)    What’s next: We haven’t specifically had this on the agenda for Fit City meetings, but especially at a first meeting, I think it’s important to have time on the agenda to either present or discuss what follows this event. As I mentioned, I think this could be a great opportunity for breakout groups focused around specific topics (Education, Trainings, Policy, Inter-agency collaboration, etc) that report back to the big group.

b)      Time for interaction: Whether it’s through breakout groups or just time for networking post-meeting or a walking tour post-meeting (which we’ve organized following Fit City events), I think people really value having the time for more informal conversation on these issues.

c)       Using speakers to get buy-in:  I think NYC has been strategic abt using Fit City events to gain buy-in on active design from Dept Commissioners, developers, and big architecture firms. Even if you invite someone from an agency to speak that hasn’t already done a lot on these issues, they’ll need to at least share their thoughts, they’ll see the importance of these issues through the conference, and it may get them more invested in future work.

3.       Follow up
A few of the other CPPW communities with whom I work have recently conducted similar convenings on health and BE issues. Here are a few ideas to think abt in terms of follow up opportunities from the meeting:

a)      Interagency Task Force/Working group:  One of the communities with whom I’m working is starting to create an inter-agency task force on health and BE issues to look at developing policy recommendations.  As Rick mentioned, Fit City in NYC also led to the development of a more informal inter-agency and inter-disciplinary task force that created the Active Design Guidelines.

This kind of group could help: formulate policy solutions, develop programs, undertake joint reports, plan future meetings, raise $ together, etc.

b)      Trainings: We have two staff full time here in NYC that conduct trainings (and provide some limited 1-on-1 tech assistance, as well) on active design issues to architects, designers, planners, and agency staff. We have also organized some active design charettes for architects and others to explore actually taking the Active Design Guidelines and applying them to sample projects. Perhaps there’s the opportunity to conduct some more targeted follow up trainings and TA for interested architecture firms? And similarly, taking the Street Design Manual and organizing trainings/TA for engineering/planning firms?

Cheers, Kate


Kate Rube

Active Design National Training Manager

Active Design Program, City of New York

Center for Architecture / AIA New York Chapter

536 LaGuardia Place

New York, NY 10012

p 212.358.6118 | f 212.696.5022


Margot Ocañas
Policy Analyst
RENEW Los Angeles County
Department of Public Health, Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention      
695 S. Vermont Avenue
Suite 1400 South Tower
Los Angeles, CA 90005

Fit_City_3_Brochure.pdf Download this file

Fit City 5 Brochurefinal.pdf Download this file

Fit City 4 Brochure.pdf Download this file

Fit City 6 program_final.pdf Download this file

Friday, August 12, 2011

The age of deleveraging

The-Age-of-Deleveraging.pdf Download this file

Retaining Walls Ordinance - Kick-Off Meetings Invitation (8/23, 8/30, 9/1, 9/7 and 9/12)


This email is directed to individuals who asked to be included in the Retaining Walls Ordinance Interest List. 


Join City Planning staff in a series of public meetings to be held throughout the City of Los Angeles to discuss and provide feedback on issues related to retaining walls. The proposed ordinance is a result of concerns that were brought up in meetings for the Baseline Hillside Ordinance which became effective in May, 2011. Your input will help identify concerns surrounding retaining walls that will be the basis for the development of a new retaining wall ordinance. The meetings will include a presentation from planning staff and be an open forum to discuss the related issues. Everyone is welcome, so invite anyone who may also be interested. 

Dates and Locations:


North Valley Meeting

Tuesday, August, 23, 2011 - 6:30 PM

Council District 2 Field Office (use back entrance)

7747 Foothill Blvd.

Tujunga, CA 91042 

[Google Maps]


Harbor Area Meeting

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 6:30 PM

Cabrillo Marina Community Center

224 Whalers Walk

San Pedro, CA 90731

[Google Maps]


Westside Meeting

Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 6:30 PM

The Mirman School

Ross Family Auditorium

16180 Mulholland Drive

Los Angeles, CA 90049

[Google Maps]


Metro Meeting

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 – 6:30 PM

Hollywood Constituent Center

6501 Fountain Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90028

[Google Maps]


Eastside Meeting

Monday, September 12, 2011 - 6:30 PM

Glassell Park Community Center

3750 Verdugo Road

Los Angeles, CA 90065

[Google Maps]

If you have any questions, please contact David Olivo at (213) 473-9769 or


David Olivo
City of Los Angeles | Department of City Planning
Code Studies | Office of Zoning Administration | 213.473.9769

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Retaining Walls Ordinance Meetings Flyer.pdf Download this file

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Proposed sign ordinance - documents presented to PLUM

Good afternoon,

Thank you for your continued interest and involvement in the proposed citywide sign ordinance, which was heard at PLUM this past Tuesday and will be heard again on October 18, 2011. Attached for your reference are the documents that we presented to PLUM:

- Proposed ordinance & report, dated July 22, 2011 (as previously published)
- Powerpoint presentation- Proposed "grandfathering" list
- List of recommended changes to the ordinance, as of Aug. 9, 2011 (further potential changes will be studied in the upcoming weeks before our next PLUM hearing)

These documents are also being posted to our Department's website (under "What's New") as well as being sent out this afternoon to all Neighborhood Councils. Please let me know if you have difficulty opening any of these files.

Best regards,

Daisy Mo
City Planning Associate
City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning
200 N. Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 978-1338

Proposed Sign Ordinance and Report 7.22.11.pdf Download this file

Presentation to PLUM 8.9.11.pdf Download this file

Grandfathering of Pending SN's.pdf Download this file

Additional Recommended Changes.pdf Download this file

Friday, August 5, 2011

Perspectives from the year 2007 :: "The NEXT LA"

The Next Los Angeles

L.A. has more people per square mile than any urban area in the country, and over the next two decades it’s going to add millions of new residents. Can smart growth stave off impending citywide gridlock?


eighborhood activist Anne Schermerhorn is not the kind of woman who cries over city ordinances. But there she is, tearing up during the public comment period at a meeting of the Los Angeles City Planning Commission on the 10th floor at City Hall. The frustration, she explains, has been so intense. 

“We’ve been fighting these developments for two and a half years,” Schermerhorn is trying to tell the commission, “and this is the first time we’ve been heard by the city … .”

For a moment there, she can’t go on.

Schermerhorn is attempting for the third time to lobby the powers that be for an Interim Control Ordinance, or ICO, a little bit of jargon that would grant Glassell Park and other Northeast L.A. neighborhoods some control over how big, how high, and how environmentally damaging new developments can be in the hillsides ringing downtown. Like Echo Park, Mount Washington, and Atwater Village that surround it, Glassell Park is the latest working-class neighborhood to be targeted by home-buyers and developers looking to capitalize on lower-priced properties. But the intentions of these new property owners has become an issue. Groups like North East Trees, Occidental College, the Latino Urban Forum, and the Anahuak Youth Soccer Association have sent word that they support more regulated development, and José Carlos Romero, the city’s own head planner for the area, dims the lights and offers up a Power Point presentation graphically testifying to the “urgency” of the problem.

“You’ve provoked us to a better place,” Commission President Jane Usher says, and an hour later, the ICO is approved. But it’s destined to be a short honeymoon between Schermerhorn and the Department of Planning.

Two weeks later, Schermerhorn informs me she and her group HESC – the Hillside Environmental and Safety Coalition – are suing the city over an eight-house development they believe is being constructed in defiance of city codes but has somehow garnered city approval. The way she sees it, “We were stabbed in the back by city council.”

In the past 12 months, land use conflicts have triggered charges of anti-Semitism in Valley Village, dragged Montecito Heights residents into arbitration over the right to walk across one man’s lawn, and prompted Venice’s neighborhood council to question whether its neighborhood could just stop growing altogether, putting a temporary halt to all commercial development along its major thoroughfares.

All over the city, this clash is repeated, in neighborhood after neighborhood. Why have things gotten so heated? Numbers tell the story: in 2000, the city issued 106,000 building permits. In 2006, it handed out 153,000. Developers have indeed reacted to a booming real estate market, but they are also finally accommodating a mushrooming population. In the last 20 years, some five million additional Angelenos took up residence here, while only one new housing unit was built for every two families. As of the 2000 Census, the Los Angeles area officially became the densest urban region in the U.S., besting New York City and its suburbs by nearly 2,000 people per square mile.

And we’re growing. Experts are now predicting that we’ve got to make space for another two-to-five million neighbors before 2030. (If you’re of a mind that 700 miles of fencing could prevent this, you can put down your trowel right now. Anywhere between 40 to 80 percent of L.A.’s projected growth will come from the birth rate of its current residents alone.) At this point, it’s hard to argue with a straight face that L.A. will live out its days as a gently sprawling haven for single-family homes and limitless automobiles. One way or another, our fair city is about to become incredibly dense, and rapidly. The question is – are the city’s leaders up to the task of managing that density in a smart way? It won’t work, of course, to simply deny growth. It’s going to happen, no matter what.

“We get that we have to house this population, and there is a lot of support in my community for mixed-use apartment buildings nearer transit corridors,” says Helene Schpak, who is working with Schermerhorn to mitigate Glassell Park’s growing pains.

Instead, some residents say, the city is flouting its own codes as it offers a glut of more of the same – projects either in the worn-out suburban model or high-end luxury line, both of which may be out of touch with Angelenos’ needs, and both of which can’t help but overburden an already overtaxed infrastructure. As Barbara Broide, president of the Westwood South of Santa Monica Homeowners Association puts it, “We know we have a housing shortage, but if we have a shortage of $1.2 million condos, I don’t know.”

“Glassell Park is ground zero for these conflicts, and the problem is not the developers and it’s not the community. The problem is the city,” says Schpak. “Developers do what they do. It’s for the city to bracket what they do with guidelines.”

Poor Planning

Of all the historical forces that have contributed to creating the hell on wheels we call Los Angeles, the most significant could be that this is a developer-driven town. “It’s in the DNA of the city’s power structure [to approve as many developer applications as possible],” says one city hall veteran. So-called “smart growth” has not been on the city menu for several decades. Con Howe, who exited the planning department in 2005 after 13 years as its director, has been accused of presiding over an administration with an institutionalized disregard for zoning codes.

Which is complete turnaround from where we started. Planning, after all, literally created Los Angeles – a boomtown which owes its epic proportions to the awesome force of Midwestern boosterism – mainly through the use of thousands of miles of privately owned trolleys, quite a few of which were laid down in order to open land for developers. Yes, it was mass transit that set in motion Southern California sprawl and helped lay the blueprint for our megalopolis. Then the car companies did away with public transport in the 1950s and ’60s. And now the city is trying desperately to rebuild them into the scheme of things again, at outrageous expense, with maximum disruption.

Last October, city Controller Laura Chick released an audit lambasting the department for a host of bad habits and wrong thinking, and this February, when former San Diego planner Gail Goldberg was installed as Howe’s replacement, a six-months-to-reform clock began ticking. Not everybody feels they have the luxury of waiting to see how that story turns out, however.

Up in Glassell Park, the story is a familiar one. Old homes are torn down or gutted for massive renovation. Some by homeowners, some by speculators, eager to capitalize on the urban real estate boom.

“Our hillsides are so fragile and falling apart as we speak,” Schermerhorn says. “We are not [fighting the city] because of one house. We’re here because of 136 houses. No one in the city ever takes into account: Is this one out of two permits or one out of 200?”

Legally speaking, there is some question as to when the city can factor in cumulative effects, as most smaller developments are considered “by right,” and often fly under the radar of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a state law designed to ensure that a project’s impacts are mitigated.
But that’s potentially a bureaucratic sleight of hand with absurdist repercussions. “According to the code, the city can only grant a zoning variance on a unique basis,” Schermerhorn says. “All 136 developers asked for a variance. There is no more meaning to the word unique.”

Perhaps the word city officials ought to be searching for is “vision,” as in “The city has no vision,” says James Rojas, an urban planner and founding member of the Latino Urban Forum, a volunteer band of architects, planners, and transportation experts working to improve the city’s built environment. LUF advocates for ideas like linking land use policies to transportation systems and comprehensive, citywide thinking that gives considerable thought to how strict zoning codes in, say, Larchmont get played out in the overcrowded apartments of under-regulated East L.A. “The city needs to connect all these dots,” Rojas says.

There have been a number of recent projects that get it right, advocates say. In Pasadena, developers created Paseo Colorado, a mélange of housing, dining, and shopping designed to generate a community hub. In Lincoln Heights, two mixed-use, mixed-income projects near a transit stop are promising to transform an industrial wasteland into a residential community, and Boyle Heights residents have rallied around the re-imagining of an underutilized Sears warehouse as a live/work/play space destined to be just as accessible by the Gold Line’s extension as by automobile.

Avenue of the Cars

For decades, L.A.’s Westside has been the breezy, wide-open cousin to the rapidly urbanizing East end. Since 2003, however, 3,000 condominiums have sprung up in West L.A. alone, and 1,700 more are currently gearing up to break ground. Overall, the Westside still averages out to a less cramped population per square mile, but neighborhoods to the left of Doheny have started feeling the pinch and are wary of what the future could bring.

“There are a number of developments we’re watching right now,” says Michael Eveloff, president of Tract 7260, a homeowners association in West L.A. Among these concerns, Eveloff lists the New Century Plan at the Westfield mall in Century City, which would bring residential units to a formerly commercial area, the adaptive reuse overhaul of the Robinsons-May department store at the Beverly Hilton, and the redevelopment of a condo building on Bellwood Avenue that could double the building’s current occupancy.

“We’re not anti-development,” clarifies Eveloff. “There are no evil empires here. We have a great working relationship with developers.”
But with land selling at exorbitant prices – “A parcel on Santa Monica Boulevard just sold for $110 million,” Eveloff says, “That’s just for the dirt” – even as the housing market cools, many worry that developers will be under extra pressure to maximize profits by pushing the envelope on density.
And in the meantime, “I can’t think of a single development [Councilmember Jack] Weiss hasn’t endorsed,” Eveloff says. “There are no plans for infrastructure, but plenty of plans for developments. Weiss does a lot of great things, and you can’t confuse little and big issues, but on big issues, it seems that the councilmember is not our friend.”

On March 15, Weiss told the Los Angeles Times that the Westfield project would improve the neighborhood’s appeal as a Westside destination. Eveloff says his jury is still out on the Westfield plan, and they are happy to keep an open mind as they learn more. What concerns them is that Weiss has apparently already made up his own mind. “Weiss came out in favor of the Westfield project without speaking to a single constituent, as far as we can tell,” says Eveloff.

Residents on the Westside are still smarting over a 2003 project rubber-stamped by the planning department on the basis of environmental data from the late ’70s. The developer had applied to transform a vacant lot into a 35-unit/21-story tower under the assumption that nothing in the neighborhood had changed since the Carter administration. The community begged to differ.

“Sometimes it seems like the [environmental studies] are more about meeting deadlines and doing the process than about studying the effects,” says Broide. “A lot of us feel we go through the process and when we listen to the responses, frequently the questions were never answered. We don’t have the access, we don’t have the high-paid lobbyists. When I’m at city council standing behind the rope, waiting for my turn to speak, I watch lobbyists walking around me to talk to the councilmembers. It’s a hopeless feeling.”

“Like with many other issues, some areas of the city are better organized and feel more empowered than others,” says Lisa Hansen, Weiss’s deputy chief of staff. According to Hansen, Weiss remains confident there will be ample time for public input on projects like Westfield as the environmental review progresses. “The neighborhood council system offers a new arena for community input. Certainly, all councilmembers strive to ensure fair public processes.”

From his vantage point in Northeast L.A., though, District 14 City Councilmember José Huizar has seen how ensuring equal public access can get a little tricky. “Absolutely, I think there is an industry in this city with attorneys and developers who know how to work the system better than residents do,” Huizar says. Vice-chair of the Planning and Land Use Management committee, Huizar – along with Weiss and committee chair Councilmember Ed Reyes of District 1 – hears from eight to 20 cases a week in the council’s busiest committee.
“I think there is a gap,” Reyes says, “between the expectation of what the law says you should be doing versus what you should be doing. We have to fill that gap in education.”

And there’s the irony. Reyes, Huizar, CD13’s Eric Garcetti, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa have been preaching the gospel of smart growth for years, and yet, Reyes says, projects get stalled or innovative ideas reach the council dead on arrival, victims of the system, the sanctity of property rights, or NIMBYism.

“We are just beginning to build the internal capacity to effect these changes. It took me three years to change the zoning in Lincoln Heights and get permitted a mixed-income housing complex next to the Gold Line,” says Reyes. “Three years and that’s one location. To do this on a wholesale level across the city, we’re not prepared.”

To fully appreciate this irony, know that Huizar is Schermerhorn’s councilmember. He professes to agree with her on every point and put his beliefs into the public record even as the city attorney convinced him that backing her appeal could be construed as a “capricious and arbitrary” decision by the developer, which would then open the city up to possible litigation. Schermerhorn’s lawyer is now using Huizar’s speech to the council as the basis for her lawsuit against the city.

“If residents keep challenging these developments on the CEQA basis, it won’t stand up in court,” Huizar says. “I’m trying to find ways to make changes at the policy level.”

Vision of the Future

Say the word “density” to Diego Cardoso, and it’ll be 10 minutes before you can get another word in edgewise. Cardoso is a bundle of kinetic energy on a mission. He’s also one of L.A.’s new planning commissioners. “This is a very, very important premise,” Cardoso begins his soliloquy. “Density is the outcome of other goals. What we’re trying to do is build a livable city. If you just say we’re going to add more density, that doesn’t make sense.”

In about two to three months, Cardoso says, the planning commission will be ready to articulate a new vision for the city of Los Angeles, heavily shaped by Villaraigosa’s smart growth platform and councilmember feedback. But anyone swinging by the Department of Building & Safety with a permit application is already hearing about what sort of changes are afoot.

Picture if you will, Cardoso’s dream: lofty high rises line up along Wilshire, Olympic, and a number of other strategic locations where developers can trade parking spaces for ground-level storefronts and subway access, then moving away from major boulevards and transit stops, densities fading into smaller, single-family neighborhoods. L.A.’s doctrine of separate use is reorganized, so that residents can walk to the office, have lunch at a sidewalk café, take in a movie, and stroll through the park, all in the radius of a few blocks. Let both the Exposition Line and the Red Line stretch out to the ocean, ride your bike from Canoga Park to downtown alongside a re-greened and newly non-toxic L.A. River, and landscape a three-block chunk of open space into the center of downtown. Oh, and – this is where Cardoso, a painter as well as a transportation planner, brings a little artistic license to redesigning L.A.’s urban landscape – in 30 years, tear up any unnecessary miles of disused freeway. “Sure, it will happen,” Cardoso says. “The Embarcadero in San Francisco used to be a double-decker freeway.”

Back here on earth, even Cardoso acknowledges that reality is proving much more complicated. “I think we have a system of government and an economy that hasn’t worked well with large-scale design,” he says.

“The Westside is very dense,” Cardoso says. “But it doesn’t have choices in transportation. Century City is probably one of the best examples of a city that can only be accessed and navigated by car.”

These pesky little actualities have homeowners pleading for a slow and cautious advance into the wild new frontier of increased density.
“It seems a little disingenuous to put density on transportation corridors when those corridors aren’t moving,” Broide says.
“One thing you have to take into account, for instance, in Century City, they’re talking about adding a residential population where there wasn’t one before,” Eveloff says.

Exactly, Hansen says. “Century City employs 40,000 people, if new housing makes it possible for some of those people to walk to work, that will reduce traffic.”

After fighting a number of battles with city officials simply to make departments enforce their own regulations, though, Eveloff says many residents have adopted a trust-but-verify approach to municipal promises. To him, it makes sense to build the infrastructure first. “If we could snap our fingers and have the Red Line appear here, that’d be great,” he says. “A lot of people used to not want it, but now are thinking that might have been a mistake.”
The notion of reviving the Red Line’s expansion is once again under consideration at city hall, but should any residents feel their officials appear a little gun-shy on the subject, Reyes says that shouldn’t come as a surprise. “There’s been a lot of push-back focused on those officials who suggested mass transit,” he says “In the world of term limits, who’s going to expend that kind of political capital?”
“If there’s no strong push for change, things stay the status quo,” Huizar says. “With the Northeast L.A. ICO, it took Ed and myself to make sure the planning department focused on that. [Going forward] it’s going to take the council and mayor to make sure we move some of these entrenched interests.”