Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stopping High Speed Sprawl by ETHAN ELKIND

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sunset Triangle Plaza Underway, Opening Celebration on March 4

L.A.'s First Street Plaza to Debut Sunday, March 4th!

LADOT painting polka dots on the plaza - Photo by Margot Ocañas

Streets for People (S4P) is proud to announce the opening of Sunset Triangle Plaza at Griffith Park and Sunset Boulevards in Silver Lake! Come join us on March 4th, for a community celebration as we turn a street for cars into a street for people.

Although Sunset Triangle Plaza draws its inspiration from the successful pedestrian plazas created with a painted street surface, potted plants and moveable tables and chairs in New York and San Francisco, the original concept of a pedestrian plaza in Silver Lake was developed by community members in 2006.

Sunset Triangle Plaza will be located on Griffith Park Blvd between Edgecliffe Dr. and Maltman Ave and will be temporary closed to automobile traffic for the duration of the pilot project (approximately one year). Cars will continue to be able to use Edgecliffe Dr. to travel around the plaza.

Photo by Margot Ocañas

At Sunset Triangle Plaza, the twice-weekly farmer’s market will continue to operate uninterrupted, additional parking spaces will be created along Sunset Blvd to accommodate for some of those lost, and all street furniture will be brought inside each evening to maintain its quality and cleanliness.

There has been increased demand in Los Angeles for safer and more welcoming streets for residents to play, walk, run, bicycle and rest. Sunset Triangle Plaza offers a destination for people of all ages, backgrounds and physical abilities to sit and relax, visit local business or engage with members of your community in a vibrant public space.

We invite you to join us at the opening celebration on March 4! Details can be found here.

Help with Finishing Touches at Sunset Triangle Plaza

On March 2nd and 3rd, Streets for People will begin filling the planters at Sunset Triangle Plaza and we could use your help! If you are interested in volunteering for this project, please email Anna at streetsforpeoplela[at]

Date —Friday, March 2nd from 10 am – 2 pm and Saturday, March 3rd from 2-6 pm.
Location Address — Sunset Triangle Plaza (Griffith Park and Sunset Blvds), Los Angeles
Contact — Anna, streetsforpeoplela[at]

Site Plan by Rios Clemente Hale Studios

Monday, February 27, 2012

Support Active Transportation and Safe Routes to School!

Dear Active Transportation Supporter,

Please Attend one of the upcoming Regional Council meetings and voice your support for Active Transportation!

The public comment period for the Southern California Association of Governments' (SCAG) Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS) ended February 14th.  However, it is still vitally important that SCAG Regional Council Members hear your voice in support of Active Transportation.  Over the next several weeks Council Members will be debating specific aspects of the RTP/SCS and we will be working hard to ensure that our asks are met.

The current draft of the RTP/SCS only includes 1.3 percent of the funding for Active transportation despite the fact that 21 percent of the trips are bicycling and walking trips and 25 percent of the fatalities are suffered by people walking and bicycling.  In addition, the Southern California Region suffers from a 24 percent obesity rate.  The funding for active transportation in the RTP/SCS needs to be increased!  Likewise, 80 percent of the funding for Active Transportation in the 2012 Draft RTP/SCS is not available until after 2026.  We feel that this is too long to wait for the benefits of active transportation.

What you can do:
  1. Read the these talking points on our blog.
  2. Attend one of the upcoming SCAG Regional Council Meetings (March 1 or March 21).
  3. Contact Your Regional Council Member and express your support for Active Transportation.

Thursday, March 1, 2012
9:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Regional Council and Policy Committees Meeting
SCAG Los Angeles Board Room

Wednesday, March 21, 2012
12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Joint Regional Council and Policy Committees RTP/SCS Special Workshop
SCAG Los Angeles Board Room
Available also via Videoconference

Thanks again to all of you who signed our comment letter!
Rye Baerg

The Delta 101: Of Levees, Canals & Whiskey

Friday, February 24, 2012

STREETS for PEOPLE - SILVER LAKE PLAZA :: Urban Greening / Plant Donation

A Call for Volunteers and Plant Donations

Los Angeles’ pilot pedestrian plaza will open in March of 2012 and will be located in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. The one block of Griffith Park Blvd. (between Sunset Blvd., Maltman Ave. and Edgecliffe Dr.) will be converted into a pedestrian plaza named “Sunset Triangle Plaza”. The periphery of the plaza will be lined with potted planters and the space will contain moveable tables and chairs and a playfully decorated street surface.

The plaza has been developed by the City of Los Angeles and Streets for People (S4P). The mission of Streets For People (S4P) is to inexpensively repurpose underused portions of streets, changing them into vibrant public spaces, and turning streets for cars into streets for people.

We are looking for donations of plants that will fill the space as well as volunteers to help with the planting. Specifically we are looking for green, native, drought tolerant plants. Our wish list includes: Leymus Condensatus "Canyon Prince", 
Agave Attenuata "Fox Tale Agave", Senecio Cylindricus "Narrow Leaf Chalksticks", Aeonium Species "Green Aeonium", Lantana "New Gold", Lavandula "Goodwin Creek Grey Lavender", Phlomus Fruticosa "Jerusalem Sage" and Cassia Leptophulla "Gold Medallion Tree"
DATE/TIME: Plant donations can be dropped off to Micheltorena Elementary School Garden (1511 Micheltorena St.) 
 on Saturday February 25th from 10am-2pm. Volunteering activities will be located at 1523 Griffith Park Boulevard on Friday, March 2nd from 10am - 2pm and Saturday, March 3rd from 2-6pm. 
LOCATION: PLANT DONATIONS: Micheltorena Elementary School Garden, 1511 Micheltorena St., Los Angeles. VOLUNTEERING: 1523 Griffith Park Boulevard, Los Angeles.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rail~Volution 2012 Call for Speakers Open!

Call for Speakers

Rail~Volution 2012

October 14-17, 2012
Building Livable Communities with Transit

Los Angeles, CA

Rail~Volution is a national movement: It is a transformation in the way we live, led by people from all perspectives dedicated to creating healthy, economically vibrant, socially equitable and environmentally sustainable communities with transit.

Rail~Volution is an event, a network, and an organization: Since 1995, it has been a driving force in the livability movement. Every year, people come together in a transit-rich community to participate in workshops, charrettes, networking events and toolbox sessions. Last year in Washington, DC, over 1,100 people attended.

Rail~Volution 2012 is in Los Angeles, California: The Los Angeles metropolitan area provides a showcase of transportation and livability choices and challenges applicable to communities across the nation, including fully integrated bus and core rail systems, communities rekindled by transit-oriented design, and a successful county funding measure, allowing Metro to nearly double its existing rail and rapid transit system.  The region's diversity, both in terms of demographics and types of communities being transformed, provides a glimpse into the future for other US regions and cities of all sizes.    

Rail~Volution 2012 is seeking speakers:  We want the people who will lead the movement -- people who can best share the stories that will educate, provoke and inspire conference attendees through toolbox sessions, panel presentations, and workshops.  We are calling on a wide range of speakers with a variety of experiences and backgrounds, whose work supports and furthers our mission of building livable communities with transit.

If you are one of those people, we want to hear from you!

Proposal Deadline: March 30, 2012.

Call DetailsThis year we are focusing on three categories for more than 60 sessions: Rail~Volution Fundamentals, In-Depth Topics and New Ideas. We are seeking speakers representing a broad array of private firms and public agencies, and non-profits and disciplines ranging from transit and development to advocacy and government.

  • Rail~Volution Fundamentals: these are topics that are at the heart of building livable communities with transit.  We want speakers who are experts in their fields and can communicate basic concepts using original examples in a variety of settings, on different scales and in a range of situations
  • In-Depth Topics: this is a place where speakers can delve deep into subject matter, bringing in-depth examples to life and crafting them into useful, meaningful lessons
  • New Ideas: this category provides the opportunity for speakers to address urgent and timely topics, such as job creation, energy and the economy, as well as the next evolving problems we need to solve

Visit today to read the full Call for Speakers description and submit a proposal to speak!

For information on sponsorships or the conference’s trade show, please call 800.788.7077 or email

If you prefer not to receive emails from Rail~Volution please Click here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

AIA/LA Mayoral Candidate Forum - Perry offers vision for Jobs, Homes, Mobility, Families

CityWatch reports and provides perspective on the issues that face us in Los Angeles at the neighborhood level. 
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CityWatch LA
February 18, 2012

LA’s Architectural elite engage Councilwoman Jan Perry in the first of five AIA/LA Mayoral Candidate Forums

A candid conversation offers architects, city staffers, and community activists an opportunity to hear the candidate talk about mobility, civic engagement, megaprojects, the demise of the CRA and the legacy of Mayor Villaraigosa

In a city where land use issues fracture neighborhoods and frighten politicians, Bill Roschen, President of LA’s Planning Commission, and Christopher Hawthorne, Architecture Critic for the LA Times, demonstrated diplomatic skills as they moderated a peaceful discussion with Jan Perry that included density, developers, and affordable housing.

“This forum exceeded our expectations,” said Will Wright, Government & Public Affairs Director of the AIA/LA, “and I’m pleased that we were able to establish that the mayoral candidates must demonstrate a plan for holding the many agencies and authorities accountable for their projects in Los Angeles.”

Wright went on to explain that it is impossible for the architectural community to take responsibility for making LA more beautiful and economically robust if the largest developers in the city, the LAUSD and Metro, are allowed to operate independently.

Perry was challenged to articulate her vision and her plan for making it happen and she didn’t skip a beat, stating confidently “I put people to work, I produce homes they can afford, I give them mobility options, I create neighborhoods where they can raise families, where their kids can attend good schools, and where they can enjoy the quality of life they deserve.”

In lieu of offering a plan for making it happen, Perry simply pointed at her track record, beginning with her  Planning and Land Use Deputy role early in her public service career to her recent accomplishments funding large projects and building small parkletts.

City Watch LA has video of the entire two hour evening along with highlights that feature Perry discussing the demise of the CRA and the potential of Neighborhood Councils.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is the voice of the architecture profession, dedicated to serving and empowering its members through advocacy, educational and outreach programs as well as educating the public on the value and importance of architecture.

City Watch LA is LA’s opinion, news and information website and newsletter.  CityWatch reports and provides perspective on the issues that face us in Los Angeles at the neighborhood level.  Our mission is to promote and facilitate civic engagement and neighborhood empowerment, and to hold area government and its politicians accountable.  


Los Angeles Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry talks about the demise of the CRA and the resulting opportunities, "It's like cutting off your arm or your leg."
Los Angeles Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry discusses the relevance of neighborhood councils on land use issues - "You put money and people together, it becomes a different framework."

For more information contact:

Nathalia Morales-Evanks

AIA Com Director


Copyright © 2012 LA City Works, All rights reserved.
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Friday, February 17, 2012

The AIA|LA ADVOCACY REPORT - February 17, 2012

February 17, 2012
from the desk of Will Wright , Hon. AIA|LA
Director, Government & Public Affairs

This report is written in effort to keep the AIA|LA membership updated on the various efforts I've been involved with on behalf of the organization.  It's a call to action to inspire more architects to provide the leadership to improve the built environment.  

+ The AIA|LA Mayoral Candidates Forums 

As a city, how shall we select our next Mayor? What criteria will we use to analyze their leadership capacity?

For the next five Friday nights we're interviewing mayoral candidates about their strategies to lead our city into a future that might quite possibly be vastly different then how it is today. For the better, or for the worse - we don't know. To broker that transition and to make certain we're investing in changes that will improve the quality of life for all Angelenos, we'd like to ask each mayoral candidate to describe their vision and their design priorities.

We'd like to discuss:

  • Each mayoral candidate's specific vision for the future of Los Angeles
  • Mayoral leadership to exert influence on the way other public agencies impact the built environment (LAUSD, METRO, LA County, etc)
  • Mayoral leadership to exert influence on key private sector projects that greatly impact the City of LA
  • The mportance of architecture and design, as it relates to the economic performance of the city
  • The connection between architecture and urbanism (the space in between buildings and how buildings relate to each other)

While Environmental and economic sustainability, resource conversation, enhanced mobility and access, community health, social justice and planning for complete communities are all integral tenets of architecture, the Mayoral Candidate forum is a chance to dig deeper into the philosophy of the candidates. The forum is meant as an opportunity for each candidate to declare their vision for the future of Los Angeles and describe a path for how we get there.

To register for each of the mayoral forums CLICK HERE.


Nat Gale and Dan Caroselli from the Mayor's Office of Economic and Business Policy have invited me to participated in a TOD cabinet charged with prioritizing tactics to ensure that development standards around transit are more strategically coordinated between the City of LA and Metro.  My initial comments were as such:
  • Everyone should comment on the proposed additions to CEQA guidelines implementing SB226. The proposal sets forth a streamlined CEQA review process for infill projects and contains performance standards that will determine an infill project’s eligibility for streamlined review. 2/23 at 1pm Ronald Reagan State Building Auditorium, 300 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013
  • Look at urban design guidelines for within a TOD, especially around parking
  • Analyze the relationship between LID and TOD and where trade-offs can occur.
  • Look at building and land typology and make sure we are attracting the types of businesses that attract the types of employees we want to foster (i.e. live / work or light industrial instead of the typical TOD predominance of low-paying retail jobs).
As more progress is made with this cabinet, I will keep you update.  In the meanwhile, if you have suggestions for how to improve the social and economic performance TOD's, then reach out to me with your ideas so that I can share them with the Mayor's office.

+ S.C.A.G.'s Regional Transportation Plan

On Tuesday, February 14th, AIA|LA submitted a letter to S.C.A.G. encouraging them to adopt the Envision 2 alternative of the 2012 - 2035 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy.  The Envision 2 option will foster smart growth land use and housing patterns to achieve superior environmental results in air quality, aesthetics, open space and farmland preservation, water conservation, greenhouse gas emissions reductions, mobility, and land use.

We also reiterated our recommendations for SCAG to prioritize active transportation policies in the plan.

In response to the process of developing recommendations for SCAG, we've launched a blog that we hope will inspire more architects to get involved with regional transportation planning.  

If you'd like to get more involved, email me and I will add you as contributor to the blog.  As an architect, your voice matters!  

The Mural Ordinance

On February 7th, I attended a panel discussion that City Planner Tanner Blackman organized along with Daniel Lahoda of LaLa Gallery about the proposed draft of the citywide MURAL ORDINANCE.  Artists Shepard Fairey and Saber were also on the panel and gave their candid assessment of the ordinance.  For the most part, everyone feels that this ordinance is a positive first step in the right direction to allow more art to happen in the public realm.    The Mural Ordinance will appear in front of the Cultural Affairs Commission and then on to the Planning Commission for additional consideration.

If you have interest in getting involved, then send me an email and I will introduce you to the City Planner that is managing the process.

+ Updating the City of Los Angeles Zoning Code

On February 15th, City Planners Erick Lopez and David Olivo presented MORE PLANNING, LESS REACTING: a proposal to comprehensively revise the City's zoning code.  The last comprehensive revision to the city's code occurred in 1946!  The proposed plan is to create a hybrid code that integrates the values of USE, FORM, and ORIENTATION (UFO).  Essentially, it would enable us a city to re-priotize the values that we want to regulate/ encourage.  To clarify, a revised zoning code wouldn't necessarily upzone or downzone specific parcels willynilly.  Rather, it would create a new set of classifications (based on Use, Form and Orientation) that would then be used to describe either the current condition or the future potential of a specific parcel of land. 

A revised zoning code would:
1.  provide more clarity.
2.  Facilitate better place-making possibilities.
3.  streamline the entitlement process by consolidating all the various clearances needed into more concise sections of the code.
4. saves taxpayers money by reducing the amount of paperwork and resources needed to process cases.

Right now, we need more  people encourage City Council through its annual budgeting process to prioritize revising the zoning code.  As you may recall, in 2011 as part of our annual AIA|LA Legislative Day at City Hall, we called on our Councilmembers to INVEST IN UPDATED ZONING CODE. Now is the time to provide the support to help push this agenda forward.  Contact Councilmember Paul Krekorian, the chair of the Budget & Finance Committee and  advocate for the importance of prioritizing the city's budget so that we can invest in revised zoning code.

+ CEQA Reform

On February 23rd (1:00pm) there is a public workshop on CEQA Guidelines Update for Infill Streamlining (SB 226) to discuss the proposed "performance standards that will be used to determine an infill project's eligibility for streamlined review."  This is you chance as an LA-based architect to weigh in on which projects we should be facilitating in effort to make our city more economically and environmentally sustainable.  The workshop is at the Ronal Reagan Building, Auditorium, 300 South Spring St, Los Angeles, CA  90013

REMINDER - DEADLINE to receive comments is February 24:
Over the past several months, along with Mark Christian, I've been coordinating a series of conference calls with various land-use experts about ideas for how to reform CEQA to streamline urban infill development.  This has led to strengthening the connection between AIA|CC and the Governor's Office of Planning & Research.  On January 25th, the Governor released his draft performance guidelines for what types of urban infill projects will may qualify under SB 226 (Simitian) for streamlined review.   The deadline for comments on this draft is February 24, 2012. Comments can be e-mailed to 

For 2012, in my capacity as the Public Affairs Director for AIA|LA, I am involved with the following efforts:

+ The LA County BizFed Board of Directors - along with Leron Gubler of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, I am serving as the co-chair of the Polling & Research Committee
+ ClimatePlan - serving on the Steering Committee to develop their Strategic Plan
+ BOMA-PAC - Public Member of the Board
+ Mobility 21 - member of the 2012 Steering Committee
+ 2012 Rail-Volution - member of the Steering Committee
+ City of Los Angeles Mobility & Circulation Element - member of the Public Outreach Task Force
+ Fifty Years of Historic Preservation in Los Angeles - member of the Exhibition and Reception Committee

For more information, please contact:

Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA
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