Monday, June 18, 2012

AB 904 :: An excellent opportunity for a smart debate

Hi Will,

I agree, a SMART debate is useful.  Here’s a response from the planning division/local government perspective:

I can understand how there would be disappointment that the CA APA does not always advocate for more progressive policies.  The City of Glendale has already adopted reduced parking standards for our downtown area.  However, I don’t believe they go as far as AB 904 which DOES represent a dramatic reduction, particularly for residential projects.

That having been said, as an urban designer and architect working in a planning department, I absolutely understand the trepidation of “one size fits all” mandates from the state.  Often while state mandates are well-intentioned, they are often poorly written and are difficult to apply to every jurisdiction.  I noticed the “fact sheet” you sent states that local jurisdictions can exempt themselves by adopting one of four findings.  While that may be true (and the bill would have to be corrected to make that a true statement) cities are not in the habit of rejecting state standards.

More importantly, please also understand the practical and political context of local government and policy-making in California, particularly Southern California.  Planners are caught between best practice, which is usually progressive and sustainable policies, and the expectations and demands from the public.  As you know, the most “progressive” communities can often be the most regressive from a planning perspective.  (I both  on the west side where additional density and reduced parking standards are especially opposed by the vast majority of the public.  Even Berkeley has become NIMBY of late, opposing rapid bus lines, etc.)

Additionally, it’s probably also clear that every city and most planning departments are experiencing deep cuts and substantial layoffs.  That doesn’t mean the community will ask for less time and attention.  New regulation always takes time and effort.  And reducing parking requirements is a hot-button political issue.  Yes, it may be helpful by making it less expensive for developers.  But will there be fewer cars?  Probably not.  In the end, will it push the demand and responsibility for shared parking to municipal government, already starved of resources?  Probably.

Again, I’m all for reduced parking requirements.  But these are the kinds of changes that need to be done thoughtfully, with sensitivity to the local social, political and economic environment.


Stephanie Reich, AIA, LEED AP

Senior Urban Designer

Community Development Department

City of Glendale 

633 E. Broadway, Room 103

Glendale, CA 91206


818.240.0392 f

From: Will Wright []
Sent: Friday, June 15, 2012 4:15 PM
To: DesignAdvocate Posterous
Cc: Will Wright
Subject: AB 904 :: An excellent opportunity for a smart debate

I'm interested in curating a public/ virtual debate about how statewide parking policy reform can most effectively help to revitalize the urban core of our cities. Below, is a candydish of input including a rebuttal response to APA California.

Please contact me with your direct input if you're interested in contributing to the discussion.   I will post your remarks to the DESIGN ADVOCATE blog. 

All best,

Will Wright

Director, Government 7 Public Affairs

AIA Los Angeles

The League of Cities and Cal APA are NOT Accurately Representing AB 904

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