2023 Year in Review

December 20, 2023

2023 Year in Review

Dear Members and Friends of the Westside Urban Forum (WUF),

Around this time last year, I took a seat in the Microsoft Theater and watched the star-studded inauguration ceremony for Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and other newly elected officials. Listening to the performances of Stevie Wonder and Amanda Gorman, it was impossible not to feel optimistic that Los Angeles - both city and region - was about to change for the better. Mayor Bass called upon the entire region to “lock arms” to address homelessness; she said that rather than pointing fingers, we should come together to find solutions.

In our own modest and nonpartisan way, WUF responded to the call to action. 2023 was the year that housing issues dominated our discussions and debates, as we welcomed elected officials, city staff, advocates, attorneys, designers and developers to present solutions from a variety of perspectives. The housing-related acronyms discussed by our panelists this year included Measure ULA, SB 9, and ED 1 - to name but a few! All told, we welcomed 530 people to WUF panels and events this year.

In March of this year, I had the distinct pleasure of taking over the role of Board President, following three years of service from Ellen Castillo and Greg Rodgers who bravely shepherded our place-based organization through a pandemic that limited our interactions to a virtual environment. Ellen and Greg have been instrumental to WUF’s resilience, and they put us on sound financial footing as we returned to full in-person programming this year - thank you for bringing us to where we are today.

As an all-volunteer board with a modest budget, WUF is dedicated to providing programs and events at the leading edge of land use dialogue on the Westside. 2023 has been a year of experimentation, as we tried to make adjustments that respond to our post-pandemic norms and priorities. Perhaps some of these adjustments worked better than others; we’re certainly open to suggestions (I also hope you will consider joining or renewing a WUF membership)!

With that said, please enjoy this inaugural year-in-review summary of the activities of the Westside Urban Forum. Happy holidays to you and your family, and I hope to see you in the new year.


Chris Rhie
Board President
Westside Urban Forum

2023 Panels

Our signature events are our monthly breakfast panels, where we invite thought leaders from across Los Angeles to discuss and debate the issues affecting land use and livability on the Westside. We had a stellar year of programs in our first full year back in person, addressing the hottest topics in urban development. Veteran members will recall that WUF panels used to take place on Fridays at 8am; we’ve shifted to Thursdays at 8:30am in response to member feedback about post-pandemic schedules. Panels generally take place on the third Thursday of each month (excepting August and December).


Jan 19

California’s Brave New World of Parking

Feb 23

2023 Annual Westside Mayors Forum

Mar 23

Intended Taxes & Unintended Consequences: Measure ULA’s Real Estate Transfer Tax

Apr 27

Digging into Mayor Bass’s State of the City Address: Goals, Challenges and Accomplishments

May 18

Al Fresco Dining in the Public Right-of-Way: Whose Space Is It?

Jun 29

Getting Transit Back on Track

Jul 20

California’s Duplex Revolution: Unpacking SB 9, the California HOME Act

Sep 28

A Conversation with Katy Young Yaroslavsky: A New Generation Takes Over in Council District 5

Oct 19

The California Legislative Roundup: Insights into Sacramento

Nov 16

Housing on the Fast Track: The Impact of Executive Directive 1

Special Events

In addition to our monthly panel events, the WUF board organizes a number of member-only events each year, including project tours and member mixers. Notably, we took a year off from the Westside Prize event, with our volunteer board members requiring a break from its intense requirements. We held a more casual celebration of the annual Design Awards at Santa Monica Brew Works.


Mar 31

Members Only Tour: The Beehive by SoLa Impact

May 31

Special Event: NL Circular Urban Development Cluster

Jul 27

Special Event: An Evening of Urbanism with Frances Anderton & Josh Stephens

Aug 17

Members Only Mixer: Summer Happy Hour with Westside for Everyone

Sep 8

Members Only Tour: LA Metro Regional Connector Station Art and Architecture Tour

Nov 8

WUF 2023 Design Awards Celebration


Board of Directors

This year was marked by a changing of the guard on our Board of Directors, as we bid farewell to five Board members and welcomed nine new colleagues. Thank you very much to Adam Christian, Joe Eyen, Ellen Isaacs, David Maestres, and April Sandifer for your volunteer service! You have left some very big shoes to fill. Evolving into a Board Member Emeritus role is Michele McGrath; we look forward to continuing to work with you on the annual Westside Mayors Forum.

Additionally, this year we welcomed a number of new Board members lending fresh perspectives and new energy. We were pleased to welcome Tara Barauskas, Wajenda Chambeshi, Corey Hébert, Adam Light, Jamie Poster Rosenberg, Hagu Solomon-Cary, Tonyel Stewart, Adetokunbo Ayoade, and Aryon Shahidzadeh to our ranks. It’s been wonderful sharing space with you all, and I look forward to our continued collaboration.


A Look Ahead

In early 2024, the WUF Board of Directors is going to be having its first retreat in several years as we take stock of our prior year of experimentation and decide how to build upon the positive. As time allows, you may see some changes as we are revamping our website and making revisions to our member benefits.

By the way, mark your calendars for our upcoming events! We are especially looking forward to the triumphant and hilarious return of the WUFfies - likely around April Fools’ Day (stay tuned).

Jan 11

A Conversation with Supervisor Lindsay Horvath

Jan 19

Members Only Tour: The (W)rapper Building

Feb 1

Theory of Change Film Series with Holos Communities*

Feb 15

2024 Annual Westside Mayors Forum*


WUFfies Awards & Happy Hour* (rescheduled from December)

*registration pages forthcoming


2023 WUF Sponsors

We are incredibly grateful to our sponsors, who allow our small organization to put on the programs and events that engage the Westside of Los Angeles on urban development. One of my favorite attributes of sponsorships is the provision of free registrations to members of the WUF community who would not otherwise be able to attend our events. While we only charge as much as we need to cover costs, we recognize that financial circumstances vary - our sponsors allow us to make our forum as inclusive as possible. Thank you to our 2023 sponsors!

If there are any current sponsors who would like to renew, or potential sponsors who would like to consider supporting WUF, we are offering a 10% discount through December 31, 2023. Click here to the summary of benefits on our website.