How Will AI Affect Urban Development in LA?

The Westside Urban Forum Proudly Presents:

Friend or Foe: How will AI affect urban development in LA?

Thursday, March 21st, 2024
Helms Design Center

7:45 am - 9:30 am PDT

Panel from 8:30 am - 9:30 am
Doors open at 7:45 for registration, breakfast and networking.

Read our Speaker Bios Here!

In 2024, we find ourselves suddenly navigating the dynamics brought about by the swift proliferation of applied artificial intelligence. It has changed the conversation around inspired creativity, technical prowess, and even experience itself - nothing seems to be immune to the reach of AI-powered techniques.

At the same time, our most urgent societal challenge is ensuring shelter for our unsheltered and housing insecure neighbors. Could AI technologies help us to accelerate development of housing for Los Angeles? Does AI help us to make better informed choices in urban planning? Is a rapid visualization of design concepts building a stronger community engagement? What are the opportunities that AI technologies offer - and what are the potential risks?

Join us on March 21 as our panelists bring diverse perspectives on the issue through their work in government, public policy, venture capital, startups, housing development, and urban design. Our question to them was this: Does Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning offer us a path to improve urban development? Come find out what the leading minds have to say.


Dylan Emmett, Partner- Fifth Wall
Gregory Kajszo - Innovation Project Manager / City of Glendale, CA
Matthew Thompson- Developer / Symmetric Properties
Melvin Williams, Regional Practice Technology Leader- West, HKS

Shazeda Ahmed - Post Doc Researcher / UCLA / Moderator

Registration Fees
$50 Members
$65 Non-Members
$10 Student Members & Retired Members
$15 Student Non-Members & Retired Non-Members

Pre-registration closes on Wednesday, January 10th.  After Wednesday, January 10th, onsite registration will be available at the cost of an additional $10.  No refunds or credits will be provided after this day. 

Event Time
7:45 am - 9:30 am
7:45 am - Registration & Light Breakfast
8:15 am - Panel Discussion

2024 Westside Mayors Panel

2024 Annual Westside Mayors Forum

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Click Here to read our Speaker Bios!


WUF is proud to present our Annual Westside Mayors Forum, bringing together mayors of the Westside cities for a discussion of their land use priorities for 2024 and the ways cities are responding to pressing and long-term issues. 


In 2024, our mayors will face a myriad of civic issues, including the ever-present need to advance social and racial equity.  We’ll be sure to discuss a variety of topics and touch on each city’s efforts to:

  • Manage the growing trend of pre-emption of local authority;
  • Implement federal funds awarded through programs such as the American Rescue Plan, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Inflation Reduction Act;
  • Focus on local sustainability, including reducing emissions, and addressing water insecurity and stormwater management;
  • Prepare for major upcoming international events including the FIFA World Cup in 2026 and Olympics in 2028;
  • Tackle homelessness and collaborate with federal and local partners on initiatives aimed at reducing homelessness and increasing access to safe and affordable housing;
  • Address a large inventory of vacant office and commercial spaces, balancing the long-term need for commercial office space with the immediate need for workforce and affordable housing;
  • Address historic inequity and doing right by communities displaced by freeways and urban renewal; and
  • Improve transit service and boost ridership.


Join us for breakfast and to hear directly from our mayors on February 15th!



Participating Mayors

  • Mayor Phil Brock, City of Santa Monica
  • Mayor John M. Erickson, City of West Hollywood
  • Mayor Julian Gold M.D., City of Beverly Hills
  • Mayor Yasmine-Imani McMorrin, City of Culver City



  • Jimmy Biblarz, Attorney, Munger Tolles & Olson, LLP and Lecturer, UCLA School of Law

Members Only Tour of the (W)rapper Tower

Friday, January 19th, 2024
12:00 PM- 1:30 PM

Thank you to all who attended.
Please enjoy some photos from the tour!


Be among the first to tour (W)rapper, the new iconic Culver City project from Eric Owen Moss. This 16-story office tower utilizes an innovative “exoskeleton” structural system, allowing for a column-free interior with unprecedented views of the surrounding City. Adjacent to Metro’s E-line and just a short walk away from both the La Cienega/Jefferson station and Cumulus tower, (W)rapper is at the heart of a busy and thriving new neighborhood. The tour will be hosted by Dolan Daggett, Project Director at Eric Owen Moss Architects, and Amie Nulman, Associate Principal at ARUP and the project’s head structural engineer.


A Conversation with Supervisor Lindsay Horvath

A Conversation with Supervisor Lindsay Horvath

Thursday, January 11th, 2024
Helms Design Center

7:45 am - 9:30 am PDT

Panel from 8:30 am - 9:30 am
Doors open at 7:45 for registration, breakfast and networking.

Read our Speaker Bios Here!


In 2022, voters in Los Angeles County’s 3rd Supervisorial District - which encompasses the Westside - elected Lindsay P. Horvath to the Board of Supervisors. Succeeding Sheila Kuehl, Horvath assumed office after serving as a City Councilmember and the longest consecutively-serving Mayor for the City of West Hollywood. In December 2023, she became chair of the Board.

On Thursday, January 11, join the Westside Urban Forum for a conversation with Supervisor Horvath, moderated by former West Hollywood Councilmember John D'Amico. The conversation will cover current topics facing the third supervisorial district and beyond:


  • What has been the regional approach to homelessness and how has it evolved?
  • How is the County supporting arts and culture on the Westside, and what more needs to be done?
  • What are the greatest challenges and opportunities for transit-oriented development locally?
  • How must the region adapt for the future - bearing in mind the Olympics, climate change, and evolving nature of technology and the economy? 


Supervisor Horvath has already made history with a number of historic firsts: she is the youngest woman and first millennial to be elected to the Boardof Supervisors, the youngest chair of the Board, and currently is the only renter to serve on the Board - bringing a much-needed perspective to LA County leadership. Having campaigned on solutions to homelessness, public safety, reproductive freedom, and environmental sustainability, Supervisor Horvath is positioned to deliver for a much larger constituency that includes the Westside and beyond. The third supervisorial district includes nearly two million residents and 431 square miles of land stretching from the Pacific Ocean to Los Feliz, and from Venice to San Fernando.

The Westside Urban Forum is pleased to welcome Supervisor Horvath for a candid discussion with our membership, kicking off our 2024 programs.

John D'Amico, 
UCLA Capital Programs - Principal Project Manager, 2001 - present; Former member of the West Hollywood City Council, 2011 - 2022

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.













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

Thursday, November 16th, 2023
Helms Design Center

7:45 AM - 9:30 AM PDT

Panel from 8:30 am - 9:30 am
Doors open at 7:45 for registration, breakfast and networking.

Read our Speaker Bios Here!

RSVP Required!

During Mayor Karen Bass's inaugural week as Los Angeles' leader, she introduced Executive Directive 1 (ED 1), a groundbreaking policy aimed at expediting the construction of affordable housing and shelters in the city. The initiative, successful in reducing the approval time for such projects from over six months to a mere 37 days, has been hailed as a pivotal move in the city's fight against its housing crisis. It has resulted in a surge in project applications, with over 4,000 units proposed in the first six months alone. The greater approval certainty and flexible incentives have made many more 100% deed-restricted affordable projects feasible, and they have unlocked the private market: many ED 1 proposals are from for-profit developers that do not require public financing.

The policy has not been without controversy. When first enacted, certain single family zoned parcels were eligible for streamlining affordable multifamily projects. Although the directive was amended to rescind this eligibility, project applications that were submitted before the change are in a state of limbo, hotly contested between developers, housing advocates, neighborhood groups, and the City.

Nevertheless, the City is now seeking to enshrine key tenets of ED 1 into law to ensure its longevity and continued positive effect on the housing landscape of Los Angeles. Many housing advocates would like to ensure that the permanent Affordable Housing Streamlining Ordinance continues to unlock the full potential of affordable housing development, while others have flagged the need to avoid unintended consequences such as the displacement of existing tenants.

Join the Westside Urban Forum as we delve deep into the aspirations and implications of ED 1, as well as its proposed codification into the Affordable Housing Streamlining Ordinance. With homelessness and housing affordability reaching critical levels, ED 1 aims to streamline the development process, but what challenges lie ahead? Join us to understand, debate, and envision the future of Los Angeles housing.



Scott Epstein, Policy and Research Director, Abundant Housing LA

Kevin J. Keller, AICP, Senior Advisor, Office of Mayor Karen Bass

Ben Lee, Broker, Marcus & Millichap


Nancy Barba, Planning Commissioner, City of Culver City


Registration Fees
$50 Members
$65 Non-Members
$10 Student Members & Retired Members
$15 Student Non-Members & Retired Non-Members

Pre-registration closes on Wednesday, November 15th.  After Wednesday, November 15th, onsite registration will be available at the cost of an additional $10.  No refunds or credits will be provided after this day. 

Event Time
7:45 am - 9:30 am
7:45 am - Registration & Light Breakfast
8:15 am - Panel Discussion

The Helms Design Center is located at the Helms Bakery campus at 8745 Washington Boulevard in Culver City. 

Avoid the stress of rush hour and skip traffic!  The Helms Design Center at 8745 Washington Blvd in Culver City is conveniently located a short, pleasant walk from a number of transit lines, including:

  • Metro Rail “E” (Expo) Line Culver City Station (1 block west at Washington and National Blvds), and
  • Culver City Bus “1” and “1C1” lines (at the adjacent Washington Blvd/Helms Avenue street corner). 

Protected bike lanes along Washington Blvd. connecting to Culver City’s larger bike lane network also provide a convenient, safe way to get to the Design Center. 

For those who choose to drive, parking is available in the adjacent interior parking garage at 8711 Washington Blvd (look for the red banners), or there is parking available throughout the Helms Bakery complex.
Parking Map

Sponsor Provided Tickets
Thanks to the generosity of our annual Sponsors, WUF has a small number of free tickets available to members of the community.  If you are not able to join as a member or purchase a ticket for this month's panel presentation, but would like to join us, please write us at info@westsideurbanforum to inquire if we have any remaining sponsor provided tickets. 

As a non-profit organization we are dependent upon donations in order to continue our monthly programming.  Please keep this in mind when registering for this event; we appreciate contributions of any amount.

The 2023 California Legislative Roundup: Insights into Sacramento

Thursday, October 19th, 2023
Helms Design Center

Read our Speaker Bios Here!

In recent years, the California legislature has become increasingly bold about wielding the power of state law to address the housing crisis and other land use matters. This year, the legislature yet again considered dozens of bills with major impacts on planning and development statewide and, especially, in urban areas like Los Angeles. It is sending the vast majority of them to the governor's desk, for signature or veto by October 14. This year's session was marked by bills addressing critical issues such as housing, CEQA reform, single-stairway buildings, independent redistricting for the Los Angeles City Council, orphaned oil and gas wells, limits on water usage, and a speeding cameras pilot program. 


Join us for an engaging and informative panel discussion to review the significant legislation passed--and not passed--in the 2023 session. This event aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the latest legislative changes and their impact on our communities and cities. Whether you are a government official, urban planner, developer, or community advocate, this discussion is essential for understanding how recent legislation will impact your work and our communities.


Justin Adams, Senior Economist, LAEDC Institute for Applied Economics
Matthew Glesne, Senior City Planner, Los Angeles City Planning
Konstantin Hatcher, Senior Director of Community Impact, CA YIMBY
Alex DeGood, Land Use Attorney, Cox Castle Nicholson

Elisa Paster, Managing Partner, Rand Paster Nelson

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

Thursday, September 28th, 2023
Helms Design Center

Read our Speaker Bios Here!

7:45 am - 9:15 am PDT

Panel from 8:15 am - 9:15 am*NOTE the earlier start to accommodate the council member’s schedule*
Doors open at 7:45 for registration, breakfast and networking.

Last year, voters in Los Angeles’s 5th City Council District considered a slate of city council candidates who all marked a changing of the guard. The most recent in a long line of (all male) councilmembers from the Baby Boom era, Paul Koretz had represented the district for over 13 years before being termed out. In his place, Katy Young Yaroslavsky emerged victorious. 

Though Yaroslavsky’s last name has been familiar to Angelenos since the 1970s, Katy--the daughter-in-law of Zev--is a relative newcomer to city politics and brings a vision very different from that of her successor. CD 5 has historically been cautious about new development, while Councilmember Yaroslavsky acknowledged the city’s housing crisis on the campaign trail and has expressed a willingness to welcome new homes to her district. And, being in the heart of the Westside, touching three of the Westside’s smaller cities, she represents a district that is a fulcrum for much of the city’s activity -- including higher education (UCLA), business (Century City), and transportation (subway extension). 

The Westside Urban Forum is pleased to welcome Councilmember Yaroslavsky for a candid discussion with longtime journalist and civic observer Warren Olney, formerly of KCRW.

California's Duplex Revolution: Unpacking SB9, the California HOME Act

California's Duplex Revolution:
Unpacking SB 9, The California HOME Act

Thursday, July 20th, 2023
Helms Design Center

7:45 am - 9:30 am PST

Panel from 8:30 am - 9:30 am
Doors open at 7:45 for registration, breakfast and networking.

Read our Speaker Bios Here!

In 2021, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 9, which, according to the bill's strongest advocates and detractors alike, outlawed single-family zoning throughout California. The reality is a bit more subtle and complex. SB 9 permits homeowners--in most, but not all communities--to subdivide or redevelop their homes into duplexes, and it allows them to split their lots, potentially generating four units. While housing advocates cheer the potential to add density to communities and reduce the primacy of single-family homes, SB 9 has, thus far, been seldom used. It presents major challenges to homeowners (especially compared to ADUs), and many cities have been slow to draft and adopt guidelines. 

With over a half-million single-family lots, Los Angeles could add hundreds of thousands of units through SB 9. But, how many will it actually add? And at what cost and by what processes? Can "mom and pop" successfully become mini-developers, or will SB 9 conversions be left to speculators and developers? Please join WUF this month to discuss the promise and challenges of California's (potential) duplex revolution. 

Ross Fehrman, Senior Planner, City of Santa Monica
Daniel Gehman, Principal, Danielian Associates Architects + Planners
Seth Philips, Founder, ADU Gold 
Sean Phillips, Co-Founder, Homestead 

Thea Trindle, Principle Planner, Los Angeles Dept. of City Planning 

Getting Transit Back on Track



7:45 AM - 9:30 AM PST

Panel from 8:30 am - 9:30 am
Doors open at 7:45 for registration, breakfast and networking.

Read our Speaker Bios Here!

Los Angeles County transit agencies are investing billions in new bus and rail infrastructure and services. Two new rail lines have opened on the Westside in the past ten years, with more to come. However, transit ridership is trending in the opposite direction. Ridership on the Los Angeles Metro system is down by approximately one third from pre-pandemic levels. Reasons include everything from work-from-home to increased crime and vagrancy, reduced service hours, and increased vehicle headways. And things could get even worse, as decreased farebox recovery and expiring pandemic emergency funds apply even more pressure to reduce levels of service. If Angelenos avoid the train and bus, opting for personal vehicles and Zoom, what does that mean for Los Angeles? Regionwide goals for reducing pollution and increasing transit-oriented development, walkability, and housing production are all at stake.

At WUF this month, LA Metro officials and transit advocates will survey the challenges facing Metro and other transit service providers. Join us for a panel discussion on ways to maintain transit service, attract riders, and make the most of the crucial infrastructure and civic amenity that the Los Angeles region needs.