California’s Brave New World of Parking

California’s Brave New World of Parking

Thursday January 19th, 2023

Speaker Bios

For at least two decades, advocates and urban planners have decried the overabundance of parking in many cities. Many of the garages, lots, and spaces in Los Angeles exist not necessarily because they are needed but because regulations require them. The passage of Senate Bill 2097 last year nullifies minimum parking requirements across the state, including large swaths of the Los Angeles region. The goal is twofold: give developers more freedom to build housing and discourage overuse of personal vehicles. 

Now developers -- along with financiers, architects, and planners -- get to figure out what to do with their freedom. 

If developers choose to provide less parking, they could, potentially, add more units, experiment with design, and transform entire corridors of the City. This could also set off battles for parking spaces and impose burdens upon neighbors. Please join WUF to discuss whether the relaxation of parking requirements will lead to a development revolution along the major corridors of the Los Angeles region or whether conventional wisdom about car dependency will persist.



Donna Shen Tripp; Vice President/Partner, Craig Lawson & Co.

Hagu Solomon-Cary, AICP; Principal City Planner; Los Angeles City Planning

Patrick Tighe FAIA, FAAR; Principal; Tighe Architecture 

Jim Suhr; Owner, James Suhr & Associates

Builder's Remedy - A Treatment for Housing Shortages?

Builder's Remedy - A Treatment for Housing Shortages?

Friday, November 18th, 2022

Speaker Bios Here

For years many smaller cities in the Los Angeles region have approached development gingerly. Now some of these jurisdictions are facing hundreds to thousands of units by potentially using state laws to overcome restrictive zoning that has limited growth. Santa Monica is facing the addition of as many as 4,000 housing units, Redondo Beach is facing over 2,000 units in one project alone, and Beverly Hills, with at least one application so far, is facing 200 units, with more projects anticipated.  These jurisdictions may encounter an influx of new housing units -- whether they like them or not.

This explosive impending growth comes courtesy of the "Builder's Remedy," an obscure but recently potent provision in state housing law that essentially requires cities to permit new housing developments so long as they provide at least 20% affordable housing if those cities' housing elements fail to meet state approval. Barring a successful legal challenge, those new units are on the way.

Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Redondo Beach are not the only cities in the Los Angeles region that are vulnerable to Builder's Remedy projects. In theory, many more thousands of units could be proposed by assertive and approved by cities under duress. To many housing advocates, the Builder's Remedy is operating exactly as it should, by forcing reluctant cities to accept new housing. To critics, it is an egregious, chaotic state overreach that may lead to thoughtless overdevelopment.

Please join WUF to discuss what the Builder's Remedy is and how it might affect our region.

Dave Rand, Partner, Rand, Paster & Nelson, LLP
Jeff Kiernan, LA County Regional Public Affairs Manager, League of California Cities
Alex Fisch, Culver City Council Member and Attorney in the Natural Resource Law Section of the Attorney General’s Office for the California Department of Justice

Max Dubler, Communications Manager, Abundant Housing LA

BIDs: Representation & Value

BIDs In View: What do Business Improvement Districts do and who do they represent? 

Thursday October 27th, 2022
8:30 am - 9:30 am PST
Helms Design Center

On the Westside and throughout Greater Los Angeles, Business Improvement Districts provide placemaking services to commercial neighborhoods. BIDs are tasked with making their districts cleaner, safer, and more prosperous, and studies show they often succeed. But for BIDs funded by commercial assessments, there can be a tension between the desires and goals of the businesses in the district and those of the broader community. Whom do BIDs serve and whom should BIDs serve? Join WUF as we explore the role played by BIDs in Los Angeles, what they do well, who they represent and what the recent frictions between BIDs and their communities might mean for their future. 



Kathleen Rawson - President and CEO of Hollywood partnership, former Chair of International Downtown Association

Keith Corbin - Business Owner, West Adams BID Board President

Christopher Garcia - City of Los Angeles, Office of the City Clerk - Business Improvement Districts

Dr. Fernando Guerra - Professor of Political Science and International Relations, Loyola Marymount University and Director of the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles



Thomas Aujero Small - President and CEO of Culver City Forward, former Mayor of Culver City

Piece by Piece – Modular Construction’s Future in the LA Region

Piece by Piece – Modular Construction’s Future in the LA Region

Thursday September 22nd, 2022
8:30 am - 9:30 am PST
Helms Design Center

Modular construction has been long promoted as the future of real estate development, but still has yet to widely and significantly break ground for how we build in Los Angeles.  However, with skyrocketing construction costs, a historic housing supply crisis, and advances in technology, is this sector poised to reenter the mainstream and become a widespread method of construction?  As property prices and market rate rents soar, and with affordable housing construction costs regularly exceeding $500,000/unit, governments, community leaders, and real estate professionals are eager to find ways to reduce the cost of building and bring more units to market.  Can modular construction reduce costs and usher in a future of housing abundance? Are city governments and the State welcoming this new technology?  Or are the cost savings not so clear, is implementation easier said than done, and are our building codes and lending practices too rigid to meet this new opportunity?  

Join the Westside Urban Forum as we gather to discuss present and future obstacles for modular construction and explore its potential for transformative change.

Margaux Rotter
, Director of Development, BLVD Hospitality
Lana Cook, Business Development Manager, Prefab Logic
Angela Brooks
, FAIA, Managing Principal, Brooks + Scarpa
Scott Baldridge
, President, Aedis Real Estate Group and Hope Street Development Group Partner

Shane Phillips, Housing Initiative Project Manager, UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies


Extract No More: Phasing Out Oil Drilling in Greater Los Angeles

Extract No More: Phasing Out Oil Drilling in Greater Los Angeles

Thursday July 28, 2022
8:30 am - 9:30 am PST
Helms Design Center

Baldwin Hills Oil Field (Source: The Center for Land Use Interpretation, licensed under an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Creative Commons License)


Oil was first discovered in Los Angeles in 1892, and by the 1920s helped propel California to become the leading oil producer in the United States, accounting for one-quarter of the world’s petroleum output. Alongside real estate, aerospace, and film, the petroleum industry enabled the rapid growth and development of our region. To this day, visitors to Los Angeles International Airport are greeted by the pumpjacks of the Baldwin Hills Oil Field, with many others hidden behind illusory facades.

Oil and gas is no longer the regional economic megalith it once was, but it has straddled Los Angeles with a harmful and unintended consequence: the nation’s largest urban oil field. There are 68 active oil fields in the Los Angeles Basin, and more than 20,000 active, idle, or abandoned oil wells scattered throughout our densely populated urban fabric, many of them within close proximity of homes, schools, parks, and other sensitive land uses. They pose acute risks to human and environmental health via air pollution as well as water and soil contamination, and they disproportionately impact historically Black and Hispanic neighborhoods.

After ten years of community organizing and advocacy by environmental justice groups, including the STAND-L.A. coalition, the City of Los Angeles and County of Los Angeles have committed to phasing out urban oil wells. While it is relatively easy to prevent new wells through land use action, how to close, cap, and remediate the existing and abandoned wells – and how such efforts will be paid for – is a more complicated affair. Additionally, there is the consideration of the jobs that will be displaced and what opportunities exist in a “Just Transition” to a clean energy economy.

On July 28, join the Westside Urban Forum for a panel discussion as we consider how Greater Los Angeles will transition away from fossil fuel extraction, and how these brownfields may be reclaimed for regenerative new land uses.

Confirmed Panelists:

Alison Hahm, Staff Attorney, Communities for a Better Environment

David McNeill, Executive Officer, Baldwin Hills Conservancy

Laura Muraida, Senior Deputy for Environmental Justice, Office of Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell

Nicole Levin, Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign Representative, Sierra Club

Sean Hecht (Moderator), Co-Executive Director, UCLA Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment

Speaker Bios

Los Angeles CD 5 Candidate Roundtable

Los Angeles CD 5 Candidate Roundtable

Friday, April 29, 2022
7:15 AM - 9:00 AM
Helms Design Center

City Council District 5 is gearing up for an election as current Councilmember Paul Koretz finishes his final term. Council District 5 encompasses a number of Westside communities, including Bel Air, Century City, Palms, Pico-Robertson, Westwood, UCLA, and Westside Village, as well as portions of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Come hear the CD5 candidates discuss the compelling issues facing these neighborhoods, and how each candidate would represent the district and make an impact on the city as a whole. Topics will include housing and homelessness, housing, transportation, economic development, and city council governance.

Jimmy Biblarz, Professor, UCLA Law School
Scott Epstein, Public Policy Analyst
Katy Young Yaroslavsky, Environmental Attorney / Mom
Sam Yebri, Non-Profit Director / Small Business Owner

Jody Litvak, Senior Director, Countywide Planning, LA Metro

2022 Annual Westside Mayors Forum

Annual Westside Mayors Forum

Wednesday, February 16, 2022
12:00 PM
via Zoom


WUF is pleased to welcome the Westside Mayors for the annual Mayors Forum! This is a Westside Urban Forum signature event that brings together the Westside Mayors for a candid discussion of each mayor’s priorities for 2022 from a land use perspective and covers different ways each of their cities is responding to current issues. 

In 2022, mayors faced a myriad of issues including the central conflict of land use and social and racial equity and they will be discussing their cities’ efforts to:

  • Implement SB9 (the state requirement that cities allow additional units on lots zoned for single-family use), and SB10 (higher densities allowed near transit), while trying to maintain local land use control;
  • Meet state-required Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) housing unit numbers by providing enough opportunities for housing to be built in their cities; and,
  • Address historic inequity with actions such as Santa Monica’s recent effort to bring back former city residents displaced by freeway and other public construction.

The mayors will talk about their different approaches to addressing ongoing and pandemic-related changes to retail and commercial businesses and land use.  You will hear straight from the mayors whether they think these changes are temporary or here to stay, the potential impacts of these changes to city budgets and what these changes can mean for the character of their cities.

Mayors will discuss how they view tourism in their cities and what their cities are doing to attract visitors, and what efforts are being made to house workers in the hospitality industry.  And they’ll discuss whether pandemic-inspired changes -- such as outdoor dining -- are here to stay.

The Metro Crenshaw-LAX Line and the Regional Connector are set to open later in 2022, with the Purple Line extensions to follow in 2024-2027.   What do these transit improvements mean for each city and what is the outlook and commitment to public transit in a period of reduced ridership but increased need to cut emissions?

Join us to hear directly from the decision makers on these and other 2022 Westside land use topics.



Mayor Robert Wunderlich, City of Beverly Hills

Mayor Daniel Lee, City of Culver City

Mayor Sue Himmelrich, City of Santa Monica

Mayor Lauren Meister, City of West Hollywood



Dr. Fernando Guerra, Professor of Political Science and International Relations, Loyola Marymount University and Director of the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles


AI on LA's Streets: Autonomous Vehicles Are Arriving

AI on LA's Streets: Autonomous Vehicles Are Arriving

Wednesday, December 8, 2021
12:00 PM
via Zoom

Read our Speaker Bios here!

Freeway congestion, toxic pollutants, and long hours spent commuting are the stereotypes associated with mobility and life in Los Angeles. Though we've fortunately seen tremendous progress over the decades, transportation in Los Angeles is evolving rapidly and tomorrow may look much different than today. Emerging technologies, in particular, will leave a profound imprint on that future, and perhaps no technology will be more impactful than autonomous vehicles. 

Autonomous vehicles are already roaming the streets of some US cities, acquiring miles of experience. It’s likely to see such vehicles carrying passengers before year’s end in California as a result of recent permit eligibility from the California Public Utilities Commission. Narrowing our focus to Los Angeles, we can expect to see autonomous vehicle testing before the start of 2022, namely in Santa Monica. 

Addressing autonomous vehicles raises countless questions, both familiar and new. There is at once a great amount of optimism, including the liberation from the steering wheel for people who can’t or don’t want to drive, as well as great pessimism, such as what will happen to our streets and neighborhoods if it becomes even easier to take a trip by car. With fewer owned and more shared vehicles, does that lead to less vehicles on the road resulting in less congestion and less emissions? Or will it have the “Uber effect” of placing even more vehicles on the road, worsening outcomes?

The elephant in the room is safety - for pedestrians, cyclists, passengers, other drivers, and so on. Could artificial intelligence improve upon the current rate of human error? Other important questions include who has access, with consideration of economic, geographic, and personal physical barriers such as mobility impairments. 

We’ll be considering these and other important questions as we prepare for automated vehicles - soon coming to a neighborhood near you. 



Ellie Casson, Head of City Policy and Government Affairs, Waymo

John Yi, Executive Director, Los Angeles Walks

Nina Harvey Schatmeier, Principal, Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates

Kate Kigongo, Senior Innovation Analyst at City of West Hollywood



Justine Johnson, Head of Mobility Engagement, Ford


My Favorite Local Spot Closed! The Future of Local Commercial Places

My Favorite Local Spot Closed!  The Future of Local Commercial Places

Wednesday, November 17, 2021
12:00 PM
via Zoom

Read Speaker Bios Here

We are all looking forward to getting together in person, but where will that be and what kind of place will it be?  We have long been accustomed to identifying neighborhood shopping and entertainment districts as places to gather.  Retail and restaurant businesses, along with personal services, have been crucial anchors of public gathering areas and help provide a sense of place that give our communities their distinctive character.  However, there is no denying that retail is changing, which means our local gathering places are changing.  Throughout the pandemic, the Los Angeles metro area saw significant closures and declines in small businesses.  Long before then, however, the character of the retail and commercial gathering place landscape was changing due to the migration of shopping online.  


What, if anything, is going to fill the empty storefronts we all see, and how will this evolution impact the sense of place within our westside cities and neighborhoods?   Is this an opportunity for under-resourced local business owners and local entrepreneurs to fill these spaces and create a renewed sense of place that serves the needs of residents and stakeholders, or will this just enhance the feelings of gentrification?   What alternative concepts are taking shape to bolster brick and mortar shops competition in the increasingly e-commerce driven marketplace?


Come hear from the people on the ground doing the hard work to create retail/commercial opportunities, support existing shops, fund innovative new local businesses, and help these businesses locate in the many empty commercial spaces - and in so doing, shaping our neighborhoods and revitalizing their unique sense of place.



Darrell Menthe, President, Culver City Downtown Business Association & Partner, Sage Law Partners

Parke Miller, Executive Vice President, LPC West

Ed Sachse, President, Kennedy Wilson Property Services

Seta Zorabian, Regional Manager, Small Business Program, Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC)



Emily Bianchi, Senior Project Designer, JERDE

Eliminating Parking Requirements: Does it Help or Hurt Housing?

Eliminating Parking Requirements: Does it Help or Hurt Housing?

Wednesday, October 27, 2021
12:00 PM
via Zoom

Registration is now closed for this event.

With parking spaces for new development in Los Angeles costing $30,000-$60,000 each to build, many city planners would agree that removing parking requirements from transit-rich areas is good for housing production and sustainability—at least in concept. Recent legislation proposed in the California legislature, like AB 1401, would de-regulate parking requirements for new development near transit and allow developers to determine the number of spaces to provide. So what are the implications for housing development in Los Angeles? Rather than prohibit parking or setting parking maximums, if the goal is to provide planning flexibility and possible cost savings to lure private developers to build more affordable housing, wouldn't 'lighter' parking regulations be the way to go?  

Such proposals have their critics, and not only from neighborhood advocates concerned with traffic, inadequate parking, and overflow parking. A number of affordable housing advocates have raised concerns that such proposals may undermine affordable housing production, since parking reductions are often offered to private developments that incorporate affordable units through the State Density Bonus program and L.A.’s Transit Oriented Communities Program. Local governments also worry that decreased private sector participation in affordable housing development may impact their ability to achieve State-mandated affordable housing production targets—which have increased significantly; current levels of public subsidies are inadequate to fund the number of units needed, increasing cities' reliance on leveraging privately-subsidized mixed-income development.

Join us for a lively discussion of the pros, cons and other perspectives on parking policy, zoning requirements and lenders' points of view on the subject of parking for LA's new mixed-income and affordable housing developments.


Mott Smith, Chairman of the Council of Infill Builders
Amy Anderson, Senior Vice President, Social Impact Lead, Wells Fargo & Company
Mahdi Manji, Public Policy Advocate, Inner City Law Center

Patricia Diefenderfer, AICP, Planning Bureau Manager, City of Long Beach