Will the Updated California Building Code Foster Sustainable Development?

Friday, September 20, 2019

The 2019 California Building Code goes into effect January 1, 2020. Cities across the Westside and the State are analyzing the new legislation, adopting amendments or “reach codes” to supplement the State Code in order to encourage new buildings to use less energy and water, as well as incorporate better construction practices. Meanwhile green building programs such as LEED Certification, Fitwel Certification, and the Living Building Challenge are on the rise. Developers, architects and engineers are developing creative and innovative approaches to implement sustainable design features, materials, and building systems within the constraints of the various codes. But the question remains: do new processes and requirements create bridges to sustainable development - or layer on more obstacles creating barriers to such development?  
What additional tools, code upgrades, and systems are now available to green leaders in Los Angeles to keep moving toward sustainable design and operations? How should we solve roadblocks—technological constraints, long permitting and approval processes, budget limitations (design, development, materials, and operational budgets), and limited information about proven techniques—that inhibit the potential for innovation?  
This month, WUF brings together a panel of professionals who collaborate on buildings that use less energy and water, adapt to a changing climate, and abandon fossil fuels. This ’Green Team’ will share lessons learned and help us uncover what policies can—and should—be implemented to speed up the process of adapting to our precarious future.   

Mariam Mojdehi
, AIA, LEED AP, Senior Associate,  Frederick Fisher & Partners
Andy Reilman
, Managing Principal, Integral Group
Osama Younan, Executive Officer, LA Department of Building and Safety
Natalie Allan Teear, Vice President, Sustainability and Social Impact, Hudson Pacific Properties

Ted Flanigan, CEO, Ecomotion

A Green New Deal for Los Angeles

Friday, July 19, 2019

The original New Deal was designed to bring the United States out of economic torpor and into the modern era. It was implemented at a time when California was an outpost and a refuge, when the Dust Bowl brought desperate migrants to its shores. Today, California has one of the most robust economies in the world. But it -- along with the rest of the world -- is facing a climate emergency whose magnitude dwarfs that of the Dust Bowl. 

Into this crisis steps the City of Los Angeles. While a Green New Deal may have little chance of passage in today's Congress, Los Angeles is taking matters into its own hands. Building on the Sustainable City pLAn of 2015, Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed a range of initiatives, including increasing use of renewable energy, creating hundreds of thousands of "green jobs," and planting tens of thousands of trees to make the city cleaner, greener, and even more economically vibrant. It may call on developers to build more densely, commuters to wean themselves from gas-powered vehicles, and everyone to adapt to low-carbon lifestyles. 

This month at WUF, we will discuss the land-use implications of this proposal and debate its efficacy and viability: How realistic are these goals? What will they demand of developers, planners, and other land-use stakeholders? Is it a bold initiative to catalyze an era of green economic growth -- or too little too late?

This program is presented in collaboration with the UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies. 

Evelyn Blumenberg, Director of Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies; Professor of Urban Planning, UCLA 
Lauren Faber, Chief Sustainability Officer, Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti 
Susana Reyes, Vice President,  National Sierra Club Board of Directors (2017-2019)

David Abel,
Chair, VerdeXchange

2019 Westside Prize

Friday, June 19, 2019

Congestion Pricing on the Westside and Beyond

Friday, May 17, 2019

Even as the Los Angeles area has invested billions of dollars in public transit, traffic congestion has only worsened, especially on the jobs-rich Westside. Now, Los Angeles officials are turning to a solution that economists and some planners have advocated for years: congestion pricing. Used in overseas cities including Singapore and London, congestion pricing has gotten a chilly reception in the United States. It is now getting serious consideration, though, and the Westside may turn out to be Ground Zero in the congestion pricing revolution -- for better or worse.

The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) recently released the first of many studies evaluating congestion pricing in a 4.3 square mile area of West LA and Santa Monica, just west of the 405 and north of the 10.  They found that it could significantly cut down traffic jams and commute times. $4 -- the price of a latte -- seems to be the right price to cut commute times by 20%.

For professionals commuting to Silicon Beach and Century City, that latte could be a smart investment. But for blue-collar workers who often travel the longest distances and make relatively little money, congestion pricing could be an undue burden, no matter how much it improves the commute.

Is congestion pricing a planner’s  fantasy or is it the real solution that LA—including the Westside—needs?

Kim Christensen, Land Use Chairperson, West of Westwood Homeowners Association
Michael Manville, Associate Professor of Urban Planning, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
Tham Nguyen, Metro Office of Extraordinary Innovation
Asiyahola Sankara, Organizing & Outreach Program Manager, Act LA

Carter Rubin, Mobility and Climate Advocate, Natural Resources Defense Council

Burning Down and Building Up: Wildfires and Resiliency

Friday, April 19, 2019

Last year, The Woolsey Fire incinerated tens of thousands of mountainous acres between Malibu and Thousand Oaks, destroying homes, businesses, and habitat.

Rebuilding and recovery efforts are often the immediate focus, and tough questions that need to be asked are deferred and then never addressed. Should we rebuild in high-risk areas? If the answer is yes, how should we rebuild smarter?

Beyond pure planning and building code considerations, there are also thornier issues of economic equity and public policy to be addressed. Fires have a documented gentrifying effect, forcing those without significant means to sell their land and move elsewhere, while those who can afford to rebuild remain, often supported by insurance policies that underprice the true risks and costs of living in the vulnerable urban-wildlands interface.

This panel proposes a candid dialogue on how we can support a balanced approach to development on the urban fringe, and what will be required to align this approach with the environmental realities of a warming climate and continued population growth in Southern California.

Bonnie Blue, Planning Director, City of Malibu
Joshua H. Haffner, Attorney, Haffner Law (specializing in insurance claims from property damage)
Chief Anthony C. Marrone or Chief Jon O'Brien, Los Angeles County Fire Department
Malcolm V. Williams, Senior Policy Researcher, RAND Corporation

Jacob Margolis, KPCC science reporter and host of the popular podcast, The Big One

Westside Real Estate Roundup: Is the Westside Still Hot?

Friday, March 15, 2019

For most of recent memory, the Westside has been one of the hottest markets for both commercial and residential real estate. Major developments, from Century City to the Water Garden to Playa Vista anchored the office market, while home values rose steadily. There was a time when seemingly everyone wanted to be on the Westside, and everyone wanted to develop on the Westside. 

Today, the Westside remains desirable -- and pricey -- but what does the future hold?

News of the Westside Pavilion being transformed into a tech campus for Google has everyone talking, but it also brings to the forefront a number of tricky issues for the region. Development is curtailed by shortage of land and zoning restrictions. Office tenants have rediscovered downtown Los Angeles and other business centers, and even startups seeking the hip environs of Silicon Beach have found that it's more trouble than it's worth. Please join WUF in March to discuss what this moment means for the Westside. We'll get insights from development, brokerage, and the public sector to find out whether the Westside will ever be hot again -- or whether it even wants to be. 

Patrick Amos, Senior Vice President, CBRE
Will Cipes, Vice President of Development for Southern California, Carmel Partners
William Chun, Deputy Mayor of Economic Development, City of Los Angeles
Tom Wulf, Executive Vice President, Lowe Enterprises

Judith Taylor, Partner, HR&A Advisors

Westside Mayors Panel: Governance in Times of Prosperity

Friday, February 15, 2019

California, Los Angeles, and the Westside in particular have enjoyed an incredible run of prosperity over the past few years. That run won't necessarily end soon, but sentiments around the state point to this year as an inflection point. If we don't make progress on housing, homelessness, budgets, and responses to climate change, we may discover that we've missed our chance. Meanwhile, advances that may have seemed far off -- such as autonomous vehicles, "smart city" technologies, and even flying cars -- are becoming increasingly more realistic. 

This month at WUF, we will gather the mayors of four Westside Cities -- Beverly Hills, Culver City, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood -- to ask them to describe the mood in the region and in their cities and find out what they are doing to make the most of this moment. We will discuss budgets, development, transportation and traffic, technology, homelessness and social services, and the relationship between cities and Sacramento and D.C. The mayors will review their goals halfway through this fiscal year, and discuss their visions for how their respective cities fit into the culture, economy, and built environment of the greater Los Angeles area. And we'll ask how they intend to plan for an economic downtown, if and when it arrives. Please join us for WUF's signature winter event! 

Dr. Julian Gold, Mayor of Beverly Hills
Gleam Davis, Mayor of Santa Monica
John Duran, Mayor of West Hollywood
Thomas Aujero Small, Mayor of Culver City

Amy E. Freilich, Partner, Armbruster Goldsmith & Delvac LLP

How Many Angelenos?: L.A.'s Changing Demographics & the 2020 Census

Friday, January 18, 2019

The signs at the city limits of Los Angeles and every other city in California indicate how many people live in that city. But numbers that Angelenos take for granted -- 4 million in the city, 10 million in the county, 112 in Vernon -- are not so easy to come by. Demography is as much an art as it is a science, and knowing precise numbers of residents, as well as migration patterns, ethnic composition, and age composition, is crucial for nearly every government entity. School districts need to know how many students they must accommodate, and urban planners need to know how many residential units to plan for, transportation planners must anticipate the number of cars on the road. 

Next year, we will embark on the process that is supposed to determine these numbers conclusively. But will it? The 2020 Census is already mired in controversy -- over questions of residents' citizenship -- and mayors and planning directors around the country have launched a national movement to ensure that the Census is accurate and fair. The results of the federal Census can determine how much Community Development Block Grant money Los Angeles receives, under-counting, especially in minority-heavy neighborhoods, could threaten these funds. Meanwhile, the State of California follows its own formula for implementing statewide policies for programs like the Regional Housing Needs Allocation.  This month, WUF will discuss what's at stake with the 2020 Census and find out about the demographic trends that will shape Los Angeles in the coming decade. 

Maria de la Luz Garcia
Director of the Census 2020 Initiative
Mayor's Office of Budget and Innovation

Giovany Hernandez 
Regional Census Campaign Manager  
NALEO Educational Fund

Kevin Kane, PhD
Research & Analysis
Southern California Association of Governments 

Dowell Myers
Sol Price School of Public Policy
University of Southern California 

Conni Pallini-Tipton

Senior Planner
Los Angeles Dept. of City Planning

Let’s Get Physical: The Future of Retail

Friday, December 14, 2018

Has the death of brick and mortar been greatly exaggerated?  Amid the steady drumbeat of news headlines about chain store bankruptcies and closing and failing malls, it is easy to forget that over 85 percent of retail sales still occur in physical stores.  

With the peak holiday shopping season upon us, we have invited a distinguished panel of retail designers and developers to give us an insiders’ view of their strategies for adapting to an overbuilt retail landscape, changing consumer preferences, and the transformation of retail centers into de facto town squares.  

From the recently opened Palisades Village, to the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center, and the repurposed Westside Pavilion to the reimagining of the Third Street Promenade, how is Los Angeles and the Westside redefining the future of retail?  

Trends for discussion will include:  the creation of compelling experiences in stores and malls to drive customer engagement, the seemingly counterintuitive shift of retail from online to offline (aka “clicks to bricks”); short-term replacing long-term leases including pop-up stores; and malls renovated into true mixed use developments with office space, entertainment, lifestyle uses, and Food, Food, Food.

Neil Baron
Vice President of Real Estate
Cinepolis  *invited

Tammy McKerrow
Senior Vice President

Jon Rood
Senior Vice President
Pacific Retail Capital Partners

Andrea Korb 
Economic Development Manager
Downtown Santa Monica


Los Angeles: Electric Scooter Capital of the World

Friday, November 16, 2018

Los Angeles is known as the entertainment capital of the world, the traffic capital of the world and, as of recently, the app-enabled electric scooter capital of the world. Ever since Bird scooters appeared suddenly on the streets and sidewalks of the Westside about a year ago, Angelenos have been both baffled and inspired by them. Following the "disruptive" business models of other tech firms, scooter companies have deployed without permission in many cities and only recently have agreed to abide by regulations and conduct pilot projects. 

Fans contend that they -- along with dockless bicycles -- may be a crucial part of the solution to the perennial "first mile, last mile" problem. Critics see them as dangerous, illegal toys that clog up streets and sidewalks. As Westside cities get serious about regulating, promoting, and, in some cases, banning scooters, WUF will discuss their pros and cons. And we will explore the ways transportation planners, scooter companies, and even developers are trying to make the most of this revolution in personal transportation. 

Tim Harter
Senior Manager
Government Relations at Bird

Joshua L. Schank
Chief Innovation Officer
Los Angeles County Metro

Ryan Smith
Executive VP - Investments
Hackman Capital

Francie Stefan
Chief Mobility Officer/Assistant Director of Planning
City of Santa Monica

Patrick Sisson
Senior Reporter