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

A Bridge Home for the Homeless: Is LA Up to the Task?

Friday, October 19, 2018

LA voters overwhelmingly voted in Measure HHH to build housing for the homeless. But when Mayor Garcetti challenged City Councilmembers to build A Bridge Home shelters in all 15 districts, many local stakeholders balked, protesting against chosen sites. Many of these are the very neighborhoods where street encampments are the most prevalent and complaints are often loudest. In Koreatown, the Council Office's peremptory siting of a Bridge Home shelter resulted in major protests. Once the parties sat down together, they worked it out, but the pushback has continued in Venice and elsewhere. . Many opponents, and even some supporters, question whether A Bridge Home is a serious effort to combat homelessness as much as a PR initiative by the city.

Even if A Bridge Home succeeds, it will leave 90% of the city’s homeless on sidewalks. City officials have promised to clean up encampments as part of the program, but the 9th Circuit court recently ruled that cities can’t prohibit sleeping in public if enough shelter beds aren’t available. Officials explain that the first occupants will soon move on to permanent housing, making room for others in their place -- but housing providers say there’s no housing to move to.

If the program falls short of the promises, what lies in store for other programs? How will neighborhoods and public officials agree on sites for Not on My Sidewalk, Not in My Backyard – A Bridge Home supportive housing? How much longer will homeless people languish on our streets? Join WUF October 19 for a frank discussion by panelists straight from the front lines, who understand the complex needs, conundrums, and the life-and-death stakes of making A Bridge Home a success.

Chan Yong Jeong
Wilshire Community Coalition

Shawn Landres
Chair, County of Los Angeles Quality and Productivity Commission;
City of Santa Monica Planning Commissioner & former Chair, Social Services Commission

John Maceri
Executive Director
The People Concern

Shayla Myers
Staff Attorney, Housing and Communities Workgroup
Legal Aid Foundation Los Angeles

Tommy Newman
Director,Public Affairs
United Way of Greater Los Angeles

Carla Hall
Editorial Board Member
Los Angeles Times

Proposition 10: The Death and Life of Rent Control

Friday, September 21, 2018

Since 1995, the Costa-Hawkins Act has limited cities' ability to impose rent control. Loved by landlords and hated by tenants' rights advocates, Costa-Hawkins has been blamed for many ills associated with California's current housing crisis, including rising rents, evictions, displacement, and even homelessness. As rents have risen to their current all-time highs while incomes lagged, California has earned the dubious distinction of having the least affordable major cities in the country. Now organizations and activists have joined forces to challenge Costa Hawkins with a state ballot measure this November. Proposition 10 would repeal Costa-Hawkins and give cities and counties vastly more freedom to institute various regulations that, collectively, fall under the category of rent control. And LA County is already considering a temporary rent control measure.

While Los Angeles and several other local cities have pre-Costa Hawkins rent control regulations, the passage of Proposition 10 could open the floodgates in the Los Angeles area and around the state. This month at WUF, we will discuss the varieties of rent control and their potential impacts on stakeholders including tenants, landlords, developers, and the greater Los Angeles community. What regulations might cities adopt? Will they protect tenants as promised and alleviate the housing crisis? Or will they chill new development and dampen the economy, as many developers and economists content contend? In other words, will new regulations avoid the pitfalls of the past, or Is rent control always a short-term fix with long-term consequences?  Panelists to be announced. 

Tim Piasky, CEO, Building Industry Association of Southern California
Molly RysmanHousing and Homelessness Deputy, Sup. Sheila Kuehl 
Cynthia Strathmann, Executive Director, SAJE (Strategic Actions for a Just Economy)
Daniel TenenbaumFounding Principal, Pacific Crest Realty; Commissioner, Housing Authority of L.A.; Chair-Elect, California Apartment Assoc.

Leonora Yetter, Steering Committee Member, Abundant Housing Los Angeles

L.A's New Era of Urban Design

Friday, July 27, 2018

For over a decade, architecture fans have read, appreciated, and debated Christopher Hawthorne in the pages of the Los Angeles Times. In addition to critiquing the city's architectural masterpieces -- new and old, large and small -- Hawthorne branched out into a form of academic activism, sponsoring a series of discussions that he called the "Third Los Angeles." Third L.A. encompassed the idea that, with the era of rampant growth behind us, Los Angeles must embrace a new urban form. Now, Hawthorne has leapt from the page to the lecture hall and now to City Hall, where he recently began his tenure as the city's first Chief Design Officer. 

In this role, Hawthorne will guide the city's efforts to promote good design and improve the aesthetics of the public realm. This vision is surely a work in progress, and Hawthorne is speaking with Angelenos citywide to discern common goals and visions. This month, Hawthorne joins WUF to update us on what his tenure might mean for the city's architects, planners, and developers. We will have a wide-ranging discussion and audience participation to learn about, and contribute to, the future of urban design in Los Angeles. 


Thomas Aurelio Small, Mayor, City of Culver City


Christopher Hawthorne, Chief Design Officer, City of Los Angeles

Where’s the Marlboro Man? Billboards as a Land Use in the 21st Century

Friday, June 15, 2018

Who would have thought, 100 years after mass production of the automobile, billboards and their progeny would be hot in 2018?  They seem to be everywhere from movie screens to art installations (and wooing LeBron James to join the Lakers).  And yes, they also advertise goods, services and entertainment in a format that can’t be blocked or turned off; therein lies much of their current appeal.   Billboards are a staple of outdoor advertising, (aka “out-of-home media” in the ad world), which is undergoing a digital transformation in all of its forms and locations including ads on transit (shelters, bike share), mobile transit (buses, trains, cabs), street furniture (newsracks, kiosks) and building exteriors. The next generation of the billboard is already in the works.

Why so popular?  Digital signs are more profitable than static signs and may allow for the creation of visuals and environments that promote user-generated content that is posted to social media, amplifying the reach of advertisers.  So, who decides the rules?  Where should digital signs be permitted?  How much, how big, how bright?  How do cities and neighborhoods benefit?  The panel will include a representative from West Hollywood which is currently drafting a Sunset Strip Off-Site Signage policy which will be informed by the Sunset Spectacular Pilot (a creative billboard project), a Consultant who has been integrally involved in the billboard battles, and a representative from the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight which has been a leader in voicing concerns about the negative effects of digital signs.  Please join us for this illuminating discussion.

Patrick Frank, President of the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight
Aaron Green, President of The Afriat Consulting Group
Francois Nion, Executive Vice President JCDecaux North America and Co-Managing Director, Outfront/JCDecaux
Bianca Siegl, Long Range and Mobility Planning Manager, City of West Hollywood

Clifford Selbert, Co-Founding Partner, Selbert Perkins Design

The Color of Los Angeles: The Legacy of Segregation and Future of Social Equity

Friday, May 18, 2018

Los Angeles has long been considered a land of opportunity for many. But it has also been a land of oppression. As documented by Richard Rothstein in his recent book The Color of Law, Los Angeles was one of the many cities across the country that engaged, formally and informally, in residential segregation. Abominations like red-lining, restrictive covenants, and other discriminatory practices shaped the urban landscape we live in today.

As accounts like Rothstein's make Angelenos become more aware of the city's dark history, including the forceful role of the federal government in promoting segregation, the question becomes: How exactly do policies of 50 or 60 years ago manifest themselves today? What obligation and opportunities to do present-day planners, lenders, developers, and community members have to un-do this legacy and promote social equity? How can formerly red-lined neighborhoods prosper, and how can exclusionary neighborhoods embrace socioeconomic and ethnic diversity? These are the important issues that we will explore this month at WUF.

Chancela Al-Mansour, Executive Director, Housing Rights Center
Vanessa Carter
, Senior Data Analyst and Writing Specialist, USC Program for Regional & Environmental Equity
Gilda Haas, co-founder, Right to the City Alliance
Elizabeth Ryan Murray, Project Director, CarsonWatch at Public Advocates

Christopher West, Asst. Professor of Social Sciences, Pasadena City College

Putting the “T” in TOD: How Transit Agencies and Developers are Responding to Ridership Trends

Friday, April 20, 2018

Transit ridership on a per-capita basis has been falling in Los Angeles County and nationwide. A recent SCAG/UCLA study points to the biggest (and surprising) reason: lower-income residents in Southern California are embracing car ownership at higher rates than ever before. At the same time, many with the resources to own a car are instead choosing some combination of shared mobility services, including bikeshare and scooter rentals, a transportation networking company solution, or other first-last mile options, and paying more to live closer to rail transit.

This trend upends a lot of longstanding planning and land use assumptions around the role of transit oriented development in promoting regional equity and livability and in reducing reliance upon automobiles. If these recent trends persist, how should cities, transit agencies, and developers respond to them? How do we make sure TOD is a livability strategy and not just an amenity? WUF’s panel will unpack ridership trends, discuss agencies’ plans to win back riders with customer-focused reforms and consider long-term implications for market-rate and affordable housing developers.

Greg Ames, Managing Director, Trammell Crow Company
Conan Cheung
, Senior Executive Officer, Operations at Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority 
Brian Taylor, Professor of Urban Planning, UCLA; Director, Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies; Director, Institute of Transportation Studies 
Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, Executive Director of Los Angeles Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LA LISC).

Naomi Iwasaki, Deputy Director, Investing in Place

Mayors Panel: What’s Going Well in Westside Cities?

Friday, February 16, 2018

While governance globally and nationally faced a tumultuous year in 2017, local issues and city governance are coming to the fore more so than ever. We all know the litany of issues faced by cities all over LA County: homelessness, traffic, congestion, affordable housing, gentrification, displacement of businesses and residents due to fast-rising rents, crime, city services, emergency preparedness and climate change. And yet, there’s plenty of good news to be celebrated in the arenas of land use, planning, architecture, design, development, and urban life in general. Local and state economies are booming. Communities are evolving. Problems are being tackled. In many ways, local pride is running high.

What’s happening for the better? What goals did the Westside cities of Inglewood, Culver City, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica achieve in 2017 and set for this fiscal year? How are they faring in making real progress toward improving in each area of concern? What trends are they setting or responding to? What opportunities lie ahead in 2018-19?

Please join the Westside Urban Forum in welcoming the mayors of four Westside cities as they review for us where they stand at the fiscal year halfway mark - and what they see for the future of their cities.

Mayor James Butts, Inglewood
Mayor Jeffrey Cooper, Culver City
Mayor John Heilman, West Hollywood
Mayor Ted Winterer, Santa Monica

Jody Litvak, Director, Local Government & External Affairs
Los Angeles County Transportation Authority (Metro)