Confronting the Shame of Los Angeles

Friday, September 16, 2016

Of all the problems that Angelenos experience, firsthand or otherwise, on a daily basis, perhaps none is as shameful as that of homelessness. Always too large, the region's homeless population has grown amid the housing crisis of recent years. Encampments have taken over some public spaces and hearts break on every street corner. City and county officials have finally pledged to do something about this tragedy. Both the city and the county have devised homelessness plans and are promoting ballot measures that would fund them at least partially.

Has Los Angeles finally found the combination of compassion, political will, and funding to ease this humanitarian crisis? This month at WUF we will discuss the prospects for these plans and learn how the city, county, and other entities intend to turn intention into action. We will unpack the city and county ballot measures, learn where the money will go, meet some of the people leading these efforts, and discuss the plans' impact on land use issues, such as the development of affordable housing. Homelessness has long been a complex problem. This year we may finally find out if urgency can prevail over complexity.

Phil Ansell, Deputy Director, LA County Dept. of Public Social Services
Hon. Mike Bonin, Los Angeles City Council Member, District 11 
Miguel Santana, City Administrator, City of Los Angeles
Ann Sewill, Vice President, Housing and Economic Opportunity, CCF 

Moderator Carla Hall, Los Angeles Times

Seeking Long-Term Solutions for Short-Term Rentals

Friday, July 15, 2016

More than five years after Airbnb, Home Away, and other short-term rental services started "disrupting" the hospitality industry, the City of Los Angeles and other Southern California cities are reckoning with the impacts. By some estimates, over 11,000 properties in the City of L.A. are listed on Airbnb (compared to 98,000 hotel rooms citywide), including nearly 12 percent of properties in hot neighborhoods like Venice. For proponents, STRs offer extra income and new ways to welcome visitors to our cities. For others, STRs are nuisances and black-market businesses, and they make a housing shortage even worse. Fair regulations have been difficult to draft and, in some cases, even more difficult to enforce.

These debates have pitted neighbor against neighbor, homeowners against hoteliers, and advocates of affordable housing against free-market champions. WUF will address the complexities of short-term rentals in July, including an assessment of Los Angeles' draft ordinance. We will seek the real story on the economic and social impacts of STRs and discuss what lies ahead for guests, hosts, and their neighbors.


Judith Roth Goldman, Co-Founder, Keep Neighborhoods First
Walter Gonzales, Government Relations, HomeAway
Lynn Mohrfeld, President & CEO, California Hotels & Lodging Association 
Robert St. Genis, Executive Director, Los Angeles Short-Term Rental Alliance


Salvador Valles, Assistant Director of Planning and Community Development, City of Santa Monica

A $120 Billion Decision for L.A. County

Friday, May 27, 2016

In 2008, Los Angeles County voters agreed to a half-cent sales tax hike in exchange for the promise of improved roads and accelerated public transit projects. Over 40 years, Measure R will produce over $35 billion worth of rail lines, busways, and other investments that have been completed, are under construction or in development. That amount was just a down-payment for mobility in L.A. 

Now, L.A. County Metro is considering a new ballot measure to augment and extend the sales tax beyond the current 2039 expiration date, generating up to $120 billion in revenue. 

When the pie is as big as the national budgets of some small countries, everybody wants a piece. When a measure requires two-thirds to pass, compromises are necessary to allocate funds among the county's jurisdictions while getting the most out of Metro's investment. Cities around the county are demanding what they consider to be their fair share, and activists for every mode, from tractor-trailers to the humble foot, are weighing in. Please join WUF to help decide whether Metro’s measure is a crucial investment in the region's future or a Christmas tree that serves too many specific interests at the expense of a comprehensive strategy.


Eric Bruins, Principal, Bruins Policy Solutions
Steve Lantz, Transportation Director, South Bay Cities Council of Governments
Mary Leslie, President, Los Angeles Business Council
Pauletta Tonilas, Chief Communications Officer, Metro
Denny Zane, Executive Director, Move LA 

Bill Parent, Lecturer, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

Past Events

To view past Westside Urban Forum events from April 2016 and earlier, please click here: