Monday, August 1, 2016

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


Friday, April 22, 2016

California's coast may be timeless, but the rules and make-up of the bodies governing the coast are subject to the political and democratic process. With recent changes in staff leadership at the California Coastal Commission, developers, environmentalists, and public officials are eager to discern the ethos and direction that the Commission will now take. Everything from long-term coastal threats like sea-level rise to the ongoing, immediate development pressures are confronting the Commission. Westside communities from Venice to Santa Monica to Malibu know these debates all too well.

WUF's panel of professionals from all sides of the coastal debate will discuss the Commission's recent history, address open questions, and provide analysis of the Commission's present and future role as steward of the California coast.


Conner Everts, Facilitator, Environmental Water Caucus
Jennifer Savage, California Policy Director, Surfrider Foundation


Pam O'Connor, Councilmember, City of Santa Monica


Friday, March 18, 2016

Proposed for an upcoming citywide ballot, the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative could be the biggest change to happen to L.A. land use in a generation. Among other provisions, it would place a moratorium for up to two years on development projects that require a General Plan amendment. The Initiative would also limit the council's ability to approve General Plan amendments, the ability to reduce project parking requirements, and require EIRs to be prepared by the city or a consultant. Many planners, developers, and public officials decry it as the ultimate in "ballot-box planning." Others see it as the last chance to save Los Angeles from excessive, insensitive development.

With passions running high and speculation about the initiative's impacts running rampant, WUF looks forward to elevating the discussion on Friday, March 18. We will hear from proponents, opponents, and land use experts about what the initiative might mean for housing, traffic, development, livability, and cost of living in Los Angeles, and we will hear about the coalitions that are building on both sides.

Originally proposed for the citywide ballot November 2016, it has been postponed to the March 2017 ballot. We will discuss the rationale for the postponement and both sides' strategies for what may be a long, important discussion in L.A.


Alan Bell, Deputy Director (retired), Los Angeles Department of City Planning

Richard Platkin, Adjunct Instructor, USC Price School of Public Policy

Mark Vallianatos, Policy Director, Urban & Environmental Policy Institute, Occidental College

Con Howe, Managing Director, CityView Los Angeles Fund

WESTSIDE MAYORS PANEL: Beverly Hills, Culver City, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood

Friday, February 19, 2016

It’s a new year which means it’s time for WUF’s signature event, the annual Westside Mayors’ Panel! WUF is excited to welcome Mayor Julian Gold of Beverly Hills, Mayor Micheal O’Leary of Culver City, Mayor Tony Vazquez of Santa Monica, and Mayor Lindsey Horvath of West Hollywood for a discussion of issues facing their respective cities.

Please join WUF for a candid, freewheeling discussion including the impact of development both within and adjacent to the Westside (LAX expansion, NFL stadium project), traffic and parking issues (Expo Line, Purple Line, the future of parking), housing, and anything else the mayors have on their minds.


Beverly Hills Mayor Julian A. Gold M.D.
Culver City Mayor Miche├íl O’Leary
Santa Monica Mayor Tony Vazquez
West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey P. Horvath

Dr. Peter Dreier, E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, Urban and Environmental Policy at Occidental College and author of several books including "The Next Los Angeles: The Struggle for a Livable City"

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Review of Design Review

Friday, January 22, 2016

The rapid pace of development in Southern California has erased countless well crafted buildings and replaced them with structures unbecoming a great city. Design Review, by which the public sector becomes the arbiter of taste, has become a popular way of combating this trend -- and controlling the entire development process.

On the one hand, design review ensures that someone is paying attention. On the other hand,design review by its very nature can force projects into a homogenized design aesthetic, dictated not by architectural vision but rather by community standards. And it is often enforced by planners who have little or no architectural training.

Is design review our last hope to get developers, public officials, and stakeholders to rally around good design? Is this the best way to allay the public’s fears – often well founded – of unsightly developments, which can ruin neighborhood character? Or is the process too onerous and antithetical to the creativity that has long thrived in Los Angeles?

Our panel of two architects and an urban designer, moderated by a critic, will address these questions and more.
  • · Ric Abramson, AIA, Principal Workplays studio*architecture
  • · Michael Folonis, FAIA, Principal, Michael W. Folonis Architects
  • · Stephanie Reich, AIA, Urban Designer, City of West Hollywood
  • · Greg Goldin, Curator, Journalist, A+D Architecture and Design Museum

Friday, December 18, 2015


Friday, December 11, 2015

Angelenos do not yet have jetpacks or tele-transporters to rescue them from gridlock. But they do have a new MobilityPlan. Passed by the L.A. City Council in June, Mobility Plan 2035 seeks to rethink L.A.'s streets for the 21st century.

The plan envisions Los Angeles as a truly multi-modal city, with emphasis on transit, bicycling, walking, and place-making -- and de-emphasis on the personal automobile. It also seeks to reduce the city's 200 annual pedestrian fatalities to zero. It will institute road diets, speed restrictions, and infrastructure upgrades in every corner of the city.

The question many are asking -- and suing over -- is, will the plan create gridlock in the process?

Please join the Westside Urban Forum to discuss this historic plans and its impact on all Angelenos.

  • Megan McCarty, Community and Mobility Reporter, 89.3 KPCC