“What architect isn’t interested in housing? I hate the whole blasted idea of it. I think it’s a worthy undertaking – to provide a decent apartment for a man who earns fifteen dollars a week. But not at the expense of other men. Not if it raises the taxes, raises all the other rents and makes the man who earns forty live in a rat hole. That’s what’s happening in New York. Nobody can afford a modern apartment – except the very rich and the paupers.
Have you seen the converted brownstones in which the average self-supporting couple has to live? Have you seen their closet kitchens and their plumbing? They’re forced to live that – because they’re not incompetent enough. They make forty dollars a week and wouldn’t be allowed into a housing project. But they’re the ones who provide the money for the damn project. They pay the taxes. And the taxes raise their own rent. And they have to move from a converted brownstone into an unconverted one and from that into a railroad flat.
I’d have no desire to penalize a man because he’s worth only fifteen dollars a week. But I’ll be damned if I can see why a man worth forty must be penalized – and penalized in favor of the one who’s less competent”.
Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead, 1943
In the past few months I have been exploring California through a relatively new website service called Airbnb. Essentially, it is like a house-hotel, or bed and breakfast for travelers and couch-surfers alike. However, one can see this service also as hospitality meets transit, or, “circulation as destination” (Architecture Theory); where a large hallway, a garage, or a caravan can become a lucrative rental opportunity that can gross anywhere from $20.00 to hundreds of dollars (per night). In terms of its architectural value there are three ways in which I can qualify my experience with Airbnb: City exposure, Visibility, and Design character. In other words how the rental unit relates with the City it’s located in, how the traveler(s) and host relate, and how the quality of this relationship is reflected in, or defined by, the architecture building itself.Continue Reading Bay-Bee and Bee – a personal account of Airbnb use
Spoiler Alert. Despite being one of the worst tales of NIMBYism I have been involved in, it all turned out as it should. The project proponent, the official project opponent, and the Planning Commission all ended up doing the right thing. 420 desperately needed housing units are being built according to the City General Plan, the Neighborhood Plan, and the existing zoning, at one of the most underutilized transit accessible locations west of Chicago.Continue Reading SPOILER ALERT: 420 Housing Units Under Construction
On April 20, 2015, Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled his budget for next year.
After a “speech” at a Valley Industry Commerce Association, the Mayor formally presented his budget at City Hall.
What can I say?!! It was underwhelming.
Earlier this summer, I published an article on these pages remarking on the growing scholarship on informality in the U.S. housing market.  My article was intended as an opening salvo to planning academics who, as I see it, fail to understand American informal housing from the implementation side of planning—the enforcement and regulatory standpoint. Continue Reading Response to Comments: The Informal Housing Debate Remains Open
Nobody likes uncertainty. Certainly not the developers of a billion dollar mixed-use project that encounters community opposition due to traffic impacts. Nor the public transportation agency that runs into fairy shrimp on the future route of a trolley line. Nor the city planners for multifamily housing around a transit station that face a revolt from their single-family neighbors.Continue Reading In Defense of Uncertainty
Today, planning scholars are examining informality in the United States housing market with the gusto once reserved for the Central Place Theory and other mainstays of planners’ education.  This surge of research is encouraging. Until recently, the subject of informal dwelling units in the U.S. housing market remained glaringly understudied. The developing scholarship builds on pioneering – though scant – research on “shadow markets”  and “accessory apartments”  in American single-family housing.Continue Reading Converting Garages into a Dissertation: A Conversation with Jacob Wegmann
Density is often referred to as the “D-Word” in urban planning and development circles because it can be so controversial and misunderstood. Continue Reading Talking about the D-Word: Density in Los Angeles
San Diego – A new condominium project in Little Italy is undergoing design review at Civic San Diego (formerly CCDC). The project site is 1919 Pacific Highway, sandwiched between the trolley/railroad tracks and Pacific Hwy near West Grape Street, diagonally north across from the County Administration Center, and adjacent to the Marriott Residence Inn.Continue Reading New 7 Story Condo Project for Little Italy Proposed
San Diego – A new development proposal for the Northeast corner of 8th Ave. and “B” St, just East of Symphony Towers, is in design review at Civic San Diego (formerly CCDC). The site is currently partially occupied by a Brake Depot and the rest of block is surface parking. The site is already partially excavated. It comes before the Pre-Design Subcommittee of the Centre City Advisory Committee (CCAC) on Oct. 3, 2012,Continue Reading Blue Sky for Hole at 8th & B?