The invisibility of code enforcement in planning praxis: The case of informal housing in Southern California

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Pretty cool to be published old school style: in print!

Read the latest from me and Jake Wegmann on #InformalHousing in Los Angeles: “The Invisibility of Code Enforcement in Planning Praxis: The Case of Informal Housing in Southern California,” (2016) FOCUS Journal, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Dept of City & Regional Planning

Abstract: More and better engagement with working class neighborhoods and communities of color are urgent imperatives for the planning profession as the United States transitions to a “majority minority” population. Code enforcement personnel are already doing much of this work, normally in a much more collaborative and less heavy-handed manner than the name of their profession would suggest. However, at present the planning profession largely holds code enforcement at arms’ length. Using the example of the informal housing market in Southern California—managed on a daily basis by code enforcement officers, yet largely unaddressed by planners—we draw on survey and interview data and our own professional experiences to make four propositions about code enforcement work. These are that code enforcement work is unusually cumbersome; it is chronically understaffed; its personnel cope by working reactively rather than proactively; and the profession suffers low prestige as a result. We argue that ending the estrangement between code enforcement and planning would offer numerous benefits to the latter, including inculcating cultural competence in planners through “learning by doing” and working at street level, and injecting sorely needed “community data” into efforts to address vexing issues such as housing unaffordability.

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Latino Informal Housing session featured in APA Latinos & Planning December 2016 newsletter

After many years of ignoring unpermitted housing in the U.S., the planning field is finally coming around. The *unaffordable* housing crisis and rising incidents of fires in unpermitted dwellings pushed this issue into the spotlight. California found the audacity to pass AB 2299 and SB 1069 facilitating construction of safe and legal accessory dwelling units in all local jurisdictions. At long last, even the strictest Second Unit Ordinance laws are getting overhauled.

And over at the American Planning Association, I’m finally seeing a genuine interest in understanding the on the ground realities of informal housing. Not only did APA CA host my group’s Latino informal housing session at the 2016 conference in Pasadena, APA’s Latinos and Planning Division invited us to write a “Conference Spotlight” piece summarizing the session and its outcomes. My resulting article is published in the APA Latinos and Planning December 2016 newsletter. It’ll be of interest to planners, housing advocates, code enforcement inspectors, academics, and others working in the realm of housing and planning.

We’ll continue to elevate the informal housing debate going forward.

Local Press Supports our Demand for ADU Ordinance Overhaul in Pasadena

We’re winning the battle to overhaul the City of Pasadena‘s Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance. Building off our successful lobbying at #Pasadena Planning Commission, we’ve earned support from the local press.

In a 12/21 editorial published in the Pasadena Star News and San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the Editorial Board backed our calls for ADU law reforms. They quoted me, and even used my “poison pill” fighting words.

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An Open Letter to the Pasadena Planning Commission Urging a Comprehensive Overhaul of the Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance

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On December 14, 2016, the Pasadena Planning Commission will hold a public hearing to consider an amendment to the Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance. The update is required to comply with the relaxed standards in AB 2299 and SB 1069.

As proposed, the revised Ordinance achieves only minimum compliance with the new housing laws while leaving in place several “poison pill” criteria that discourage new accessory units. This is unacceptable.

Read my Open Letter to the Pasadena Planning Commission urging an overhaul of the Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance [published at UrbDeZine.com]

http://losangeles.urbdezine.com/2016/12/12/an-open-letter-to-the-pasadena-planning-commission-and-city-planning-staff-demanding-a-comprehensive-update-to-the-second-dwelling-unit-ordinance/

 

Latino Informal Housing panel at APA-CA 2016 in Pasadena, Sat 10/22/16


Interested in informal housing? Los Angeles? Latino Urbanism? Attend our talk, “Crafting mi casa: Lessons of Latino Informal Housing Practice in Los Angeles” at the 2016 APA California Conference: Crafting our Future – The Art of Planning in Pasadena, Saturday, October 22, 2016.

Mark Vallianatos, James Rojas, Vinit Mukhija, and I will examine the visual, spatial, policy and regulatory implications this practice has in planning multicultural Los Angeles.

https://planning.org/events/activity/9107473/

OVERVIEW: Latino homeowners renovate their homes based on imagination, needs, and know-how — sometimes without proper permits. This cultural practice has been happening for decades, producing some of the most innovative housing typologies and construction practices, and redefining the basic dwelling unit in Los Angeles. Despite its ingenuity, Latino informal housing development runs into considerable urban planning obstacles. Rigid municipal codes imbued with middle class values render informal units illegal. Rising numbers of tragedies resulting from fires in substandard garage conversions underscore legitimate safety concerns. NIMBYism stifles efforts to build accessory units in Single-Family Residential zones. And in the midst of an acute housing crisis, restrictive zoning and land use laws both discourage and obstruct opportunities to build legally in communities. Planners can learn a lot from the lessons of Latino informal housing practice. This panel will examine the visual, spatial, policy, and regulatory implications Latino informal housing practice has in planning multicultural Los Angeles County.

AICP CM 1.5 units, Course No. 9107473

#APACA2016 #LosAngeles #InformalHousing

Informal Housing and Safety Risks to Occupants: The Case of the Aviles Sisters


Capt. Patrick Wills and I thank everyone who attended our talk today, “Informal Housing and Safety Risks to Occupants: The Case of the Aviles Sisters.”

Please read up on the City of Long Beach’s Aviles Law and ACR 32 addressing unpermitted housing in California.

#InformalHousing #CityofLongBeach #SouthCentral #LosAngeles #ADU #AvilesLaw #CodeEnforcement

ADU ordinance overhaul in Pasadena has begun


TONIGHT: I joined housing advocates for a frank discussion of accessory dwelling units and informal housing with Pasadena Planning Director David Reyes and staff. Shout out to City of Pasadena Planning Department. The struggle to enact a fairer ADU ordinance has begun.