A Street-Level View of Informal Housing in the Context of California’s Housing Crisis: Considerations for Policy & Planning

A Street-Level View of Informal Housing in the Context of California's Housing Crisis: Considerations for Policy & Planning, Cal Poly Pomona, Jonathan P. Bell, Nov 14, 2017
A Street-Level View of Informal Housing in the Context of California’s Housing Crisis: Considerations for Policy & Planning, Cal Poly Pomona, Jonathan P. Bell, Nov 14, 2017

I’m delivering the talk “A Street-Level View of Informal Housing in the Context of California’s Housing Crisis: Considerations for Policy & Planning” in Dr. Alvaro Huerta’s class Nov. 14 at .

Alvaro and I were MAUP classmates at



Placemaking through Partnerships in Florence-Fireston (for social media)

I am delivering the talk “Placemaking Through Partnerships in Florence-Firestone” at the California Library Association 2017 Conference *New Worlds Emerge*, Nov. 3, 2017 at 3:30 p.m. We will celebrate the history, meaning and future of the unincorporated community of Florence-Firestone in South Central Los Angeles! The talk is sponsored by our friends at the CLA Special Libraries Interest Group. Much love.

South Central Los Angeles evokes many images, associations, and assumptions. For too long, negative portrayals in the media have influenced these notions. The presenter will tell the story of a unique partnership that challenged these stereotypes in the unincorporated community of Florence-Firestone in South Central. Through a creative placemaking project called the Some Place Chronicles, community leaders, artists, and employees from the County of Los Angeles Public Library, Department of Regional Planning, and Arts Commission collaborated to write A Paseo Through Time in Florence-Firestone, the first-ever published history book on this rich and diverse neighborhood. Attendees will learn how the partnership tapped into archival materials, community memory, and lived experience to produce an uplifting representation of Florence-Firestone and South Central L.A. The session will be instructive to librarians, archivists, and other information professionals engaged in local history and neighborhood empowerment initiatives, especially in underserved communities of color.


Pasadena’s ADU Ordinance Remains Broken. Here’s How to Fix it.

Pasadena ADU Ordinance Update Community Meeting

I was unable to attend tonight’s ADU ordinance community meeting hosted by Pasadena Planning Department. In lieu of in-person commentary, I emailed this public comment letter to staff.

My position hasn’t changed from June 19, 2017, when Pasadena City Council voted against a comprehensive ADU ordinance update advanced by our housing coalition. 

As it stands today, Pasadena’s ADU ordinance remains broken. But we can fix it. The Pasadena City Council must drop its excessively-cautious, comfy-centrist, shortsighted, nostalgic, legally dubious, “I only wanna maintain votes in my SFR zones” mentality, and instead adopt a comprehensive ADU ordinance update that provides a safe and legal pathway for ADUs for working folks. 

We Cannot Plan From Our Desks!

I still have that tagger instinct to leave a mark in conspicuous & faraway places.




Designing Housing Solutions workshop @ #APACA2017

California’s housing crisis is at a breaking point. We need new ideas and strategies — now! Planners, urbanists, policymakers, designers, students: you’re invited to this innovative workshop where we’ll tap into your memories and experiences to design new housing solutions.

Designing Housing Solutions

2017 APA CA Conference Sacramento

Tuesday, Sept 26, 2017

8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/311978272598475

OVERVIEW: The workshop will tap into the diverse experience and expertise of attending planners to collaborate and design comprehensive housing solutions. The facilitated exercise will bring together a diversity of perspectives to explore new housing typologies that expand choice, encourage affordability, and specifically address the risk of informal dwelling units.

ABSTRACT: The lack of affordable housing in California has reached crisis levels. Among the many consequences is the rash of hazardous incidents happening in unpermitted dwellings. As the tragic warehouse fire in Oakland recently illustrated, unpermitted housing happens across the State at various scales. With no sign of housing demand softening, there is an urgent need to investigate housing supply. While Los Angeles’ recent Proposition JJJ creates a de facto inclusionary zoning policy, no blanket approach exists to address the regulatory, cultural, design, and financing issues associated with housing policy.

The Designing Housing Solutions workshop will facilitate two interactive engagement activities where professionals design and prototype new and diverse housing typologies (co-housing, farm worker housing, artist housing, garage conversions, senior housing, ADUs, etc). The workshop creates a safe space for attending planners to nurture ideas, communicate through storytelling and collaborate. Participants will engage through memory, art and play to better understand themselves and the State’s housing assets, needs and challenges.
This input will launch a conversation that will inform future research, as well as generate ideas that address spatial values impacting housing’s urban design, zoning and planning. The workshop will consider how shared ideas can help create more inclusive spaces.

◦ Gunnar Hand, Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill, LLP

◦ Jonathan P. Bell, County of Los Angeles, Dept. of Regional Planning

◦ James Rojas, Place It! & Latino Urban Forum

◦ Fay Darmawi, Affordable Housing Finance and Consulting

◦ Connie Chung, County of Los Angeles, Dept. of Regional Planning

◦ Cathy E. Creswell, Creswell Consulting


How to fix Pasadena’s Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance 

ADU ordinance - Pasadena
My opening argument supporting a more equitable ADU ordinance in Pasadena

Read my latest public comment letter to Pasadena City Council on the proposed amendments to the ADU ordinance.

The Council caved to NIMBY pressure and rejected the Pasadena Planning Department’s proposal for a more equitable ordinance.

More to come.

ADU Ordinance Update-Public Comment 19 June 2017-Jonathan P Bell

The 1992 Los Angeles Uprising began 25 years ago today

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the start of the 1992 Los Angeles Uprising.

I urge everyone to experience the immersive exhibits “No Justice, No Peace: LA 1992” and “Trouble Every Day: LA 1965/1992” at the California African American Museum.

The exhibits took me back to 1992, seeing the smoke plumes and ash from mom’s house in Montebello, thinking NWA had warned us this was coming again.

Today, some things are better in South Central L.A. Our SCLA unincorporated communities are rising through strong partnerships and civic engagement. But far too many structural inequalities throughout South Central remain.

Will history repeat a third time in L.A.?