All posts filed under: Urban Planning

Public Policy 101: Understanding Policy

It is important for the public to understand how to understand policy, especially when it is in the process of being deliberated and adopted. As a policymaker, I want to share some of the finer points of policy making, especially into today political climate. *My views do not represent the City of Los Angeles or the Department of City Planning. Every year, a large number of policies are deliberated at all levels of government. Some are passed, some are postponed, some are dead upon arrival. In a democratic government, almost all of these policies are heard in some form or another by the public. However, there are a lot of nuances to understanding them and because the public are not generally versed in understanding policy, there are ways to get policies passed by influencing public sentiment or despite public sentiment. To make it easier for you to understand policies, especially those you care about, the following are three important things to look for to avoid supporting a policy on misguided assumptions. They are listed in …

Los Angeles – No to Measure S

Dear Friends in the City of Los Angeles, For those of you who are residents and are able to vote, there is a ballot measure to take an important stand against in next week’s local elections: Measure S. L.A. Times, Governor Brown, Mayor Garcetti, and many others have came out against this measure, (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) which will basically prohibit development in the City for the next two years and make it extremely difficult in the years after (to be explained below). For those of you that don’t know, the City of Los Angeles like the rest of California, is in the midst of a housing crisis. With a vacancy rate hovering around 2%, the supply of housing is extremely tight and housing costs are skyrocketing. What most people don’t realize is that at around $56,000, the median wage in Los Angeles is actually not that high, yet average home sale prices have now soared above half a million. That is lunacy. Renters are also suffering, with many paying more than 30% of …

Analyzing Density Bonus Developments in the City of Los Angeles

On February 22, 2016, I started the GIS Specialization Course with UC Davis through Coursera. For those of you who have paid attention, I have started the final course of the specialization: Geospatial Analysis Project. As with other Coursera specializations, this is a Capstone project that is the culmination of the previous courses. For this project, I have to propose, design, analyze, and present a geospatial analysis project from start to finish. This week requires the creation of my project proposal, which is as follows (if any of you have suggestions on data sources and/or analysis, please feel free to comment): What is Density Bonus? Density Bonus is a program through which a developer can apply for a project with a unit density greater than that allowed by the current land use zoning, as calculated from unit floor area and floor area ratio (FAR). In exchange for the higher density, the developer must set aside a certain number of units to be affordable: this is by restricting the rent levels or sale prices to targeted income levels …

A Brief about Letters on Tuesdays

Dear Friends, Starting tomorrow, I will be posting a serials of short essays every Tuesday on a wide variety of topics in the format of letters to my little sister, Wilton. It will be an exploration and a reflection based on my various experiences over the last 27 years. It will also be a creative project to hone and expand my skills in communication and writing. If there is any topic or issue you want me to write about, don’t hesitate to let me know. I hope you will enjoy them! William

A Short About Policy Making

Have you ever wondered about the city you live in: its history, its planning, its development? The Guardian has an incredible 50-part series on the history of urbanization from around the world. The more you read about cities, the more they become a metaphor for life – patience, plans, foundations, and changes. Any sort of urban development can takes years and decades. The saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Furthermore, even the best laid plans can be easily swept aside by unforeseen circumstances or self-created consequences. Yet, without plans and goals, a city will cease to exist. Therein lies the paradox of urban planning (and of life) – each action results in an infinite possibility of reactions. You want to capture the current circumstances and anticipate future change, but it is always an impossibility. You create that which you hope to contain, and yet what you hope to contain is based on projections, assumptions, and visions that can easily fall apart in an instant… The building of cities always serves as an expression of the political …

GIS Specialization – GIS Data Formats, Design and Quality

On February 22, 2016, I started the GIS Specialization Course with UC Davis through Coursera. Today, I completed the second course, GIS Data Formats, Design and Quality, in the series. For my second assignment, I was given parcel data and a raster containing elevation information on the town of Valmeyer. The entire town was moved to a location on a higher elevation in order to minimize flood risks. From the data, I calculated average distance from the new parcels to the old town. I also calculated slope and elevation for each of the new parcels (min, max, and mean values). This required the use of Spatial Analyst, which is a package that is new to me. Prior to this, I had not worked with raster data so it was a great learning experience. After completing the calculations and adding them to the attribute data, I created and uploaded the features as shapefiles to create a publicly accessible web map on ArcGIS Online. This is my map: Honestly, I love cartography and spatial analysis. I look …

Bakersfield Site Analysis

In January 2016, I was given the opportunity by Mr. Frank Tripicchio to work on a site analysis project on a property in Bakersfield, CA. The objective was to create recommendations on best uses for the property through demographic and economic analysis. To help me with this report, I brought on Oliver Yang, who worked with PKF Hospitality Consulting. The Project The site is located on the Southwestern corner of the intersection between Highway 178 and Comanche Dr., about 5 miles away from downtown Bakersfield. It is an undeveloped, five-acre parcel with two residential communities in the immediate area. I conducted spatial analysis with data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the City of Bakersfield to visualize the current building and zoning conditions in the area as well as the demographic distributions. We assessed community needs by looking at current services, businesses, and retail in the area and found a gap in the supply. As the site is fairly remote, there is a lack of businesses servicing the area. There are around 3000 residential rooftops in the surrounding …