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


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]


South Central Los Angeles: History and meaning in the historically proper place name

By: Jonathan P. Bell, @c1typlann3r

Decades ago the @latimes uncritically accepted L.A. City’s “South LA” rebranding. Recall that L.A. City’s elected officials wanted to sanitize images of “unrest” that they claimed were associated with “South Central.” So they dropped “Central”… brilliant 🙄. The L.A. Times went along with it wholesale.

We hadn’t seen “South Central L.A.” in an L.A. Times headline for many years until Angel Jennings’s Nov. 22nd story on #TheReef. While it’s in reference to the Historic South-Central district within L.A. City, seeing the historically proper place name was still exciting for many South Central Los Angeles advocates. It was one long overdue step away from revisionist history.

#SouthCentral #LosAngeles #OccasionalCritique #InstaEssay#MicroEssay


South Central Los Angeles: Embrace, don’t erase, local history

Graffiti writers at Slauson and Hooper Aves remind us that this geography is still called South Central Los Angeles. Photo by Jonathan P. Bell, @c1typlann3r
By: Jonathan P. Bell, @c1typlann3r

Remember that this geography is still, and will always be, South Central Los Angeles. The “South LA” rebranding was City of LA’s attempt at revisionist history after the 1992 Uprising (much like the City’s embarrassing 2014 “SOLA” proposal that’s thankfully fizzled).

Invest in place erasure and hope the world forgets: that went nowhere. Stakeholders young and older still call it South Central LA. History matters.

And, for the record, none of the City’s revisionism ever applied in the unincorporated communities: Florence-Firestone, Willowbrook, East Rancho Dominguez, West Rancho Dominguez, West Athens, and Lennox.

💛✊🏽 [Location: Slauson Av @ Hooper Av]

#SouthCentral #LosAngeles #OccasionalCritique #InstaEssay #MicroEssay

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.

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.

Latino Informal Housing panel at 2016 APA CA in Pasadena

I’m moderating a session on Latino informal housing at the APA CA Conference in Pasadena, October 22-25, 2016

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


“Crafting Mi Casa: Lessons of Latino Informal Housing Practices in Los Angeles”


Pasadena Convention Center


Saturday, October 22, 2016, 2:45p to 4:15p




DRP will stay in DTLA

The misguided plan to move the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning (DRP) to the suburbs bites the dust.

DRP headquarters will stay in #DTLA in the purpose-built, Neutra designed Hall of Records!

Thanks to LA County Supervisors Hilda Solis, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Sheila Kuehl, and Don Knabe for their leadership, and everyone who sent letters demanding we #KeepDRPinDTLA