By-Right, By-Design Housing Development versus Housing Design in Los Angeles
Housing is an essential, but complex, product, so complex that professionals involved in its production, namely, architects, real estate developers and urban planners, have difficulty agreeing on “good” housing outcomes. Less-than-optimal solutions that have resulted from a too narrow focus on one discipline over others are familiar: high design that is costly to build that makes little contribution to the public realm, highly profitable but seemingly identical “cookie-cutter” dwellings with no sense of place and well-planned neighborhoods full of generically designed, unmarketable product types.
Differing roles, languages and criteria for success shape these perspectives, which, in turn, influence attitudes about housing regulation. Real estate developers, for example, prefer projects that can be built “as-of-right” or “by-right,” meaning that they can be approved quickly because they meet all current planning, zoning and building code requirements. Design-focused projects, heretofore “by-design,” by contrast, often require time to challenge existing regulatory codes, pursuing discretionary modifications meant to maximize design innovation and development potential. Meanwhile, urban planners work to establish and mediate the threshold between by-right and by-design processes by setting housing standards and determining appropriate housing policy. But just what is the right line between “by-right” and “by-design”?
By-Right, By-Design provides a historical perspective, conceptual frameworks and practical strategies that cross and connect the diverse professions involved in housing production. The heart of the book is a set of six cross-disciplinary comparative case studies, each examining a significant Los Angeles housing design precedent approved by-variance and its associated development type approved as of right. Each comparison tells a different story about the often-hidden relationships among the three primary disciplines shaping the built environment, some of which uphold, and others of which transgress, conventional disciplinary stereotypes.
Chapter 1. Housing Values Part 1: Housing Perspectives Chapter 2. Type in Transition Chapter 3. Value Out of Balance Chapter 4. Lost in Translation Part 2: Collaborative Models Chapter 5. Proliferating a Product Type Chapter 6. Design Well Timed Chapter 7. Crafting Cost Benefit Chapter 8. Collaborative Prospects
"At this moment of housing crisis in large cities, Liz Falletta’s impressively researched and illustrated case studies provide much-needed historical context, illuminating how choices made collaboratively by real estate developers, architects, and urban planners can create long-term economic value and an enduring design legacy in our communities." —Ken Bernstein, Manager and Principal City Planner, Los Angeles Department of City Planning, Office of Historic Resources
"Through analysis and illustration–including vintage images–Falletta successfully uses past precedent to raise the plane of current discussions in the contested field where partisans are currently battling over the future of California housing policy. Her nuanced examination of form, product and design amenity is a must-read for those hoping to better understand how housing is developed, and how decisions made in the design and development processes can yield quantifiably different results." —Steve Preston, FAICP, Vice President, Los Angeles Regional Planning History Group
"Based on rigorous, well-documented scholarship, this is a unique, break-the-mold contribution to housing studies and housing development practice. A valuable resource for those studying or engaged in architecture and design, real estate, or planning." - K. S. Edwards, Clemson University, CHOICE, March 2020