AIACC Housing Congress Report

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By Melissa Barton

The AIACC convened a Housing Congress on September 20 in San Diego that included representatives from 17 California components. The meeting was the beginning of an extended conversation regarding the growing challenges of housing the homeless and housing affordability in the state of California. The Housing Congress is the nexus of the resolution the AIACC sponsored at AIA’s Conference on Architecture earlier this year, to elevate discussion about nationwide housing issues and their impacts on society.

Three focus areas evolved from a “Housing Challenges, Commonalities, and Priorities” exercise including Regulations, Demographic/Social, and Financial Commonalities. Within these overarching themes, several of the most common challenges within the components were identified as: homelessness, extreme housing costs, lack of workforce housing, geographic location of affordable housing and gentrification, zoning, ordinance and regulatory restrictions, housing for aging and disabled populations, social and demographic shifts in rental properties and housing typologies.

The Housing Congress received an overview of current housing legislation and upcoming policy changes, and will work on going further in depth on the programs, activities, or initiatives that are either being contemplated or have been implemented in response to these issues, response measures that are being considered, and housing types that offer solutions for housing shortages.

As it turns out, typological innovation as a means to achieve housing and affordability was a timely discussion. Governor Brown recently signed into law a total of 16 housing bills, many that were included in a mega-housing package. Three of those bills will work connectively and allow relaxed requirements in the construction of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), thus generating more affordable creation and living flexibility and potentially alleviate housing shortages, generate family income, and a means for family growth and housing for the aging population.

Relaxed ordinances and jurisdictional discretion to permit ADUs has provided many new opportunities for cities who face severe housing shortages. The new ADU legislation indicates that all jurisdictions may allow ADU construction and offers enough easements that has thwarted more local development and interest in considering ADU construction. More than 11% of California cities and counties have already adopted ADU ordinances of their own. Others will create their own ordinances that will also adhere to state law or rely solely on the statute that goes into effect January 2018.

The Congress preceded a multi-part charrette and robust effort led by San Diego Chapter President and BNIM practicing Architect & Planner, Philip J. Bona, AIA on his Housing the Next 1 Million in San Diego County strategy.

The AIACC intends to continue the discussion with the Housing Congress and develop tools, resources, and facilitation documents for state components to use for ADU advocacy.

Contact Melissa Barton, Government Affairs Program Coordinator



The AIACC represents the interests of more than 11,000 architects and allied professionals in California. Founded in 1944, The AIACC's mission supports architects in their endeavors to improve the quality of life for all Californians by creating more livable communities, sustainable designs and quality work environments. Today, The AIACC is the largest component of the National AIA organization.

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