Andrew Dash’s 2017 ULI Fall Meeting Blog
I was fortunate enough to attend ULI’s Fall Meeting in Los Angeles this year. Being a relative newbie to ULI and a public sector city planner, I was really curious to understand and react to policy positions on urban development and land use from real estate professionals that my job has me talking about projects with much more than overall policy. Between the sessions, speakers, and networking, I had the following takeaways:
UrbanPlan is a great program and would be great to be adapted to the public
The UrbanPlan for Public Officials session on Monday was really impressive. Making us as public officials think about the tradeoffs of absorption rates and financial return to investors in addition to the land-use, urban design, and community inputs that we’re more familiar with was really engaging and helpful to understanding how developers have to address their project (and I’m not only saying that because our team won). As a public sector planner, it was apparent that UrbanPlan has the opportunity to be a benefit to our residents and stakeholders, and attending this gave me some items to incorporate into a design charette for a publicly-owned site that we held shortly after the Fall Meeting and are incorporating into an RFP for that site.
Affordability and Equity are issues we all care about
Although Pittsburgh has many lists proclaiming our affordability amongst metro areas, our resurgence in tech, robotics, and our education sectors is leading to concerns across our City about how we can maintain that affordability for all of our residents and ensure that development happens in an equitable fashion. I was impressed by the bandwidth that the Fall Meeting put to this topic, from sessions on homelessness, the creation of affordable housing, and creating an equity agenda for developers. I came away with strategies that have been put to use in southern California on parking reductions around transit, design processes, and zoning changes that Pittsburgh has talked about but not acted on yet and other strategies such as UDU’s (Unpermitted Dwelling Units) to ensure affordability which were entirely new to our discussions in Pittsburgh. Discussions by panelists on Charlotte and Seattle were valuable in understanding how we all need to make sure we’re using land use to care for some of our most vulnerable populations: the homeless, and the idea of economic mobility planning from Calvin Gladney during the general session is one I’ll be bringing with me back to Pittsburgh.
Data is important
I was able to attend a number of sessions on trends and data both on the real estate market as a whole or specifically on the retail and industrial sectors and was able to get a more robust picture of the decisions being made by developers before they come to us at the City. The industrial sector discussion was particularly helpful as we think of adaptive reuse and preservation of industrial areas as we deal with pressures for conversion of those areas to residential and office.
ULI’s Fall Meeting showed me that there are lots of ways that real estate professionals and public sector officials are and should be working together into the future, and I look forward to engaging with ULI both here in Pittsburgh and nationally to do that.