Green Design Jim

This Is Our Planet


“Repair what is broken, protect what is vulnerable, cherish what is beautiful and be a good steward of creation.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.


Architecture vs. Music

Back when I was a student at Cal Poly Pomona, I had an architectural instructor named Steven Bocher. As a “Greek,” he believed in cafes in front of every project. He also regarded the shared music as an integral piece of the architecture, likened to the “spirit” of the space. Music and architecture do share similar patterns: Standard ABCBA patterns in architectural elevations are similar to musical scales, for instance.

Inspections Vs. Code Enforcement

As a professional, you would think that all building codes are consistently enforced. You would also think that once your project is under construction that means that all code issues and designs have passed and all permitting, sign offs and plan checks are resolved. Lately, however, we’ve been experiencing inspectors who will not accept the wisdom of the plan check process. Even the Los Angeles supervisors I’ve spoken with acknowledge that the plan check and inspection processes have become uneven and uncoordinated. They say it will take another 3–4 years to work out the bugs because of all the new plan checkers, inspectors and supervisors.


I’ve written before about the so-called NIMBYs (Not In My Backyard) (see my blog entry, Wealth Inequality). Recently I read an article on the website of the Sierra Club discussing the people referred to as YIMBYs (Yes In My Backyard). “Pro-Housing Urban Millennials Say "Yes In My Backyard" offers a different take on the NIMBYs: how they organize in neighborhoods or lobbying groups to stop or slow down projects of any size that require discretionary approvals. YIMBYs are the complete opposite.

Why Is It So Hard To Get Building Permits?

When I first started taking construction documents to the Building Department, even people who were putting their design ideas on napkin were getting permits. You could draw up construction documents and, if your design was simple, you could use Type 5 standard approved details from the Building Department. Back then, very few city planning issues created hearing requirements, and city departments would usually check plans over the counter, employing a practical rather than a word-by-word review.


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