Over the course of two-and-a-half days, California’s Housing Crossroads sessions will explore how housing got to be so bad and what can be done to fix it. How much influence should the state have over local planning? What role should “the markets” play in solving the housing crisis? What are the underlying causes of and solutions to homelessness? Who is benefiting from homeownership, and who isn’t? And much more!
Kome Ajise is the executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments. He has three decades of experience in regional planning and transportation, most recently as the Director of Planning at SCAG. Prior to working at SCAG, Kome was the Chief Deputy Director at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), where he was responsible for internal operations, overseeing more than 18,000 employees and a budget in excess of $1.1 billion. Previously, he was Caltrans’ Deputy Director of Planning and Modal Programs and oversaw the Aeronautics, Mass Transportation, Rail, Transportation Planning, Local Assistance, and Research Innovation and System Information Divisions. Kome has a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography and Regional Planning from the University of Benin, Nigeria and a Master of City and Regional Planning degree from California State University, Fresno.
LA City Councilmember Mike Bonin represents Westside neighborhoods in the City of Los Angeles’ 11th Council District. A frequent user of mass transit, Mike is an outspoken advocate and key player in forging transformative solutions to regional transportation matters. He is chair of the City Council’s Transportation Committee, a member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and former chair of the Metro Expo Line Construction Authority.
Adam Briones is the CEO of California Community Builders, where he leads efforts to end California’s racial wealth gap and housing crisis for communities of color. Previously, Adam was the Senior Director of Economic Equity of the Greenlining Institute, VP of Real Estate Development at the Genesis Companies, and a Senior Analyst for HR&A Advisors. Adam holds a M.U.R.P from UCLA.
Gregg Colburn is an assistant professor of real estate at the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments. He has published research on housing and homelessness in journals like Urban Studies, Housing Studies, Urban Affairs Review, and Housing Policy Debate and is co-author of the book, Homelessness is a Housing Problem (University of California Press, 2022). Gregg holds a PhD and an MSW from the University of Minnesota and an MBA from Northwestern University.
Jerusalem Demsas is a Staff Writer at The Atlantic where she writes about institutional failure, particularly as it relates to housing and infrastructure in Democratic states and cities, touching on issues of citizen voice, gentrification, and interstate mobility. She has written extensively on housing policy and NIMBY-ism both at The Atlantic and at her previous outlet, Vox, where she co-hosted the politics and policy podcast The Weeds.
Chris Elmendorf is a law professor at the UC Davis School of Law. Professor Elmendorf works on property and land-use law, election law, statutory interpretation, and administrative law, using both doctrinal and empirical methods. He is a leading authority on California’s planning-for-housing framework. His research has been published in numerous top law reviews and political science journals, including the Yale Law Journal, Columbia Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, New York University Law Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, and Political Analysis.
Cecilia V. Estolano is a leading expert on contemporary urban planning issues, with experience in economic and workforce development, land use, environmental policy, and urban revitalization. She has worked directly with public, private, institutional, and non-profit clients to plan, finance, design, implement, and operate policy-driven programs and projects that promote sustainable solutions tailored for each community. Cecilia is a former Chair of the Regents of the University of California and has served as President of the California Community College Board of Governors.
Alex was elected to the Culver City City Council in April 2018. He represents the City on the Westside Cities Council of Governments (WSCCOG) as a Board Member, and serves as the WSCCOG Representative to the Regional Council of the Southern California Association of Governments.
Richard is a Principal at Estolano Advisors, where he is involved in a variety of mobility justice, housing, and equitable economic development projects. Richard sits on the Advisory Board for Investing in Place, an advocacy group that supports equitable public investments that make our communities safer, stronger, and more just. He also sits on the board for the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters and lectures at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.
Annie Fryman is the Director of Cities at Abodu, a Bay Area company that builds backyard accessory dwelling units in California and Washington. In this role, Annie manages long-term strategy and operations for Abodu’s city relationships, advises the executive team on public policy, provides expert guidance to public agencies on state law implementation, and manages Abodu’s response to complex building permit issues. Prior to joining Abodu, Annie was trained in architecture, and then spent five years in the California State Capitol and San Francisco City Hall leading Scott Wiener’s policy work on housing, planning, and transportation.
Jacob is a graduate from the University of Washington (Seattle) and is currently pursuing his master’s in public administration from Claremont Lincoln University.
As Senior Vice President of Development for Related California, Meea Kang is responsible for business development, strategic planning and creative financing mechanisms for Related’s affordable residential developments. She comes to Related with over 20 years experience in affordable housing finance and development and has entitled and constructed more than 2,500 affordable multi-family housing units in California worth over $500 million.
Megan Kirkeby is the Deputy Director of Housing Policy Development at the California Department of Housing and Community Development, where she has served as Assistant Deputy Director of Fair Housing since 2018 and was a Senior Policy Research Specialist from 2015 to 2018. She held several positions at the California Housing Partnership from 2012 to 2015, including Policy Director and Sustainable Housing Policy Manager. Kirkeby was a Community Equity Intern at PolicyLink in 2011, analyzing infrastructure disparities in low-income unincorporated communities of color. She was also the Policy Associate at the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California from 2008 to 2010. Kirkeby earned a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a concentration in Urban and Regional Planning, and she has an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz in Global Economics.
Jed Leano is Mayor for the city of Claremont, Chair of the San Gabriel Valley Regional Housing Trust Board, Chair of the Tri-City Mental Health Governing Board, and Claremont’s representative to the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGV COG) Homelessness Committee. He represents the SGV COG on the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) Community Economic and Human Development Committee (CEHD), charged with the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) methodology.
Jed works as an immigration attorney in private practice in Pasadena, CA.
Michael Lens is Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy and Associate Faculty Director of the Lewis Center. Professor Lens’s research and teaching explore the potential of public policy to address housing market inequities that lead to negative outcomes for low-income families and communities of color. This research involves housing interventions such as subsidies, tenant protections, and production. Professor Lens regularly publishes this work in leading academic journals and his research has won awards from the Journal of the American Planning Association and Housing Policy Debate.
Real estate advisor and policy analyst in urban planning. Experience in real estate financial analysis, affordable housing and urban mixed use development as well as state and local land use and housing policy, legislation and regulation. Board Director, SCANPH and MoveLA. Former Treasurer, CRA/LA and Executive Director, CCSM. Current work: November 2022 UHLA transfer tax initiative and SB 679 LACAHSA creating a state enabled regional housing agency.
Laura Loe is a twitter housing influencer, a community gardener, and a musician. Her writing has appeared in Data for Progress, The Urbanist, and South Seattle Emerald. Laura founded the nonprofit Share The Cities Action Fund in February 2021, after five years of rabble rousing as an all-volunteer collective. As a queer urbanist, born in Bogota, Colombia, intersectional urbanism is a felt experience. Share The Cities is against homeless sweeps and supports defunding the police.
José Loya is an Assistant Professor in Urban Planning at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs and faculty affiliate with the Chicano Studies Research Center. His research addresses Latino issues in urban areas by connecting ethno-racial inequality and contextual forces at the neighborhood, metropolitan, and national levels. His research discusses several topics related to stratification in homeownership, including ethno-racial, gender, and Latino disparities in mortgage access. José received his PhD. at the University of Pennsylvania in Sociology and holds a master’s degree in Statistics from the Wharton School of Business at Penn. Prior to graduate school, José worked for several years in community development and affordable housing in South Florida.
Michael Manville is Associate Professor of Urban Planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Both his research and teaching focus on the relationships between transportation and land use, and on local public finance. Much of his research concerns the tendency of local governments to hide the costs of driving in the property market, through land use restrictions intended to fight traffic congestion. These land use laws only sometimes reduce congestion, and can profoundly influence the supply and price of housing.
Since joining IHO, Rochelle Mills has helped grow the organization from a single-asset entity to an award-winning developer with projects in development throughout California. Prior to IHO, she and her husband founded mills studio and architours where their high-end designs, tours, and symposia were featured on HGTV, FineLiving, and other national and international media outlets. Past President of SCANPH, she currently serves on the boards of Cal-ALHFA, Black Developers Forum, and Arts for LA.
Paavo Monkkonen is Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, director of the Latin American Cities Initiative and Faculty Cluster Leader for the Global Public Affairs Initiative. Paavo researches and writes on the ways policies and markets shape urbanization and social segregation in cities around the world. His scholarship ranges from studies of large-scale national housing finance programs to analysis of local land use regulations and property rights institutions. Past and ongoing comparative research on socioeconomic segregation and land markets spans several countries including Argentina, Brazil, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, and the United States. Paavo continues to work as a consultant on national housing and urban policy in Mexico, where he has various long-term research projects.
Deyanira Nevárez Martínez
Deyanira Nevárez Martínez is an Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at Michigan State University. Her research focuses on the role of the state in informal and precarious housing and how it has resulted in the criminalization of poverty.
Tommy Newman is the Vice President of Engagement and Activation at the United Way of Greater Los Angeles. He is responsible for the organization’s communications, engagement, and public affairs work.
Tommy’s passion is in building powerful coalitions to drive justice-centered change forward. In his time at United Way he has had the privilege of helping to create the Everyone In campaign, which now has over 100,000 constituents, as well as push forward multiple ballot measure and legislative campaigns.
Ada Peng is a Director with HR&A Advisors, an industry-leading real estate and economic development consulting firm. Ada provides real estate advisory services on public-private partnership and supports a range of housing policy initiatives including affordable housing trust fund, naturally occurring affordable housing, middle income housing, etc. Ada received her Master of Public Policy from University of California, Los Angeles and is an active member of the Urban Land Institute, serving as the Chair of the Public Sector Subcommittee for the Housing Council at the Los Angeles chapter.
Thai Viet Phan
Thai Viet Phan was elected in November 2020 as the first Vietnamese American and first Asian woman to serve as a Santa Ana Councilmember. She earned her BA in Communication Studies from UCLA and a dual Juris Doctor/Master of Public Policy degree from USC. She is a first-generation refugee, a city attorney, a housing advocate, an In-N-Out Burger alumna, and a cat lady.
Nithya Raman is an urban planner, a working mother, an immigrant to America, and a member of the Los Angeles City Council representing District 4.
She ran for City Council in 2019 and won a historic victory, becoming the first Asian-American woman and the first South Asian ever to serve on the City Council, and the first challenger in 17 years to defeat a sitting City Councilmember.
Since taking office, Councilmember Raman has prioritized delivering compassionate and effective services for people experiencing homelessness, building more affordable housing, and moving with greater urgency to meet our city’s climate goals.
Mott Smith is co‐founder of Amped Kitchens and principal of Civic Enterprise Development. He chairs the Council of Infill Builders and is Vice Chair of the Los Angeles Small Business Commission. He’s an adjunct professor of Real Estate Development at USC and sits on the boards of the UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies and Restore Neighborhoods LA. He has a Master of Real Estate Development from USC and a Linguistics BA from UCLA.