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An Honorary Society Providing a Forum for the Advancement of Land Economics www.LAI.org
August 2012 The Honorary Society for the Advancement of Land Economics

President's Column » back to top
Ian Lord
Ian Lord
LAI President

“In my father’s house there are many rooms . . .” 

“Have you ever been to the sea, Billy?”

What do these familiar phrases have in common?  Since the focus of KeyNotes is Lambda Alpha and its local Chapters, the relationship, if any, must necessarily be confided. 

LAI members are assembled from a pool of eligible candidates having distinguished themselves in their respective professions over time and space. 

In what other organization would a theorist on urbanism at an educational institute be pared in a bond of membership with a leasing practitioner, adjudicator, builder or civil servant in another city or country? 

The strength of LAI is that we share these bonds and can employ them in our work and social lives, on individual initiative both over our careers and our retirement years.

The LAI house, however, should offer more.  While our foundations are apolitical, our tenets are universal and deserving of expression.  Across the membership, there is a bottomless diversity in knowledge, expertise, application and principle; LAI has moved itself into the position of having a greater capacity of interaction and contribution.  Soon, a member traffic engineer in Madrid will be able to consult instantaneously with his or her peer in Los Angeles, London or, hopefully, Mumbai.  The Society will soon have a discussion forum for issue groups and specialties.

LAI is building a house that in the past published treatises of experts on topics of urban interest.  LEF is actively funding research projects and books on urbanism, land economics and urban strategies.  LAI can examine and shape trends.  There is a never ending cascade of challenges:  the morphing of the retail structure, Dillards and Walmart; impost fees and the principle of betterment; limiting distance separations for tall buildings; light, air and privacy elements of property rights; intensification; transit and accessibility; legal structures; green belts, green roofs and energy transformations.

LAI is shaping its structure to be able to contribute to these forces.  Several significant pieces to that construction are in play in Honolulu, Hawaii this October.  First, our Board of Governors will be asked to adopt its Strategic Plan, now almost two years in the making through wide exposure, face to face participation, studied comment and conscientious drafting.  Its “Implementation” section, new to the Plan, is a pillar of construction and an identifier of the rooms in which we intended to move.  Participation in this Society and its encouragement through a formal Stipend Policy is to be resolved by our Board, comprised of the Chapter Presidents of the local Chapters of LAI.  Corporate accountability, also two years in the making is on the Agenda:  Data Management, Dues, Invoicing, Payments, Collections and Accountability throughout the LAI team of volunteers and service providers have wrestled for consideration the first stage of a recommended structure to ensure our federation of Chapters meet the standard the members themselves have set through successive Land Economics Weekends at Board meetings in Scotland, Sacramento and Phoenix.

As well, Governance itself is on the Agenda. Not Governance in the sense of what we are doing wrong but Governance in the sense in how can we, as a Society harness ourselves to do better given the voluntary structure of LAI: should we meet more often; should we meet less frequently; should we engage in policy; should we rely less on members and more on professional staff? This is the beginning of a new debate in LAI. It is a beginning because long-term directions, coming off a recent Strategic Plan review, deserve close scrutiny, deliberate consideration, time and analysis. As individuals, volunteers and professionals, we have learned to distinguish between matters of the moment to be dealt with by expedition and dispatch and matters that endure and need a firm foundation, deserving of thought, wariness and resources. LAI is in a dynamic time; your Executive has marshaled significant matters for decision. These and other issues are for decision in Honolulu. 

President's Column

Editor's Column

Chapter Corner




Los Angeles

Land Economics Foundation (LEF)

LEF Authorizes Funding for Book


Hawaii LEW
Count Down

Online KeyNotes is
published monthly for members of Lambda
Alpha International

Editor: Lou Slade
GW Chapter

Assistant Editor:
Helen Sause

Production Manager:
Brenna Mohr
Send your announcements for next edition of KeyNotes to LAI@LAI.org

For more information about LAI activities, visit the website or contact:
Leah Sweet, MA
Executive Director
1821 University Ave W,
Ste S256
St. Paul, MN 55104
p - 651-917-6257
f - 651-917-1835 lai@lai.org

So, LAI has many rooms, redecoration is underway and to participate we need the local Chapter Presidents of our members, or their Alternates to be put to sea, bound for Hawaii, October 2012.  I look forward to meeting with you in Honolulu, first to deal with the business of the Society and second to enjoy yet another fabulous Land Economics Weekend experience of entertainment, learning, contacts and relaxation.

Aloha and mahalo.

Ian Lord, LAI President

EDITOR'S COLUMN » back to top
Lou Slade
Lou Slade
KeyNotes Editor

Regardless of where you are in the world, unusual weather conditions are probably prompting more serious conversations about global warming. I clearly remember a very convincing presentation I heard 36 years ago by two climate scientists who presented strong evidence that the earth was heating up. Now, almost four decades later, it appears that the message is finally getting through. My advanced age gives me a long term perspective on how slowly public opinion evolves.

Here in the U.S. where we are guilty of very high per capita energy consumption and a big carbon footprint, there is no discussion of global warming in any of the political campaigns. I suggest a question for any upcoming campaign debate: "What is your position on the human causes of climate change, and if you are concerned about that phenomenon, what do you propose as an action plan?"

So while we wait for the answer to that question, is there anything happening regarding climate change that's good news? Here's a sample of some positive big and small events and trends:

  • At the top of the list, North American natural gas production and use is growing significantly. Natural gas has a much higher energy-to-carbon ratio than oil and coal and has become cost competitive with those less efficient fuels.
  • China, Europe and the U.S. are spending billions on research and development to improve the productivity of renewable resources like solar and wind generated power. As a result, the cost per unit of energy for renewable resources has been reduced significantly, and use of these resources is growing.
  • The costs and safety aspects of nuclear power are improving and in many markets, public opinion is growing more favorable.
  • The largest US wind farm is about to open in Oregon, and the U.S. has opened up bidding for offshore wind farm leases along Atlantic Coast.
  • The transportation and building industries are making significant improvements in vehicle and building energy efficiencies. These two sectors are at the top of the energy consumption list so efficiency improvements have a big impact on the energy bottom line.
  • In some new housing markets, the trend is toward walkable communities and smaller housing units. This is in response to the market's interest in lifestyle changes that include lower levels of energy consumption for day-to-day living.
  • Investment in transportation infrastructure to solve traffic congestion problems is shifting toward transit and exclusive high occupancy vehicle solutions and away from more roads with more traffic lanes.

So, if global warming is real, and if human activity is a major contributor to global warming, then maybe these events and trends extrapolated into the future will cause an easing of climate change. Could political pressure increase and lead to government intervention in rationing the use of fossil fuels? Japan is currently rationing energy use as a result of the loss of 30 percent of its total domestic supply when the nation shut down almost all of its nuclear power plants. This self-imposed rationing has been accepted by the Japanese culture even though the level of rationing has impacted economic productivity. However, the patience of the Japanese is being stressed by this situation and the Japanese are weighing the economic health of the nation against concerns about nuclear power in an earthquake-prone environment.

Given natural human resistance to change, a gradual shift away from traditional fossil fuel use toward a broad range of alternatives is more likely to be successful. Fossil fuels and petroleum-based products will always be in demand in our markets, but the trends we are experiencing represent a healthy diversification and therefore should be supported.

Lou Slade, International LAI Editor


ATLANTA CHAPTER » back to top

August 21, 2012 Meeting - Tour and Luncheon

Steve Nygren, developer of Serenbe, will host this meeting! He will conduct a tour of his award-winning 1,000 acre sustainable community following lunch at the Farmhouse Restaurant. The restaurant is located at the Inn at Serenbe. Directions will be provided. The cost is $25 per person for members and guests. The time of the meeting is noon to 1:30 pm, but may last longer, if need be. This lunch will also provide a good opportunity for networking. The address for the Inn at Serenbe follows:

    The Inn at Serenbe
    10950 Hutcheson Ferry Rd.
    Palmetto, GA 30268
    Phone: (770) 463-2610

Members of other chapters are welcome, if in Atlanta. Please RSVP to Joan Herron, President of the Atlanta Chapter, (404) 815-78613 or Joan@HerronConsultingServices.com.

Joan Herron, Atlanta Chapter President

BOSTON CHAPTER » back to top

Boston Chapter Lambda Alpha International Tribute to Lowell L. Richards, III

Lowell Richards providing Boston Harbor Commentary June 28, 2011

Lowell L. Richards, III died suddenly February 15, 2012

Lowell was a great friend and has been a loyal and reliable member of LAI as well as being one of our most celebrated members. Acclaimed for his leadership in the greater Boston community, he communicated the power of the port in the future of Boston and the northeast.

Lowell was invited and joined Lambda Alpha in January 2006, and agreed to serve on the Chapter's board of directors shortly thereafter. Prior to his invitation, most of us knew Lowell directly and others by reputation.
Because of its purpose as an honorary land economics society, Lowell was an early member from the public sector and guided the Chapter into the era of the public/private partnerships in economic development. Lowell brought many of his colleagues from the public sector to our table.

Lowell is survived by his wife Karen. Lowell held a B.A. from Dartmouth College, a masters in planning from M.I.T. and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He served as as Deputy Mayor under Mayor Kevin White, Chief Development Officer and Assistant Secretary for Capital Resources under Governor William Weld and Governor Paul Cellucci and most recently in various capacities at Massachusetts Port Authority. He also worked in the private sector at Mortgage Investors Corporation and Cabot, Cabot & Forbes.

On March 15, 2012 the greater Boston community gathered for a Memorial Tribute to Lowell at the Boston Convention Center. Tributes were offered by James Rooney, Exective Director of the Convention Center, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Interim Massport Director David Mackey, U.S. Representative Steve Lynch, Boston Redevelopment Director Peter Meade, Legal Sea Foods CEO Roger Berkowitz, former State Senate President Robert Travaglini. His wife Karen, Michael and Jesse Foote also spoke for the family.

He often referred to our members in the local Chapter as Ambassadors of Boston to their professions and beyond. Lowell annually agreed to be drafted to host our summer harbor cruise which featured the skyline as well as the shoreline of Boston. He was our harbor master and taught us all the importance of a variety of perspectives on the past and the future of the urban community. Our annual summer harbor sojourn will hereafter be known as the Lowell Richards in his memory.

Richard McGuinness Deputy Director BRA, David Kirk Boston Chapter President, Jim Doolin MassPort Acting Director of Real Estate.

The First Annual Lowell Richards Harbor Cruise .

The Boston Chapter hosted the first annual Lowell Richards Harbor Cruise on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. The cruise has been named in tribute to Lowell Richards, a loyal chapter and board member who died suddenly from heart complications February 5, 2012.  Lowell was the MassPort Director of Real Estate and has traditionally provided the harbor commentary for the cruise. His selfless career contributions were celebrated by the Boston community and his family on March 15, 2012. He was the epitome of an LAI stalwart in so many wonderful and unique ways. He educated the Greater Boston community in the economics of land, air and water.

Richard McGuinness Deputy Director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority and James Doolin Acting MassPort Director of Real Estate provided an outstanding harborside commentary on our first annual Lowell Richards Harbor Cruise.  They continued the grand tradition of a remarkable and well informed perspective on Boston from the water – ongoing real estate and port development and plans for the Seaport District, East Boston, Charlestown, North End, Financial District and the Harbor Islands.  They captured and communicated the ongoing renaissance and vitality of Boston and its harbor development and the event was a memorable and heralded success.  They fielded a variety of questions throughout the cruise which captured the sea breeze to relieve of one of our warmest days this summer.

On behalf of the Boston Chapter of Lambda Alpha International, we invite you all to enjoy a wonderful weekend in Boston in 2013 which is scheduled to include a harbor tour among many enjoyable events in the Hub.

David Kirk, Boston Chapter President

ELY CHAPTER » back to top

Phoenix Land Economics Weekend: April 19 – 21, 2012

In July, the Ely Chapter continued a summer tradition of conducting a field trip to experience first-hand a meaningful development/redevelopment in Chicago. The group met in Chicago’s Uptown Area to view the redevelopment efforts surrounding the historical theater and entertainment venues, including Marshall and Fox’s Uptown Bank Building where the Second Floor Bank Lobby was the back-drop for Johnny Depp’s Dillinger movie, “Public Enemies.” Local resident and historian, Al Walavich, entertained the members with facts and stories of the grand history of Ahlschlager’s 80-year-old Uptown Broadway Building, premier jazz venue, the Green Mill, the Riviera Ballroom (Grateful Dead concerts and the “Queen for a Day” television show in the 1960s). The tour concluded at the historic Aragon Ballroom – a dance floor and still active concert hall. Historic preservation and economic development co-exist successfully in the revitalizing Uptown neighborhood.

To round out the summer, a new member “meet and greet” is scheduled in August at the iconic Cliff Dwellers Club in Chicago, to welcome the 34 new initiates to the Ely Chapter.

Mary Bak, Ely Chapter Scribe

Whitney Weller is Senior Vice President of Michaels Development Company and is overseeing the company's west coast operations. The company is the nation's largest developer and owner of affordable and mixed income housing.

In June, the Los Angeles chapter convened to discuss the upcoming redevelopment of Jordan Downs, a large-scale public housing project located in the Watts community of Los Angeles. The significance of this talk about a major local land economics initiative was commemorated with a presentation by Whitney Weller, a member of the LAI-Chicago Ely Chapter. She honored the Los Angeles Chapter by describing the proposal by her company, Michaels Development Company and its partner BRIDGE Housing, in their successful bid to undertake this symbolic redevelopment project.

Building on Michaels Development’s successful redevelopment of two notable public housing projects in Chicago, Robert Taylor Homes and Henry Horner Homes, both post-WWII developments, the Jordan Downs project aims to replace the existing aging housing structures with a new mixed income community that provides low-income, affordable and market rate housing.

Jordan Downs lies 12 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, and unlike its Chicago public housing counterparts whose location along the path of real estate growth in the late 20th century that radiated from the urban core, today lies within an area characterized by high residential foreclosure rates and listless commercial activity. With assistance from the Los Angeles City Housing Authority, municipal planning department and support from the Office of Mayor Villaraigosa, a Specific Plan ordinance was formulated to set parameters for redevelopment of Jordan Downs. The Plan allows for the creation of approximately 1,400 new housing units, a community center, parks, and nearly 75,000 square feet of commercial space. Century Boulevard, a major thoroughfare that terminates at Jordan Downs will be extended, thereby connecting the new community with adjoining neighborhoods.

The proposed new community is estimated to cost nearly $1 Billion and will be funded through a mixed finance strategy that will include funds from HACLA, equity generated from Low Income Housing Tax Credits and traditional construction and permanent loans. Project design and build-out will occur in multiple phases over the next 10 years.

The envisioned approach to redevelopment of Jordan Downs takes into account the cultural and social needs of this deserving community.

The powerpoint presentation from the Jordan Downs presentation is available on the LA chapter website. www.lailosangeles.org.

Kathline King, Los Angeles Chapter President


LEF Authorizes Funding for Book on Planning in Chicago

The Board of Directors of the Land Economics Foundation of LAI is pleased to announce a financial contribution of $5,000 for a book being co-authored by two members of LAI’s Ely Chapter – Jon DeVries and Brad Hunt. The book is tentatively titled Planning Chicago and is to be published by the American Planning Association. It will be released during the National Planning Conference scheduled for April 13-17, 2013 in Chicago. LEF’s contribution will assist the authors to finish the research and to obtain graphics, maps, and pictures to accompany the research.

Planning Chicago explores the city’s dramatic renaissance but also the limits of its newfound Global City status.  Examining the broad sweep of planning over forty years, the book explains the city’s significant success in reviving downtown, its struggles to address a diverse array of neighborhood needs, and the mixed results of experiments in industrial policy.  Despite the city’s storied planning history, the profession’s influence has waned in the face of political pressures and growth coalition interests.  With the city’s recent revival still fragile, Planning Chicago calls for more robust efforts to assert the importance of planning if the city is to retain central city employment, strategically invest in infrastructure, and reverse neighborhood decline. 

Several Ely Chapter members including Les Pollock, Larry Lund, Norm Elkin, Alicia Berg, Helene Berlin, and Doris Holleb are contributors to this book.

Planning Chicago is the second in a series of city-specific titles published by the American Planning Association.

LEF is proud to be associated with this important planning research endeavour. If similar research is being done or contemplated in other cities, please send me details so I can pass along to the LEF Board and Committees and we can publicize in KeyNotes.

We are on the lookout for research funding proposals that fit under LEF’s priority research areas, namely: utilization of benefit-cost analysis; sustainable infrastructure and land utilization; and revitalization of obsolete urban centres and subareas. . Proponents are requested to submit a short (250 word) abstract highlighting the topic of their proposed research, the rationale for the research, methodology, data, potential broader implications, anticipated total budget, and funding being requested from LEF. Bios for the principal researchers should be included as well. Abstracts should be emailed to me. Following a review by the Research Committee and acceptance by the Board of Directors, successful applicants will be then be asked to proceed to prepare and submit a full application using the Request for Proposals found on LAI’s website.

Frank Clayton, Ph.D., Chair of the LEF Research Committee

ANNOUNCMENTS » back to top

Hawaii LEW Count Down » back to top

Aloha Chapter is extending its warmest welcome to LAI members and their guests for the LEW Week October 3-6. Host chapter members are anxious to share their newest gems in developments, their dreams and aspirations for this special place. For your culinary tastes, we engaged world renowned chefs who have devised special Pacific Cuisine menus for the LEW. These special touches are Priceless.

The Hawaii LEW promises you a trip of a lifetime. Each tour of the LEW offers a new and interesting twist to life and land economics in this island state. Take a break from political ads to experience the magic of perfect weather, breath-taking views, mixed with insider stories about how land and development work in the fiftieth state, and how local culture infuses the design elements. Meet up with your LAI associates and make new friends.

The LEW is less than six weeks away. Now is an excellent time to set your plans and make reservations. To register, go to the LAI website. Our host hotel is Hilton Hawaiian Village. You can reach their reservation system from the website www.lewhawaii2012.com. Use the group code BXW.

We will be waiting for you with a lei!!


Moving? Changing Jobs? Name Changed?

Please visit the Members Only section of the LAI Website and under the Member Services section you can update your profile.

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Please visit the LAI Website at www.LAI.org. On the left hand side click on the Members Only Tab. Here you will need to use your email and the password is lai.


The Honorary Society for the Advancement of Land Economics

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