A Matter of Necessity: Understanding Informal Housing through Embedded Planning

Jonathan Pacheco Bell, Urban Planner
Thursday, October 25, 2018 - 11:30am to 1:00pm
Social Ecology 1, Room 112

“People’s lives are at the heart of planning.” -Jonathan Pacheco Bell

This presentation puts a human face on California’s housing crisis. Jonathan Pacheco Bell, a zoning enforcement planner in Los Angeles County, will tell the story of the Medina Family from the South Central L.A. community of Florence-Firestone, who built an informal backyard dwelling for extra income after the sudden passing of their head of household. An anonymous complaint triggered an inspection and eventual demolition of the dwelling for code violations. It was Jonathan himself who ordered its removal. Audience members will understand the emotional roller coaster the family endured while embroiled in this regulatory process, and Jonathan’s inner conflict with the outcome. Key takeaways for planning policy, practice, pedagogy will be offered. This talk demonstrates that the rules we enforce can have unintended consequences, especially in working class communities of color.

Bell was featured in the American Planning Association’s Planning magazine, October 2018, in a Viewpoint article, We Cannot Plan from Our Desks,” which provides background for his talk. The piece has received strong readership and support, and the APA has provided an open link to allow readers to view without a login. Read the article.

Speaker Bio:

Jonathan Pacheco Bell is a public sector Urban Planner in Los Angeles County with over 12 years of experience in zoning enforcement. He is a fierce advocate for the unincorporated areas of South Central Los Angeles. On any given day you will find him in the unincorporated community of Florence-Firestone partnering with stakeholders to improve quality of life. A field-based planner, Bell researches, writes, and speaks about informal housing, unorthodox community outreach, and South Central L.A. history from his unique, on the ground perspective. He calls his praxis Embedded Planning.

A product of the California public school system from kindergarten to graduate school, Bell holds an M.A. in Urban Planning from UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and an MLIS from SJSU iSchool.

Lunch will be provided. Your advance registration is appreciated, to help us estimate appropriate catering and seating needs for the event. 

This event has has been made possible through the initiative of Irene Aceituno, second-year MURP student and Diversity in Planning Fellow, as a part of our professional development programming.

View event flyer PDF.