Build with Strength Coalition musters Los Angeles allies

The Los Angeles Urban League has joined Asian Americans in Commercial Real Estate (AACRE), Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) plus the Southern California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce among the newest members of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association-backed Build with Strength Coalition. Comprised of fire service professionals, architects, engineers and industry experts, the group is committed to enacting sound and sustainable building standards in cities across the country.

“We are fully behind the Build with Strength effort to improve fire and building codes as well as overall safety standards so that residents may enjoy living in safe, secure and durable apartment structures,” says LA Urban League CEO Nolan Rollins.

“It’s important that new developments meet or exceed existing building codes, and that the City of Los Angeles encourages the use of non-combustible materials, which heavily reduces the risks associated with fires and earthquakes, both major factors of concern in our city,” adds AACRE Co-Founder Aden Kun.

Amid the prevalence of fires affecting housing developments across the country, including a late-2014 inferno at Los Angeles’ Da Vinci apartment complex, Build with Strength is working with government officials, firefighters and building trades leaders to address potential causes as they relate to building safety standards and codes. Coalition members identify areas in need of improvement, particularly by encouraging building code updates and the use of non-combustible materials in minimizing fire risk.

“CLUE is excited to join a coalition representing community-based organizations, businesses, unions and other organizations throughout Los Angeles to ask the City Council to pass an ordinance to move toward a safer and more sustainable standard for low-rise building developments,” notes Executive Director Rabbi Jonathan Klein. “The benefits of safer standards are important to communities at higher risk, such as low and moderate income neighborhoods, and small and medium-size businesses that often occupy many mixed use low-rise developments.”

“The Southern California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is committed to the safety and well-being of our region’s Hispanic residents,” says Chamber President Teresa Barahona. “We especially need to be mindful of our most vulnerable residents and the safety of the housing in which they reside. Given the risk of fires and earthquakes in Los Angeles, it is critical that our residents live in durable, sustainable structures that won’t pose a serious risk to their safety.”

As demand for housing in urban centers increases, Build with Strength is working to ensure the safety of new buildings, particularly those intended for communities at risk such as low and moderate income residents. “As long as inherent vulnerabilities exist, Build with Strength will be ready to work with local officials and groups to encourage more resilient communities,” says coalition spokesperson Kevin Lawlor. “In order to ensure no community is needlessly exposed to the inherent dangers of vulnerable construction methods, lawmakers and members of the building code community must recognize the reality of the problem.”

Chris Dagosta