Los Angeles Conference To Focus On Home Ownership

The “What Would Howard* Do?” conference will field panelists to discuss the American Dream, past and present.
By The Market Urbanism Report | Jul 14, 2018 |
By The Market Urbanism Report | Jul 14, 2018 |

What Would Howard* Do? is a Los Angeles conference that will explore barriers to home ownership and the American Dream.[/caption]

Event: The What Would Howard* Do? conference

Date: August 1st, 8:30am-8:30pm

Location: USC, Town and Gown Ballroom, 665 Exposition Blvd, Los Angeles, California 90089

Main Speakers: Joel Kotkin, William Fischel, Brian Hanlon & more


California was once a leading place to achieve the “American Dream” of home ownership and prosperity. Fast forward to 2018, and it has dramatically forsaken this role. Zoning regulations, environmental laws, and Nimbyism have limited home construction statewide, causing price inflation – particularly in cities – and driving many working- and middle-class families out. An upcoming Los Angeles conference will cover how California – and other parts of America – created this affordability problem, and what can be done.

The conference is called “What Would Howard* Do?”, and is being sponsored by Fieldstead and Company, an Irvine-based organization. The event will be held on August 1st in Los Angeles, at the Town & Gown Ballroom on the USC campus. It will extend all day, stretching from 8:30am to 8:30pm, and will include breakfast, lunch, cocktail reception, and dinner. The registration fee is $50.

The event title references Howard Ahmanson Sr., the late founder of Home Savings and Loan. His company helped finance much of Southern California’s growth after World War II, when the region was booming. The company made loans to the families then flocking into SoCal and snapping up its newly-built tract housing. The company thus symbolized the American Dream ideal that has since escaped the region.

Ahmanson amassed a vast fortune through his business. His son, Howard Ahmanson, Jr., has used some of that money to form the Fieldstead philanthropy. One of the organization’s pet issues is California’s regulatory climate, and how it has stopped housing from being as affordable as during that post-war growth era. Fieldstead sponsors various events on the issue – the latest being this conference.

Below is a comprehensive speaker list. You can buy tickets on the event’s webpage.


Eric Abrahamson and Adam Arenson - A Community Partner: Howard Ahmanson Sr.'s Mid-century Innovations

Robert Fishman - How Los Angeles became "exceptional" and how it ceased to be exceptional

Jason Sexton - California Values and Shifting Attitudes on Property Rights

William Fischel - Homevoters and Housing Prices: How did we get here?

Kenneth Stahl - Current land use law and reform: an expanded role for the county?

Joel Kotkin - The State of California Housing Today

Panel: Brian Hanlon, Kristen Jeffers, Karla López del Rio, Manuel Pastor, Tim Piasky, Karthick Ramakrishnan - The future of the American Dream: Where do we go from here?

Johnny Sanphillippo - Beginning, Middles, Ends: A Return to Household and Community Productivity (slideshow)

Rick Cole - What We Have Learned: A Summary


Eric Abrahamson - Institutional historian and author of Building Home: Howard F. Ahmanson and the Politics of the American Dream.

Adam Arenson - Professor of history at Manhattan College and author of Banking on Beauty: Millard Sheets and Midcentury Commercial Architecture in California.

Rick Cole - City Manager of Santa Monica

William Fischel - Professor of Economics, Dartmouth College and author of Zoning Rules! The Economics of Land Use Regulation

Robert Fishman - Professor of Architecture and Urban and Regional Planning, Taubman College, and author of Bourgeois Utopias: The Rise and Fall of Suburbia

Joel Kotkin - Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and author of The Human City: Urbanism for the Rest of Us.

Kenneth Stahl - Professor of Law and the director of the Environmental, Land Use, and Real Estate Law certificate program at Chapman University Flower School of Law.

Johnny Sanphilippo - writer and photographer, contributor to Strong Towns, and blogger at Granola Shotgun

Jason Sexton - Pollak Library Faculty Fellow, CSU Fullerton and editor of Boom California.

[To buy conference tickets, click here.]