dot.LA Summit: Could New Tech Help Solve LA’s Housing Crisis?

Amrita Khalid
Amrita Khalid is a tech journalist based in Los Angeles, and has written for Quartz, The Daily Dot, Engadget, Inc. Magazine and number of other publications. She got her start in Washington, D.C., covering Congress for CQ-Roll Call. You can send tips or pitches to or reach out to her on Twitter at @askhalid.
dot.LA Summit:  Could New Tech Help Solve LA’s Housing Crisis?

It’s no secret that Los Angeles desperately needs more affordable housing — and fast. Los Angeles is aiming to build 500,000 new homes by 2029, roughly 40% of which will be income- restricted housing. In order to achieve that, the city is exploring building more ADUs (also known as accessory dwelling units) and innovations in construction tech to build cheaper and more sustainable housing.

At a dot.LA Summit panel, founders Ross Maguire of Azure Printed Homes and CRATE MODULAR’s Jaren Grady joined the city’s deputy mayor of budget & innovation, Jeanne Holm. The panelists dove into how tech — and particularly ADUs — can solve the city’s dire housing shortage in a way that is both affordable and sustainable.

“Right now, traditional construction contributes to nearly 40% of global CO2 emissions,” said Maguire.

Traditional construction as an industry has been resistant to change. Maguire believes the modular process of building houses off-site has allowed the ADU industry to build using more affordable and sustainable techniques.

For example, Azure Printed Houses 3D-prints its modular units using recycled waste materials. The company focuses on repurposing the materials and making them as cost-efficient as possible. It’s currently capable of printing out 5 housing units a week and is in the middle of fundraising to boost that amount to 15 units per week.

Grady, of CRATE MODULAR — which builds ADUs out of recycled shipping containers — says companies can produce more using modular building techniques.

“The modular process is just a smart way of building,” he said.

The company is currently in the middle of constructing two affordable housing buildings in Los Angeles; McDaniel House, a 47-unit modular building in Koreatown that will be used as permanent affordable housing, and a 4-story modular complex named Dolores Huerta Apartments.

One major obstacle in the ADU industry is shifting consumer perceptions that a modular house is an inferior product.

“In fact, it’s the opposite,” said Grady. Modular housing is also more adaptive to different environments.

But will the public embrace new types of housing? Deputy Mayor Jeanne Holm believes the pandemic and the shift to remote work may have altered how people view their homes. “This idea of where you work and where you live,” she says, “and how that space is used has changed for people.”

Holm noted that roughly 14% of L.A.’s land is devoted to automobiles, leading to minimum parking space requirements and other city regulations. But cultural changes like remote working and younger people less drawn to car ownership could lead to L.A. issuing new regulations.

“Maybe we don’t need to regulate the same way.”

Ross Maguire believes there’s a cultural shift that will lead to more people embracing smaller spaces.

“I feel like as a society, we’re more overwhelmed by choice and by space, and you kind of see with the tiny home market that people are ready to declutter, move into smaller spaces and keep life kind of simple,” said Maguire.

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Why Pierced Media Is Betting on Creators To Be The Next Generation of Podcast Stars

Nat Rubio-Licht
Nat Rubio-Licht is a freelance reporter with dot.LA. They previously worked at Protocol writing the Source Code newsletter and at the L.A. Business Journal covering tech and aerospace. They can be reached at
Why Pierced Media Is Betting on Creators To Be The Next Generation of Podcast Stars
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NASA’s JPL Receives Billions to Begin Understanding Our Solar System

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

NASA’s JPL Receives Billions to Begin Understanding Our Solar System
Evan Xie

NASA’s footprint in California is growing as the agency prepares for Congress to approve its proposed 2024 budget.

The overall NASA budget swelled 6% from the prior year, JPL deputy director Larry James told dot.LA. He added he sees that as a continuation of the last two presidential administrations’ focus on modernizing and bolstering the nation’s space program.

The money goes largely to existing NASA centers in California, including the Pasadena-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory run with Caltech, Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley and Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base.

California remains a hotspot for NASA space activity and investment. In 2021, the agency estimated its economic output impact on the region to be around $15.2 billion. That was far more than its closest competing states, including Texas ($9.3 billion) and Maryland (roughly $8 billion). That same year, NASA reported it employed over 66,000 people in California.

“In general, Congress has been very supportive” of the JPL and NASA’s missions, James said. “It’s generally bipartisan [and] supported by both sides of the aisle. In the last few years in general NASA has been able to have increased budgets.”

There are 41 current missions run by JPL and CalTech, and another 16 scheduled for the future. James added the new budget is “an incredible support for all the missions we want to do.”

The public-private partnership between NASA and local space companies continues to evolve, and the increased budget could be a boon for LA-based developers. Numerous contractors for NASA (including CalTech, which runs the JPL), Boeing, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX and Northrop Grumman all stand to gain new contracts once the budget is finalized, partly because NASA simply needs the private industry’s help to achieve all its goals.

James said that there was only one JPL mission that wasn’t funded – a mission to send an orbital satellite to survey the surface and interior of Venus, called VERITAS.

NASA Employment and Output ImpactEvan Xie

The Moon and Mars

Much of the money earmarked in the proposed 2024 budget is for crewed missions. Overall, NASA’s asking for $8 billion from Congress to fund lunar exploration missions. As part of this, the majority is earmarked for the upcoming Artemis mission, which aims to land a woman and person of color on the Moon’s south pole.

While there’s a number of high-profile missions the JPL is working on that are focused on Mars, including Mars Sample Return project (which received $949 million in this proposed budget) and Ingenuity helicopter and Perseverance rover, JPL also received significant funding to study the Earth’s climate and behavior.

JPL also got funding for several projects to map our universe. One is the SphereX Near Earth Objects surveyor mission, the goal of which is to use telescopes to “map the entire universe,” James said, adding that the mission was fully funded.

International Space Station

NASA’s also asking for more money to maintain the International Space Station (ISS), which houses a number of projects dedicated to better understanding the Earth’s climate and behavior.

The agency requested roughly $1.3 billion to maintain the ISS. It also is increasing its investment in space flight support, in-space transportation and commercial development of low-earth orbit (LEO). “The ISS is an incredible platform for us,” James said.

James added there are multiple missions outside or on board the ISS now taking data, including EMIT, which launched in July 2022. The EMIT mission studies arid dust sources on the planet using spectroscopy. It uses that data to remodel how mineral dust movement in North and South America might affect the Earth’s temperature changes.

Another ISS mission JPL launched is called ECOSTRESS. The mission sent a thermal radiometer onto the space station in June 2018 to monitor how plants lose water through their leaves, with the goal of figuring out how the terrestrial biosphere reacts to changes in water availability. James said the plan is to “tell you the kind of foliage health around the globe” from space.

One other ISS project is called Cold Atom Lab. It is “an incredible fundamental physics machine,” James said, that’s run by “three Nobel Prize winners as principal investigators on the Space Station.” Cold Atom Lab is a physics experiment geared toward figuring out how quantum phenomena behave in space by cooling atoms with lasers to just below absolute zero degrees.

In the long term, James was optimistic NASA’s imaging projects could lead to more dramatic discoveries. Surveying the makeup of planets’ atmospheres is a project “in the astrophysics domain we’re very excited about,” James said. He added that this imaging could lead to information about life on other planets, or, at the very least, an understanding of why they’re no longer habitable.

Behind Her Empire: Margaret Wishingrad On Creating A Low Sugar Cereal Brand

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

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