Accelerating Implementation of Resilient Los Angeles

In March 2018, Los Angeles released its first-ever Resilience Strategy. A document that is both visionary and concrete, Mayor Eric Garcetti has adopted Resilient Los Angeles as a comprehensive citywide commitment to building a safer and stronger Los Angeles. The Resilience Strategy features 15 goals and 96 actions at the individual, neighborhood, citywide, and global scales, which together give city residents the tools to prepare for and address shocks and stresses – from earthquakes and extreme heat to economic and social inequality.

Only a few months into implementation of the Strategy, our resilience team is already making significant headway. The “Resilience Week” we hosted this summer brought together several related resilience-building efforts and served as an effective strategy for galvanizing momentum, mobilizing resources, and securing buy-in from key city stakeholders. Three external meetings anchored the week, offering a glimpse into how our city is working together in implementing priority initiatives and spreading the impact of Resilient Los Angeles.

One such initiative builds off an executive directive signed by Mayor Garcetti and announced in the Resilience Strategy. Many City departments have designated Departmental Chief Resilience Officers (DCROs) who are tasked with integrating resilience priorities across each arm of City operations, programs, and policy. With its diversity in expertise and thematic interest, this group is a critical resource for mainstreaming resilience thinking in Los Angeles. By significantly expanding the number of resilience champions in the City, and paving the way for new kinds of cross-departmental partnership on resilience initiatives, the group also sits at the forefront of Resilient Los Angeles implementation.

A meeting of the DCROs during Resilience Week offered an important moment to discuss how departments can work together to advance initiatives related to climate adaptation, seismic preparedness, and extreme heat. This being their fifth meeting, the DCROs have already begun to leverage resilience priorities in their work – including new opportunities for cross-agency collaboration.

Marissa Aho, AICP

During the same week, the team kicked off planning for another flagship initiative coming out of the Strategy process. We have been working to launch a Campus Resilience Challenge, where the City will partner with its world-renowned institutions, including universities, hospitals, and film studios, as they strengthen efforts to build resilient communities. In a Campus Resilience Workshop, we met with academic partners who highlighted existing connections between their campuses and Resilient Los Angeles as well as additional opportunities for partnership. This was a fascinating discussion where we heard interest from senior officials, sustainability officers, and others about how universities can serve as incubators of resilience thinking not just through research centers and course curricula, but also by creating leaders among students, staff, and faculty ready to address LA’s priority shocks and stresses.

In another effort to increase partnerships in Strategy implementation – and ensure that all Angelenos are ‘Resilience Builders’ – we accelerated an effort to engage more deeply with leaders at the neighborhood level. With the aim of developing a cohort of local resilience champions, our team is working with the city’s full set of 100 Neighborhood Councils to identify Neighborhood Council Resilience Liaisons. At a public meeting during Resilience Week, we met with dozens of Council representatives to introduce Resilient Los Angeles and discuss ideas for partnership and collaboration on actions ranging from fostering disaster preparedness at the community level and creating Neighborhood Resilience Hubs to promoting diversity in community leadership.

Central to our mission is ensuring that every resident sees him or herself as a Resilient Angeleno: prepared to withstand potential shocks, and engaged in helping to address our City’s everyday challenges. For this reason, promoting resilience at the individual and community levels was a primary theme of LA’s Resilience Week. By consolidating these convenings and others into a single week, we were able to make tangible progress in implementing key initiatives – identifying promising new partnerships while deepening engagement with resilience builders across our city.  

What’s next for LA? Just last month, we completed in-depth collaboration sessions for the DCROs, focused on project financing and frameworks for monitoring and evaluation to further advance resilience work. The interactive workshop not only equipped the DCROs with new methods and tools to design and implement projects with resilience benefits, but also empowered them to directly apply these practices with the aim of building resilience capacity among departmental staff and City stakeholders. The energy in the room was unmistakable, and we are thrilled to report on the tangible progress being made to bring Resilient Los Angeles to life.