By Adeney Zo
UCLA Luskin Student Writer
Joan Ling MA UP ’82 has been named 2014 Alumna of the Year by the department of Urban Planning. Ling currently works as a real estate advisor and policy analyst in urban planning.
As a child, Ling developed a passion for carpentry and building that later inspired her to pursue a career in urban planning.
Ling recalls: “My father was a doctor by vocation and carpenter/cabinet maker by avocation. When I was 12, I designed and built a house for my dog from scratch . . . I love working with my hands and building things.”
“My intellectual interest in the nexus between social theory and practice led me to the UCLA Urban Planning Department,” Ling continues. “And during the two years I attended school here, my love of cities blossomed, along with a growing awareness of work opportunities that could fulfill my emotional, spiritual and creative needs. “
Following graduation, Ling used her hands-on experience to improve public policy, legislation and government regulations. Among the many issues she has affected, highlights include reforming the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to streamline affordable and urban in-fill housing production, negotiating the California Mello Act implementation in Los Angeles, running a successful voter initiative to authorize affordable housing development under Article 34 of the California Constitution, passing local ordinances giving land use incentives and protections for affordable housing development projects, and advocating for more and better targeted financial resources in California’s tax credit and bond-funded housing programs. She is currently working on promoting a range of housing choices in Los Angeles transit station areas, land use incentives for affordable housing, and a dedicated funding source in California.
Ling has taken about 60 development projects totalling 1,400 units from acquisition through entitlement, financing, construction, marketing and building operations. Her projects include the first multi-family structure in the country awarded the gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) as well as two buildings that received the National American Institute of Architect’s Design Honor Awards.
Ling served as the Executive Director of Community Corporation of Santa Monica for 20 years. She has also worked for the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission; Kotin, Regan, and Mouchly; and The Planning Group. She was the Treasurer of the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles for over six years until its dissolution in February 2012. She is a director on the Housing California board and the chair of its Land Use and Finance Committee. In addition, she serves on the MoveLA Advisory Board.
Ling holds a certificate from Harvard Kennedy School of Government after completing an 18-month program in Achieving Excellence in Community Development. Fannie Mae Foundation honored her as a National James A. Johnson Fellow. Ling also currently teaches real estate, housing and planning courses in the Urban Planning department.
“Returning to teach in the department after a 30-year professional career is one of the best choices I made in my life,” says Ling. “The students’ energy, enthusiasm and commitment make me feel alive and hopeful for the future.”