Expertise:Urban Planning, Los Angeles Urban Development, Transportation, Affordable Housing, Urban Design, Placemaking, Sustainability, Climate Change, Local Politics, Regional Economic Development, Race Relations, Asian Americans
Michael Woo was the Dean of the College of Environmental Design from 2009 – 2019. He was the first trained urban planner and the first Asian American elected to the Los Angeles City Council. Representing a diverse constituency of 235,000 people in Hollywood and surrounding neighborhoods from 1985 to 1993, Woo spearheaded the Hollywood Redevelopment Plan, which laid the groundwork for Hollywood’s current revitalization; played a key role in choosing the route and station locations of the Metro Red Line subway; and made decisions on numerous development proposals and neighborhood controversies. He also served as a member of the Los Angeles City Planning Commission for six years.
As a councilman, he cofounded the Hollywood Farmers Market. He was the first Los Angeles general manager of Flexcar, the first car-sharing service in Southern California. Invited to help come up with ideas to re-envision Pershing Square, the oldest park in the City of Los Angeles, Woo was an active member of the design competition jury which selected a team of designers to overhaul the park.
Woo’s leadership roles include chairing the boards of Smart Growth America, Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE-LA), Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, and the Los Angeles County Grand Park Foundation. In 2013, he joined the California Parks Forward Commission to help develop new directions for the California State Parks system. Woo is a board member of the Save the Redwoods League and the California Chapter of the Nature Conservancy for which he chairs the newly-formed Cities Committee. He is co-chair of the steering committee to develop a permanent memorial to the 1871 massacre in L.A.’s Old Chinatown.
Returning to the virtual classroom, Woo led a seminar on housing insecurity for Cal Poly Pomona’s Califiornia Center for Ethics & Policy and previously taught an eclectic range of courses on topics such as local sustainability projects in the City of Claremont, the influences on Steve Jobs’s concept of design, oral and written communication skills for graphic designers, and “Redesigning Los Angeles.” He was recognized with the Planning Pioneer award from the California Chapter of the American Planning Association in 2020.
- “Booming Then, Sputtering Now: Reinventing the ‘Housing Machine’ for Today’s Housing Emergency,” Southern California Quarterly (Accepted for publication, Fall 2021)
- “Op-Ed: Corruption in City Hall Is Nothing New. So, what are we going to do about it?” Los Angeles Times, June 24, 2020
- “What L.A. Can Learn from Its Failed Experiment with Street Vending,” CityLab.com, June 26, 2017
- “When developers want to build more than zoning allows, L.A. planning commissioners almost always say yes, Times analysis finds,” Los Angeles Times, February 17, 2017
B.A., Politics and Urban Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
Master of City Planning, University of California, Berkeley
Fellow, Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government