Melani Smith

Senior Director, Transit Oriented Communities
LA Metro

Melani Smith is a Senior Director in LA Metro’s Transit Oriented Communities planning group, where she focuses on integrating sustainable and healthy urban design, first/last mile connections and equitable access for all, into Metro mobility corridor projects in LA County.  She led Metro’s team preparing a TOD Strategic Implementation Plan for the 12 station areas that have been identified along the future West Santa Ana Branch transit corridor through southeast Los Angeles County. She is now developing a multi-year implementation program for the Plan, through which Metro will continue to support West Santa Ana Branch cities in undertaking strategic, coordinated, and sustainable transit supportive planning and placemaking in their station areas.

Much of her career prior to Metro has focused on building and leading led vision-driven urban design and planning practices in Southern California.  She has done this in her many years as CEO/President and Principal at Meléndrez (now RELM Studio) in downtown Los Angeles, and as Director of Governmental Services at The Planning Center (now Placeworks), in Costa Mesa, CA. Her professional life started in marketing for professional services firms focusing on transforming the built environment, including six years at Arup in Los Angeles.

She is an active ULI and Los Angeles Advisory Board member, and in 2017 was appointed a member of the Institute’s first national Health Leaders cohort, working to build cross-disciplinary partnerships and communities of practice around health and the built environment. She is also an Adjunct Faculty Member in the Price School of Policy at the University of Southern California, in the sustainable land use concentration.

Melani is a fourth generation Los Angeleno, with a B.A. in History from UCLA, and a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from UC Irvine.