How to Create a Housing Crisis in 12 Easy Steps

By Dick Plakin : citywatchla – excerpt

PLATKIN ON PLANNING-You don’t need to be a lobbyist for the real estate industry to realize that the entire country, especially Los Angeles, is in the midst of a housing crisis.

We can see it for what it is, without using this crisis as a pretext for schemes and scams carved out for real estate investors, such as free up-zones and loopholes to dodge public hearings, L.A’s 1986 Proposition U, and the California Environmental Quality Act. A basic plan-monitoring program would quickly dispel the most preposterous of these ruses, that rolling back zoning laws wondrously solves the housing crisis, drives up transit ridership, and reduces Green House Gas emissions.

The housing crisis presents itself to us in at least four different ways:…

Roots of the Housing Crisis:  The housing crisis did not mysteriously appear one day.  It is the result of at least 12 reversible public policy decisions.

  1. Elimination of HUD (Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development) public housing programs
  2. Termination of HUD-subsidized affordable housing programs,..
  3. Underfunding of Section 8 housing
  4. Dissolving Community Redevelopment Agencies
  5. Freezing the Federal minimum wage at $7.75 per hour
  6. Substituting token affordable housing density bonuses
  7. Restricting Los Angeles’ rent stabilization law…
  8. Spreading data-free narratives
  9. Ignoring the end of raw land in Los Angeles as a leading factor responsible for LA’s reduced middle class housing production
  10. Failing to compile easily accessible housing databases
  11. Slow-walking the formal planning and monitoring processes...
  12. Claiming the market can meet the need for affordable housing

Like climate change, the housing crisis is manmade, and we know who the perpetrators are and what they did… (more)

 

After FBI raid, L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar is stripped of his committee assignments

: latimes – excerpt

Roughly a week after FBI agents raided his home and offices, Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar has been removed from all of his committee assignments, including chairman of the powerful panel that reviews the city’s biggest development projects…

Huizar has served for several years as the chairman of the powerful Planning and Land Use Management Committee, which vets proposals for apartment towers, hotel projects, new shopping malls and other large-scale development proposals. The panel also oversees regulations for digital billboards and Airbnb-type rentals and proposals for designating properties as historic monuments.

Real estate developers, outdoor advertising companies and others with business before the committee have been a major source of Huizar’s campaign contributions, donating to his reelection bids and officeholder accounts…

“We’re glad to see Huizar placed on the sidelines” while investigators sort through materials they seized at his home and offices, said Jill Stewart, executive director of the Coalition to Preserve L.A., which has spoken out against council members’ practice of letting developers — many of whom donate to their campaigns — build projects that are taller or denser than city rules ordinarily allow…(more)

LA’s Parallel Universes are on a Collision Course

By Dick Platkin : citywatch – excerpt

PLATKIN ON PLANNING – The universe that Angelinos live in. If you live, work, or visit Los Angeles, you have undoubtedly witnessed the following, and can add other categories of your own: 

  • The rents are too damn high.
  • Climate change has arrived.
  • Infrastructure is failing.
  • Traffic congestion is getting worse.

The universe that the Density Hawks – and their progeny — have in mind for you.

If you’re are active in local neighborhood groups, such as Neighborhood Councils, Homeowner Associations, of block clubs, then you know that Los Angeles is the midst of a City Hall-supported real estate bubble, also spun as a boom…

(Dick Platkin is a former Los Angeles city planner who reports on local planning controversies for City Watch. Please send any questions or corrections to rhplatkin@gmail.com.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams… (more)

Temporary trailers for homeless people planned on downtown city lot

By Dakota Smith, Gale Holland and Doug Smith : latimes – excerpt

Los Angeles city leaders are planning to house dozens of homeless people in trailers on a city-owned downtown lot as a possible model for citywide temporary shelters.

A proposal that will be submitted to the City Council on Tuesday calls for installing five trailers on a parking lot at Arcadia and Alameda streets by the beginning of summer…

The trailers would house about 67 people and target the homeless population that sleeps on the sidewalks in the area around the historic El Pueblo site off of Main Street.

The shelter would operate for three years with the hope that residents placed there would move on to permanent housing within six months…(more)

Coalition to Preserve LA Praises Conservationists: They Stopped Gov. Brown from Wiping Out Environmental Protections Under CEQA

businesswire – excerpt

“This is a lie designed to kill CEQA, which is used modestly to attack only the worst developments.”

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Coalition to Preserve LA applauds the Sierra Club, the Planning and Conservation League and scores of groups who fought and today stopped Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to gut CEQA and Coastal Act environmental protections for virtually any urban project where developers agreed to add an insignificant number of affordable housing units.

In June, we urged our supporters, and those who believe developers are the last ones who should decide their communities’ fates, to call Gov. Brown to protest Trailer Bill 707. Brown’s now fully dead idea would have trampled over the California Environmental Quality Act and Coastal Act, handing the wheel to developers who have shown that without environmental oversight they will gladly place thousands of children in harm’s way, create massive surface street gridlock and destroy unique and beloved neighborhood character.

The Coalition is sponsoring the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative on the March 2017 Los Angeles ballot to end developer control over what L.A. becomes. Contact us to attend our events, or to very easily donate and send a message, at 2PreserveLA.org…

CEQA is a crucial tool to assure safe housing, but this year a raft of California legislators who take money from developers tried to pass some 30 bills to tear CEQA apart. In USC’s watershed Children’s Health Study of 3,600 children, scientists proved that youngsters living near freeways suffer chronic lung damage. UCLA found a higher risk for premature babies. Experts say this tainted housing cannot be “mitigated” with filters, trees or tight windows — microscopic metal and rubber particles still lodge in the lungs and brain…

The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, which is almost finished gathering more than 62,000 signatures for the March ballot, gives L.A. residents the power to “call a time-out” and shape what L.A. becomes. We believe environmental review is crucial to preserving safety, fighting gridlock and ending the current destruction of neighborhood character to build a luxury housing glut in Los Angeles.

The fight to protect CEQA is not over. Los Angeles city leaders have falsely claimed that CEQA is being abused and has increasingly pushed development disputes into court. Said Stewart “This is a lie designed to kill CEQA, which is used modestly to attack only the worst developments.” A new study from the NRDC shows that CEQA is used very seldom in court, has no effect on development costs, and is a key tool to force healthy out-of-court compromise.

Additional information available at ethics.lacity.org

Please visit us at neighborhoodintegrity@gmail.com / http://2PreserveLA.org(more)

Coalition to Preserve LA Slams Gov. Brown’s Attack on CEQA, as a Health Disaster for Children

businesswire – excerpt

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Coalition to Preserve LA strongly opposes Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to gut CEQA and Coastal Act environmental protections for virtually any urban project where developers agree to add an insignificant number of affordable housing units. We urge our supporters, and those who believe developers are the last ones who should decide their communities’ fates, to tweet and call Gov. Brown immediately regarding Trailer Bill 707. Brown’s twitter is @JerryBrownGov, and his phone is (916) 445-2841.

“It would be great if we could call a time-out and try to plan better, but it’s not practical.”

Tweet this

Brown’s wrongheaded plan tosses aside the California Environmental Quality Act and Coastal Act, handing the wheel to developers who have shown that without environmental oversight they won’t hesitate to place thousands of children in harm’s way, create gridlock and destroy neighborhood character.

The Coalition is sponsoring the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative on the March 2017 Los Angeles ballot to end developer control over what L.A. becomes. Contact us or donate at 2PreserveLA.org…

Under the guise of saving the environment, Brown has argued that cramming family housing into already congested areas reduces global warming. Now Brown claims that halting environmental review in congested areas is the best way to create affordable housing. While the City Council recently approved ineffective changes to address Black Lung Lofts in L.A., Brown must do better: end his war on CEQA and the Coastal Act and find another way to increase badly needed affordable housing units in California… (more)

Please visit us at neighborhoodintegrity@gmail.com / http://2PreserveLA.org

Contacts

The Coalition to Preserve LA
Jill Stewart, (916) 595-9033
or
Media Contact:
John Schwada, Mobile: (310) 709-0056
john.schwada@gmail.com

City of Los Angeles Outsources Defense of CEQA/Land Use Lawsuits To Private Law Firms – Developers To Foot The Bill

City of Los Angeles Outsources Defense of CEQA/Land Use Lawsuits To Private Law Firms – Developers To Foot The Bill

By Jack H. Rubens : natlawreview – excerpt

On December 16, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously authorized the City Attorney to establish a Land Use/CEQA Panel, which will consist of five municipal law firms, to defend the City in CEQA and land use lawsuits that challenge the entitlements for private development projects, and to require that the project applicant reimburse the City for its legal costs and fees.

This is a significant change in City policy.  For many years, most entitlement approvals for development projects have included a pro-forma condition that requires the project applicant to defend and indemnify the City respect to litigation challenging the entitlements, either on CEQA or other grounds.  However, the City has rarely enforced that condition and the City Attorney has normally defended the City in such litigation.

That will now change.  Based on the Council-approved recommendations in the report prepared by the City Attorney, in the event a lawsuit is filed, the developer will be required to execute a reimbursement agreement pursuant to which it agrees to pay all reasonable costs and fees charged by the firm retained by the City.  The developer will still have the right to retain its own law firm to defend the litigation, but in that case it will be forced to pay two law firms.

This action by the City Council imposes yet another (potential) burden on development in Los Angeles, particularly for the developers of small or mid-sized projects, who can ill-afford any litigation delay, much less having to pay a second law firm… (more)

Innovative Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan Seeks To Revitalize Neglected Los Angeles Neighborhood

Innovative Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan Seeks To Revitalize Neglected Los Angeles Neighborhood

By Alfred Fraijo Jr. and Tetlo N. Emmen : mondaq – excerpt

After years of work and input from local community groups, environmentalists, affordable housing advocates, transportation advocates, and the business community, the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan (the “CASP”) cleared its final hurdle on June 28, 2013 when the Los Angeles City Council voted to approve it. The CASP aims to revitalize a more than 650 acre stretch of mostly industrial land along the Los Angeles River. The CASP includes several innovative strategies that aim to transform an area zoned and built according to development and land use patterns left over from the 1940’s. The goal is a mixed-use neighborhood that concentrates higher densities around transit, preserves and develops affordable housing and fosters economic growth and new technology, while providing sorely needed certainty to developers and investors interested in investing in the CASP area.

Some of the CASP’s innovative provisions include:

  • Affordable Housing: The CASP provides for a Density Bonus Program that allows for increased Floor Area Ratio (“FAR”) above the base FAR for projects that agree to include an affordable housing component. The CASP also includes “on- and off-menu” incentives for projects that participate in the Density Bonus Program. The on-menu incentives include increases in the amount of residential FAR permitted in a project and an increase in the maximum height. The off-menu incentives permit an applicant to request a waiver from development standards set forth in the CASP or the Los Angeles Municipal Code.
  • Transfer of Floor Area: The CASP allows unused FAR to be transferred between properties within the CASP area. Both residential and non-residential projects can purchase unused FAR from other eligible properties to maximize FAR.
  • Streamlined Project Approval: Projects complying with CASP standards are eligible for an “Administrative Clearance” approval procedure. The environmental impact report prepared for the CASP fully assessed environmental impacts for projects that comply with the CASP’s standards, allowing projects approved via the Administrative Clearance to avoid additional CEQA review.
  • New Zones: The CASP contains four new zones: a Greenway Zone, Urban Village Zone, Urban Center Zone and an Urban Innovation Zone. The Greenway Zone provides for open space along the Los Angeles River. The Urban Village, Urban Center and Urban Innovation Zones all allow for mixed-use developments and are intended to promote a robust mix of light industrial, residential and commercial uses.
  • Parking: Because the CASP area is well served by public transit, there are no minimum parking requirements. This is a first of its kind strategy for the City of Los Angeles.
  • Reduced Lot Area: The number of dwelling units permitted in residential developments is not limited by the minimum unit size provisions of the Los Angeles Municipal Code. With an eye toward increasing the supply of affordable housing, the CASP allows projects to build smaller residential units that can be rented at lower rates.

The ordinance enacting the CASP (Ordinance No. 182,617) became effective on August 14, 2013. Whether the CASP’s innovative strategies will be successful in enticing new economic development and the range of housing choices envisioned remains to be seen, but the CASP has created a new blueprint offering real opportunities to achieve these goals. If you have any questions about the opportunities the CASP presents as it relates to developments or properties located in the CASP area please contact us.

(more)

%d bloggers like this: