<![CDATA[UN4LA - UN4LA NEWS]]>Fri, 07 Dec 2018 10:13:04 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[LOS ANGELES IN 2018]]>Sun, 02 Dec 2018 05:29:32 GMThttp://un4la.com/un4la-news/los-angeles-in-2018This month UN4LA offers a collection of images from the past year.  The newsletter will return in January 2018.

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Dozens of unhappy residents of the Westlake community showed up at a forum in January to voice their opposition to the City's proposed North Westlake Design District (NWDD). The overwhelming majority of those who spoke were against the NWDD, and many expressed their fear that the proposal would only speed gentrification in an area where displacement of low-income renters is already a problem. It appears now that the plan is on hold, at least for the time being.
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In Spring of this year, the artists at 800 Traction, some of whom had been living there for decades, were finally forced out by the developer who recently bought the property. Rampant displacement in this part of Downtown has left the so-called "Arts District" curiously bereft of actual artists. The new owners are planning on turning the ground floor into retail and restaurant uses and the upper floors will be converted to office space.
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As a result of massive statewide opposition, State Senator Scott Wiener's SB 827 didn't even make it out of committee. The bill would have upzoned parcels near transit, and Wiener argued that it would lower housing costs by boosting construction, in addition to increasing transit ridership. Wiener apparently didn't consider the fact that his radical upzoning proposal would jack up real estate values on affected parcels. Apparently he also wasn't aware that even though San Francisco and Los Angeles have been approving high-density projects near transit for years, per capita transit ridership in the Bay Area has been on the decline since the 90s, and in LA transit ridership is lower now than it was in 1985.
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City Council President Herb Wesson apparently didn't anticipate the reaction he'd get when he unilaterally selected a parking lot near Vermont and Wilshire as the site for a homeless shelter, declaring that no public hearings would be held to receive input on the matter. Koreatown residents were outraged that Wesson would make such a decision without even consulting stakeholders, especially since the City has a history of ignoring the community. After weeks of angry protests, Wesson finally agreed to reconsider. We need to build housing for the homeless, but the only way to do that successfully is with full participation from the community.
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In May the Skid Row Housing Trust (SRHT) held a grand opening for the Crest Apartments, which offers 64 units of permanent supportive housing, including 23 units set aside for homeless vets. The project, located on Sherman Way in Van Nuys, was designed by architect Michael Maltzan, and is a model of environmentally responsible, energy-efficient construction. (Image from Michael Maltzan Architecture.)
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This small apartment building at 1920 Whitley will probably not survive to celebrate its 100th birthday. A developer has received approval from the Department of City Planning to build a new structure on the site which will rise 66 feet and contain 24 units. This project was approved under the Transit-Oriented Community (TOC) Guidelines, which were supposedly formulated to promote affordable housing, create local jobs, and boost transit ridership. Unfortunately, the three existing rent controlled units will be replaced with only three affordable units, so no net gain in terms of housing accessibility. The TOC Guidelines actually don't mandate that the developer hire any local workers. And the fact that the new building will have more than twice the number of required parking spaces seems to indicate that no one at City Planning cares if the future residents ever ride a bus or a train.
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Earlier this year the Board of Public Works approved the removal of 18 mature trees on Cherokee in Hollywood in order to proceed with sidewalk repair. While there's no question that the sidewalks in this neighborhood need to be fixed, the City has been indiscriminately cutting down trees as part of its Sidewalk Repair Program, in spite of the fact that LA's urban forest is declining at a rapid pace. UN4LA has partnered with the Eastside Nature Alliance in taking legal action agaist the removal of the Cherokee trees. We are NOT arguing against sidewalk repair, only that the City needs to complete the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that it began in 2017 for the Sidewalk Repair Program. The City must complete the EIR in order to insure that alternatives to removal are considered, and that if removal is necessary, replacement trees will be properly maintained. The Cherokee trees are still standing thanks to the intervention of Councilmember David Ryu and Bureau of Street Services Director Adel HageKhalil. But thousands of other trees throughout the City are at risk.
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Earlier this year the City Planning Commission (CPC) ignored the pleas of Harbor Gateway residents and approved a huge new distribution center at the intersection of Vermont and Redondo. The majority of the Commissioners apparently didn't care that the project would bring approximately 300 diesel truck trips into this residential neighborhood on a daily basis. They also didn't see a problem with the fact that there was a healthcare facility across the street, a senior housing facility a half a block away, and a public park just north of the project site. But the approval was such an outrageous violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) that State Attorney General Xavier Becerra protested. He wrote to LA's City Attorney, arguing that the approval was illegal and declared that the developers needed to scrap their ridiculously inadequate environmental assessment and start over. You'd think that a letter from the Attorney General would make City Hall think twice, but at this time the City hasn't said anything about reconsidering the project.
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Last year the developer who plans to build a 26-story mixed-use structure on the site where Amoeba Music stands began the process of preparing an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the project. Apparently this year they decided that would take too long, and opted instead to push for approval under the State's Sustainable Communities (SC) law, which would make it exempt from environmental review. In order to qualify, it must be shown that the project won't have any significant impacts on local infrastructure or cultural resources, and the City recently published an SC Exemption claiming that was the case. Apparently City Planning has forgotten that when they did the Initial Study for the EIR last year, they said the project WOULD have potentially significant impacts on cultural resources and local water infrastructure. The Initial Study also said the project would have potentially significant impacts on fire protection, police protection, schools, parks, and other public facilities. But apparently none of that matters when a developer is in a hurry to get their project approved.
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About 2,500 units of new housing have been approved for the Warner Center area since the completion of the Warner Center 2035 plan. But according to an article published on Curbed in November, "[N]ot a single one of the new units will be set aside for low- or even middle-income residents." Councilmember Bob Blumenfield is apparently unhappy about this, and looking for a way to promote the construction of affordable housing in the area. Good luck with that. Over the past 10 years the vast majority of new housing built in Los Angeles has been geared towards the affluent. The paltry number of affordable units built do not begin to address the need. Members of the City Council have spent plenty of time wringing their hands over this problem, but have made no significant progress toward making housing more accessible to middle- and low-income households. As Mayor Garcetti continues to push for rapid gentrification of LA's communities, Warner Center is just the latest neighborhood where developers have made it clear that only the affluent are welcome.
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As work continues on the Purple Line Extension, the Department of City Planning (DCP) has proposed a Transit Neighborhood Plan (TNP) to cover the Wilshire District along the future subway corridor. But stakeholders don't understand why the DCP is pushing for the TNP when area residents will be updating the Wilshire Community Plan in just a few years. They argue it makes more sense to wait until work begins on the Community Plan update, when issues related to transit could be considered in the context of population, housing, infrastructure and public services. It's also questionable whether the DCP actually has any idea of how to plan around busses and rail, because even though planning staff has been talking about transit-oriented development for over a decade, transit ridership is lower than it was 30 years ago.
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<![CDATA[UN4LA NEWS, NOVEMBER 2018]]>Thu, 01 Nov 2018 04:52:51 GMThttp://un4la.com/un4la-news/un4la-news-november-2018

A monthly newsletter published by United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles.

UN4LA's mission is to bring communities together to plan for a sustainable future.  This city's growth must be shaped by community engagement, not developer dollars.

Contact UN4LA


SPECIAL EDITION:
HOW TO TAKE PLANNING POWER AWAY FROM THE PEOPLE

City Hall has finally figured out how to cut you out of the planning process.  They've finally found a way to make sure you don't have a voice in decisions about your community's future.  

For years they've been working on re:code LA, a comprehensive revision of the City's zoning code.  The first stage of that revision is now moving forward.  It's called the Processes & Procedures Ordinance.   If adopted, it will add a new chapter to the Los Angeles Municipal Code.  Basically it's a power grab by the Department of City Planning (DCP).  The best way to sum up what's happening here is to talk about how it would limit the authority of your elected officials....

LA's City Charter says that all legislative power of the City is vested in the City Council, except as otherwise provided in the Charter.  That includes power over planning and zoning.  But by adding this new chapter to the Municipal Code, Processes & Procedures seems intended to change that.  Under "General Authority" the new language states....

"The City Council generally exercises all legislative authority associated with the Zoning Code, except where otherwise provided by the Charter, State law, or the Zoning Code."

In other words, the Zoning Code itself could limit the Council's power over zoning.  And since the DCP is rewriting the zoning code, the idea seems to be to take planning power from elected officials and give it to unelected planning bureaucrats.  The addition of the words "State law" is also disturbing, since this could potentially limit the City's ability to challenge legislation from Sacramento, like maybe something along the lines of SB 827.  And there are other problems.  This ordinance restricts appeals, weakens safeguards for HPOZs, and allows the DCP to grant conditional use permits without public input.  

The City Planning Commission has already approved Processes & Procedures.  Next it goes to the Planning & Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee, and it seems to be on the fast track.  Even though City Planning staff told members of the public they were open to revising the language, the ordinance was forwarded to PLUM with no changes.  It's uncertain when the Committee will actually take it up, but it could be as early as next week.   

We have to make sure that PLUM rejects this ordinance.  Call PLUM Chair Jose Huizar ASAP and voice your opposition, and then call the other committee members, too.  


PLUM Committee
Jose Huizar, Chair
213 473-7014

Marqueece Harris-Dawson
213 473-7008

Mitch Englander
213 473-7012

Bob Blumenfield
213 473-7003

Curren Price
213 473-7009


It's also a good idea to send an e-mail.  Here's a suggested subject line.  Be sure to include the case number and council file number.   

OPPOSE Processes & Procedures Ordinance; Case No.: CPC-2016-3182-CA; Council File: 12-0460

Send it to PLUM staffer Zina Cheng, and please copy the City Clerk.

zina.cheng@lacity.org
cityclerk@lacity.org

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<![CDATA[UN4LA NEWS, OCTOBER 2018]]>Mon, 01 Oct 2018 05:40:01 GMThttp://un4la.com/un4la-news/un4la-news-october-2018
Lots of vacant retail space at the new El Centro complex in Hollywood. 

A monthly newsletter published by United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles.

UN4LA's mission is to bring communities together to plan for a sustainable future.  This city's growth must be shaped by community engagement, not developer dollars.

Contact UN4LA


EVER WONDER WHY THERE'S SO MUCH VACANT RETAIL SPACE?

If you've been following development in LA for the last several years, you know that the folks at the Department of City Planning (DCP) are big fans of mixed-use projects.  According to them, building residential structures with ground floor retail will encourage people to shop in their own neighborhood and spend less time in their car.  And if you've attended any planning hearings at all in recent years you've certainly heard DCP staff extoll the virtues of "walkable, vibrant streets".

But you may have noticed that a lot of these new mixed-use buildings have plenty of vacant commercial space.  Could this have anything to do with rapid decline of brick and mortar retail over the past several years?  Exacerbating the problem is the fact that many commercial landlords are willing to leave space vacant for months or years in the hope of attracting a major chain willing to pay top dollar.  And if these spaces stay empty, that means the city is losing out on valuable revenue from sales tax.

Across the US, local governments are looking for ways to combat this problem.  This article from BisNow gives more details.

Fed Up With Vacant Storefronts, Residents Force Cities To Punish Retail Landlords


LET'S NOT HAND CITY HALL A BLANK CHECK

Earlier this year the LA City Council passed a motion to place a meaure on the November ballot asking voters to approve the formation of a municipal bank.  Proponents can cite a number of reasons for making such a move.  Doing business with private banks can be costly, and many backers want the City to have more control over how taxpayer dollars are invested.  But unfortunately, as is often the case in LA, our elected officials haven't undertaken a thorough investigation of what this proposal would involve and only offer the vaguest outline of how the bank might function.  And a report by the Chief Legislative Analyst identifies a number of possible problems.  Jack Humphreville offers a reality check on CityWatch. 

The Bank of Los Angeles: A Weapon of Mass Financial Destruction?


WE NEED TREES AND SIDEWALKS

Recently the City of LA agreed to settle a lawsuit over the condition of its sidewalks by agreeing to spend $1.3 billion over 30 years to repair them.  Fixing our sidewalks is important, and UN4LA agrees that this should be a priority.  Unfortunately, this program could result in the removal of thousands of trees at a time when our urban forest is under threat from several different directions.  UN4LA believes the City needs to complete an Environmental Impact Report before proceeding, in order to look at alternatives to removal and to consider best practices for replacement. 

We Need Trees and Sidewalks


CA ATTORNEY GENERAL FAULTS PLANNING COMMISSION FOR APPROVING TOXIC PROJECT

Earlier this year the City Planning Commission (CPC) approved the environmental assessment for a 340,000 sq. ft. distribution center at the corner of Vermont and Redondo in the Harbor Gateway community. This project will generate over 1,300 car trips a day, including hundreds of trips by diesel trucks, and is intended to operate 24/7, yet the CPC turned a deaf ear to residents' concerns about the project's impacts.  

But it's not over til it's over.  The California Attorney General has written to the LA City Attorney citing numerous problems with the approval, and asks the City to go back and do the job right.

California AG Backs LA Harbor Community Fighting Toxic Project


DO WE REALLY NEED A  RAIL LINE TO WEST HOLLYWOOD?

In September the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board voted to spend $400,000 to study extending the Crenshaw/LAX Line (currently under construction) into West Hollywood.  The MTA is aggressively pushing to build light rail, but is this approach doing anything to increase transit ridership?  

Actually, no.  Transit ridership is down about 20% since 2013, in spite of the fact that the MTA has spent billions on building new rail in recent years.  Ridership stats for the Red/Purple Line, the Blue Line and the Green Line have all declined in recent years.  Rail proponents point out that ridership is up on the Gold and Expo Lines over the past couple of years, but this seems to be the result of significant new extensions for both lines with the addition of several new stops.  And total rail ridership for the first half of this year has declined significantly over the same period last year.

So why does the MTA keep forging ahead with new rail projects?  A recent article on the West Hollywood line from The Real Deal may offer a clue.  "Given the history of past Metro line extensions, a light rail to West Hollywood would likely have a positive impact on residential and commercial real estate values in the enclave."  A link to the full article is below.

Big Plan for Rail Line through WeHo Chugs Closer to Reality




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<![CDATA[UN4LA NEWS, SEPTEMBER 2018]]>Sun, 02 Sep 2018 04:34:11 GMThttp://un4la.com/un4la-news/un4la-news-september-2018
(Pictured above, the recently completed Broadway Palace Apartments in Downtown LA.)

A monthly newsletter published by United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles.

UN4LA's mission is to bring communities together to plan for a sustainable future.  This city's growth must be shaped by community engagement, not developer dollars.

Contact UN4LA

CALIFORNIA'S FOURTH CLIMATE CHANGE ASSESSMENT

There wasn't a lot of good news in California's recently released Fourth Climate Change Assessment.  The report predicts that the State's average daily temperatures will increase by 2.5 degrees fahrenheit over the next two decades, and possibly by as much as 8.8 degrees by the end of the century.  It also says the we're likely to see an increased number of dry days, possibly resulting in more dry years.  By 2050, the average water supply from snowpack is projected to decline by 2/3 from historical levels. And there's a good chance we'll see increasingly severe wildfires.

These changes will have serious impacts on Los Angeles.  The resources we depend on for water are already declining, our urban forest is shrinking, and the heat island effect is worsening.  We need to think hard about how we can plan to face these challenges.  You can view a summary of the report below.

California's Fourth Climate Change Assessment

ORANGE LINE TRANSIT NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN

Earlier this summer the Department of City Planning (DCP) revealed that it was working to create the Orange Line Transit Neighborhood Plan (TNP).  This is the DCP's latest tactic to promote upzoning to benefit real estate investors.  They recently proposed a TNP to accompany the Purple Line extension, and they're also planning a TNP to run along Ventura Blvd. from Studio City to Woodland Hills.  They will tell you they're planning for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) to get people out of cars and onto trains and busses.  But they've been saying this for 15 years, and transit ridership is lower than it was in the 80s.  

But the fact that the DCP has absolutely no evidence to show that this approach is working won't stop them from trying it again. The initial scoping meeting has already been held, and now they're working on the Environmental Impact Report.  The link below will take you to an overview of the project.

Orange Line Transit Neighborhood Plan Project 


A NEW NAME DOESN'T MAKE A BAD PROJECT BETTER

They're back.  The same wacky folks who tried to push through the Millennium Hollywood earlier in this decade are ready to give it another shot.  In case you've forgotten, a few years ago Millennium Partners filed plans to build two skyscrapers on the same block as the Capitol Records building.  City Hall approved it (they'll approve anything), but the approval was overturned in court because the City failed to include comments from CalTrans about traffic impacts in the Environmental Impact Report.  Gee, how'd that happen?

But traffic impacts aside, many people questioned the wisdom of building two towers on a site that's crossed by the Hollywood Fault.  Not that a detail like that would concern Millennium Partners.  They're the ones responsible for the Millennium Tower in San Francisco, which is both sinking and tilting at an alarming rate.

Of course, none of that bothers the folks down at City Hall.  They're ready to give Millennium Partners, now calling themselves MP Los Angeles, another chance.  And this time around they're calling the project the Hollywood Center.  If you'd like to check out the Notice of Preparation, here's the link.

Hollywood Center NOP

And here's the info for the scoping meeting which is scheduled for later this month.

Scoping Meeting
September 12, 2018
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, Henrietta Mears Center
1760 N. Gower 
 

WHY SO MUCH PARKING FOR A "TRANSIT-ORIENTED" PROJECT?

The Department of City Planning has approved the demolition of an apartment building at 1920 Whitley that contains three rent-stabilized units to make way for a larger building that will contain 24 units, three of them affordable and 21 market rate.  The approval was handled under the Transit-Oriented Communities (TOC) Guidelines which were prepared as a result of Measure JJJ.  Voters approved Measure JJJ with the promise that it would increase the supply of affordable housing and encourage the creation of jobs at fair wages for LA's work force.  JJJ mandated the creation of the TOC Guidelines, which were intended to increase transit ridership by spurring new residential construction near transit hubs.

Unfortunately, this project doesn't do any of that.  In the first place, there's no net increase in affordable housing.  By replacing three RSO units with three affordable units this project does nothing to ease the housing crisis.  The market rate units will inevitably accelerate gentrification in the area, leading to the demolition of more rent-controlled apartments.  Also, the TOC Guidelines only ask that developers make a "good faith" effort to hire local workers at prevailing wage.  They don't define what that "good faith" effort would be, and it doesn't say anything about enforcement.

But to show what a total scam this project is, take a look at the parking that's been approved.  The TOC Guidelines require it to have 12 parking spaces, but the the DCP has approved 28.  In other words, this "transit-oriented" project has more than twice the number of parking spaces it needs, showing clearly that the developer plans on marketing these units to tenants who drive rather than use busses and trains.  

If you're wondering why a "transit-oriented" project has so much parking, write to Senior Planner Christina Toy Lee and ask her.  Here's a suggested subject line.  

"Why Does a TOC Project Have Double the Parking?"

Christina Toy Lee, Senior City Planner
christina.toy-lee@lacity.org


TOO MANY TAX BREAKS FOR DEVELOPERS?

Earlier this summer Controller Ron Galperin issued a report questioning the City's approach to handing out tax breaks to developers, and asking for greater oversight.  UN4LA is glad to see Galperin raise this issue.  While incentives like this can be a useful tool to spur development when needed, we believe that City Hall has been giving generous breaks to projects that would be profitable without them.  Here's an op-ed from the Times that echoes Galperin's concerns.

Too Many Tax Breaks and Too Few Questions from LA Times





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<![CDATA[UN4LA NEWS, AUGUST 2018]]>Wed, 01 Aug 2018 04:10:09 GMThttp://un4la.com/un4la-news/un4la-news-august-2018

A monthly newsletter published by United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles.

UN4LA's mission is to bring communities together to plan for a sustainable future.  Growth must be shaped by community engagement, not developer dollars.

Contact UN4LA


PURPLE LINE T.N.P. LOOKS LIKE MORE OF THE SAME

Last week the Department of City Planning (DCP) unveiled a so-called Transit Neighborhood Plan (TNP) for the communities surrounding the Purple Line Extension (currently under construction).  Once again, the DCP is telling us that this current attempt at Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) will encourage transit ridership.  City planners seem oblivious to the fact that they've made the same promise numerous times over the past 15 years, and Metro ridership is lower than it was 30 years ago.  In reality the Purple Line TNP seems like another blatant effort to empower developers and sideline the community.  Dick Platkin breaks it down in this article from CityWatch.

City Planning Initiates Update to Wilshire Community Plan


WHY WE NEED TO PROTECT OUR TREES

If you live in LA County, you've probably noticed that it's been pretty hot lately.  Temperatures in the region are rising, and are expected to continue rising for the foreseeable future.  Our first line of defense against extreme heat is our trees.  Not only do they keep our communities cool, they also clean the air we breathe and assist with stormwater capture.  

In November of last year Tree People released a report on the state of LA County's trees.  While it finds that some cities are stepping up to preserve and expand their urban forest, we still have a long way to go.  You can read the report by clicking on the link below.

Public Trees for Public Good: 
An Assessment of Urban Forestry Management and Practices in Los Angeles County



THE NEED TO INVEST IN THE HARBOR AREA

While residents of the Central City often feel overwhelmed by endless waves of new development, other parts of LA have been neglected for decades, and City Hall doesn't seem to notice.  James Preston Allen, Publisher of Random Lengths News, laments the lack of planning that has led to the decline of San Pedro and other Harbor communities.  

Mistakes Come Back to Haunt the Harbor


HOW WILL INGLEWOOD GROW?

Inglewood is booming.  Real estate investors are swarming to the city as the new Rams/Chargers stadium continues to take shape, surrounded by massive amounts of residential and retail development.  This piece from KCET talks about impacts both good and bad that might be in store for Inglewood residents.

How Stadium Development Could Impact Inglewood




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<![CDATA[UN4LA NEWS, JULY 2018]]>Mon, 02 Jul 2018 06:36:46 GMThttp://un4la.com/un4la-news/un4la-news-july-2018

A monthly newsletter published by United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles.

UN4LA's mission is to bring communities together to plan for a sustainable future.  This city's growth must be shaped by community engagement, not developer dollars.

Contact UN4LA

EVICTIONS CONTINUE AS CITY HALL DELAYS PASSAGE OF HOME SHARING ORDINANCE

All over the City of Los Angeles, property owners are converting apartments into short-term rentals (STRs, i.e. AirBnB, VRBO, etc.).  The proposed Home Sharing Ordinance (HSO) would limit this practice, but City Hall keeps kicking it down the road.  In other words, while the Mayor and the City Council keep insisting we need to build more housing, they're allowing landlords to take thousands of units off the market.  This article from Curbed was published back in February.  Not much has changed since then.

Los Angeles Is Still Dragging Its Feet on Airbnb Regulations from Curbed


MAYOR'S PLAN FOR HOMELESS SHELTERS IS DEEPLY FLAWED

In April Mayor Eric Garcetti put forth an initiative to build temporary shelters for the homeless, calling the plan A Bridge Home.  The Mayor has set aside $20 million from the 2018/19 budget, proposing to give each Council District about $1.3 million if the Councilmember identifies an area with a high concentration of homeless people and selects a site for a temporary homeless shelter.  Unfortunately, the Mayor's plan reveals that he has little understanding of the process by which the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) engages with people living on street and refers them to housing and services that meet their needs.   

A Bridge Home or a Bridge to Nowhere? from CityWatch


PLANNING COMMISSION OVERRIDES COMMUNITY ON EXPO PLAN

City Hall wants us to believe that when it comes to community planning they're interested in getting our input.  Don't buy it.  Area residents worked with the Department of City Planning for years on the Expo Corridor Plan, and most residents were happy with the version that was agreed on in October 2017. But when it went before the City Planning Commission in November of that year, the Commissioners made major changes to the plan at the last minute.  Community members were angered by the switch, but it's just one more example of City Hall's dishonest approach to planning.

Bait and Switch for Expo Plan from CityWatch


UCLA ZIMAN CENTER ASKS IF WE HAVE TOO MUCH DEMOCRACY

In May UCLA's Ziman Center for Real Estate and Mercy Housing California held a symposium entitled “Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Democracy?”  Graduate students from the University's Urban and Regional Planning Program were deeply disturbed both by the title and the focus of the gathering, and wrote the following letter to express their concerns.

Graduate Students Oppose UCLA’s Complicity in Displacement from Knock


DEADLINE FOR PROMENADE COMMENTS

The deadine for comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Promendade 2035 project has been extended to Thursday, July 26.  If you do submit comments, be sure to include the following case number in the subject line: ENV-2016-3909-EIR

Promenade 2035 Draft EIR


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<![CDATA[UN4LA NEWS, JUNE 2018]]>Fri, 01 Jun 2018 04:31:48 GMThttp://un4la.com/un4la-news/un4la-news-june-2018

A monthly newsletter published by United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles.

UN4LA's mission is to bring communities together to plan for a sustainable future.  This city's growth must be shaped by community engagement, not developer dollars.

Contact UN4LA

KOREATOWN ANGRY ABOUT WESSON'S DECISION ON HOMELESS SHELTER

In April the LA City Council declared an emergency shelter crisis, and Mayor Eric Garcetti put forward a plan to create temporary shelters to house some of LA’s homeless while permanent housing is built.  Reactions have been mixed.  In the Valley, CD 2 Councilmember Paul Krekorian is studying eight different sites in his district that could be used for temporary shelters, and has said he will seek public input before making a final decision.  So far Krekorian’s constituents seem willing to accept this approach.  However in Koreatown it’s a different story.  In CD 10 Councilmember Herb Wesson unilaterally selected a City-owned parking lot near Vermont and Wilshire as the site for a homeless shelter.  No input was sought from the public, and Koreatown residents are angry.  One of the chief concerns is the proximity of the shelter to three different school campusses.  Why couldn't Wesson talk to the community about their concerns before he made the decision?

For details on the situation in Koreatown, here's an article from CityWatch....

Koreatown Isn't Saying No to Shelters for the Homeless, It's Saying No to Herb Wesson

For an overview of the shelter program, here’s an article from Park La Brea News….

‘A Bridge Home’ for LA’s Homeless from Park La Brea News

MORE HOUSING BILLS FROM SACRAMENTO

The State Legislature is working on all kinds of housing bills.  There are so many it’s hard to wade through them all, and often difficult to evaluate what a bill’s actual impacts may be.  But here are a couple that have been getting attention. 

The first offers density bonusses for student housing, and restricts cities from applying certain standards to these projects.  SB 1227 would apply to projects in which units are used for students enrolled full-time at an institution of higher education and in which 20% of the units are set aside for lower income students.

SB 1227 – Density Bonus for Student Housing

The second is aimed at raising revenue for low-income housing near transit stops.  SB 961 will allow cities that adopt an infrastructure financing plan to allocate taxes collected to the construction of low-income housing within a half mile of a rail stop or 300 feet of a major bus stop.   

SB 961 Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts/Low-Income Housing near Transit

It's kind of complicated.  But here’s an article in which SB 961's author, State Senator Ben Allen, explains what he’s trying to do.  

Legislature's Latest Effort to Finance Neighborhood Infill

WHY DOESN’T L.A. HAVE AN URBAN FOREST MANAGEMENT PLAN?

LA’s urban forest is declining, and in recent years more threats have appeared that could accelerate the loss of our trees.  Unfortunately, instead of dealing with this problem by creating a comprehensive, science-based program, the City of LA is resorting to ill-conceived stopgap measures.  The recently adopted in-lieu fee for tree replacement is just one example.  

What the City of LA really needs is an Urban Forest Management Plan (UFMP).  And in order to create a UFMP, the City first needs to do a tree inventory.  This would cost money, but in the long run restoring and enhancing our tree canopy would pay big dividends by keeping the City cooler (reducing energy costs), increasing stormwater capture (replenishing groundwater), and removing pollutants from the air (improving the health of the City's inhabitants).

Does your Councilmember support the creation of an Urban Forest Management Plan?  Why don't you call them and ask them.  And if the answer is no, ask them why not?

Los Angeles City Council Directory

AND SPEAKING OF SAVING THE URBAN FOREST....

A report came out last year showing that the current trend of building larger and larger homes is a major reason for the loss of tree canopy.  Here's the study.

Increased Home Size Decreases Urban Forest in LA County’s Neighborhoods

So what can you do about it?  Well, last year Councilmembers Paul Koretz and David Ryu introduced a motion to stop the Department of Building & Safety (LADBS) from issuing remodel permits to developers who actually tear houses down. Not only do developers get a break on permit costs with this approach, but they avoid having to post a 30-day notice of demolition. This scam has allowed developers to knock down existing houses and replace them with McMansions.

The motion introduced by Koretz and Ryu has been sitting in limbo for over a year because the Planning & Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) has not put it on the agenda. If you think this motion deserves to be heard, contact PLUM Chair Jose Huizar and tell him to put it on the agenda ASAP.

Councilmember Jose Huizar

Also, please copy the Committee Clerk.

PLUM Committee Clerk

Be sure to put the Council File number in your subject line.

Council File: 17-0226

Here’s the link to the motion.

http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2017/17-0226_mot_02-24-2017.pdf

Santa Monica has already taken action to keep developers from building absurdly oversized mansions.  Read about it here.

Santa Monica Cracks Down on Big Houses from Curbed

Los Angeles can do the same, but the City Council won't act unless they hear from you.




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<![CDATA[UN4LA NEWS, MAY 2018]]>Tue, 01 May 2018 06:11:32 GMThttp://un4la.com/un4la-news/un4la-news-may-2018

A monthly newsletter published by United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles.

UN4LA's mission is to bring communities together to plan for a sustainable future.  This city's growth must be shaped by community engagement, not developer dollars.

Contact UN4LA


SB 827 IS DEAD

By now you've probably heard that SB 827, State Senator Scott Wiener's bill which would have upzoned parcels near transit in cities across the state, is dead.  It didn't even muster enough votes to make it out of committee.  While Wiener and his allies pushed hard on this one, opponents of the bill won the day.  Many thanks to all those who wrote e-mails and made phone calls to defeat this direct assault on local planning control.  The defeat of SB 827 shows that we can make a difference when we all work together.  Here's an account from the Mercury News.

Major California Housing Bill Dies in First Committee Hearing


CROSSROADS

The Final EIR for the Crossroads Hollywood project has been completed.  While this controversial project would preserve the Crossroads of the World mall and the former Hollywood Reporter Building, it would also involve the demolition of all other structures on the site, including 80 rent-stabilized apartments.

The eight acre complex would include several new buildings, including three large towers.  The project features residential, hotel, commercial/retail, entertainment and restaurant uses.  It would include approximately 1,381,000 square feet of floor area, consisting of 950 residential units (11 percent, or 105 units, for Very Low Income Households), 308 hotel rooms, and approximately 190,000 square feet of commercial space.  Incredibly, the developers are also asking for a master liquor permit to allow the sale of alcohol at a total of 22 establishments, in spite of the fact that the project is across the street from Hollywood High School.  In addition, they also want a master permit to allow live entertainment at 8 locations within the project.

The Department of City Planning will be considering the project at a hearing on May 15 at 9:00 am.  Here's the hearing notice, you're interested in attending.

Crossroads Hearing


WARNER CENTER

Developers have big plans for Warner Center.  There are numerous projects in the works which would readically transform the area.  But would these projects create the walkable, sustainable communities the City claims they will?  Or are they merely designed to fatten the wallets of real estate investors.

The massive Promenade 2035 would be built in multiple phases on the site of Westfield's existing Promenade Shopping Center.  The project description says it would include up to 1,400 residential units, about 244,000 square feet of retail/restaurant uses, over 600,000 square feet of office space, over 500 hotel rooms, and a 15,000 seat entertainment and sports center.  Structures would range from 3 stories to 28 stories in height.  The developer is also requesting a Master Conditional Use Permit to allow the sale of alcohol at multiple sites within the project.

The Draft EIR is available now.  You can view it by clicking on the link below.

Promenade 2035 Draft SEIR

To view the document, select a chapter using Draft SEIR Sections and click on 'Go'.  Comments are due by Monday, June 11, 2018 at 4:00 pm.  Be sure to include "Case No. ENV-2016-3909-EIR" in the subject line.  Send your comments to:

Elva Nuño-O'Donnell
elva.nuno-odonnell@lacity.org

If you have problems with this project, you're not alone.  Connect with the folks at Rally to Save the Valley to learn more about how you can get involved.

Rally to Save the Valley


HOME SHARING ORDINANCE

It seems like LA is finally getting close to passing the Home Sharing Ordinance (HSO).  While the current version is weaker than what many housing activists were fighting for, the ordinance would still go a long way toward protecting our communities.  The amendments recommended by the Housing and PLUM Committees include a 120 day cap, and funding for enforcement that would allow the City to crack down on those who don't follow the law.  Unfortunately, short-term rental companies like AirBnB are lobbying hard to weaken the ordinance further.

The City Council will vote on the HSO this week, then it will be referred to the City Planning Commission for consideration, and then it will come back to the Council for a final vote.  If you want to show up to support the HSO, and insist that it be adopted with no further concessions to AirBnB, here's the info for the meeting.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018, 10:00 am
City Hall, John Ferraro Council Chamber, Room 340
200 N. Spring St.
USE ENTRANCE ON MAIN STREET.


L.A. IS HANDING OUT TOO MANY TAX BREAKS

Offering tax breaks for new development can help make worthwhile projects viable, helping to create jobs and bring needed investment.  But tax breaks can also be abused.  Lately LA's elected officials have been offering extremely generous incentives on projects that would be profitable even without them.  Earlier this month, UN4LA wrote a letter to City Hall to ask why our leaders were giving up so much revenue when they haven't even been able to balance the budget.  Click on the link to read the letter.

Too Many Tax Breaks



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<![CDATA[UN4LA NEWS, APRIL 2018]]>Mon, 02 Apr 2018 06:16:14 GMThttp://un4la.com/un4la-news/april-01st-2018

A monthly newsletter published by United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles.

UN4LA's mission is to bring communities together to plan for a sustainable future.  This city's growth must be shaped by community engagement, not developer dollars.

Contact UN4LA


RE:CODE L.A. COULD CHANGE WHAT GETS BUILT ON YOUR BLOCK

Back in 2013, the City of LA embarked on the complex task of updating its zoning code.  Entitled re:code LA, this sweeping overhaul will change the way zoning is defined in Los Angeles.  While there's no doubt that a rewrite of the code is long overdue, there are reasons to be skeptical of the City's motives.  

While the web site says, “re:code LA is a comprehensive revision of the City of Los Angeles’ Zoning Code," staff from the Department of City Planning (DCP) has said on more than one occasion that it will not change zoning.  Seem like a contradiction?  Elsewhere on the website it says, “The re:code LA project will not change any zoning designations, that work will only be accomplished when the City Council officially adopts new Community Plans or other planning projects."  In other words, the changes will come not when re:code is approved, but later on when it's woven into newly adopted plans and projects.

This is a problem.  When the DCP presented its Hollywood Community Plan Update to stakeholders last year, there was no mention of how re:code could lead to zoning revisions down the road.  The DCP also met with residents of the Valley last year to start the process of updating the Southwest Valley Community Plans.  Were attendees informed of the changes that might occur once re:code was woven into the plans?

At the same time, new rules are being formulated to change procedures for the way the DCP processes project applications.  The Draft Processes and Procedures Ordinance is over 200 pages long. If the City is planning on inserting something that substantial into the Municipal Code, we need to take the time to look it over.

These two initiatives could have huge impacts on our communities.  Follow the links below to learn more.

re:code LA

Draft Processes and Procedures Ordinance


221-UNIT WESTLAKE PROJECT APPROVED OVER COMMUNITY OPPOSITION 

In spite of substantial opposition from the surrounding community, earlier this month the Department of City Planning (DCP) approved a five-story residential project for the site of the former Temple Community Hospital, at the corner of Temple and Hoover.  Among the concerns of area residents were continuing gentrification and the loss of open space.  Of the 221 units included in the project, 19 will be set aside for very low income households, but many community members feel that this small number of affordable units will not begin to offset the gentrifying impact of the project as a whole.  Residents also felt that the Mitigated Negative Declaration prepared for the project was inadequate, and that it required a full Environmental Impact Report.  Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell and the DCP disagreed, and barring further challenges, the project will move forward.


LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCIL OPPOSES SB 827

On March 27 the LA City Council voted unanimously to oppose SB 827, a bill introduced by State Senator Scott Wiener that would override local zoning on parcels near transit. The motion to oppose SB 827 was introduced by Councilmember David Ryu and seconded by Council President Herb Wesson, both of whom deserve our thanks for taking action.  The list of cities that have registered their opposition to the bill include Redondo Beach, Calabasas, Beverly Hills, Rancho Palos Verdes, Palo Alto, Milpitas and Livermore.

The LA City Council's vote was an important step, but the fate of SB 827 will be determined by State lawmakers in Sacramento. If you haven’t already contacted your representatives in the State Assembly and the State Senate, please do so ASAP. If you don’t know who your reps are, you can use this link to find out.

Find Your Rep

For more information on this bill and how to fight it, please visit our SB 827 page.

SB 827


MIXED NEWS FOR 8150 SUNSET

The controversial 8150 Sunset project has been held up by legal challenges, but in late March the Court of Appeals handed down a new ruling.  While a lower court had ruled that the EIR did not adequately study the impact of demolishing a mid-century modern bank on the site, the higher court overturned that decision.  However, the Court of Appeals also said that the environmental assessment had failed to properly analyse the closure of a right-turn lane at the intersection of Sunset and Crescent Heights.  This means the project will need further review, which will probably take a minimum of six months.  This story from The Real Deal gives more details.

8150 Sunset Takes One Step Forward, One Back


CITY APPROVES MORE LIQUOR PERMITS, LITERALLY BY THE DOZEN

Last month the Department of City Planning (DCP) approved a Master Conditional Use Permit allowing a full line of alcoholic beverages at 19 restaurants on a single city block in Downtown LA.  But that's not all.  The City is also considering another Master CUP to permit a full line for 2 bars and 5 restaurants at 3501 6th Street.  

And there's still more.  The owners of the nearly completed project at 6200 Hollywood Blvd. have asked for yet another Master CUP, this one covering 9 restaurants (5 full line, 4 beer and wine) and one store which will sell liquor for off-site consumption.  The zoning administrator hearing the case seemed inclined to approve the request, in spite of the fact that, as of last year, there were almost 70 establishments selling alcohol for on-site consumption in the area bounded by Franklin, Gower, Sunset and La Brea. 

But the best is yet to come.  This year the City will be considering approval of the massive Crossroads project, and in this case the developers are asking for a Master CUP to cover a total of 22 alcohol-related uses.  That's right.  Twenty two.  This seems especially worrisome, since the project will be across the street from Hollywood High School.  

While there's nothing wrong with a community offering bars and restaurants where folks can get a drink, it seems that the City of LA believes you can never have too much alcohol.  This is in spite of the fact that research shows a link between alcohol density and violent crime.  Crime in Hollywood has been rising for years, and the latest LAPD stats show a year-to-date 25% increase in violent crime over 2017. 

If you see a problem with granting multiple alcohol permits under Master CUPs, call your Councilmember's office and let them know.  Here's a link to the City Council Directory.

LA City Council






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<![CDATA[UN4LA NEWS, MARCH 2018]]>Sat, 03 Mar 2018 06:39:53 GMThttp://un4la.com/un4la-news/un4la-news-march-2018
Picture
Members of the Harbor Gateway community at a recent hearing on a proposed distribution center in their neighborhood.


A monthly newsletter published by United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles.

UN4LA's mission is to bring communities together to plan for a sustainable future.  This city's growth must be shaped by community engagement, not developer dollars.

Contact UN4LA

DEVELOPER CHARGED WITH MAKING ILLEGAL CONTRIBUTIONS

The developer behind the controversial Sea Breeze project has been charged with campaign money laundering and bribery.  The LA Times reported over a year ago that questionable campaign contributions totalling over $600,000 had been made to committees supporting local politicians, including City Councilmembers Joe Buscaino, Mitchell Englander, Jose Huizar, Gil Cedillo, Nury Martinez, and Mayor Eric Garcetti.  The Times found evidence that developer Samuel Leung may have used intermediaries to funnel the money to elected officials while the project was being reviewed by the City.  Read all about it here.

LA Developer Charged with Making Illegal Donations


PLANNING COMMISSION APPROVES TOXIC PROJECT IN HARBOR GATEWAY

On February 8 the City Planning Commission (CPC) heard a long and contentious debate about whether the new warehouse/distribution center planned for the intersection of Vermont and Redondo was a boon to the community or a poison pill.  Representatives for the applicant, Prologis, union members, and the local chamber of commerce all showed up to talk about how great the project was.  But area residents saw it differently.  Numerous members of the community got up to talk about the impacts of noise and exhaust from diesel trucks travelling to and from the site 24/7.  A consistent refrain among the critics was that the environmental assessment that had been produced was inadequate, and that the project required a full EIR.  Many spoke of their concerns that the health of children and seniors would be impacted.

Did that sway the CPC?  Of course not.  They approved the project.  Click below to see the statement from the Harbor Gateway North Neighborhood Council.

Harbor Gateway North NC Takes Position on Prologis Warehouse

FOLAR OPPOSES ATWATER PROJECT

Friends of the LA River (FOLAR) has joined with arts organization Clockshop to oppose a project that would include 419 apartments and 64,000 sq. ft. of commercial space.  The project is planned for 2750 West Casitas Ave. in Atwater.  Thirty five of the units would be reserved for low-income tenants.  

There are a number of concerns about the project.  It would be located next to the 2 Freeway, and decades of research have shown that people living near heavy traffic corridors are at higher risk of lung and heart disease, especially seniors and children.  The project is also located near the LA River, and FOLAR says it could be susceptible to flooding during heaviy rains.  There's also a concern that the 35 affordable units would not be enough to offset the project's gentrifying effect on the community.

Opposition to Huge Riverfront Apartment Complex

AFFORDABLE HOUSING MANDATE IS BACK

One of the solutions most often proposed for the shortage of affordable housing is the use of inclusionary zoning, in other words requiring developers to provide a certain number of affordable units in new multi-family projects.  LA had tried this approach before, but was shut down by developer Geoff Palmer, who sued and won based on the argument that the practice violated state law.  But last year Sacramento amended that law, and the City recently required a project proposed for the Westlake area to include a percentage of affordable units.  The Real Deal gives details.

LA Officials Bring Back Affordable Housing Mandate

IN-LIEU FEES FOR CUTTING DOWN TREES?

Currently when trees are cut down as a result of new construction, the developer is required to purchase new trees, which would then be planted by the City's Urban Forestry Division (UFD).  Unfortunately, the UFD no longer has staff to do the planting, which means the City has scores of trees sitting in storage.  So now City Hall has proposed an ordinance that merely requires developers to pay a fee, which would cover purchase, planting and watering for three years.  Will this solve the problem?  Or is it just another way of avoiding the real problem?

The real problem is that the City is losing its tree canopy, in part because of new development.  Rather than stopgap measures like this one, the City needs to take real, meaningful action.  We need to undertake a complete inventory of our urban forest.  Then we need to develop an Urban Forest Management Plan.  Losing our trees impacts the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink, and contributes to higher temperatures.  We don't need an easy fix.  We need a real plan.  

Here's the link to the proposed ordinance.

Tree Replacement In-Lieu Fee

If you want to talk to your City Council rep about this issue, the link below offers contact info.  The council file number is CF-16-0461.

City Council Directory



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