<![CDATA[UN4LA - UN4LA NEWS]]>Thu, 04 Feb 2021 00:54:29 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[UN4LA NEWS, FEBRUARY 2021]]>Thu, 04 Feb 2021 06:29:59 GMThttp://un4la.com/un4la-news/un4la-news-february-2021

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

 
L.A. CITY COUNCIL MOVES AGGRESSIVELY ON HOMELESS HOUSING
 
As the new year begins, LA City Councilmembers have brought forward a number of new motions to address homelessness.  CD 14 Councilmember Kevin de León has prepared a package of nine motions as part of an initiative labelled A Way Home.  Other Councilmembers, including Nury Martinez, Bob Blumenfield, Mike Bonin and Nithya Raman have also put forward motions to address this growing crisis.  Below is a list, not necessarily comprehensive, of the actions that are currently being considered.  Will 2021 be the year that the LA City Council finally takes meaningful steps to address the homeless crisis?
 
21-0032 Report on Status of HHH Funded Projects

21-0040 Hotels & Motels, Lease with Option to Purchase

21-0041 Standard Design Requirements for Temporary Shelters

21-0043 Evaluate Funding for HHH Projects in Pre-Development Phase

21-0052 25,000 New Homeless Housing Units by 2025

21-0054 Expedited Review for Permanent Supportive Housing Projects

21-0061 Standard Plans for Some Types of Housing

21-0062 Develop Standardized, Equitable Rent Registry Program

21-0063 Report on City-Owned Land Available for Homeless Housing

The nine motions above are all part of the A Way Home initiative.  You can find more information on this initiative by clicking on the link below.
 
A Way Home

21-0046 Housing Acquisition Program Expansion

21-0060 Homeless Housing and Recovery Program

21-0113 Expand Project Roomkey


CITY OF L.A. MOVES TO GUT HOLLYWOOD REDEVELOPMENT PLAN
 
On Thursday, February 18, the City Planning Commission (CPC) will be holding a hearing on the Hollywood Community Plan Update.  In the list of matters to be considered by the CPC, the hearing notice includes the following:
 
"Amendments to the Hollywood Redevelopment Plan to clarify its relationship to the forthcoming recommended Community Plan."
 
The hearing notice doesn't provide any more details on this action.  But in reality, what's being considered is an ordinance that will gut the Hollywood Redevelopment Plan.  Here's an excerpt:
 
“The purpose of this Ordinance is to ensure that from the effective date of this Ordinance, the Hollywood Redevelopment Plan shall not regulate or have any further force and effect over: (i) the use and development of land in the City, (ii) obligations of the City to prepare or make any report, survey, study or undertake any other planning effort, and (iii) any other land use related plan or function in the City.”
 
This is a major change that is legally questionable.  There are bound to be fireworks at the hearing.  To read the full ordinance, click on the link below.
 
Hollywood Redevelopment Plan Proposed Ordinance

  
SOCAL CITIES LOSE APPEALS OF INFLATED RHNA ALLOCATIONS
 
Since 1969, the State of California has required that local governments plan to meet projected housing needs for their communities.  The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) calculates the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) for the State’s various regions, and then regional planning agencies determine the housing allocations for each city. 
 
Last year the RHNA allocations for many LA area cities jumped much higher than expected.  Suddenly required to build thousands more housing units than they’d anticipated, a number of cities appealed their allocations to the Southern California Association of Governments.  All appeals were denied. 
 
But how did the State arrive at these higher RHNA numbers?  According to a report from the Embarcadero Institute, the State’s math is all wrong.  Here’s a quote….
 
“Use of an incorrect vacancy rate and double counting, inspired by SB-828, caused the state’s
Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to exaggerate by more than
900,000 the units needed in SoCal, the Bay Area, and the Sacramento area.”
 
Click on the link to read the full report.
 
Double Counting in the Latest Housing Needs Assessment

 
L.A. RIVER MASTER PLAN RELEASED
 
After years of work, the LA River Master Plan was released in January.  Meant to provide an overarching vision for the River's future, the Plan attempts to address a variety of issues, including water resources, land use, social justice and open space.  This is a massive undertaking.  The LA River begins in Canoga Park and runs about 50 miles, passing through a number of cities, before flowing into the ocean at Long Beach.
 
Predictably, the Plan has already sparked controversy.  Proponents believe it represents a visionary attempt to revitalize the River and address inequities in low-income communities.  But environmental and social justice groups have already come forward with criticisms, asserting that the Plan will cause ecological damage and foment real estate speculation.  There will be plenty of debate in the years to come.
 
In the meantime, take a look for yourself.  But be warned: It's huge.
 
LA River Master Plan

It's important to remember that the LA River Master Plan is just one of many plans that have been prepared to reassess and reimagine the River.  Dozens of communities and thousands of stakeholders have been involved in this process for years.  Some projects are already being implemented.  In this article, Heal the Bay offers a concise overview of the River's history, and talks about the many different ways people are working to heal the environment and help their communities.    
 
Changes are Coming to the L.A. River

 
HARBOR COMMUNITY PLAN UPDATE
 
The City of LA has started the task of updating the community plans for the Harbor area.  The process involves combining two community plan areas, Harbor Gateway and Wilmington-Harbor City, and the plans will be assessed in a single Environmental Impact Report.  Among the objectives of the updated plans are:
 
  • Addressing the legacy of contamination
  • Preserving industrial districts
  • Maintain single- and multi-family residential neighborhoods
 
An overview of the process and a timeline are available on the Department of City Planning web site.
 
Harbor LA Community Plans Update

 
THE L.A. CITY ETHICS COMMISSION WANTS TO HEAR FROM YOU!
 
Back in 2018, the LA City Ethics Commission recommended that the City Council make a number of updates to the City’s lobbying laws.  Unfortunately, the Council chose to ignore the recommendations.  In the meantime, the Department of Justice initiated a sweeping investigation of corruption at City Hall which resulted in five guilty pleas and the indictment of a former Councilmember and the Mayor's former Planning Deputy. 
 
Possibly because of the headlines generated by this scandal, the Ethics Commission has decided to try again, and they want your input.  They've asked the public to review the recommendations and submit comments.  One proposal in particular has drawn a lot of heat.  The Commission suggests requiring lobbyists to disclose the title and division of each City official contacted, instead of the current practice of simply listing the agencies they've been in touch with.  Not surprisingly, lobbyists are pushing back hard.  Could there be a reason they don't want to reveal exactly who they're talking to?
 
To review the recommendations and to learn more about the process, visit the Ethics Commission’s Current Reviews page by clicking on the link below.
 
LA Ethics Commission, Current Reviews

Click on Lobbying Laws for a detailed explanation of the process.  You can send comments to the address below.
 
ethics.policy@lacity.org
 


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<![CDATA[UN4LA NEWS, JANUARY 2021]]>Sun, 03 Jan 2021 18:08:49 GMThttp://un4la.com/un4la-news/un4la-news-january-2021

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


WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
 
It's clear that our world has changed.  So many things we took for granted at the beginning of 2020 have been turned upside down in the space of a single year.  While the pandemic will eventually fade, and we look forward to the day when we can return to some kind of normal, it seems likely that some of the disruptions that have taken place will have lasting impacts.
 
The photo above shows the Academy Square project at the corner of Vine and De Longpre in Hollywood.  In 2016, when the DEIR was released, Academy Square seemed to make perfect sense.  The site had been underutilized for years.  Entertainment companies were showing strong interest in the area, and the surge in new development seemed to be growing stronger every year.  With 233,665 sq. ft. of office space, 49,135 sq. ft. of retail/restaurant space, and a 23-story tower containing 250 multi-family units, the project was touted as further evidence that Hollywood was on a roll. 
 
Now, as the project nears completion, things have changed considerably.  As more and more companies allow employees to work from home, the demand for office space has plummeted.  While brick and mortar retail has been struggling for years, the pandemic has accelerated the trend toward on-line shopping.  And a report released in June 2020 by LA's Housing + Community Investment Department shows that, according to LADWP data, the residential vacancy rate in Hollywood is over ten percent. 
 
The landscape has changed, and our thinking has to change with it.  The California Legislature is beginning a new session, and no doubt we'll see yet another spate of bills aimed at upzoning urban and suburban land.  Is it time for a fresh approach?  The author of the following article offers an idea on how we might turn the current crisis into an opportunity.
 
Declining Commercial Real Estate Demand May Provide Opportunity to Address Housing Crisis


PANDEMIC DAMPENS SOFI STADIUM DEBUT
 
There were many things that didn’t go according to plan this year.  One of 2020’s most anticipated events was the opening of the new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.  It happened, but well behind schedule and not the way anyone expected.  Jon Regardie takes a look at the politics and the money involved in the decades-long process of bringing an NFL team to LA.  
 
A Look Back at the Long, Winding Road to the Opening of SoFi Stadium

  
VENICE PLACE PROJECT SPARKS CONTROVERSY
 
Proponents of the Venice Place Project on Abbot Kinney Blvd. claim their plan has significant support from the community, but there’s also strong opposition.  This is a mixed-use project centered around a 78-room hotel, which also includes restaurants and office space.  Opponents cite concerns about gentrification, and certainly Venice has been a gentrification hotspot in recent years.  They also see problems with environmental impacts.  Click on the links below to read the project description from the Environmental Impact Report, and an update on the Project from Citizens Preserving Venice.
 
Venice Place Project: Project Description

Venice Place Project from Citizens Preserving Venice

  
METRO NEXT GEN BUS PLAN
 
Ridership on LA Metro lines has been declining for years, and bus ridership has seen especially steep losses.  In an effort to reverse this trend, Metro has prepared its Next Gen plan.  The idea is to ramp up bus service along major corridors, but this also means cutting service on lines with lower ridership.  Will it work?  Hard to say, since it’s being rolled out in the middle of a pandemic, and many people are avoiding busses and trains to reduce the risk of infection.  It will probably be quite a while before it’s possible to gauge the plan’s effectiveness.  Below is a detailed breakdown of the plan from Streetsblog.
 
A Look at Phase One of Metro NextGen Bus Service Reorganization

 


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<![CDATA[UN4LA NEWS, DECEMBER 2020]]>Mon, 07 Dec 2020 07:13:39 GMThttp://un4la.com/un4la-news/un4la-news-december-2020

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

 CITY OF L.A. PROPOSES MAJOR CHANGES TO ZONING CODE AND PROJECT APPROVAL PROCESS
 
The City of LA has released a proposed New Zoning Code which will be a radical departure from the existing Zoning Code.  There's no question that the current Code is extremely complex and out of date, but there are some serious questions about what the City Plans to replace it with.  At the same time, the New Zoning Code contains the proposed Processes & Procedures Ordinance, which would make significant changes to the project approval process.
 
In addition, the City is also moving toward finalizing updated Community Plans for Downtown and Hollywood.  In both cases the new Plans allow for significant upzoning without making any realistic proposals for improved infrastructure.
 
UN4LA urges neighborhoods councils and community groups to review these proposals, to attend workshops and hearings and to submit comments.  The proposed ordinances and plans will set the stage for the City's future growth, and the public's voice must be heard.  See below for more info on these proposed changes.
 
 NEW PROCESSES FOR PROJECT APPROVALS
 
The LA Department of City Planning (DCP) is proposing a new approach to projects approvals, the Processes and Procedures Ordinance.  This is the second time in recent years that the City has proposed such an ordinance, and the first effort did not go over well with many community groups.  The text of the ordinance released in 2018 seemed designed to give more power to unelected bureaucrats while limiting public engagement in the planning process.  There is good reason to believe the new ordinance will take the same approach.
 
The DCP has posted an overview of the proposed ordinance on its web site, which includes an annotated version.  Community groups should take the time to study it and provide comments.  If the ordinance is adopted, it will make major changes to the project approval process.
 
Processes + Procedures Ordinance

NEW ZONING CODE
 
The City of LA has released a proposed New Zoning Code which would represent a radical departure from the existing Zoning Code.  While no one can argue the fact that the existing Code needs to be overhauled, there are also reasons to be concerned about New Zoning Code.  To start with, it's a Form Based Code.  With the existing code, the primary focus is use, but with the new code the focus will be built form.  The new code is organized around the following "districts":
 
  • Form
  • Frontage
  • Standards
  • Use
  • Density
 
In the LA Department of City Planning's (LADCP) explanation, it all sounds great, but it would be wise to maintain a healthy skepticism.  To begin with, while the City claims their goal is to simplify things, the New Code appears to be rather complicated.  In the case of Form Districts alone there are 21 separate categories, and within some of these categories there are multiple sub-categories.  Also, most of these Form districts include built-in density bonusses, meaning that the project applicant can create a larger project if they provide a percentage of affordable housing or other community benefits. 
 
This may sound like a reasonable trade-off, but the City has already been approving density bonusses for years, and this has led to a system where about 90%  of new housing is built for Above Moderate Income Households, while Moderate Income, Low Income and Very Low Income households get to compete for the remaining 10%.  Aside from hard-wiring the system to produce an ingrained housing imbalance, the potential for gentrification is very real.  Nashville, Denver and Cincinnati have all adopted Form Based Code zoning systems, and all are seeing high rates of gentrification and displacement.
 
Follow the link below to take a closer look at the proposed New Zoning Code.
 
New Zoning Code Introduction

UN4LA FILES SUIT TO OVERTURN APPROVAL OF PROJECT INVOLVING DEMOLITION OF 40 RSO APARTMENTS
 
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles City Council approved the demolition of 40 rent-stabilized units at 1719 Whitley to make way for a new hotel.  Why the Council would do this, given their repeated reminders that we're dealing with a severe housing crisis, is hard to fathom.  (The vote would have been unanimous, except for Councilmember David Ryu, who cast the lone vote against.)  UN4LA has filed suit to overturn approval of the project, because we believe the City needs housing far more than it needs hotels.  In addition to approving the demolition of the existing units, the Council also allowed the developer to avoid legally required environmental review.  The project site is surrounded by numerous residential uses, and is directly adjacent to a senior housing project, but the Council apparently doesn't think the construction of a 10-story hotel which routinely hosts special events will be problem for the neighbors.
 
We'll see what the courts have to say. 
 
INGLEWOOD TREASURER ASKS TOUGH QUESTIONS ABOUT CITY FINANCES
 
Inglewood Treasurer Wanda Brown has been a frequent critic of the city’s financial practices, asserting that elected officials have misled city employees and the public about the budget.  Brown questions whether Mayor James Butts, City Manager Artie Fields and others have been responsible stewards of the city’s finances.  Follow the link for more details.
 
Inglewood Treasurer’s Report Questions “Special” Payroll Run Despite Budget Deficit

FEDS CHARGE FORMER DEPUTY MAYOR RAY CHAN WITH CORRUPTION
 
In the latest development in the Department of Justice investigation of corruption at LA City Hall, former Deputy Mayor and LADBS General Manager Ray Chan has been charged with RICO conspiracy, bribery, honest services fraud and lying to federal agents.  In addition to Chan, the new indictment also charges two other individuals and two companies with participating in corruption related to development.
 
New Indictment in RICO Case Against Former L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar Adds 5 Defendants

 
 
 

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<![CDATA[UN4LA NEWS, OCTOBER 2020]]>Sun, 04 Oct 2020 16:52:30 GMThttp://un4la.com/un4la-news/un4la-news-october-2020

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

 
EMBARCADERO INSTITUTE SAYS CALIFORNIA HOUSING NEEDS ASSESSMENT IS FLAWED
 
According to the State's latest Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), California cities need to build more than 2,000,000 units of housing by 2030.  But a recently released report by the Embarcadero Institute says that the way the State calculated the RHNA allocations was seriously flawed.  SB 828, a bill authored by State Senator Scott Wiener which the Legislature approved in 2018, led to the use of an incorrect vacancy rate and caused double counting.  The flawed methodology caused the State to overestimate the need for housing in Southern California, the Bay Area and Sacramento by more than 900,000.
 
According to the Embarcadero report, it also resulted in an analysis that failed to identify the real need: affordable housing.  Read the full report below.
 
Double Counting in the Latest Housing Needs Assessment from the Embarcadero Institute

 
DOWNTOWN COMMUNITY PLAN UPDATE: WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
 
The Draft EIR for the Downtown Community Plan Update has been released.  If you don’t live in Downtown, you may be asking yourself, “Why should I care?” 
 
You should care because the Department of City Planning has linked the Downtown Plan to the rollout of the City’s new zoning code.  The new code is a radical departure from the previous approach, emphasizing form over use.  This Form Based Code will have huge implications on development in Los Angeles, most likely allowing larger projects to be built “by-right”, with no need for public hearings or environmental review.  If the new code is adopted for the Downtown Community Plan, the City has said it intends to use the code to implement all of LA’s community plans.
 
If you’d like to comment on the Draft EIR, please follow the City’s instructions to make sure your comments are considered.  These are the instructions posted on the City Planning web site:
 
If you wish to submit comments on the Draft EIR, please submit your written comments (including a name, telephone number, and contact information and the following file number ENV-2017-433-EIR) during the Comment Period, via mail or e-mail to the following addresses:
 
                 Mail:  Brittany Arceneaux, City Planner
                           City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning
                           200 North Spring Street, Room 667
                           Los Angeles, CA 90012
             E-mail:  brittany.arceneaux@lacity.org

 
Please also note the following from the City Planning web site:
 
Comments that are sent to the City before or after the Comment Period provided above or that fail to comply with the above instructions for the manner or submission of comments may not be included in the Final EIR and receive a response to comments under CEQA Guidelines Section 15088.
 
If you submit comments via e-mail, be sure to include the following in the subject line:
 
Case No.: ENV-2017-433-EIR
 
The deadline to submit comments is December 4, 2020 at 5:00 pm.

Downtown Community Plan Update Draft Documents
 
 
HOLLYWOOD COMMUNITY PLAN IMPLEMENTATION OVERLAY: MORE UPZONING
 
LADCP has released the Hollywood Community Plan Implementation Overlay, which outlines the zoning that will be used to implement the Hollywood Community Plan Update (HCPU).  If you visit the LADCP’s web page for the HCPU, the first thing you see is a gallery of colorful images overlaid with phrases that supposedly outline what the Plan will deliver: Lowers Building Heights, Creates Open Space, Supports Accessible Transit, and Promotes Livable, Complete Streets.  Will the HCPU actually deliver on all these promises?  Let’s break it down….
 
Lowers Building Heights: The plan only does this in small, specific historic areas.  Actually, in most of the Hollywood area the Plan allows developers to create much larger buildings than are currently allowed by offering generous density bonusses. 
 
Creates Open Space: The Plan proposes to do this mostly by supporting the creation of the Hollywood Central Park, a 44-acre “cap park” which would be built over the Hollywood Freeway.  While Hollywood could certainly use more park space, some estimates put the price tag at around $1 billion, and at this point funding is far from certain.  Also, it’s important to ask why the City proposes the construction of a new 44-acre park when the Department of Recreation and Parks doesn’t even have the funds to maintain existing parks.
 
Supports Accessible Transit: Even if this were true (and the City’s record on planning related to transit is dismal), through its radical upzoning framework the Plan will probably drive the remaining low-income households that rely on transit out of the area.
 
Promotes Livable, Complete Streets: This is good news, because through upzoning the Plan promises to accelerate gentrification and push more Hollywood residents out of their homes and onto the streets.  Let’s hope they are livable.
 
Draft Hollywood Community Plan Implementation (CPIO) District

Hollywood Community Plan Update Interactive Maps
 
Public comments on the updated CPIO and Draft Community Plan can be sent to Sophia Kim at:
 
sophia.kim@lacity.org 
 
 
HEATED DEBATE AT HOLLYWOOD CENTER HEARING
 
At a long, contentious on-line meeting on August 26, LA City Planning officials heard comments from scores of citizens who had sharply different views of the proposed Hollywood Center Project.  The project would create a large, mixed-use campus straddling Vine Street north of Hollywood Blvd..  Proponents argued that the Project would offer needed housing, create jobs, boost transit ridership and invite new investment.  Opponents claimed that the Project would have numerous negative impacts on surrounding neighborhoods and questioned the wisdom of building twin skyscrapers on parcels that are crossed by the Hollywood Fault. 
 
Another hearing is scheduled for October 15, where six appellants (including the project applicant) will weigh in on the actions taken by the City related to the Hollywood Center. 
 
Hollywood Center Hearing, October 15, 2020

 
THE NEW LACMA: A MONUMENT TO MICHAEL GOVAN AND PETER ZUMTHOR
 
You may have heard that demolition of the structures on the LACMA campus has already begun.  According to Director Michael Govan and architect Peter Zumthor, the new building to be constructed will free the museum from historical constraints and allow visitors to experience art in a new way.  How do they plan to do this?  By radically reducing the amount of exhibition space and consigning much of LACMA’s collection to storage.  Govan also decided there was no room for curators or administrative staff in the new building, so they’ll be moved to a high-rise across the street at cost of $5 million a year. 
 
While Govan and Zumthor claim that they’re allowing the public to interact with art in an exciting new way, there are numerous critics who believe the new design is a disastrous mistake which will cripple the museum.  Joseph Giovannini is one of them.
 
The Demolition of LACMA: Art Sacrificed to Architecture

 


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<![CDATA[UN4LA NEWS, AUGUST 2020]]>Sun, 02 Aug 2020 16:39:36 GMThttp://un4la.com/un4la-news/un4la-news-august-2020

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


UPDATING THE L.A. RIVER MASTER PLAN 

Los Angeles County is starting the process of updating the LA River Master Plan, and has issued a Notice of Preparation as the first step in preparing an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).  As part of the process, the County invited members of the public to attend an on-line scoping meeting on July 29 so that interested parties could offer input on the scope and content of the EIR.

Even if you missed the scoping meeting, you can still take part in the process.  Comments on the NOP are due by August 6, 2020.  You can send your comments to:

LARiverCEQA@pw.lacounty.gov

The County will notify the public when the Draft EIR is ready for review and comment.

For more information on the LA River Master Plan, go to:

LA River Master Plan

LA River Master Plan: Program Environmental Impact Report


INGLEWOOD APPROVES CLIPPERS STADIUM

In July the Inglewood City Council approved a controversial arena/sports complex that would serve as the new home of the LA Clippers.  The project has faced opposition from community members, and was also the subject of a lawsuit brought by Madison Square Garden Co., owner of the Forum.  The lawsuit went away earlier this year when Clippers owner Steve Ballmer bought the Forum for $400 million.

Ballmer plans to begin construction of the project in 2021, with the hope that it will be completed by 2024, when the Clippers' lease at Staples Center expires. 

Environmental Report for Clippers Arena Approved by Inglewood City Council


RESTAURANTS MAY GET LIQUOR PERMITS WITH NO PUBLIC HEARINGS

In spite of concerns expressed by communities over health and safety issues, on June 25 the City Planning Commission approved the proposed Restaurant Beverage Program.  The ordinance would allow restaurants to receive liquor permits "over the counter", in other words, without any hearings to invite public input.  A number of neighborhoods councils and community groups submitted letters opposing the plan, fearing that it will exacerbate crime and put more drunk drivers on the road.  The City claims that the plan contains sufficient safeguards to protect LA's communities.

The ordinance now goes to the Comprehensive Job Creation Plan Committee and the Planning & Land Use Management Committee.  You can read the recommendation report below.

Restaurant Beverage Program Recommendation Report


SUPERVISORS MOVE TO PUT BUDGET MEASURE ON NOVEMBER BALLOT

On July 21 the LA County Board of Supervisors took the first step toward putting a measure on the November ballot that, if approved by voters, would earmark 10% of the County’s unrestricted general funds for social service and racial justice programs.  The County will now prepare a draft of the measure's language, which would have to be approved in subsequent votes by the Supervisors.  

Proponents of the measure argue that a greater share of public funds must be set aside for job training, affordable housing and mental health services.  Critics assert that the ballot measure could take away needed flexibility in the preparation of the County's budget.  LAist offers more details.

LA County Takes Step Towards Asking Voters To Divert More Money To Social Services


UCLA WARNS LOOMING WAVE OF EVICTIONS

As a result of the pandemic, tens of thousands of renters across LA County are now unemployed.  While there are currently emergency orders in place to halt evictions, eventually those orders will expire, and a large number of renters will be facing homelessness.  

A report issued in May predicts that LA will soon see a tidal wave of evictions caused by the pandemic.  Author Gary Blasi, Professor Emeritus of Law, offers two estimates.  The first is that members of 36,000 households could become homeless.  That's the best case scenario.  If sufficient support networks aren't in place to serve those facing eviction, the number could rise to 120,000. 

To learn more about Blasi's predictions, including what steps public officials could take to ease the crisis, click on the link below.

New Study Warns of Looming Eviction Crisis in Los Angeles County


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<![CDATA[un4la news, july 2020]]>Sat, 04 Jul 2020 03:41:17 GMThttp://un4la.com/un4la-news/un4la-news-july-2020

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


CITY OF L.A.'S CORRUPTION SCANDAL KEEPS UNFOLDING

On June 23 LA City Councilmember Jose Huizar, who represents CD 14, was arrested by the Department of Justice (DOJ).  He's charged with participating in a long-standing and widespread conspiracy that involved shaking down developers in return for project approvals.  Huizar's arrest follows four guilty pleas from four individuals who have already admitted wrongdoing, including a former Councilmember, a former member of the City Planning Commission, a former CD 14 staff member, and a development consultant.  The news comes as no surprise to many Angelenos.  For years many citizens who follow the planning process have voiced concerns that the system was rigged.  The LA Times offers details on Huizar's arrest.

L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar Charged in Federal Corruption Probe

One of the most infuriating aspects of this situation is that court documents show that in at least one case a developer was able to reduce the amount of affordable housing required in their project by donating tens of thousands of dollars to political committees tied to Huizar. 

Tower Project Shows Toll of Bribery in Huizar Case: Less Affordable Housing

Even though it should be clear by now that corruption is rampant at LA City Hall, for the most part the City Council's response has been limited to belated expressions of outrage.  But David Ryu and Paul Koretz have put forward two motions aimed at taking on corruption.  UN4LA believes their proposal for an independent office to investigate wrongdoing is a good start.

It's Time to Take a Stand against Corruption at L.A. City Hall


INGLEWOOD TREASURER SILENCED AT CITY COUNCIL MEETING

The City of LA isn't the only place where elected officials are suspected of violating the law.  A storm has been brewing in Inglewood over Treasurer Wanda Brown's accusations of wrongdoing by the City's leadership.  Mayor James Butts' refusal to allow Brown to speak at a City Council meeting does not seem like a good sign.  Is the Mayor trying to hide something? 

Inglewood Mayor Refuses to Allow Treasurer to Give Remarks at City Council Meeting


CULVER CITY CONSIDERS RENT CONTROL

California voters will get a chance to weigh in on rent control in the November elections, but in the meantime, some cities in LA County are considering passing their own local ordinances.  On June 25, the City Council of Culver City considered their options regarding rent control.  Apparently the meeting was long and contentious.

Culver City Council Explores Options for Rent Control


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<![CDATA[UN4LA NEWS, JUNE 2020]]>Mon, 08 Jun 2020 04:05:05 GMThttp://un4la.com/un4la-news/un4la-news-june-2020

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


WHERE DOES L.A. GO FROM HERE?

The last week has been an extraordinary one for Los Angeles and for the country.  Massive protests have caught the attention of elected officials and other leaders, forcing a conversation not just about policing, but also about budget priorities, housing, and government accountability.

The protests have moved these issues to the forefront, but the problems have been with us for years.  The LA area has been struggling for nearly a decade to reduce rampant homelessness without much success.  In a number of cities throughout LA County the budget process is opaque and important decisions are made behind closed doors with little or no public input.  And the string of guilty pleas that have emerged as a result of an ongoing DOJ investigation in the City of LA have confirmed the view, held by many Angelenos, that the development process is rife with corruption.

There are no easy answers to any of these problems, but a good way to get started on solving them is to demand complete transparency and real accountability in government.  UN4LA believes that government exists to serve the people.  UN4LA also believes that our elected officials have largely grown complacent, more interested in maintaining the status quo than in responding to the needs of citizens.

Taking to the streets to demand change is a great way to start, but it's only the first step in the long, difficult process of actually making change happen.  The next steps involve engaging with city officials, speaking up at city council meetings, and using the ballot box to hold elected representatives accountable.  We look forward to working with all of LA's communities to create a more open, more responsive government. 

 
COUNCILMEMBER RYU TAKES ACTION TO ADDRESS CORRUPTION

The recent headlines regarding the ongoing investigation of wrongdoing at LA City Hall have made it clear that change is needed.  In May Councilmember David Ryu presented two motions aimed at tackling corruption.  The first would create an office to investigate corruption at City Hall, and the second would take away the power Councilmembers currently have to alter land use decisions.  Ryu has been an outspoken voice for transparency, and has previously presented other motions targeting pay-to-play politics, but his earlier efforts were either watered down or shot down.  It will be interesting to see if, with the DOJ corruption investigation still going, Ryu will face the same opposition this time around.

Below are links to the press release issued by Ryu, and also to the motions themselves.

Ryu Press Release

Council File 20-0608
Office of Anti-Corruption and Transparency / Independent Auditors and Investigators

Council File 20-0609
Los Angeles City Charter Section 245 Subsection (e) / Limiting Unilateral Influence in Development Decisions


TWO MORE GUILTY PLEAS IN L.A. CORRUPTION INVESTIGATION

And to underline the need for the City of LA to tackle systemic corruption, we've had two more guilty pleas as a result of the Department of Justice's investigation into pay-to-play practices at City Hall.  Please note that these individuals have acknowledged that they did not act alone, but were part in an ongoing criminal conspiracy involving at least one LA City Councilmember, as well as other City Hall staffers.  This is not just a matter of rooting out a few random crooks.  It is now clearer than ever that the project approval process in the City of Los Angeles is rigged to favor the interests of real estate investors.  It's almost certain that we'll see further charges filed against City of LA elected officials and/or their staff members.

Consultant Agrees to Plead Guilty to RICO Offense Related to Bribery Scheme that Enriched L.A. City Councilmember and Associates

Former Aide to L.A. City Councilmember Agrees to Plead Guilty to RICO Charge Stemming from ‘Pay-to-Play’ Corruption Scheme


CITY PLANNING COMMISSION APPROVES MODIFIED PROMENADE PROJECT

At the end of May, the Los Angeles City Planning Commission (CPC) gave their unanimous approval to a modified version of the Promenade 2035 Plan.  The lengthy session involved hearing appeals from four individuals/groups based in the community, as well as an additional appeal from the developer.  The appellants from within the community had numerous concerns about project impacts, including traffic, noise, and the lack of affordable housing.  

One of the most serious concerns was the inclusion of the 15,000-seat stadium proposed by the developer.  With respect to this component, the CPC approved two possible options: a 10,000-seat stadium with an enclosed roof, or a 7,500-seat stadium with a with a partially open roof.  The developer also agreed to modify the original plan, in which all housing was to be market rate, to include 15% affordable and workforce housing.


INGLEWOOD CREATES HOUSING PROTECTION DEPARTMENT

As the City of Inglewood has seen an unprecedented wave of new development, it has also seen the displacement of many long-time residents as rents rise, forcing out low-income tenants.  In May the Inglewood City Council voted to allocate $1.2 million to create a Housing Protection Department.  The creation of this new department will involve the hiring of up to 17 new staff members, but implementation could be delayed due to loss of revenue as a result of the pandemic.

City of Inglewood Creates Housing Protection Department


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<![CDATA[UN4LA NEWS, MAY 2020]]>Sat, 02 May 2020 23:43:51 GMThttp://un4la.com/un4la-news/un4la-news-may-2020

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


CITY OF L.A.'S 2020 BUDGET: LESS REVENUE, LESS TRANSPARENCY, LESS OVERSIGHT

As the City of LA's budget numbers go deep in the red, the City Council apparently wants to keep the public completely in the dark.  Budget & FInance Committee Chair Paul Krekorian has authored a motion asking that the City forego the usual process of holding hearings with City Departments to write the budget, and instead approve a streamlined process where the Committee would receive input from a few senior advisors.  Krekorian claims cancelling the hearings is necessary because of the pandemic, but it's hard not to suspect that his real motive is to avoid public oversight completely.  While in-person hearings may be out of the question, there are a number of alternatives that would allow department heads to offer input and allow the public to have a voice in the process.  Last year the City kept the public in the dark during the budget process and we ended up hundreds of millions of dollars in the red.  It's crucial that City Departments and the public have a say in the writing the budget.  Jack Humphreville explains why in this article from CityWatch.

Creating City Budget Behind Closed Doors


CITY WANTS TO GRANT LIQUOR PERMITS WITH NO COMMUNITY INPUT

You may have already heard about the City's proposed Restaurant Beverage Program, a plan to grant over-the-counter liquor permits to restaurants with no public hearings.  The Department of City Planning (DCP) has been working on this for years, and recently published what they claim is a stronger version of the ordinance.  The DCP said in April that they plan to bring to the City Planning Commission in the coming months.

While some Neighborhood Councils support the Program, others are strongly opposed, largely because it prevents the community from having a voice on applications for liquor permits.  The Program is also opposed by Alcohol Justice, the LA Drug & Alcohol Policy Alliance, and the Community Coalition.  Here's the latest draft of the ordinance.

Restaurant Beverage Program Ordinance

What you may not have heard is that in March Councilmember Bob Blumenfield submitted a motion, supposedly intended to help restaurants cope with the pandemic, which would not only enact the ordinance immediately but make it retroactive.  If approved, the motion would direct the City to.... 

Implement the Restaurant Beverage Program as instructed by Council on August 14, 2018, to be
made retroactive to include any pending applications for conditional use permits where the
applicant accepts the standard conditions of Restaurant Beverage Program.


This link will take you to the complete motion.

Blumenfield Motion

While everybody wants to help neighborhood restaurants survive the shutdown imposed by the pandemic, this program will have far-reaching and long-lasting consequences for our communities.  City Planning has already been dumping alcohol on our communities by approving Master CUPs that grant 20 liquor permits (Crossroads, Hollywood) and 30 liquor permits (Metropolis, Downtown) at a time.  This reckless abuse of the permitting process shows a complete disregard for the health and safety of Angelenos.  The Restaurant Beverage Program is just another examples of the City's flagrant disregard for the well-being of our communities.


CITY OF L.A. REFUSES TO EXTEND HOLLYWOOD CENTER COMMENT PERIOD IN SPITE OF PANDEMIC

In yet another sign that the fix is in regarding the controversial Hollywood Center Project, the Department of City Planning (DCP) has released a letter saying that it will not grant an extension on the comment period for the Environmental Impact Report (EIR).  The project is a massive one, consisting of residential and commercial uses and encompassing over 1.2 million square feet.  It includes two 11-story buildings and two skyscrapers, one rising 35 stories and another rising 46 stories.  The fact that the City of LA chose to release the EIR during a global pandemic made it clear that City Hall hopes to limit public participation to speed approval of this toxic project.  Now, in spite of communications from numerous individuals and community groups asking that the comment period be extended, the City has said it's sticking to its original June 1 deadline.  

In the letter rejecting the request for an extension, the DCP argues that the EIR is readily available on-line 
and that interested parties can obtain a copy on CD-ROM or flash drive.  Apparently City Planning doesn't realize that the coronavirus has caused severe disruptions in the lives of thousands of Angelenos, and that they may have other matters that they need to focus on right now.  Unemployed workers have no money for food or bills.  Businesses owners are trying to figure out how to keep from going under.  Parents are struggling to be both teachers and entertainers for their school-age children.  And adult children are trying to ensure the health of their aging parents with existing health problems.  But the DCP apparently believes that none of this will deter anyone from submitting comments on the Hollywood Center Project by the current deadline.

If you would like to contact the DCP to express your opinion regarding this matter, you can send an e-mail to:

Mindy Nguyen, Department of City Planning
Email:    mindy.nguyen@lacity.org


Please include the following text in your subject line:

Hollywood Center EIR Extension, Case No. ENV-2018-2116-EIR
   

PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING PROJECT PROPOSED FOR RAMPART VILLAGE

Enlightenment Plaza, a permanent supportive housing project slated for Rampart Village, could break ground as early as this summer.  The project would be comprised of 454 units in five eight-story buildings within walking distance of the Metro station at Vermont/Beverly.  Funding would be provided in part by Measure HHH, a bond approved by voters to create housing for the homeless.  More details in this story from The Real Deal. 

Affordable Developer’s First Project Will Be a Big One in Rampart Village


CANDIDATES AND OFFICEHOLDERS RECEIVED OVER $66,000 FROM JUSTIN KIM AND ASSOCIATES

You've read about real estate appraiser and former City Planning Commissioner Justin Kim's efforts to deliver a bribe to a member of the LA City Council.  But you may not have heard that Kim also gave generously to finance the campaigns of a number of current Councilmembers.  The LA Times has done some digging, and they report on what they found in this article.

LA's Politicians Took His Campaign Donations.  Then He Admitted Arranging a Bribe.




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<![CDATA[UN4LA NEWS, APRIL 2020]]>Wed, 01 Apr 2020 03:26:55 GMThttp://un4la.com/un4la-news/un4la-news-april-2020

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


CORONAVIRUS IMPACTS L.A.

As the pandemic deepens across the globe, and cities across the US are taking measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus, Angelenos are dealing with a new reality.

In the City of LA, Mayor Garcetti has ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses, but this raises the question of what is essential.  In this article, Curbed asks if construction work is essential, and looks at responses from developers, unions, and government agencies across the country.

How Essential Is Construction During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

As LA businesses close down, workers have been laid off or let go, putting thousands of renters in a tight spot.  The LA Times reports on actions taken by Mayor Garcetti to temporarily stop evictions and freeze rents. 

Tenants Get Help as LA Freezes Rent Hikes for Thousands of Apartments over Coronavirus

Legacy businesses are those restaurants, shops and service providers that have a long-standing presence in our communities.  The LA Conservancy has suggestions for ways you can support your favorite local business during this difficult time.

Support Legacy Businesses


CORRUPTION PROSECUTIONS IN L.A.

While the pandemic has been dominating the headlines, there have been important new developments in the Department of Justice's investigation into corruption in the City of LA.

Earlier this month former LA City Councilmember Mitch Englander was charged with obstructing an investigation into illegal activities.  Late last week he agreed to plead guilty to one count of falsifying facts. 

Ex-Los Angeles City Councilman Agrees to Plead Guilty to Federal Charge

Also this month, real estate appraiser Justin Kim agreed to plead guilty to delivering hundreds of thousands of dollars to an LA City Councilmember in exchange for help with moving a project forward.

Fundraiser to Plead Guilty to Delivering Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars to Bribe Member of Los Angeles City Council


GET OUT OF THE HOUSE: TAKE A (VIRTUAL) TOUR OF L.A.

No doubt many Angelenos are tired of being cooped up in their homes.  Even if it isn't safe to go roaming around the city right now, you can still take of virtual tour of LA County.  The LA Conservancy will show you some of LA's most famous landmarks, along with many others you've never even heard of.    

Explore Los Angeles County


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<![CDATA[UN4LA NEWS, MARCH 2020]]>Wed, 04 Mar 2020 17:37:59 GMThttp://un4la.com/un4la-news/un4la-news-march-2020

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



CITY OF L.A. CONSIDERS EMINENT DOMAIN TO PRESERVE AFFORDABLE HOUSING
 
Councilmember Gil Cedillo has proposed a radical way to keep rental costs down: Invoke eminent domain.  Cedillo's proposal is intended to help the low-income households of Chinatown's Hillside Villa Apartments, now that their affordability covenants have expired and they're faced with massive rent increases.  Predictably, the plan has been embraced by tenant advocacy groups and condemned by property owners.  This story from the Downtown News offers more details. 
 
Cedillo Proposes Acquiring Chinatown's Hillside Villa

 
COMMENT PERIOD FOR SIDEWALK REPAIR PROGRAM E.I.R. EXTENDED
 
In response to requests from a number of groups, the City of LA has extended the period for public comment on the Sidewalk Repair Program Draft Environmental Impact Report (SRP DEIR) to April 24, 2020.  The SRP is expected to remove more than 12,000 street trees over 30 years.  While the City claims that the Program's negative impacts can be mitigated to a level where they're not significant, a number of tree advocates disagree. If you'd like to offer your comments on DEIR, click on the link below.
 
Sidewalk Repair Program Draft Environmental Impact Report

 
GROUPS APPEAL APPROVAL OF OAK SAVANNA PROJECT
 
The controversial Oak Savanna project has been the subject of a bitter struggle for more than a decade.  Harridge Development proposes the construction of 19 single-family homes up to 36 feet in height along a scenic stretch of Mulholland Drive that currently contains oak woodlands.  Each home would include a two-car garage, and the site would also have 38 covered parking spaces for residents.
 
The City’s recent approval of the project drew a number of appeals from both individuals and groups, including the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.  Appellants are concerned about a range of issues, including loss of protected trees and loss of habitat.  It’s also important to mention that the project site is designated by the City of LA as a very high fire severity zone.
 
The South Valley Area Planning Commission will be hearing appeals later this month.  Details below. 
 
South Valley Area Planning Commission
March 12, 2020, After 4:30 pm
Marvin Braude Constituent Service Center
6262 Van Nuys Blvd., 1st Floor Conference Room
Van Nuys, CA 91401

 
March 12, 2020 Hearing Notice

 If you can’t attend but would like to comment on the project, Comments can be sent to
 
Jivar Afshar, Planning Assistant

Be sure to include the case number in the subject line.
 
Case No. ZA-2007-1255-ZAD-1A and VTT-67505-1A
 
 
WHEN IS METRO GOING TO GET ITS ACT TOGETHER?
 
Construction of Metro's Crenshaw Light Rail Line was supposed to have been completed last year.  Then Metro said it would open in Spring of this year.  Now they've pushed the completion date back again, saying that work will be finished in Summer/Fall 2020.  If it was just this one project, the agency could be forgiven, but extended delays have become the norm for Metro.  The Regional Connector in Downtown was originally supposed to open this year, then it was 2021, and now Metro is projecting completion in 2022.  And in spite of last year's extended delays in finishing upgrades on the A Line (formerly the Blue Line), problems started occurring within days after the reopening.  On February 22 one of the cars actually went off the tracks. 
 
Taxpayers have spent billions of dollars because they were told they would get a better transit system.  And this is what we end up with?
 
Crenshaw Line Opening Could be Delayed

L.A. Metro’s Downtown Subway Project May Not Open Until Mid-2022

A-Line Train Derails in Downtown Long Beach

 
A WOMAN'S PLACE: UNION STATION AND CHINATOWN
 
This month the Los Angeles Conservancy is offering walking tours that explore the linked histories of Union Station and Chinatown, while also highlighting the role women played in shaping those histories.  The tours take place on Thursday nights at 6:00 pm.  Click on the link for details.
 
A Woman's Place: Union Station and Chinatown

 


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