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.
LOCAL GROUP SUES CITY OF L.A. OVER TRANSIT ORIENTED COMMUNITIES GUIDELINES
In September local group Fix the City filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles over its implementation of voter-approved Measure JJJ. In the run-up to the election, voters were told that Measure JJJ would boost affordable housing, create local construction jobs and help ease congestion. But Fix the City argues that the Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) Guidelines, which were added to the LA Municipal Code to implement the Measure, go beyond what voters approved. Fix the City also says the TOC Guidelines ignore important safety issues.
Has the City delivered on what JJJ promised? It depends on how you read those promises and what you expect from the TOC projects. Have new affordable units been approved under The TOC Guidelines? Yes, but in many cases the projects involve the demolition of rent-stabilized units, and the Guidelines allow developers to count replacement units as part of the affordable total. Have local jobs been created? No one knows for sure. All JJJ said was that developers had to make a “good faith” effort to hire local workers. It didn’t define that effort, say what proof was needed, or indicate what City department would verify it. Have TOC projects reduced congestion? No evidence has been produced to verify this, and these days the City doesn’t even monitor traffic congestion. But it is a fact that transit ridership is lower than it was 30 years ago and has declined for the past 5 years.
The lawsuit was filed to challenge a TOC project that the City approved at 10400 Santa Monica. Click on the link below to read more.
TOC Lawsuit at Fix the City
LA BREA WILLOUGHBY COALITION SUES TO OBTAIN TRANSIT NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN INFORMATION
For over a year now the Department of City Planning (DCP) has been moving forward with a proposed Transit Neighborhood Plan (TNP) for the Wilshire corridor. Because the extension of the Purple Line will bring new subway stops to Wilshire Blvd., the DCP argues that a new plan is needed to allow more growth, which would supposedly encourage area residents to drive less and ride transit more often. Never mind the fact that the DCP has been approving high density residential near transit for years, and transit ridership is lower than it was in the 80s.
Area residents have repeatedly told the DCP that any move to upzone the area should be postponed until the Wilshire Community Plan is updated starting in 2020. Because the DCP has ignored these concerns, the La Brea Willoughby Coalition (LWC) submitted a series of Public Records Act requests, asking for information on the process used to select neighborhoods for inclusion in the TNP. Having received no response, the LWC has filed a lawsuit against the City of LA and the DCP to force disclosure of the requested records.
LWC sees the suit as being about much more than just the Purple Line TNP. A press release from the group's President, Lucille Saunders, says the suit was filed "to ensure the public’s right to know and for true transparency in public processes."
WILL GOV. NEWSOM SIGN SB 330?
SB 330, the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, was presented to Gov. Gavin Newsom on September 17, but it still has yet to receive his signature. The bill is complicated, has been the subject of fierce debate up and down California. SB 330 would create a new "preliminary application" for housing projects, and reduce the time that an agency has to approve or disapprove the project. It would also prohibit jurisdictions from adopting policies, standards or conditions that would decrease the intensity of residential zoning.
Proponents argue that the bill would speed the creation of affordable housing and prevent jurisdictions from downzoning to limit new development. Opponents say that the bill would only generate more high-end units without guaranteeing any significant gains in affordable housing. Preservation groups are also concerned that the bill could allow the destruction of potentially historic structures.
Gov. Newsom must decide by October 13 whether to sign or veto SB 330.
DEBATE OVER SLEEPING ON SIDEWALKS GETS HEATED
Last month an LA City Council meeting turned contentious when Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell proposed placing further restrictions on where the homeless can sleep. Advocates for the homeless were vocal in expressing their opposition to making it harder for those without shelter to find a place to bed down for the night. O’Farrell countered that homeless encampments were creating health and safety hazards that needed to be addressed.
The City of LA has laws on the books which ban sleeping on sidewalks, but as part of a court settlement the City agreed not to enforce the ban strictly until more homeless housing is built. Currently the homeless are allowed to bed down on sidewalks from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am as long as they keep their distance from doorways and driveways.
Will LA Impose New Rules on Sidewalk Sleeping?
BATTLE OVER CASITAS LOFTS PROJECT ON L.A. RIVER
As efforts to restore the LA River have moved forward in recent years, real estate investors have been purchasing property along the banks in the hope of profiting from the transformation. Now the first major development, Casitas Lofts, planned for a site between Atwater Village and Glassell Park, has become a flashpoint for debate over competing visions of the River.
The developer plans to build a large complex with 419 new units, of which 35 will be affordable. The project boasts many amenities, including access to an adjacent site where a State park is planned. The project’s backers say it will bring badly needed housing, clean up contaminated land, and provide revenue to fund river restoration efforts.
On the other side of the debate are a number of groups which have numerous concerns, ranging from environmental impacts to gentrification. Opponents include the National Resource Defense Council, non-profit arts group Clockshop, and Friends of the LA River (FoLAR), which has spent decades advocating for the restoration of the River.
An Environmental Impact Report is currently being prepared and should be completed later this year. Expect the public review period to be contentious.
Can Los Angeles Blend New Housing with River Restoration?