By BARRY LANK
Development is our topic this week as part of The Eastsider’s coverage of city council races in Districts 1 and 13. We asked the candidates running in the March 7 primary to respond to the following:“Los Angeles has one of the tightest rental markets in America – with the highest rentership rate of any major metropolitan area, and one of the lowest percentages of available apartments. At the same time, new developments threaten to knock people out of their homes and price them out of their neighborhoods. How do we ease the housing crunch without crowding ourselves or losing too much of our local character? As an example, do you favor Measure S, which targets development?”
Here are the answers we received:
Council District 1 includes all or portions of Angeleno Heights, Cypress Park, Echo Park, Glassell Park, Highland Park, Lincoln Heights and Mount Washington
Angelenos are presented with a false choice with Measure S. On the one hand, they can punish a corrupt pay-to-play political system that churns out luxury condos; on the other, a moratorium would amplify our crisis and throw a wrench in a machine we hope to drive straight. We should be building along major boulevards, not the last of our open hillsides, and not McMultifamily abominations.
I support permitting accessory dwelling units and directing affordable housing funding to tenants associations.
We must focus on the visible and numerable vacant lots on our old streetcar thoroughfares. Alvarado, 6th, 7th, North Figueroa, Cypress, North Broadway have vacant lots with early 20th century buildings still used, and loved, by the community. Development of this scale has proven to build safe streets and strong neighborhoods.
Council District 13 includes all or portions of Atwater Village, Echo Park, Elysian Heights, Elysian Valley and Silver Lake
Mitch O’Farrell (Incumbent)
Measure S is bad for the economy and would severely limit our ability to house the homeless and build more affordable housing. In my district, I work to balance growth while preserving the unique character of our communities. We down-zoned areas in Elysian Valley and Echo Park to prohibit out-of-scale development and protect the neighborhood character. Citywide, I initiated a mandatory notification process for all demolitions of structures 50 years and older. My reform of the Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance ensures greater compatibility with existing neighborhoods, and encourages preservation of our historic bungalow courts by promoting adaptive re-use. During my first term in office, I designated nine Historic Cultural Landmarks in the 13th District.
There is not enough housing to accommodate residents in a sustainable way. As the population of L.A. grows, we need to find ways to develop denser and more affordable homes without displacing longtime residents and low-income families. Density is not the enemy; reckless development is. Though Measure S is well-intentioned, the two-year moratorium on development is far too strict and tramples over the affordable housing dictates of the widely popular Measures JJJ and HHH. The solution to our housing crisis will come from stronger, more visionary leadership in a city hall that has not sold out to development interests.
CD13 has the highest vacancy rate in L.A. – 8.3% according to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Most of the construction is luxury housing that seems to remain 15% to 20% vacant and is sold often to Chinese investors who are parking their money. This does not help solve the housing crisis, but does artificially inflate rents and the cost of housing.
Add to this the increased use of the Ellis and Costa-Hawkins Acts to remove tenants from rent control units and we don’t see a vacancy problem, but an affordable housing issue. The key is Community Responsible Development that reflects infrastructure and quality of life. Measure S – like all initiatives – may be imperfect, but it is the first real attempt to address these issues and curtail the influence of money from large, often out-of-state developers on City Hall.
The housing shortage plaguing Los Angeles must be met with creativity. As elected Councilmember, I will facilitate unique neighborhood vision plans – via the Neighborhood Councils – that adequately address needed density and low income housing. I support housing solutions that include subsidized smart affordable housing development and updating the City’s ordinance that regulates Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) – better known as backyard homes, granny flats, in-law units, etc.
Development in District 13 needs to be responsible and in line with neighborhood needs and wants. It must occur under the sunshine of information to community stakeholders. I will champion covenant agreements between developers and neighborhood associations. Development must adhere to a “good neighbor” bill of rights that positively engrain it to the everyday fabric of the community.
I favor Measure S because it sends the strongest message to complicit politicians that bad development is unacceptable.
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- The City of Los Angeles will hold a primary election on Tuesday, March 7
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