“California’s population rose nearly 14% in the 1990’s but housing increased only 9% and most homes were in the suburbs.” LA Times, June 10, 2001

Los Angeles is only 30th in the nation for population density. However, we are not providing housing that anyone can afford to live in. What can be done about it?

Los Angeles must stop subsidizing rich developers such as Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter and Goldman Sachs. Companies such as these are being paid by the City to destroy the last remaining wetland in Los Angeles. Los Angeles gives developers such as these, hundreds of millions of dollars in Mello Roos bonds and other forms of corporate welfare in exchange for mostly luxury housing. If you look around Los Angeles you’ll see there is an abundance of housing. But no one can afford to live in it.

The true shortage is in affordable housing. Why does Los Angeles only ask that developers build 5-15% afforable housing units and allow 85% or more to be luxury? Because these developers have been making large donations and lobbying the City Council on a daily basis.

When elected to the City Council on September 11, 2001, here are some of the things I will do:

Give residents and developers both a place at the negotiating table. Decisions will no longer be made in secret, but any plans for development will be sent to each neighborhood council to get the opinion of the neighborhood as to whether or not this is a suitable project for their area. Because everyone will be represented on the neighborhood council, it will be a win-win situation.
Ensure that any tax breaks or bonds that would be offered to developers would only be offered if 50% of the units (or more) that are built be affordable. The standard for affordable also must be revisited to reflect real income earned.
Protect existing affordable housing from being demolished. Offer tax incentives to landlords who keep their buildings in good working condition, clean and attractive.
Promote mixed use development. Many surface level parking lots are empty for half the day. They are eyesores and do nothing to add to a community. They could be built attractively and include both businesses and affordable housing. The City could assist developers who would build these projects which will also help cut down on traffic. Architectural design review boards and height restrictions with plenty of open space will create more affordable housing, less traffic and pollution and take away the incentive to destroy existing affordable and historic housing.
Reserve more tax incentives for non-profit housing corporations