may fight zoning plan: Idea
for low-income housing draws fire
Pro-development interests opposed to "inclusionary"
zoning -- a concept that would require low-income units to
be built into most new housing projects in Los Angeles --
have tapped into the growing political clout of advisory
neighborhood councils for support.
The zoning proposal from Councilmen Ed Reyes and Eric
Garcetti is tentatively scheduled to be heard in the next
few weeks, but opponents are pushing hard for a delay to
give community groups -- particularly neighborhood councils
-- more time to mobilize.
"The one thing we don't want is to see this pushed
through without adequate debate," said Hallie Kemper,
president of the Greater Valley Glen Council. "We think
the neighborhood councils should be given more time to
discuss this and take a stand."
It is the third citywide issue on which neighborhood
councils have played a role. The opposition of some
neighborhood councils helped force City Hall to back down on
ending police response to burglar alarms and led to a
possible delay in the 7 percent water rate hike sought for
next year, although the first-year 11 percent increase was
And, it appears the groups have had an impact.
Mayor James Hahn, who was never a big fan of the zoning
policy, has come out more and more in opposition to it --
citing the opposition of neighborhood councils as part of
Also, Councilman Bernard Parks, who is running against
Hahn for mayor, said the opposition from neighborhood
councils has served to convince him to oppose the zoning
when it does come before the council.
Carol Schatz, president of the Central City Association,
said her downtown business organization recognized the
potential of neighborhood councils to influence issues and
reached out to them to fight the zoning policy.
Using the clout of the councils, the downtown business
group worked to build support for its own proposal as an
alternative to the zoning.
Under the plan advanced by Reyes and Garcetti, developers
would be required to set aside a portion of all new
developments for low-income and other affordable housing
units. If they do so, they would be allowed a density bonus
-- the ability to build more units on the same land to
recover their costs.
Schatz said her organization does not believe the
proposal will develop more housing of the type needed in the
"This proposal ends up being a tax on the middle
class. If you have a developer who wants to build 100 units
of housing and he has to set aside 20 percent for affordable
housing, that means the 80 units remaining will have to make
up the cost. No one except the very rich will be able to
"So the rich can afford to live in these new units,
the poor are being given subsidies and the family in the
middle can't afford to live there. It doesn't make
The new proposal from the Central City Association, which
is being shopped around to neighborhood councils, would
create overlay zones in each City Council district to target
the type of development that would be allowed and include
Schatz said members of her organization contacted leaders
of neighborhood councils to press their case to oppose the
"One of our points is to make sure everyone
understands what this means."
Garcetti acknowledged the council will have to be willing
to bend to some of the demands of the neighborhood councils
as well as the business community.
"We have to take what they are saying into
consideration and we do have to work with the neighborhood
councils," Garcetti said.
He cited efforts with the Silver Lake Neighborhood
Council, which endorsed the plan -- but with limits on its
adoption in its area.
Other neighborhood councils said the city needs to take a
Charlotte Laws of the Greater Valley Glen Council has
suggested the city look at offering low-interest loans to
increase housing opportunities for the poor and look at
rezoning and reuse of commercial properties to expand the
amount of housing available.
"Neighbors will accept this idea because it has the
feel of a 'down zone' (of reduced use)," Laws said.
"Neighbors will like the idea that more residential
structures are being created. They will not mourn the loss
of a few commercial buildings."
Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390 firstname.lastname@example.org