*Los Angeles, CA – If passed, Proposition H will generate a projected revenue of 3.55 billion dollars over a period of 10 years.
What’s disturbing is that not a hint of how the funds will be apportioned has been rolled out before the vote.
According to sources, there are six budget categories and at the top of the list is affordable housing. My guess is that the lion’s share will go there. My guess is that some backroom maneuver has already sealed the deal.
The other five categories – coordinated outreach, case management, homelessness prevention, preservation of existing housing, and income support – are too subjective in the eyes of politicians to place any weighted value. There seems to be a triangle of deception at play between City Hall, the Los Angeles Planning Commission, and property developers.
Case in point: The Friends and Neighbors Community Club (FNCC) headed by Randy Hughes in South L.A., fought hard against a development citing the project was too massive for an already weak infrastructure in their community. Hughes made it plain in the beginning that he was for subsidized housing, but the location (right next door to a senior citizens’ home) was ill-thought out. He said the 1000 petition signatures he presented at the planning committee hearing went virtually ignored. He said that on appeal, the project was greenlighted before the hearing concluded. Here’s what his committee researched (the developer’s name has been omitted for fairness):
Based on information obtained from the Regional Planning Commission, FNCC’s appeal stated: “The subject property is zoned C-2 (Neighborhood Business) which does not have a specific density limit, although apartment buildings are allowed with a conditional use permit (CUP). It does have a General Plan land use category of ‘1 – Low Density Residential,’ which generally allows residential densities of between one and six dwelling units per acre. For this [proposed] site, which is 1.72 acres, it would normally allow 10 dwelling units. We understand the Housing Element of the General Plan also allows density bonuses for affordable housing projects. However, a density bonus of 550 percent will have an extremely detrimental effect on this community.”
The appeal letter further drew a comparison to other low housing units in the vicinity: Jordan Downs – 700 units on 46 acres (15 dwelling units/acre); Imperial Courts – 498 units on 32 acres (15.5 dwelling units/acre); and Nickerson Gardens – 1054 units on 64 acres (16.5 dwelling units/acre). [The developer’s] plan for 55 units on 1.72 acres equates to 32 dwelling units per acre − double the density of Nickerson Gardens. Also, in response to [the developer’s] comparison to the [Senior] Apartments next door to the proposed site, FNCC noted the senior complex has only 42 units on 1.7 acres (24 dwelling units/acre), with a maximum capacity of 84 individuals. [The developer’s] plan will have a maximum capacity of 234 persons most of which will be children.
Hughes says the project has had a “negative impact on the community” and he hopes that other South LA unincorporated communities won’t be targeted for the same. He says there should be “more transparency and fairness,” and that more thorough impact studies should be done before a project is approved.
Will more affluent communities be targeted as affordable housing sites for the homeless? The effort to eradicate homelessness should be shared by all as a region-wide initiative not just in funding, but also in shared space.
Meanwhile, city leaders owe it to their constituents (the taxpayers) and the homeless community to be forthcoming with their true intentions for the long term. Is the project really designed to help the homeless, or just another scheme for greedy project developers to make more money? What are the checks and balances? If the bond measure does pass, the effective date should be deferred until we know how the funding, specifically by percentage, will be apportioned.
Larry Buford is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer. Author of “Things Are Gettin’ Outta Hand” (Amazon). E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org