March 17, 2021
Nearly everyone I speak to in LA agrees: our city desperately needs more affordable housing. I made the issue central to my campaign, and I have actively sought opportunities to bring it about since joining City Council.
According to the Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing (SCANPH), there are only 17 affordable housing properties in all of Council District 4. While the city continues to meet or exceed goals for luxury units, we are nowhere near our stated aims for low- and moderate-income housing. The Hollywood Community Plan Update represents a major opportunity to improve upon this and ensure our affordable housing goals are met.
Much commendable work has gone into the current draft, but in light of the economic impact of the pandemic, the ever-rising number of people falling into homelessness, and the urgent demands to address racial injustice and segregation in our city, we believe it is imperative that it go further in addressing these issues.
In reviewing the draft Hollywood plan, affordable housing and urban planning experts identified key commercial corridors where new, downzoning height limits of 36 feet would greatly preclude the possibility of constructing any affordable housing on these sites. Without modest height allowances for affordable projects, the existing incentives were simply inadequate to ensure that inclusive, affordable housing would win out over 100% market-rate developments.
In response, our office issued a statement that supported “opportunities for increasing allowable height along these corridors only for projects that demonstrate a substantial commitment to affordable housing.” Because there is confusion about this, and fear that it would mean the removal of all height restrictions, I would like to make three clarifications on what we are advocating for:
- First, we only support height increases at an appropriate scale for existing neighborhoods, with consideration for surrounding zoning and historic resources. There is no proposal for towers or skyscrapers -- just modest allowances to ensure the well designed affordable housing we all want becomes a reality.
- Second, we want real commitments to deeper levels of affordability from developers, not vague promises. That means legally binding agreements to construct deed-restricted affordable apartments on site, at percentages more ambitious than our current citywide incentive programs require.
- Third, our office is committed to robust anti-displacement protections for existing renters and small businesses within CD4. We support policies to replace all rent-stabilized apartments in new buildings in addition to new affordability requirements, guarantee a right of return for renters, restrict the size of new retail and restaurant spaces, and incentivize small business retention, as well as new policy interventions like commercial rent control for small businesses and a vacancy tax.
We’ve received a lot of emails about this and a lot of people are understandably anxious. We apologize for not being more clear in our original letter and we hope this helps better outline our values and our positions going forward!
We believe these goals are widely shared, and we remain deeply committed to working with and incorporating feedback from each of the neighborhoods within Council District 4 to arrive at an outcome that meets its many and varied needs -- both today and for decades to come.