How Do We Get More Affordable Housing? Change The System

Construction 2

February 9, 2021

Today I voted on a controversial downtown development in Times Mirror Square -- I wanted to take the opportunity to dig into this vote, its implications, and what’s next.

I share the deep concerns of many about the Times Mirror Square project -- both its dubious connection to disgraced former Councilmember Jose Huizar and its lack of affordability. But it’s a product of a system that produces bad outcomes. Let's fix that system. 

The Times Mirror Square project does not have enough affordable housing -- but this is sadly not an aberration from the norm, or an example of a developer getting out of what’s required.

It’s the product of the current rules and incentives for affordable housing in Los Angeles. Penalizing this project for following our current set of rules doesn’t change this, and I’m concerned that doing so would only perpetuate a system that encourages more inequality and corruption.

When councilmembers exert incredible influence over discretionary approvals, it leads to several system-wide failures. Faced with long delays and nebulous standards, developers are tempted to grease the wheels, and councilmembers are in all too easy a position to help.

Second, the most resourced neighborhoods are typically the most successful in lobbying against projects. This further perpetuates inequality in a city where new housing construction is vastly uneven, and rarely in job- and resource-rich neighborhoods.

Planning reforms, in contrast, allow us to build the city we want to see without forcing neighborhoods to litigate all the time -- and without giving elected officials excess power over every project.

There are many planning reforms we can adopt to better incentivize affordable housing -- for our whole city.

Paul Krekorian spoke today about this. So did Gil Cedillo, the chairman of the Housing Committee I serve on. I look forward to working with them to make this happen, but we’ll never fix our housing crisis by arbitrarily imposing our will on individual projects. In fact, we’ll make it worse.

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Read the original Twitter thread here