Don’t Let Mega-Developers Pee In Your Gravy Bowl: Here’s a City Plan That Works

LOS ANGELES

THIS DEAL MAKES SENSE--I gotta hand it to Mayor Garcetti. He really knows how to put together a group of endorsers. Looking over the list of folks saying “No” to Measure S, makes you say to yourself, “I wanna vote with this crowd!” 

A couple of months ago, I was part of a focus group on Measure S. We studied it quite a bit, talked about it and opined about it. Now, I look at that list of endorsers and I can’t for the life of me see why all these fine folks are voting against it. Maybe they haven’t actually read the measure. I haven’t met anyone who actually has. Well, read it. Here are a few reasons why it makes good sense: 

  • It will place a two-year moratorium on development that “seeks Spot Zoning and General Plan Amendments to Intensify Land Use.” (Taken from the text of the Measure) Basically, there’s been a whole bunch of slicks getting a break from the rules. Why? Who knows? - but City officials have somehow ended up with at least a quarter of a million bucks in campaign contributions from big developers. That’s just what we know about from the Los Angeles Times expose on the Sea Breeze debacle, just to name one. 

Shoot, the moratorium doesn’t even have to run two years if the City gets its’ act together. The Measure provides that the moratorium will be in effect until the City provides 1) an updated General Plan Framework and 2) an updated community plan text and zoning map for a particular community plan area or 3) within 24 months of the effective date of the Act, whichever is sooner. So there ya go. 

  • Ban developers from doing their own environmental impact reports. Let me repeat that. Right now, developers are allowed to do their own environmental impact reports. Well, in a world where the Secretary of Education wants to destroy public education and the head of the EPA is out to gut the EPA, I guess this makes some kind of sense but we Angelinos don’t need this kind of logic. 
  • Provide for an overhaul and ongoing public review of the City’s General Plan, including specific procedures for Amendments which prohibit the practice of amending it for purposes of catering to a single project. As of 2005, it was decided that the City never has to update the Plan at all. This measure provides for a solid plan and a blue print for amendments. Sounds good to me. It might sound Pollyanna but I’d love to keep the backroom deals scenes to movies like Chinatown instead of real life scenes that affect my quality of life. 

We heard a lot in the focus group and I hear a great deal today about the threat of Measure S to affordable housing. They (and the focus group facilitator did not divulge who “they” were) even showed us photos of homeless people and working class families with small children and sad eyes then asked us if that would convince us to vote No. They also asked us about what would convince us to vote Yes. 

I’ve read the articles made by the ‘No on S’ campaign stating, “Don’t believe your own eyes. We’re really in a housing slump.” We are in an AFFORDABLE HOUSING SLUMP - and NO WONDER! Evictions from 2013 – 2015 rose 235%. AN LA Times article from April of 2016 reported that the City took 20,000 rent controlled units off the market since 2001. The Ellis Act, designed to allow Mom and Pop landlords to get out of the rental business without too much pain is being abused by developers who evicted at least 1100 people in 2015 (This from the FT Journal in July 2016.) 

Why do the No people keep repeating the same mantra about lack of affordable housing when Measure S explicitly spells out in black and white that structures built for affordable housing are exempt from the moratorium? Could they be referring to the 3 units out of hundreds that big developers offer up to replace the rent-stabilized units they demolish? Would this be the “affordable housing” we will miss out on if we pass Measure S? 

I called up one of those mega compounds up on Wilshire and La Brea once to see how much their so-called affordable housing was. The “affordable” units started at $2700 a month. 

In some ways, it doesn’t seem that the Mayor and his bunch care that much about affordable housing or about quality of life for those who have less than luxury accommodations. And I hate to say it, because the mayor is a likeable fella. 

I felt good when Mayor Garcetti vowed to defy Trump and keep Los Angeles a sanctuary city. I gotta scratch my head when I see that now, the mayor’s appointed City Planning Commission has decided to hollow out the proposed Miracle Mile Historical Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ), exposing some 1000 residents right here in my neighborhood to eviction. 

These are working people like me who have been living in these units covered by the Rent Stabilization Ordinance for decades. Some of us will become homeless. Some of us will be forced to leave the city. 

Last week, I was out gathering signatures and sending emails trying to appeal to my councilman, David Ryu, who has shown a lot of support for preserving historic affordable housing. I want to urge him to continue to do so. It could be a tough road if he has to go up against the mayor and his developer buds. 

I want to ask Councilman Ryu to consider the working people like me who want to continue to live in our homes which are often quite humble but which we love as we love our neighbors and our city. I want to ask him to consider that quality of life or maybe even having a home at all is more important that mega bucks made by mega builders. 

I understand that Councilman Wesson, who represents my neighbors to the east, is basing his vote on a survey he is taking that excludes tenants and also counts an abstention or a lack of response as a “no” vote. I want to ask him how he figures that is the proper way to represent all of his constituents. I wonder if he’ll ever pass some of the ones who become homeless over on Wilshire Boulevard and if he’ll give them a dollar. 

On a clear day, you can see for miles from the corner of my street. From here, it looks like the very same mega-developers who are praying that Measure S won’t pee in their gravy bowl are the same ones who are eyeballing the RSOs in my neighborhood with an eye for big profit at the cost of broken lives. 

For me, I’ll do all that I can do. Yes on the Miracle Mile HPOZ. Yes on Measure S.

Somebody’s gotta stop ‘em. 

NEED TO KNOW: 

READ THE DANG THING and PLEASE, if you have a good argument why this isn’t a good idea, let me know! I haven’t heard a CONVINCING one yet: text of Measure S

If you live in the Miracle Mile, contact Councilmember David Ryu and City Hall and request that the neighbors excluded by the mayor’s Planning Commission be added back to the Miracle Mile HPOZ.

Email: David.Ryu@lacity.org or Call: 213-473-7004 

And, copy your email to: 

PLUM Committee Secretary Sharon Dickinson:

sharon.dickinson@lacity.org  

and, also copy: 

Herb Wesson:

councilmember.wesson@lacity.org 

(or call him at 213-473-7010) AND ASK HIM HOW HE FIGURES HE’S REPRESENTING ALL OF HIS CONTITUENTS. 

You can also contact PLUM Committee Members

Gilbert Cedillo:

councilmember.cedillo@lacity.org 

Marqueece Harris-Dawson:

councilmember.harris-dawson@lacity.org 

Curran Price:

councilmember.price@lacity.org 

Jose Huizar:

councilmember.huizar@lacity.org 

Mitchell Englander:

councilmember.englander@lacity.org  

You can also attend the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee meeting on February 14, 2017 (contact HPOZ@MiracleMileLA.com for more information or if you need transportation to the PLUM meeting). For more information contact

HPOZ@MiracleMileLA.com

 

(Jennifer Caldwell is a an actress and an active member of SAG-AFTRA, serving on several committees. She is a published author of short stories and news articles and is a featured contributor to CityWatch. Her column at www.RecessionCafe.wordpress.com is dishing up good deals, recipes and food for thought. Jennifer can be reached at recessioncafe@yahoo.com.  Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jennifercald - Twitter: @checkingthegate ... And her website: Jenniferhcaldwell.com)  

-cw

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