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Critical City Council Vote Could Destroy Latino Neighborhoods Along the Los Angeles River

The Los Angeles City Council is moving forward on Tuesday, July 3, all but unnoticed by Angelenos, with a formal vote on creating special taxing districts -- purportedly to fund infrastructure -- that could instead destroy the heavily Latino and working-class neighborhoods along the Los Angeles River. 

The Alliance of River Communities, of which I am a member, represents a region of more than over 800,000 residents and 16 Los Angeles Neighborhood Councils. Our members voted in November 2018 and again in March 2019 to oppose the formation of a River Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District, (EIFD) primarily due to its impacts on gentrification. I am writing here, however, as an individual, to alert all residents that what they think "river revitalization" is going to be, and what it may become if an EIFD is created, are two very different things. 

ARC members opposed the proposed taxation system because in its current form, it is silent on building new affordable housing or protecting existing low-income neighborhoods. 

Where is the budget breakdown of the percentages of revenues that would be generated on the parcels and how much will be spent on different programs and projects? The package coming before City Council this week contains none of this. Without details about gentrification and displacement, we fear EIFD’s will displace low-income communities and affordable housing units. 

This proposed new entity, similar in some ways to the now-defunct Community Redevelopment Agency's, has been virtually ignored by all Los Angeles media outlets, which seem overwhelmed by looming but complex activities at City Hall. 

City officials believe they will earn lots of new money — discretionary tax increment and property taxes. But, by averting the County, they are also circumventing their main tax-sharing partners. 

  • ARC engaged with 140 community residents and leaders; yet City Council District 13 officials, EWDD, and office of the Mayor, refused to attend to discuss the proposed EIFD.
  • The major concern is gentrification and the lack of promised affordable housing.
  • Neighborhood Councils opposing: Rampart Village, Highland Park, Glassell Park, Boyle Heights, Cypress Park; Elysian Valley and Silver Lake.
  • We’ve spoken to hundreds of residents who fear they will lose their homes if a panel of Mayoral appointees gets to decide what our communities will look like. 

Based on this, we recommend the City Council revise its recommendation to: 

1) Require County EIFD policies and County tax sharing agreement.

2) Require: map, parcels, costs, expenses, taxes, and reports regarding public access

3) Postpone appointment of a Public Financing Authority (14-1349 S2).

4) Direct (CLA) & (CAO) to finalize their feasibility studies.

5) Hold community hearings before intent to form any specific EIFD. 

Background: In 2012, the state terminated the Community Redevelopment Agencies and over the next six years, much was learned. LA, however, continues to run redevelopment, spending the excess increment, with very little oversight. 

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell introduced a motion based on a 2014 USC Graduate Student Report, which their Consultants could never substantiate, that EIFD’s are appropriate for paying for the LA River Revitalization Master. Five Council Motions and four years later, CF #14-1349, 14-1349-S1, 14-1349-S2, 14-1349-S3, 14-1349 S4) are before the Council.  

  • It should state that although LA County has not approved one new EIFD since inception in 2015, EIFD taxing agreements are required to include the County.
  • The City would be prepared to amend their policy, to reflect LA County’s EIFD policy, which requires 20% affordable housing, social displacement studies, and a public engagement framework.
  • It should recommend appointing a public financing authority with representation from the County and impacted Neighborhood Councils.
  • It should recognize that new EIFD’s cannot be adopted until the former CRA (“Successor agency”) activity has been completed and its tax increment balances be spent, and loans paid off.
  • It should clarify that the State law does not currently allow for multiple jurisdictional EIFD’s (32-mile scenario) or an 8-mile scenario. 

Join us in sending emails and letters to all five council files, and all fifteen Council members, expressing your opposition by July 2, 2019, 5 pm; or by giving testimony (sign up by 9:45 am) this Wednesday, on July 3, 2019, in Council Chambers, City Hall, 200 N. Spring Street. 

 

(Carrie Sutkin is a member of the Alliance of River Communities. She can be reached at  carrieasutkin@gmail.com)  Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.