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Political Hijinks, LA Style

LA WATCHDOG--So many shenanigans, so little time.  Here is a brief preview of some of the stunts where the our elected politicians are trying to bamboozle us. And trust me, there are more, starting with the Mayor’s budget proposal that is scheduled to be presented to the City Council on April 22. 

SB 50, the Developers’ Dream 

State Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) is pushing SB 50, the More HOMES (Housing, Opportunity, Mobility, Equity, and Stability) Act, in an effort to address the State’s housing shortage.  This legislation would permit the State to override our local land use regulations and procedures, allowing real estate developers and Wall Street investors to construct multi-family, luxury high rises in our residential neighborhoods.  Developers would be free to ignore height limitations, floor area ratios that limit density, parking and open space mandates, street setbacks, and affordable housing requirements.  

But one size does not fit all.  As a result, the City Council’s passed a resolution opposing SB 50 unless it is amended to exclude the City from its provisions.  Unfortunately, Mayor Garcetti has waffled, once again, allowing his name to be used in a Weiner press release supporting SB 50.  

We have a predicament.  Do we go with the scoundrels in Sacramento or do we put our fate in the hands of the pay-to-play rats in City Hall?  I vote for local control where we can at least confront the rats and their dirty deeds.     

See Stop SB 50 from Wrecking Homes

Public Banking, a Weapon of Mass Financial Destruction 

The Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution on March 29 supporting AB 857, The Public Banking Act, that would permit a local government to apply for a banking charter from the State to establish a public bank.  But it was only in November when the voters of Los Angeles rejected Charter Amendment B that would have amended the City Charter to allow for the creation of the municipally owned Bank of Los Angeles.  According to the Los Angeles Times, this measure was “one of the most ill-conceived, half-baked ballot measures to come out of City Hall in years, and that’s saying something.” 

While the political spinmeisters will tell us that public banking will provide massive community benefits, whether it be affordable housing, equitable small business loans, and public infrastructure projects, it represents a very risky venture that is management, capital, and technology intensive, skill sets that are lacking in City Hall and other political entities throughout the State.  Rather, it is a raid on ordinance defined funds that will benefit political cronies, where taxpayers will be on the hook for loan losses.  

Incompetent City Discriminates Against Disabled Renters 

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) is alleging that the City’s “program for developing affordable housing continues to discriminate against people with disabilities, producing kitchens, bathrooms, balconies, and other living spaces that aren’t safely accessible to wheelchair users.”  There are also “widespread incidents where people without disabilities are living in units designated as accessible.” 

This is not the City’s first go-round with HUD and the disabled community.  In 2016, the City settled a case for $200 million that alleged the City failed to comply federal disability rules.  And in 2017, the Department of Justice joined another lawsuit making the same allegations. 

The City is in denial.  City Attorney Mike Feuer is calling the lawsuit an “abuse of power.”  Mayor Garcetti believes it is political retribution because the federal government is looking to cut funds for rental assistance and affordable housing. And of course, there is The Donald to blame. 

But the truth is that the City cannot get its act together as witnessed by its inability to comply with the terms of its $200 million settlement.  The feds would be justified in declaring the City is ineligible for federal funding for affordable housing.  

More to Come 

Unfortunately, our Elected Elite continue to give us too much material, ranging from the City’s budget, its unfunded pension liability and failing infrastructure, and its Structural Deficit; Garcetti’s appointment of unqualified and inexperienced commissioners; the Department of Water and Power and its continued assault on our wallets; the Los Angeles Unified School District parcel tax and the upcoming election that is being bought by the UTLA; the County’s budget and pension liabilities; and the Legislature’s parade of tax increases despite a massive surplus. 

Stay tuned.

 (Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  lajack@gmail.com.)

-cw