by Bella De Soto, End Homelessness Now Coalition
The City Council, less than two years after passing an ordinance to set strict limits on tearing down existing low-income housing without replacing it with even more such units, is about to carve out an exemption which it claims will allow only a single existing project, in Hollywood just west of Barnsdall Park, to proceed without fulfilling those rules. Coincidentally, the private developer involved, according to the LA Times, has made campaign contributions to City Council members Mitch O’Farrell and Gil Cedillo, following which a Council committee O’Farrell is on recommended that the Council grant the exemption.
“Letting private developers off the hook from their obligations to set aside affordable housing units will only further exacerbate the problem,” North Hollywood resident Yuisa Gimeno says. She discounts the claim that the exemption will only be for a single development. “If they allow this one, this opens up the door for other developers to claim the same thing,” Gimeno added.
The developers have threatened to pull the plug if they don’t get the exemption, a form of economic blackmail. According to the LA Times, Tina Choi, representing LaTerra Development LLC, told council members that if the proposed amendment were not approved, “we would not be able to build the residential project.” A staffer for O’Farrell asserted that even if the exemption is created, the company would have to apply and demonstrate that it would have a financial hardship in meeting the requirement for additional “affordable” units. The question of the financial hardship most Angelenos experience in finding housing was not addressed by the Council or the LA Times.