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No Matter How You Cut It, CCFO Designed to Keep Vulnerable People Out of Affluent Communities

URBAN PERSPECTIVE - I am angry and disturbed by what happened at the Public Safety Committee today regarding the Community Care Facilities Ordinance (CCFO). I and others are smart enough to know that the purpose of this quick need for a Public Safety Hearing Special Meeting was orchestrated to get CCFO to City Council for a vote and some back door deal to modify it without full community vetting. 
Since I didn’t get an opportunity to provide public comment because it was cut short, I am taking the opportunity now to share my feelings as a resident of South LA.
The CCFO as it is proposed and with the suggested modifications now by the committee is 21st Century Jim Crow and housing apartheid. No matter how you modify or massage it to fit certain groups, it is a restrictive covenant meant to keep vulnerable people including people of color from affluent communities and prohibit social and economic diversity and mobility.
I can’t imagine the City standing for such an atrocity. It is quite interesting that the North Valley and the Westside of LA can sneeze and get an ordinance; and South and East LA can have pneumonia and have to fight for nuisance abatement and accountability for slum housing. This ordinance clearly reduces housing availability and shifts vulnerable population into South and East LA where R3 and higher density zones exist. 
In testimony, it didn’t take rocket science to know or hear that a problem with bad housing is concentrated in the North and West; and that the rest of Los Angeles has to pay for it. 
Here the City goes again drawing a red line like it did with redistricting where race and class are the determining factors for the cost burden of providing shared housing in one area as opposed to another for economic reasons. For those communities that are already stressed by fewer resources and aging infrastructure, the committee’s actions are perceived as another remnant of social injustice and inequity. 
The heart and compassion of Los Angeles must be in sequestration.
Where is Perry Mason with the smoking gun evidence that the City may be open to litigation? If he were present at today’s committee meeting, he probably would have pointed to some misleading information and mistruths. 
The last I checked, the City of Los Angeles received a legal opinion from Munger, Tolles, & Olson addressed to Councilman Ed Reyes. That opinion indicated that CCFO will violate the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act. Further, it went on to state where those violations occur such as disparate treatment, disparate impact, reasonable accommodations, anti-discrimination, privacy, and a host of other violations. Why wasn’t this legal opinion mentioned today? Or was it tossed out the window for consideration?
With all due respect to the City Attorney, it begs the question where the City is getting proper legal advice to ensure that it is not in a position to be sued since the Public Safety Committee acknowledged the threat of litigation; and the City Attorney’s interpretation of the Department of Justice’s civil rights lawsuit against the City of San Jacinto, California for alleged discrimination. The City should hire an attorney for another opinion review.
By the way, I didn’t quite catch what the “severability clause” will do. It sounds like a code word that someone is communicating with attorneys because there is a risk to the City. The fact that the Public Safety Committee is open to exemptions for domestic violence and possibly others demonstrates the problems with CCFO by saying who is in or out of its provisions.
Also with all due respect and admiration for Police Chief Charlie Beck and LAPD, LAPD’s opinion about the ordinance is dead wrong. LAPD is not adept in housing policy. Their letter illustrates it by making assumptions that community care facilities and others like it are high risk, etc. What LAPD’s opinion letter essentially says is to beware of veterans, students, seniors, et al because they are bad people. It is written with a police community disconnect perspective in mind. 
Let’s not get into the game of semantics. All shared housing does not require a license. Using the word unlicensed misleads the public into thinking that a license is required when it is not. 
Don’t let some of the City officials and proponents of this ordinance fool you. This ordinance gives Angelenos a false sense of safety and security. Even at the hearing today, building and fire officials said that anyone can plead the Fourth Amendment to prohibit entry to a building; and the difficulty of getting a warrant to enter. Your planning person Mr. Rothman by his own admission addressed to community stakeholders in South LA that the City doesn’t have the resources to enforce CCFO. 
Consequently, no matter how you rewrite this ordinance with two or three leases or change the parolee language from structure to units, it is full of loopholes that don’t address the problem of behavior or sub-standard housing. At the end of the day, it is illegal and discriminatory.
The City has a Nuisance Abatement Ordinance on the books. With a little more teeth, increased response times to complaints, personnel for follow through; it can be an enforcement tool that will be equitable for all. Why not make better use of our taxpayer dollars to investigate how to make it work since the City put time and resources into enacting it. 
Look, we are at a good time and place to put all the options on the table instead of settling for CCFO. 
The ordinance is extremely problematic. I personally hate that it has totally polarized and divided the City.
I urge you Mr. Mayor, Council President, and City Council members to use good judgment. The nation is watching. It will be a shame for Los Angeles to fail as a model for housing affordability and housing equality. The spotlight is on you. 
You will be putting homelessness at our front door steps.
Do not support this ordinance and the modifications proposed by the Public Safety Committee. Find a better solution to the Valley’s and Westside’s problem.
(Janet Denise Kelly is a CityWatch featured contributor. She offers more than a decade of accomplishments in the housing and nonprofit sector. Janet brings valuable insight in the areas of community and economic development. Additionally, she brings knowledge regarding the leadership and management challenges faced by large and small nonprofits that are struggling or growing organizations. She blogs at jdkellyenterprises.org and can be reached at: [email protected]) –cw
Vol 10 Issue 99
Pub: Dec 11, 2012

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