A VIEW FROM HERE - In criminal law, when a gunshot victim is on life support in the ICU, the nurse who feeds him arsenic each day so that he dies of poisoning is guilty of homicide. The nurse may not assert a murder defense of “the patient was dying anyway so the arsenic doesn’t matter.” By signing the new Zoning Ordinance, Mayor Karen Bass committed Citycide.
On July 1, 2023, Karen Bass signed council item # 22-0268 from the June 30th city council session - “Sections 16.05 of Article 6.1 of Chapter I of the Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) to add certain exemptions for affordable housing projects. No. CPC-2023-1083-CA Council District: Citywide CEQA: ENV-2020-6762-EIR, ENV-2020-6762-EIR-ADD1 Plan Area: citywide”.
What Does this Mean?
The May 17, 2023 Letter of Determination makes clear what the new zoning ordinance will do. One may Google the document and read it for oneself, but here’s the summary: By 2029, The City’s shall build an additional 420,327 housing units (185,000 will be affordable). All may be exempt from Site Review. A project with 49 or fewer market rate units would be exempt even if it had 250 units. (Page F-6)
Los Angeles currently has 46,260 homeless. To house 100% of the homeless would require 18,504 units. (46,260/2.5 LA’s average person per household) That raises the question: Why construct ten (10) times more housing than required to house 100% of the homeless?
That raises another question: Since Los Angeles has been steadily losing population for years, especially Millennials and Gen Zer’s (the family generations with children), why construct 420,327 more units? When the home buying segment of the population leaves, that creates more vacancies.
Why build more upscale units, when the DTLA Office high rises are converting to residential units? Why are the DTLA towers becoming residences? Because so many office personnel have left LA, that the need for offices space have fallen thru the floor. Newer DTLA towers have 40% vacancy rate. “Brookfield Corp., downtown LA’s biggest office landlord, defaulted on $1.1 billion of loans on three buildings. The Gas Company Tower is in receivership, which means the owner is no longer trying to keep the property. ¶ The Union Bank Plaza sold in March 2023 for $104 million, half its 2010 price.” (May 24, 2023, Bloomberg, Downtown LA’s Office Distress Shows the Pain Coming for Cities)
Why Build More When the City Has a Glut?
According to the 2020 Vacancy Report by UCLA Law et alia, Los Angeles had over 93,000 vacant units. LA City population in 2020 was 3,898,767. LA City population in 2022 was down to 3,822,238. That’s a decrease of 65,529 ppl. Using the same 2.5 people per household, that means 26,212 additional living units became available since 2020. Thus, the city has about 119,000 vacant units in July 2022.
Big Lie #1 Is That Los Angeles Has a Housing Shortage
Glut and shortage are mutually exclusive concepts. Why did the homeless count increase by 10% since 2022? Homeless Crisis has one main cause – the destruction of rent controlled units, throwing LA’s poorest onto the streets. Despite the eviction moratorium during the pandemic, Garcetti exempted housing construction from Stay At Home, and destruction of RSO units seems to be logged as “construction.”
Watch out for the New Zoning Code’s Tricky Words
The following sentence seems innocuous, but it’s lethal. “Page F-3 Policy 1.3.2: Prioritize the development of new Affordable Housing in all communities, particularly those that currently have fewer Affordable units.” (Bold added) In this context “currently have fewer affordable units” means – to prioritize poverty units in single home family areas, such as Los Feliz, Beachwood Canyon, Windsor Square, Cheviot Hills, Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and similar communities which are predominately single family homes.
Why Target Neighborhoods with Detached Single Family Homes?
According to federal Judge David O. Carter, white racism has caused Blacks to be homeless, and thus, white areas with detached homes with yards are racist. (April 20, 201 Minute Order Case No. LA CV 20-02291-DOC-(KESx) see page 3 et seq.) Immediate blow-back came from Black and Mexican families who said Judge Carter was sabotaging their efforts to build generational wealth since so many lived in these targeted single family homes. Apparently, the State threw in its two cents, saying that minority areas would be exempt from having to host poverty housing. Will the new Zoning Ordinance be applied according to its residents’ race?
Mayor Bass’s Constitutional Dilemma
(1) Does she attack middle class minority families by destroying their single family neighborhoods, or (2) does she exempt minority neighborhoods and violate the June 29, 2023 US Supreme Court Case of Students for Fair Admissions, Inc.?
Also, how does locating her Poverty Projects 10 to 20 miles from where the homeless live dovetail with the demands of homeless advocates that they should not be housed any significant distance from their current locations? Councilmembers like Nithya Raman claim that each council district should bear its fair burden of poverty projects. How will the city locate poverty projects in “nearby, but far away” council districts?
Impact of Multi-Unit Poverty Projects in Single Family Areas
(1) Rapid increase in housing prices
The first impact will be dramatic increase housing prices. Developers who want to build 49 market rate units along with poverty units will get exempted from any Site Plan Review. Developers will pay a premium to sellers of R-1 homes in order to evade any city oversight plus a guarantee of unanimous city council approval. Those sales prices go into the comps for that area which means the new comps may be 2, 3, or 4 times higher that prior sales. Families already cannot afford to buy a single family home in Los Angeles. Thus, the increase in housing prices will drive even more Millennials and Gen Zers out of Los Angeles.
In addition, what family wants to buy into a single family area when tomorrow, their neighbor’s home can turn into a 125 unit poverty project?
(2) Threat to wealth accumulation
Owning one’s own home is the main route to a family’s accumulating equity. There will come a time in the foreseeable future when developers stop buying single family homes because Karen Bass’ new zoning ordinance will have seriously increased the glut and the Feds stop subsidizing rents. At that point, housing values will plummet, which will erase homeowners’ equity. Whether a homeowner is one of Judge Carter’s racist Whites or his woebegone Blacks, their homes will become worth substantially less than their mortgage balances. If they sell, they will owe money to the bank! In brief, Mayor Bass has initiated a series of economic nightmares which will wipe out homeowner equity. The more recently one has purchased a home, the faster the equity will disappear.
(3) An equity free society
When one sees that Mayor Bass’ new zoning promotes the construction of more apartments while decimating single family areas, one realizes that Mayor Bass does not expect Los Angeles to ever become a homeowner society. The Wokers, who are all knowing and all wise and whom one may never contradict, know that minorities, i.e., the Oppressed, reject the American dream and they do not want to own a home, but rather they wish to live in cramped apartments, never gain equity, and when they reach retirement, they want look forward to ever increasing rent increases.
May we add Citycide to the list of Mayor Bass’s achievements?
(Richard Lee Abrams has been an attorney, a Realtor and community relations consultant as well as a CityWatch contributor. You may email him at [email protected].)