Sat, May

Are LA’s Big Buck Developers REALLY Smarter than We Are?


PLANNING EVELUTION IN HIGH GEAR--I continue to be overwhelmed and amazed by the audacity and brazenness of our City leaders--not all of them, but most of them.  And their enablers (who are frightfully laden with financial conflict of interest) in the "environmental" and "affordable housing" communities ... while the true community leaders, who are liberal and compromising get effectively told to "shut up and take it, because we're smarter than you". 


And, probably they're higher life forms to boot.  Because the rest of us are too damned stupid to recognize the futility of obeying the law: 

Ooooh, lookie!  A project that makes jobs! 

1) Yeah, a megadevelopment or even a "by-right" development which would never have seen the light of day if the City obeyed its bylaws and Community Plan update rules is the "perfect way" to make jobs. 

Yeah, we could never create jobs by focusing on an appropriate, moderate densification of our major, transit-adjacent corridors, and by building in regions south of the I-10 freeway and other regions that are forgotten and blighted, and are perfect to develop for a middle class and workforce that deserves affordable and honorable housing. 

Yeah, we could never create jobs by using our neighborhood councils to provide input for commercial developers on the right size and features to fast-track our shopping, restaurant and other needs. 

Yeah, these developments that transform and overdensify neighborhoods make jobs--and of the jobs and those who relocate to more humanely-developed communities (with all their savings and spending money, to boot) is just a "super-duper" way to improve our economy.  And it's good riddance to all the companies and small businesses that bail out of the City of Los Angeles, right? 


2)  Oooooh, lookie!  An affordable housing project! 

Yeah, a project with "density bonuses" that leaves us with either no new net affordable housing, or even less net affordable housing, than ever before. 

Yeah, a City which interprets SB 1818 in ways that Pasadena, Culver City, and other cities would NEVER do--because when those cities want affordable housing they make damned sure that the seniors, students and workforce housing are catered to...and that the housing is REALLY affordable! 

Yeah, affordable housing is a condo or unit that goes for $4-600,000 or more.  I'm sure that a senior on a fixed income, or a supermarket checker can afford that. 

3) Ooooooh, lookie!  A transit-oriented project! 

Yeah, a project next to or near a train station with $800,000 per unit condos...THAT will attract the folks who will never use their cars to go anywhere, huh? 

Yeah, a project which has no incentive to discourage car ownership on renters and owners, and which is anything but focused on the student, senior and workforce housing comprised of folks who would love to get rid of their cars. 

Yeah, a "family-oriented" project with insufficient parks and open space and school access...and which to anyone with common sense knows virtually mandates car usage in order to get little Johnny and Janie to their schools, sports, or even parks to play and grow in. 

Yeah, with overdensification in areas within 1/4 or 1/2 mile NOT to a train station, but to ANYWHERE along the train line corridor.  I guess our transit riders will get a good running start and grab onto the passing train like hobos to access the light rail line? 

Gimme a break.  Give US a break.  This is all kind of like DWP reform and Neighborhood Council advocacy...but done behind closed doors and without sufficient funds and City employees to daylight the whole "reform" process. 

And NOTHING says "reform" and "grassroots" democracy like the words "Downtown L.A." or the "LA City Council", which meets almost always during daytime, worktime hours, and behind closed doors. 

Let's just call it like it is:  Angelenos want the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative and will more likely than not vote for it the more it's made clear to them, because they're tired of being presumed to be "lower life forms." 

And to those who still believe they're "higher life forms"?   

Well, be prepared to face some rapid evolution in the months to come.


(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee.  He is co-chair of the CD11Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at  [email protected].   He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)



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