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L.A. Mayor Karen Bass retools her affordable housing strategy

Good morning and welcome to LA on the Record, our City Hall newsletter, where David Zarnizer and Dakota Smith bring you the latest in Los Angeles politics and government.

The Mayor of Los Angeles Karen Bass As she launched her reelection bid this week, she highlighted her success in speeding up approvals for new affordable housing.

Executive Order 1, signed in December 2022, has succeeded in significantly shortening the time it takes to review 100% affordable projects, resulting in a flood of development proposals. The Planning Authority says it has received applications to build almost 100% affordable housing. 20,000 affordable housing units — A project that limits the rent that can be charged to low-income tenants.

But ED1 has also sparked backlash from some community groups. Tenant advocates say ED1 projects are causing too many rent-controlled apartment demolitions, upending tenants' lives. Homeowners groups say ED1 projects are causing too many rent-controlled apartment demolitions, upending tenants' lives. Historic Preservation District, There are fears that six-storey apartment blocks will rise one after the other next to stately Victorian buildings and rows of Arts and Crafts bungalows.

On Monday, Governor Bass tried to quell the unrest by restricting where the faster ED1 process can be used.

base, 8 page memomade it clear that properties in historic districts will no longer be eligible for ED1 fast track processing. These districts are found in many areas, including Highland Park, Lincoln Heights and South Los Angeles.

The mayor also Hilly land in a “very high fire danger area” It will affect parts of Silver Lake, Lincoln Heights and Hollywood Hills.

In his memo, Bass also proposed a concession to tenants' rights groups to exclude properties with more than 12 rent-controlled units. The change came months after ED1 developers proposed a 153-unit project in Eagle Rock that would demolish 17 rent-controlled apartments, some of which are occupied by low-income families.

The changes were not reassuring. Rene MoyaThe Los Angeles Tenants Union president, who represents the Northeast chapter of the union, said the 12-unit cut “makes no sense except as a boon to developers.” More than half of the city's housing stock is in Rent-regulated propertiesHe said many people live in properties with 10 units or fewer.

“This bill targets the majority of rent-controlled people in the city and puts them at risk of being permanently forced out of the city,” he said.

Cindy Schwatalco-founder of the group United NeighborsThe mayor, who has opposed the low-density rezoning proposal, was much more optimistic, praising Bass for working with various community groups over the past few months to address concerns about ED1, including its encroachment on historic areas.

“She listened,” Chavatar said in an interview.

YIMBY activists, who seek to eliminate restrictions on housing construction and go by the nickname “Yes In My Backyard,” were largely disappointed, arguing that ED1 was effective precisely because of its simplicity.

Scott EpsteinThe director of policy and research at the housing advocacy group Abundant Housing LA said ED1's multitude of changes makes planning much more complicated and gives developers less flexibility to make their projects financially viable.

Housing Activist Joseph Cohen Maywho lives in downtown Los Angeles, also criticized the decision to carve out the historic district.

“Cutting this program shows that the Bass administration is more interested in pleasing interest groups than it is in maximizing the supply of affordable housing and quickly ending homelessness,” he said.

Bass' team disputed the allegations, saying the mayor continues to fast-track approvals for thousands of new affordable housing units.

“Mayor Bass believes policies should always be evaluated and improved, which is the purpose of this amendment,” a spokesman for Mayor Bass said. Clara Karger“She also believes that if everyone buys in, we can build more housing.”

It's not yet clear how much of an impact the latest changes will have. Of the more than 200 project applications submitted so far, 10 were proposed in historic districts, and fewer than 10 were on sites with more than a dozen rent-controlled apartments, according to the mayor's team.

Bass has highlighted ED1 in speeches and community events as one of her administration's major successes. It takes an average of 45 daysThis has been shortened from six months or more. information It was issued by the mayor's office last year.

The changes Governor Bass implemented this week are unlikely to address all community concerns about ED1. For example, YIMBYs remain unhappy that Governor Bass excluded single-family home neighborhoods from the initiative early in her administration.

Meanwhile, homeowners groups continue to argue that many ED1 projects are significantly oversized compared to their surroundings.

Critics also complain that dozens of ED1 projects have no parking spaces at all, putting new pressure on on-street parking — but that's a problem caused by state law, not the mayor's speed-up measures.

City leaders are also hearing complaints from another powerful constituency: construction unions, who worry that ED1's developers will turn to cheap, unqualified labor to complete the project.

Pete RodriguezWestern Region Vice President United Trade Guild of Carpenters and Joinerssaid any permanent ED1 ordinance should include provisions that would create “more middle-class jobs,” such as a prevailing wage requirement.

“Los Angeles cannot survive if the critical workforce that builds our homes can't live here,” Rodriguez said in a statement.

Board Members Tim McCoskerHe is one of the union's most trusted allies at City Hall, motion Last month, he instructed city officials to consider ways to ensure that workers on the ED1 project have access to prevailing wages and, in some cases, health insurance.

Mayor Bass' changes don't address those concerns. In her memo, the mayor said she would “support labor standards and protections” if ED1 becomes permanent law, but she didn't provide specifics.

That prospect has some YIMBYs worried, who warn that rising labor costs could make many of the ED1 projects unbuildable.

Members of Abundant Housing Los Angeles organized a rally last month to push for making ED1 permanent, and at that rally, they faced some backlash of their own.

Organizers said the rally, held in front of City Hall, was disrupted by resident activists who shouted at the protesters, disrupting the rally and destroying some of its signs.

current situation

— Planned for 2026: Bass took a bold step this week, announcing to supporters that she would run for a second four-year term in 2026. The campaign needs money. “We can't afford to let our momentum slow,” Bass said in a fundraising email.

— Mega Meeting from HellAs previously reported, some city council members have called for council meetings to be held less frequently, proposing cutting them from three times a week to once a week.

This week, they got a glimpse of what that might look like.

Tuesday's meeting, the last before the summer recess, was the only one this week: it had 161 items on the agenda, lasted six and a half hours and necessitated pizza being delivered to the back of the council chambers.

— Explosive Dividends: Three years after the Los Angeles Police Department bombed a South Los Angeles neighborhood, the city council has agreed to pay more than $21 million to settle legal claims for many of the residents who were forced to evacuate.

— Wizard of Reform: City Council approved the appointment of Robert SternStern, a co-author of the state's political reform law of 1974, was appointed to the five-member ethics committee. Stern, who also co-authored the city's ethics law, was appointed by the council speaker. Paul Krekorian.

— Build a bigger boardLos Angeles County Supervisor Lindsay Holbert and Janice Hahn The county board of supervisors has announced a proposal to increase the number of members on the board from five to nine, which would give each board 1.1 million people to serve, since the county has 10 million residents overall. The board hopes to put the proposal on the November 5 ballot for voters.

— Be braveThe City Council voted to spend $54 million on preliminary design work for the convention center expansion to determine whether the renovations can be completed in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics.

– Plan ahead: Fast-food workers often have unpredictable schedules that make it hard to schedule child care, doctor's appointments and other work commitments. Now, City Council members Hugo Soto Martinez In addition to providing paid vacation time, they are proposing more stability and consistency in work schedules.

– Beat the heatIt's going to be a hot weekend! Luckily, there are several cooling centers in and around LA.

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Quick Hit

  • Where is Inside Safe? The mayor's signature program to combat homelessness was aimed at the area around Beverly Boulevard and Alvarado Street, in the district represented by Soto-Martinez.
  • Next week's plan: Two people convicted in the Jose Huizar corruption scandal — consultants Justin Kim Former lobbyist Molly Goldman — will be sentenced by a federal judge.

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