first_imgAt the same time, city leaders express hope over a re-energized Planning Department under General Manager Gail Goldberg, who has pledged to create community plans that maintain L.A.’s traditional single-family neighborhoods while promoting more apartments and condos in other areas. Meanwhile, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has created a team headed by Housing Department General Manager Mercedes Marquez to develop a citywide housing strategy that would touch on homeownership, modernizing public housing and preserving affordable housing. “It’s so complicated,” Marquez said of the city’s housing crisis, “that only by breaking it down to its barest essentials can we fight it and win.” In addition, planners and the Mayor’s Office are creating a blueprint of high-density housing and businesses at transit stops along Metro’s Orange, Expo and Gold Lines. Councilman Reyes, who heads the council’s Planning and Land Use Committee, hinted during last week’s hearing that he might resurrect the idea of inclusionary zoning – in which developers are required to set aside some new units for low-income renters or buyers. Pressure from developers, neighborhood councils and homeowner groups killed the proposal in 2005. But after thinking it over, Reyes said inclusionary zoning is probably still too controversial. Instead, he wants to focus on developing more housing along transit lines and rewriting community plans to spell out where new housing can be built. “We as decision makers need to get with our constituents and say, where won’t you fight it? Where do you want it? What infrastructure needs to go along with?” Councilman Dennis Zine, who represents the West Valley, has mixed feelings about the future of city development. He doesn’t agree with affordable housing requirements like inclusionary zoning. But after his suburban constituents raised concern about an apartment and condo building boom in Warner Center, he agreed to temporarily require 25 percent “work-force housing” in new residential projects, which would slow development and provide units for middle-income workers in the area. “The bottom line is, do we just go with everything market rate? Then you end up like Beverly Hills and Newport Beach where everyone is wealthy and nobody else can live there,” Zine said. “The future is going to be tall buildings and condos. The factor is going to be the affordability.” [email protected] (213) 978-0390 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Last week, for example, the City Council debated six hours before voting 9-5 for a two-tiered plan to increase relocation allocations to tenants evicted because of condo conversions. “This is an incremental step,” Councilman Ed Reyes said after the vote. “This incremental patchwork is getting very little return for the money and work we’re spending on it.” There are also questions about where the developments will go and about the trend toward building mixed-use projects, which combine residential and commercial space but also raise concerns about traffic and noise. Greuel said it’s important for the residents to be involved in the decision-making process. “I believe people in the Valley and the rest of the city can tell us where should the housing go and where shouldn’t it go. There are places where we want to protect single-family neighborhoods, and there are areas where density makes sense and there is the infrastructure to support multifamily housing.” Five years after experts voiced concerns about a looming housing crisis, Los Angeles officials have yet to develop a citywide policy that promotes construction of enough affordable units to meet the demand. But with home prices in the stratosphere, vacancy rates plummeting and developers accelerating plans for condo conversions, political leaders find themselves under increasing pressure to expand the housing stock in every area of the city. “The stars are aligned. There is a recognition of people really wanting to solve this problem,” said City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, whose East San Fernando Valley district has been hit hard by condo conversions. However, it could be difficult to come up with a solution acceptable to everyone – landlords, tenants, homeowners, developers and politicians. last_img

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