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Palmer and Economy Team Up to Try to Defeat Affordable Housing Ordinance

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Remember that Mixed Income Housing Ordinance the mayor was pushing that would require developers to include very low, low, or moderate income housing in their projects? And remember how it hit a major snag when Tuscan-themed developer Geoff Palmer won a lawsuit that let him out of including affordable units in his unbuilt Piero II rental project? Well, two council committees recently weighed in on a report by Planning Director Gail Goldberg that looked at (link goes to a PDF report) how the city might deal with the Palmer decision (which only applies to rental housing). She laid out four options, analyzed their feasibility, and then basically said her staff didn't have the capacity to work on the ordinance anyway.

The first option is to seek a change in the state law on which the Palmer decision is based (it says that landlords are allowed to set initial rents at any rate they want). Previous attempts at that, even before the Palmer ruling, have been unsuccessful. The second option is to charge all new developments (including commercial and industrial) an affordable housing impact fee. That revenue could be used to develop and maintain affordable housing. That option requires a study that's already underway and will be completed in the fall. The third option is to create an affordable housing mandate for for-sale housing only. This would price out very low and low income groups. The last option is to create the planned-on ordinance that requires affordable housing in all projects, but slap a hold on the rental part for if/when the state law changes.

At the end of the report, Goldberg writes that her department is understaffed because of job cuts, furloughs, and reduced hours: "Over the next five months, the total capacity of the Department will be reduced by almost one-half." Most of the planners work on legally-mandated casework (things like variances for private projects), so there aren't many left to work on this kind of policy project, and Goldberg writes that their priorities are state mandates, city Community Plans, and city code reform. Meanwhile, the Downtown News covered yesterday's meeting and quotes Councilman Ed Reyes as saying he is "doubtful a change in state law would be feasible in the short term." [Image of Metro Hollywood Transit Village via Kanner Architects]
· No Affordable Housing at Downtown's Piero II [Curbed LA]
· CF 08-2614 - Development of a Mixed Income Housing Ordinance (link goes to a PDF) [Office of the City Clerk]