Busy Downtown developer Geoff Palmer (of the Orsini, the Lorenzo, and other Fauxtalian compounds) doesn't give a lot of interviews. Maybe that's because he's shy or otherwise occupied building giant, impenetrable apartment complexes that everyone hates. Or maybe it's because he's full of unpopular opinions, especially when it comes to affordable housing in Los Angeles. The Downtown News was present for one of his rare public speaking engagements recently, and captured the Fortress Master himself giving his thoughts on how asking developers to include affordable housing is unAmerican.
Palmer is really into giving the finger to the practice of having developers include affordable housing units in their projects; he won a pair of lawsuits that complicates California cities' ability to make zoning laws that require affordable housing. The LADN says Palmer referred to requirements on developers as "social engineering" and "immoral," which is interesting because there are definitely some who could argue that it's immoral not to include them in your freaking giant fortress complex at a point when the city of Los Angeles and LA County are experiencing extreme levels of homelessness, when funds to build affordable housing are drying up, and when the average Angeleno spends half of their income on rent to landlords like Palmer.
Anyone trying to make that argument to Palmer would find him a tough nut to crack, though. He went on to ask, "Why is it that these people think that real estate developers should give 15 percent of their profits away? They're not asking from grocery stores, gas stations, haberdasheries. They only ask real estate developers. Why is that?" It's probably because grocery stores and haberdashers don't directly make any money off of housing, but Palmer's already made up his mind. "It's not American."
There's no doubt that Palmer's got what he does down to a science. The LA Times once summarized his "formula" as follows: "purchase comparatively inexpensive land next to freeways or on lower-income streets, then construct luxury apartments on a large scale, with hundreds of units in a complex." Or as Palmer puts it, he creates "prosperous" areas out of blight (by kicking out poor people and replacing them with rich people who can pay high rents).
Why does Palmer keep on doing it? For a pretty unAmerican reason: "I don't like paying taxes."
· Geoff Palmer Speaks Out [LADN]
· Geoff Palmer [Curbed LA]