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City Council moving forward with new plan to build more affordable housing

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Developers would be required to make some apartments and condos affordable—or pay a fee

The Los Angeles City Council took steps Tuesday to bring badly-needed affordable housing units to the city by requiring developers to add low-income units to certain projects or pay into a city-managed trust fund.

The council ordered the city attorney to draft rules that would apply when the council approves plans for new residential buildings that don’t comply with zoning codes or the city’s general plan—typically because those buildings are larger, or would add to the density of the neighborhood. In those cases, developers would have compensate for that added value by including affordable units in their buildings. Projects that don’t require zoning changes would be unaffected by the policy.

“An affordable home in the heart of the city should not be out of reach for hard-working Angelenos,” said councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who drafted the proposed rules. “We as leaders must focus on fixing our housing crisis, and create policy that will provide some relief from the burden of skyrocketing rents across Los Angeles.”

O’Farrell’s proposal is called a “value-capture” system.

He has been working on the policy for more than two years, and it seems his efforts may not have come quickly enough for many Angelenos. On November 8, voters in the city of Los Angelees resoundingly approved Measure JJJ, a ballot measure that mandates very similar affordable housing requirements—as well as rules stipulating that local workers be hired for construction—for projects that require zoning changes.

O’Farrell also introduced a motion Tuesday asking staff to report on possible ways to implement and enforce Measure JJJ.

Meanwhile, both the value capture system and Measure JJJ would be effectively neutralized should voters approve the controversial Neighborhood Integrity Initiative in March. If passed, that measure would, for two years, put a halt on all developments seeking changes to current zoning rules.