In a major nod to the efforts of the Coalition to Preserve L.A., a citizen-driven, community-based movement, the L.A. City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti today offered a number of “reforms” for the city’s land-use policies. In response, the coalition offers this statement:
The mayor and City Council are clearly unnerved by our 70 percent support from voters to end the behavior of individual City Council members who take money from developers and then, acting as land czars, personally see to it that their developer friends get their land “rezoned” from two or three stories to 6 or 10 or even 30 stories.
Los Angeles residents pay: a massive loss of green spaces, livable neighborhoods, quiet streets and street parking, even as these outsized buildings suck up our water and max out the surface streets, water mains and emergency services. L.A. residents pay with higher rates, higher taxes and harmed communities. This is a corrupt system, whether it is legal or not.
The fine words from the mayor and council today are very nice to see. We do sincerely appreciate their acknowledgement of our citywide Neighborhood Integrity Initiative movement that is gaining steam in every neighborhood from Brentwood to Boyle Heights.
“They have validated our message that the current system is broken,” said Michael Weinstein, the principal architect of the initiative.
But sadly, this plan falls far short of the reforms in the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative.
“What City Hall is doing now is like closing the barn door after all the animals have already run away,” added Weinstein.
Our March 2017 ballot measure ends forever the gaming of land in Los Angeles by the City Council. The mayor and City Council’s reforms announced today continue to allow the City Council and the mayor himself to behave badly — by personally seeing to it that developers who shower them with cash are allowed to erect giant projects on streets and in neighborhoods that don’t want it and can’t handle it.
The City Council’s own actions, of backing policies that encourage widespread demolition of perfectly sound older buildings, are pushing out longtime residents, destroying more than 20,000 affordable rent-stabilized units since 2001 in favor of luxury buildings, ruining neighborhood character from Westlake and Highland Park to Valley Village and Koreatown, and selling out Los Angeles for a future that people here in Los Angeles do not want.
Their related measure announced today involving “defunct zoning” is, unfortunately, not a reform but a land grab, focused largely on the San Fernando Valley, where the council clearly intends to broadly rezone parking lots to allow for density. Parking lots are not defunct zoning awaiting giant luxury condo projects or pricey rental complexes going for $3,000 per unit.
What Los Angeles wants and has been promised by the mayor and City Council again and again is parks.
Los Angeles is the most park-poor big city in America, a shameful ranking that harms everyone. What the people of L.A. dream of, and what the mayor and city council dream of, could not be further apart.
One additional reform proposed by the council and mayor today is taken directly from the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative. We appreciate their effort, but if falls woefully short.
Our ballot reform will forever ban developers from choosing their own consultants to write the infamous Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) that continually underestimate traffic, infrastructure stress, environmental harm, noise and other harms from developers’ projects.
In contrast to our clear ban on using consultants who are close to developers, the mayor and city council’s plan today would create a list of private EIR consultants approved via a highly politicized process. They need to do better.