At a contentious hearing at L.A. City Hall Tuesday, the City Council’s Planning and Land-Use Management Committee approved special spot-zoning favors for the divisive “Reef” development proposed for Historic South-Central near the 10 Freeway. The billion-dollar mega-project has pitted neighbors against neighbors who either strongly support or heavily oppose the construction of a hotel and two skyscrapers with luxury housing in the working-class neighborhood. It’s also another “Black Lung Lofts” project that L.A. politicians keep approving all over the city.
Proposed by Kanon Ventures, the 1.6 million-square-foot Reef development is located near the Santa Monica Freeway at 1933 S. Broadway, featuring a 19-story hotel and two luxury housing skyscrapers (32 stories and 35 stories each) with more than 1,000 units. Abandoning its Historic South-Central heritage, Kanon Ventures markets The Reef, also known as “SoLA Village,” as a “creative habitat in downtown L.A.” — an obvious attempt to grab the attention of artists, hipsters and techies.
Like many developers, Kanon Ventures employees and associates have spent $369,775 in campaign contributions and fees for high-priced, politically connected lobbyists to woo L.A. politicians. For The Reef development, Kanon Ventures needs to bend city planning rules and get City Hall approvals for a zone change and General Plan amendment.
This week, L.A. City Hall has been rocked by the ongoing “Sea Breeze Scandal,” in which the Los Angeles Times revealed how a developer and his associates shelled out hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions that benefitted Council members and Mayor Eric Garcetti, who pushed through a mega-project known as “Sea Breeze” that had been rejected by the City Planning Commission.
With The Reef, in August, the City Planning Commission approved the mega-project, billed as a transit-oriented development, after hours of emotional testimony from both supporters and opponents. On Tuesday, the emotion was still high.
Taking cues from community leaders, supporters talked about new construction and customer service jobs while opponents insisted that the luxury mega-project was geared for affluent professionals — and that longtime, lower-income residents would be displaced due to gentrification.
More than one opponent yelled out during the meeting, “Fuck The Reef!”
L.A. City Council member Curren Price of District 9, where the mega-project is located, was also a target for opponents — the politician supports The Reef. One citizen said voters in Historic South-Central would remember his backing of the luxury development come Election Day and kick him out of office. Price is up for re-election in March 2017.
A group known as United Neighbors in Defense Against Displacement (UNIDAD) has filed an appeal in opposition to The Reef development, but the billion-dollar, luxury mega-project will now go to the L.A. City Council for approval.
Lost in the heated discussion, however, was the fact that The Reef is proposed for a site that’s next to the 10 Freeway. USC and UCLA researchers have long provided scientific evidence that freeway-adjacent development, known as “Black Lung Lofts,” is dangerous for children and pregnant women, who can suffer serious illnesses caused by air pollution.
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