Affordable Living

Vote Yes on S: Affordable living issues and battles

 

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LA Tenants Union Supports YES ON S 

Feb. 16 -- The LA Tenants Union, a citywide tenants rights group, has strongly endorsed Measure S, noting its members "recognize that the majority of Angelenos are renters yet the city is openly hostile to them."

In a press statement, the organization stated that "L.A.’s housing crisis is not a crisis of number of units, but of affordability, displacement, and a rigged system."

It further noted, "Tenants who support Measure S represent the diversity of those most affected: low-income, seniors on fixed incomes, homeless, working families, LGBT tenants, single-mothers, young professionals, artists, and disabled tenants. Many of these tenants depend on rent-stabilized housing to be able to remain in neighborhoods like Hollywood, Downtown, Leimert Park, Boyle Heights, North Hollywood, or Echo Park.

"The market-rate units that often replace theirs are inaccessible and unprotected.

"Los Angeles has proven that it is not yet able to practice development without displacement. Imagined housing construction of the future relies on today’s practices of mass eviction and harassment.

"Nevertheless, those opposed to Measure S continue to bombard tenants with hypothetical scenarios and false claims meant to scare Angelenos from standing up for their right to safe and affordable housing."

Read the LA Tenants Union full statement -- in English and Spanish.

 

YES ON MEASURE S PROTESTS ILLEGAL DEMOLITION OF APARTMENT BUILDING

Feb. 25 -- Yes on Measure S joined Hollywood residents to protest the illegal demolition of a historic apartment building that provided affordable housing. Developer Wiseman Residential bulldozed the structure to make way for a new project, even though city officials twice tried to stop the teardown.

It was another example of an alarming trend spreading across Los Angeles, in which affordable housing is demolished or taken off the market to make way for luxury housing.

According to the Los Angeles Times, "more than 20,000 rent-controlled units have been taken off the market since 2001" across LA.

The paper noted, "Looking to cash in on a booming real estate market, Los Angeles property owners are demolishing an increasing number of rent-controlled buildings to build pricey McMansions, condos and new rentals, leading to hundreds of evictions across the city."

Now the smashed Hollywood apartment building at 1344 N. Formosa joins that list.

Wiseman Residential had evicted tenants from their affordable homes in 2016 under the increasingly controversial Ellis Act, which many tenant advocates say developers are abusing across LA and California.

Wiseman Residential has a history of throwing its tenants out of their apartments, according to the LA Times.

In April 2016, the paper found that "over the last decade, Wiseman has evicted at least 237 tenants from rent-controlled properties in Los Angeles."

On Tuesday, Formosa Avenue residents protested Wiseman Residential's illegal move and shabby treatment of its tenants. Yes on Measure S fully supports these Angelenos and other like them who get a raw deal from greedy developers. 

We also call for LA City Hall to hold Wiseman Residential accountable for any laws that may have been broken.

Measure S can help Angelenos fend off outlaw developers -- by reining greed-driven overdevelopment, reforming LA's rigged and broken planning system and returning power back to residents.

 

Metro Transit-Oriented Projects Cause Displacement and Gentrification, UCLA Study Says

Aug. 31, 2016 -- UCLA researchers released eye-popping findings this week that community activists have known for years -- Metro-promoted development near transit stations in Los Angeles causes displacement of lower-income residents and brings about gentrification.

UCLA noted that the "upscaling" of L.A. neighborhoods through development near transit stations can lead to lower-income, disadvantaged residents being pushed out of communities. The majority of new development in L.A. features luxury housing for affluent professionals.

The Reef -- image from draft EIR

Paul Ong, director of UCLA Luskin’s Center for Neighborhood Knowledge and a professor of Urban Planning, said in a statement:

Sometimes, landlords aggressively — and perhaps illegally — force them out. Higher rents make it difficult for low-income households to move into the neighborhood, so we see a net decline in their numbers. They are replaced by those who can afford the higher housing cost — people referred to as ‘gentrifiers.’

Community activists who have been fighting luxury mega-projects across Los Angeles know that all too well. But City Hall politicians and bureaucrats have done little, if anything, to address displacement and gentrification.

Instead, the City Council and mayor have consistently ignored lower-income residents' concerns, ignored existing zoning rules that protect neighborhoods from luxury overdevelopment and granted developers special "spot-zoning" favors such as a General Plan amendment or zone change so they can build 30-story skyscrapers with luxury housing and make millions in profits.

L.A.'s planning system has become so broken and rigged that even the City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti rolled out a so-called "reform" plan in April. The politicians, however, have yet to follow through with any substantive action.

In the meantime, city politicians and bureaucrats continue to support such transit-oriented, luxury mega-projects as Cumulus with a 30-story residential skyscraper on La Cienega and Jefferson boulevards in South Los Angeles and the upscale SoLA Village, known as The Reef, in Historic South Central. Both projects need the City Council and mayor to sign off on special spot-zoning favors.

UCLA provides an interactive map for residents to see which neighborhoods have been hit by gentrification caused by Metro-promoted development -- and released these key findings:

  • Areas around transit stations are changing and many of the changes are in the direction of neighborhood upscaling and gentrification.
  • Examining changes relative to areas not near light-rail or subway projects from 2000 to 2013, neighborhoods near those forms of transit are more associated with increases in white, college-educated, higher-income households and greater increases in the cost of rents. Conversely, neighborhoods near rail development are associated with greater losses in disadvantaged populations, including individuals with less than a high school diploma and lower-income households
  • The impacts vary across locations, but the biggest impacts seem to be around the downtown areas where transit-oriented developments interact with other interventions aiming to physically revitalize those neighborhoods.

The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, however, proposes real reforms for L.A.'s broken and rigged planning system -- and it's received citywide backing from Angelenos.

Unsurprisingly, wealthy developers and L.A. politicians, who have received $6 million in campaign contributions from the real estate industry, are opposed to the citizen-driven reform initiative -- developers and their well-heeled allies recently spent $722,335 to defeat the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative.

 

Valley Village Residents Under Siege By Greedy Developers

Aug. 15, 2016 -- In the San Fernando Valley, in a middle-class enclave known as Valley Village, residents are under siege by developers who destroy affordable housing units in order to build small-lot subdivision condominiums and other luxury housing — a troubling pattern that’s happening across Los Angeles in both working- and middle-class neighborhoods.

When one visits Valley Village, which sits east of Sherman Oaks, the vacant lots of torn down residential buildings look eerily similar to Venice, where developers are also sending in demolition crews to make way for luxury projects at an extraordinary rate.

Valley Village Residents Under Siege By Greedy Developers

Whether it’s Valley Village or Venice, the same result takes place — working- and middle-class residents are shoved out of their affordable units and often find themselves forced away from their longtime neighborhoods. At the same time, developers make millions in profits.

The most recent example is a Valley Village block at Hermitage Avenue and Weddington Street, which is represented by L.A. City Councilman Paul Krekorian of District 2. The intersection became a major news story when a developer demolished the former home of Marilyn Monroe days before the city of L.A. was set to decide upon its historical status.

Now only a cyclone fence stands at the property. Another cyclone fence surrounds a large empty lot where residential units once stood down the street.

Then there’s Urban-Blox, a development firm based in L.A. It wants to demolish a number of affordable residential buildings across the street from the former home of Marilyn Monroe. It’s where longtime Valley Village resident Jen Getz lives.

“All it takes is one project,” says Getz, “and there goes the neighborhood. It’s a domino effect.”

She adds, “We feel we’re completely under siege. Valley Village is under attack.”

Urban-Blox wants to replace the affordable dwellings with 26 small-lot subdivision condominiums, which will go for at least $600,000 each. That’s too much money for Getz and her neighbors, but the developer may end up with a minimum of $15.6 million in condo sales.

Urban-Blox also wants the city of L.A. to hand over a public street so the developer can link two properties and build the 26 condos — and make huge bucks off the project. It’s a crazy transaction made worse since street parking is limited in the neighborhood, and, so far, it appears city officials are not seeking any form of compensation for the street.

“It’s criminal what’s going on,” says Getz, who’s been fighting the project with the help of community activist Rick Abrams and others.

“The city is no longer an independent arbiter,” says Abrams, who’s undertaken land-use battles in Hollywood. “They lie and deceive on the behalf of the developer.”

The South Valley Area Planning Commission recently approved Urban-Blox’s project, including giving the public street to the developer. Now it’ll work its way through L.A. City Hall — Krekorian officially supports the project.

“There are people’s lives at stake,” says Getz. “We’re not little dots on a map.”

 

City Hall For Sale: Fifteen Group of Wyvernwood Mega-Project Spent $2 Million to Woo Los Angeles Politicians

July 20 -- Over the past 12 years, Miami-based Fifteen Group, developer of the massive Wyvernwood project in Boyle Heights, has shelled out an eye-popping $2,053,394 in an attempt to get favors from L.A. politicians, according to city Ethics Commission records.

Fifteen Group wants to be a major player in Los Angeles’ real estate world, where big riches are there for the taking. To do that, the company’s executives understood the time-tested method to win project approvals in L.A. and, therefore, huge profits — spread around the cash at City Hall.

Since 2004, Fifteen Group representatives, including brothers and co-founders Mark and Ian Sanders, contributed $30,350 to the campaign war chests of Los Angeles politicians. Also, since 2004, the development firm spent a whopping $2,023,044 on high-priced, politically connected City Hall lobbyists, who then seek favors from City Council members, the mayor and city bureaucrats.

Much of that lobbying money has been spent on the controversial redevelopment of Wyvernwood Garden Apartments in Boyle Heights, which houses more than 6,000 working-class Angelenos. Fifteen Group wanted to turn the property into a condo-and-rental residential complex with retail and commercial space — the project’s estimated cost would be $2 billion.

The mega-project, however, would inevitably displace thousands of longtime residents — and Boyle Heights community leaders opposed Fifteen Group’s plans. Eventually, in a rare victory for neighborhood activists, City Council member Jose Huizar, who represents Boyle Heights, came out against the project.

But Fifteen Group has spent an incredible amount of money to redevelop Wyvernwood and win approvals for the mega-project, which needs the City Council to approve a zone change and General Plan amendment. While the project appears to be on hold for now, there’s a good chance that won’t last forever — $2 million in campaign contributions and lobbyist fees has a way of making the seemingly impossible become highly probable at City Hall.

Which is why, since 2000, the real estate industry has contributed at least $6 million to the campaign war chests of L.A. politicians.

Enough is enough. We need to reform L.A.’s broken planning and land-use system, which is what the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative will do.

In fact, the Los Angeles Times, the L.A. City Council, Mayor Eric Garcetti and numerous neighborhood groups all agree that reform is desperately needed.

 

Community Activists Fight Back and Sue City of Los Angeles Over Outrageous Hotel Conversion

Aug. 8 -- Last week, community activists fought back and sued the city of Los Angeles for approving a highly controversial project in Hollywood that converts an apartment building at 1850 N. Cherokee Avenue into a boutique hotel. Activists were outraged that the L.A. City Council’s decision took more residential units off the market at a time when politicians give a lot of lip service to addressing the city’s affordable housing crisis — and now they’re going to court.

The lawsuit was brought forth by Hollywoodians Encouraging Rental Opportunities, and includes plaintiffs Max Blonde and Sylvie Shain, an activist who fought the hotel plan. The suit alleges that the city of L.A. violated state law and seeks a more detailed report on the environmental impacts of the project.

Community Activists Fight Back and Sue City of Los Angeles Over Outrageous Hotel Conversion

The Cherokee Avenue apartment building has long been embroiled in controversy.

First, developer David Lesser evicted longtime residents out of their affordable units through the state Ellis Act, with a plan to turn the rental building into a condominium complex. Then, Lesser changed his mind and decided to construct a boutique hotel on the site, which removes any kind of long-term housing.

Yet City Council members, who often talk about the need to build more housing in L.A., gave Lesser’s newest plan the green light.

Frank Angel, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement that the City Council’s approval is part of “an egregious pattern of wrongheaded decisions by city officials who welcome project after project destroying housing that serves low-income city residents.”

Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Times reported that “more than 20,000 rent-controlled units have been taken off the market since 2001, city records show.” The paper noted that L.A. property owners “are demolishing an increasing number of rent-controlled buildings to build pricey McMansions, condos and new rentals, leading to hundreds of evictions across the city.”

The Cherokee Avenue project is just one more sad example, but now activists and tenants will have their day in court.

Top News

Support the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative for a livable Los Angeles. Read Measure S News and Updates. Vote Yes on S on March 7, 2017

Billionaires Leading Spending to Stop Needed Change and Measure S

Several billionaire developers are leading the newly revealed two to one spending against Yes on Measure S, pouring in more than $10 million in campaign contributions, according to city Ethics Commission reports. They are pulling no punches to stop a citywide people's movement that seeks a much-needed fix of LA's broken and rigged planning system.

Special Report: Yes on S Uncovers Pay to Play In LA City Government

Yes on Measure S released today a special report of official city information that reveals how L.A. City Hall works behind closed doors, on behalf of developers and usually without the knowledge of the public, to get around the city's zoning rules. Most developers donate to L.A. elected leaders throughout the backroom process.

Beacon Economics Paid By Billionaires to Kill Measure S

Opponents of Measure S often cite a study by Beacon Economics to prove one thing or another. What they don't tell the public is that Beacon is a paid campaign consultant for the billionaire developers who are funding the campaign to kill reform of L.A.’s rigged planning system.

Measure S Battlemap

This battlemap shows where ordinary people are fighting the destruction of neighborhood character and the displacement of longtime residents.

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