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Opal Young, Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Homeowners Coalition Say Yes on S
Opal Young moved into South LA in 1963. The grandmother has seen a lot in her neighborhood, but the developer greed she's witnessing today is "insane." With City Hall approval, developers are creating a luxury city that Young and many Angelenos can't afford.
In fact, the Los Angeles Times 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."
The paper found that "more than 20,000 rent-controlled units have been taken off the market since 2001" across LA.
In Young's South LA neighborhood, San Francisco-based Carmel Partners seeks to build a luxury skyscraper that will gridlock the streets with more cars and cater only to the affluent who can afford expensive housing.
"Who can afford that?" says the grandmother. "What's the point of having new development if you can't afford to stay in the city to enjoy it."
Angelenos across our great city agree.
That's why civic leaders, neighborhood activists and working- and middle-class residents support Measure S.
It reins in zone-breaking luxury mega-development that squeezes working people out of their own neighborhoods -- and returns power back to residents.
LA City Hall Sells Out San Fernando Valley to Rich Developers
Richard Close, one of the San Fernando Valley's most respected civic leaders, has continually fought City Hall and greedy developers to save the Valley's unique neighborhoods. He believes Measure S is crucial for fixing LA's unfair and broken planning system.
"Today's City Hall is more in the pockets of developers than I've ever seen," says Close, president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association and chairman of the Yes on Measure S Advisory Committee. "The system is rigged to pave over communities and help developers get rich."
He adds, "We need to have a greater say to fix the rigged system. Please vote Yes on Measure S on March 7."
Close knows what he's talking about.
In Sherman Oaks, developer M David Paul Associates sought to build a zone-breaking mega-project known as Il Villagio Toscano on Sepulveda Boulevard.
With 325 residential units, the developer needed to bend existing city rules and convince LA politicians to hand over special spot zoning favors to build the massive project.
Hard-working, fair-minded Angelenos would never think of asking City Hall for such zone-breaking gifts.
But since 2001, M David Paul Associates had spent $3.2 million in City Hall campaign contributions and lobbyist fees. The developer had long ago bought insider access to LA politicians and bureaucrats -- and that helped with Il Villagio Toscano.
Against the will of many Sherman Oaks residents, the City Council delivered the zone and height district changes to the politically connected developer.
There are many more examples of such wheeling and dealing at City Hall. It's why Richard Close and other community leaders across LA are saying "Yes on S."
We must return power back to the neighborhoods.
Measure S Earns Big Environmental Endorsement from Hillside Federation
Yes on Measure S has been overwhelmingly endorsed by the Federation of Hillside and Canyon Associations, representing 45 homeowner associations and residents' associations covering large areas of the San Fernando Valley and Westside.
Officers of the Hillside Federation, whose vast swath of representation encompasses some 250,000 constituents, said in a statement:
“The mission of the Hillside Federation is to protect the property and quality of life in the Santa Monica Mountains and other hillside areas of Los Angeles.
"After a presentation of the pros and cons on Measure S, the Hillside Federation voted to support Measure S.
"It is the Federation’s hope that Measure S will encourage the city to follow its own rules and allow reasonable development and not change zoning and height limits to accommodate large developments impacting residential neighborhoods.”
Measure S is being endorsed by the most diverse citywide coalition in modern L.A. history, from the prosperous to the poor — but who agree that the pay-to-play special interests in City Hall threaten the L.A. we love.
“Every community that has a candidate running for City Council, and for the Mayor’s office, should get in writing, prior to this March 7 election, that they will support Measure S,” said, Patricia Bell Hearst, former President and Chairman Emeritus of the Hillside Federation.
"Every community from the Eastside to the Westside must fight the undue influence of developers at City Hall by endorsing Measure S," said Alex Izbicki, a board member of Save Coldwater Canyon, one of the member organizations of the Hillside Federation. "Our open spaces in L.A. are being paved over."
Steve Twining, Chairman Emeritus of the Hillside Federation, President of the Bel Air Hills Association and President Emeritus of the Bel Air-Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council, said of his support for Yes on Measure S, “I am shocked by the pay-to-play system that is going on. It's obvious developers are in charge.”
The Federation’s backing adds to an arsenal of endorsers including:
LA Tenants Union, fighting for low-income renters displaced by unplanned development; Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, fighting to protect our parks and mountains from sprawl; Los Angeles Audubon Society, fighting for L.A.'s open space; and Southern California Americans for Democratic Action, battling corporate/developer influence on political institutions.
Measure S returns transparency and sensible planning to City Hall by:
- Ending the City Council's backroom "spot zoning" deals that let developers get around the rules to build.
- Banning developers from writing environmental studies of their own projects — falsified traffic and health data that hurts our communities.
- Giving residents a real say by moving key Community Plan and General Plan update hearings from City Hall to the communities.
Will LA City Hall Retreat On Miracle Mile Historic Preservation Overlay Zone?
LA City Council member David Ryu appears to be waffling on creating a Miracle Mile Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (MMHPOZ) that protects historic buildings and rent-stabilized units from demolition. Developers will be only too happy if Ryu backs off the important measure that was supported by his predecessor, Council member Tom LaBonge.
CityWatch Los Angeles columnist Tim Deegan lays out the troubling new developments that have been unfolding at LA City Hall over the MMHPOZ.
Once supported by LaBonge and the city's Cultural Heritage Commission, and even Ryu himself, Ryu is now polling Miracle Mile residents about whether they support a preservation overlay zone. It's the kind of move that's done by politicians to get political cover for a decision that may not be so popular down the road.
A driving force behind the recent reversal of City Hall support for the MMHPOZ is one of Mayor Eric Garcetti's appointees, City Planning Commission president David Ambroz.
"Ambroz played a divisive role in the looming removal of several hundred affordable housing units in the Miracle Mile when he called for two CPC votes on the issue.
"The first vote, that would have protected affordable housing, was a tie, while the second, after a quick huddle, broke against the affordable housing renters to insure that the Miracle Mile HPOZ boundaries approved by the Cultural Heritage Commission (and previously supported by Ryu) were denied.
"With that came the abandonment of protection for the renters of affordable housing."
Ambroz would not have made such an extraordinary move without Garcetti's approval.
"This is happening at a time when Mayor Garcetti says he is working hard to create more affordable housing.
"It’s as if the Mayor’s City Hall colleagues Ambroz and Ryu are working against him by not emphatically protecting affordable housing in the Miracle Mile and opening the way for developers of market rate and luxury housing.
"That is…unless they are working in collusion with him."
If the MMHPOZ does not happen, developers will benefit -- and residents in historic and rent-stabilized units will be under threat.
Read about the billionaires funding the campaign to stop Measure S and its citizen-driven movement.
LA's planning system is clearly broken and rigged. We must fix it. Vote Yes on S on March 7.
VIDEO: Will Westwood Seniors Be Evicted From Retirement Home?
More than 150 senior citizens at the Vintage Westwood Horizons retirement home may be evicted to make way for an upscale redevelopment project. It's one more example of how the citywide push for luxury development and big profits are causing all kinds of bad consequences across Los Angeles, including the displacement of senior citizens. Watch video below.
The scandalous treatment of the seniors started a few weeks ago when they received eviction notices, informing the older folks that they had to vacate by April. The sudden news was a shock, with many Vintage Westwood residents scared about the future. The seniors are generally in their 80s and 90s and can't move around easily.
Watermark Retirement Communities, the company that seeks the evictions, wants to redevelop the building and turn it into a luxury retirement facility that the seniors can't afford. The company will undoubtedly reap major profits.
The seniors are now vowing to fight -- check out the pull-no-punches blog of Emiel Meisel, a Vintage Westwood resident. But they'll need to hire lawyers to defend themselves.
It's a scenario that happens all too often in L.A. -- City Hall doesn't protect ordinary Angelenos, who then have to shell out big bucks for the help of an attorney.
That's particularly true when it comes L.A.'s broken, unfair and rigged planning and land-use system, which gives developers profitable spot-zoning favors and allows them to break city rules that are supposed to protect neighborhoods.
Since L.A. politicians allow them to do whatever they want, developers and companies like Watermark make purely profit-driven decisions that negatively impact the rest of us -- whether its by causing ruined neighborhoods or creating displacement of longtime residents.
They Harm Children and Seniors' Health, but Developers and L.A. City Council Love 'Black Lung Lofts'
In 2007 and 2008, scientists made rare trips to L.A. City Hall to warn the City Council and Planning Commission that allowing housing within a block of busy freeways was harming the lungs of untold numbers of children. These top USC researchers explained that dense waves of tiny, invisible particulates -- metal, rubber and other pollutants -- were the cause of the problem. The terrible cost of erecting apartments and condos along L.A. freeways, the researchers said, resulted in high rates of lifelong lung damage, found in their longitudinal studies of thousands of children.
Yet in nine years, what has the Los Angeles City Council, mayor or Planning Commission done to stop greed-driven developers from building any more of what L.A. Weekly in 2010 dubbed "Black Lung Lofts"? When it comes to anything of substance, they've done absolutely nothing.
That shouldn't be surprising. Deep-pocketed developers, who contribute heavily to the campaigns and pet projects of the City Council and mayor, have tight control over land-use policy and the development-approval system at City Hall. It doesn't matter to developers if grade-schoolers contract lifelong asthma. If developers can make millions off apartment and condo complexes designed for families next to the 101, I-5 and 405 freeways, so be it.
Today, at least seven freeway-adjacent projects with housing have been proposed in L.A., and far more have already been allowed. These projects include the SOLA Village mega-project with 895 housing units in Historic South Central near the Santa Monica Freeway, which needs a City Hall-approved zoning change; a 102-unit residential complex at 788 W. College Street in Chinatown near the Arroyo Seco Parkway; and the massive "Ferrante" project with about 1,500 housing units at 1000 W. Temple Street that's located directly across the Harbor Freeway.
They also include a mixed-use project with live/work lofts and low-income housing at 2626 N. Lacy Street in Lincoln Heights near the Golden State Freeway and the Arroyo Seco Parkway; a 410-unit residential complex with mixed-use at 3433 N. Pasadena Avenue in Lincoln Heights near the Arroyo Seco Parkway; the NoHo West mega-project with 742 housing units at 6150 N. Laurel Canyon Boulevard near the Hollywood Freeway; and a 22-story residential high-rise with 299 units at 469 N. Grand Avenue in the downtown area near the 101 Freeway.
That's more than 4,000 residential units that are freeway-adjacent. Children, senior citizens and the infirm are all at high risk of coming down with serious respiratory illnesses. And pregnant women who live in such housing have a greater-than-normal risk of delivering premature babies, according to a UCLA study.
While many of these cater to the rich, many cater to working-class Latinos. It's our understanding that City Hall still does not require developers to inform families that they are about to move into housing that permanently hurts children's lungs.
Since the City Council and mayor have shown no interest in seriously addressing such a public health time-bomb, developers keep proposing freeway-adjacent residential projects so they can make huge profits.
With the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, which requires a systematic update of L.A.'s outdated 1996 General Plan, community activists and social justice environmentalists can demand that the City Council and mayor finally take action and protect children, senior citizens, the infirm and pregnant women. L.A.'s politicians should put people before profits and campaign contributions.
LA City Hall Should Save Seniors From Eviction at Vintage Westwood Apartments
The Coalition to Preserve LA and its Yes on S campaign want Mayor Eric Garcetti and LA City Attorney Mike Feuer to save senior citizens from eviction at the Vintage Westwood apartments. We have written the following open letter to the mayor and city attorney.
Dear Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Attorney Mike Feuer: The politics and policies of Los Angeles are rigged in favor of the special interests against the public interest. The rules of our city are crafted to serve those who can max out their campaign donations and employ an army of lobbyists, while the rest of us sit on the political sidelines.
Today, we call upon the mayor, city attorney and City Council to do something surprising: craft rules to serve Angelenos who can’t afford lobbyists and who have given nothing to your campaigns. We call upon City Hall leaders to actually lead, and represent all people, not just mega-developers who pour millions into City Hall campaigns.
Specifically, we call upon our leaders to craft rules and regulations to protect residents from eviction when a new development is approved. Making this new rule shouldn’t be too hard. The City Council often breaks rules to make new ones — to benefit mega-money developers:
—City Hall's law to build parks, for example, overrides a state law that requires developers to create parks near the dense mega-developments they build. But City Hall decided to let them put the parks 10 miles away. Ten miles? That's 45 minutes for a family to travel.
—The Council ignored the findings of the State Geologist and approved the Millennium twin skyscrapers atop an active earthquake fault. Luckily, the Millennium hasn't yet been built.
—The City Council defies our L.A. City Charter, granting illegal General Plan Amendments to mega-developers, so they can build far bigger and taller than the General Plan permits.
How is it possible that the extremely elderly residents in this video at 947 Tiverton, Vintage Westwood Horizons, senior citizen housing, received a 2016 holiday eviction card?
As Vintage Westwood resident Jane Mombach, 90, says, “The motivation is Money, they're doing it legally, they're doing it legally. But morally, I don’t think they gave it a thought.” Emiel Meisel, a 92-year-old Vintage Westwood resident, simply calls it "the breaking of the body, the breaking of the soul."
We understand that a rule for protecting vulnerable renters won’t enrich your campaign coffers. But democracy is not a fundraising tool, and our government must no longer be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Please craft legislation now for a vote by the City Council, to protect the most vulnerable. City Hall protects developers every step, now protect our citizens.
In March, L.A. voters can make history by approving Measure S, to protect our neighborhoods and city. Between now and then, our elected leaders can show that City Hall is not for sale, by approving sensible rules that place the interests of the people above those of the powerful.
Vote Yes on S on March 7.