ACORN forces Los Angeles to build poor housing even if it crashes housing market


LA TIMES

L.A. City Council OKs plan to introduce ‘inclusionary zoning’

New condominium and apartment projects in Brentwood, Studio City and other affluent areas would be required to include units for very poor people.
By Jessica Garrison, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 14, 2008
New condominium and apartment projects in neighborhoods such as Brentwood, Studio City and other affluent parts of Los Angeles could be required to include units for very poor people under a plan approved by the City Council on Wednesday.

The commitment to introduce so-called inclusionary zoning — a contentious topic in Los Angeles politics for years — was part of a comprehensive housing plan that the city adopted to be eligible for hundreds of millions of dollars in state housing bond funds.

The plan, which is nonbinding, calls for the City Council to introduce a proposed law by the end of the year to mandate that developers build units for poor people.

Advocates for the poor hailed the vote as a significant symbolic step.

“The city is taking a huge step forward in figuring out how to address the housing crisis,” said Peter Kuhns, who is an organizer for the Assn. of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, which is a group of low-income residents.

Others warned that the council’s action merely set the stage for a coming fight over the specifics of the rules, such as how many units developers would have to set aside and whether they would be for very poor people or for people earning moderate incomes. Carol Schatz, chief executive of the Central City Assn. and an opponent of past inclusionary zoning proposals, said any rules that required developers to provide too many apartments to very poor people could “create another nail in the coffin of the housing market at the worst possible time.”

City officials estimate that they must build more than 110,000 units of housing over the next eight years to keep up with rising demand.

Other aspects of the housing plan include a new fund that would give private companies loans to build affordable housing; plans to help large employers build housing for their employees; and a faster permit process for so-called green buildings.

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