Support Our Bid for an LA2050 Grant and Help Us Make L.A. an Affordable Place to Live for All

AbundantHousingNote: California Streets Initiative, the nonprofit that publishes Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog California, Longbeachize, and Santa Monica Next, is teaming up with Abundant Housing LA (AHLA) to compete for an LA2050 grant to help make LA an affordable place to live for all.

To earn the grant, we either need to win a popular vote or be selected by the Goldhirsch Foundation Board. Either way, your vote is important. You can vote once per category, so just because you support another #LA2050 proposal does not necessarily mean you can’t support our proposal as well. If you value Streetsblog, and you’d like to support us and see us cover a broader spectrum of housing issues, please please please VOTE ONLINE NOW.

Los Angeles has earned the dubious distinction of being one of the most expensive places to rent in the country, eroding the diversity that has made this one of the great places to live.

For decades, we haven’t been building enough housing to keep pace with a growing population. This well-documented housing shortage means that increasingly middle- and lower-income households are finding themselves priced out of once-affordable neighborhoods, having to commute farther distances just to get to work, or having to leave the state altogether.

More housing at all levels of affordability will allow current residents to remain here while making room for newcomers and future generations to make their homes here.

Streetsblog Los Angeles and our partners are competing for LA2050 grant funding to get the word out about how housing, affordability, and livability interact. We need your online vote today. If we win, we hope to educate and mobilize new voices to speak up for new housing in a debate too often dominated by misinformation and fear of change. Through community organizing, online tools, and media coverage, we want to empower those burdened by high housing costs to become informed, attend hearings, submit comments and champion the construction of more places to live.

Not only can abundant housing help stabilize the cost of living for all throughout the region, housing in transit-rich walkable bikeable neighborhoods can help take cars off the road, reinvigorate our streets as public spaces, and allow people to live in an overall more sustainable way than decades of auto-oriented and sprawl planning have.

An influx of new voices demanding more housing can help expand housing options for everyone.

  • Chewie

    “Not only can abundant housing help stabilize the cost of living for all throughout the region, housing in transit-rich walkable bikeable neighborhoods can help take cars off the road, reinvigorate our streets as public spaces, and allow people to live in an overall more sustainable way than decades of auto-oriented and sprawl planning have.”

    —–

    This idea needs to be put on blast all across LA. Good luck with the grant!

  • trafficdensity

    How much is this grant? Three billion?

    Where do you plan to put all this affordable housing for the middle class? Take it from the richer areas?
    Where do you plan to put the low income housing? Take it from the middle class?
    Smells like the vapors of smart growth.

  • The grant is $100,000. In the proposal, you can see what we have planned if we win.

    Briefly, this is a grassroots advocacy project for advocating new — and a wide variety of — housing options in our region. We plan on building capacity to support projects as they come up.

    I recommend you read more here: http://myla2050live2015.maker.good.is/projects/abundanthousingLA?position=17&sort=392

    Housing isn’t a zero-sum game, as suggested by your comments. We have plenty of places where no housing currently exists that would be ideal for creating new neighborhoods.

  • JGiven

    More housing for all income levels is frequently code for development of “market rate” dwelling units (i.e., high-end development, that tends to destroy existing low-income housing in favor of more expensive housing). Do you have a specific plan in place to keep that from happening? Do you have a targeted proportion of market, moderate, low income, and very low income? I would love to support development of moderate, low, and very low income housing, but not more high-end housing. What is the plan? How will you spend the money?

  • So, the idea is to build grass roots support for projects, including subsidized affordable housing, and policy changes that encourage livable, diverse communities. There is a more detailed description here: http://myla2050live2015.maker.good.is/projects/abundanthousingLA?position=17&sort=392

    The reality is that not all market rate housing is bad. You are correct that it is a problem when it causes displacement, but there are policy changes that can be made to mitigate displacement and to require future market rate housing to include subsidized affordable housing. But there has to be an organized voice for these sort of policy changes and in support of good projects.

    We cannot address the root causes of the housing crisis with subsidized affordable housing alone. It is a necessary but not sufficient component of the solution because the problem has gotten so big.

  • JGiven

    I think we basically agree on your main points, but an approach that suggests that all housing development is equally good because it necessarily creates housing for all levels of need is simply not supported by the evidence. Quite the contrary, in fact.

    I agree that we need to do more than subsidized housing, but outside of subsidized, what tools are there? Density bonus alone is clearly not working. It is long since time for an inclusionary housing ordinance to be established, for example, because the market has proven that we will never get the needed mix of market vs. affordable without it.

    Lastly, I have to take big issue with the assertion in the proposal (which I did read before posting my first comment) that “[t]ypically, the only stakeholders who comment are a tiny number of people who already have housing and oppose almost all new development.” That seems an unnecessary swipe at people who often have legitimate concerns about the impacts that result from development. Just because people want to mitigate environmental and other land use impacts, doesn’t mean that they are opposed to all development. To suggest that those who comment in opposition to projects are somehow NIMBY’s opposed to all development really misstates the case, and harms the development of what ought to be a great coalition before it is even off the ground. It doesn’t have to be that way.

  • JS310

    This isn’t a zero-sum game. The city’s infrastructure can handle plenty more people and plenty more units.

    Constrained housing *is* a zero-sum game that drives up prices and makes everyone less prosperous. Developers are dying to build good high-density housing near job centers and along transit corridors. There’s no reason why richer areas need to be afraid.

    Call it what you want. How else do we accommodate population growth and keep costs remotely affordable?

  • JS310

    To clarify: We’re not building the housing, so we don’t need $3 billion. We need $100,000 to rally grassroots support to encourage the projects that developers already want to build.

  • devin_mb

    I disagree on the notion that this is a swipe, but more just a description:

    [t]ypically, the only stakeholders who comment are a tiny number of people who already have housing and oppose almost all new development.

    It perhaps went without saying that these folks have legitimate concerns and face real costs from new development! The political dynamic is such that the costs are local and the benefits are diffuse (but large). This leads inexorably to a situation where those who show up, those with the greatest to gain or lose, are local residents (who already have housing) who face greater costs from development (and so oppose almost all new projects).

    Unfortunately, this dynamic plays out everywhere, and so instead of seeing development all over (with costs everywhere and some benefits for everyone) we see concentrated development primarily by large-scale developers who can afford the prolonged permitting process. Small-scale development everywhere would involve lower costs on existing residents!

    Helping to ensure these costs are shared more broadly throughout the metro area–rather than being concentrated in a few districts in the form of gentrification–is a key goal.

  • mark vallianatos

    It’s tempting to think that blocking market rate housing helps low income residents, but limiting new housing supply increases pressures for upper income people to outbid lower income residents for existing units. In the LA region the vast majority of low income households live in older housing constructed as market units. We also need many many more market units to provide housing that is affordable to middle income residents and to provide future housing stock for lower income households. Jurisdictions that have tried to block market housing and just build affirdable housing like SF and Santa Monica end up being among the least affordable places on earth. We need more market rate housing, more deeded affordable housing, more cooperative housing, more supportive housing for the homeless, more public housing.

  • JGiven

    If it is a key goal to share both benefits and burdens throughout the whole community, that is surely not explained in the proposal. I think we would all do better by honestly engaging on this topic with everyone, including those who are already engaged. The way the proposal reads, the roadblock is primarily those who would object to any development at all, and so more pro-development advocates are needed to move the logjam. This is a somewhat chimerical view of the development process, in my opinion.

  • JS310

    These are valid points. We had only so much space and time for the proposal. I don’t think we’re trying to be dishonest or un-engaged. We’re trying to approach what we consider to be a major, un-addressed hinderance to the production of housing. We do not want to impede or be at odds with other groups that have their own approaches.

    As it stands, I think we’ve lost countless would-be units to down-zoning (eg Prop U) and the persistent chorus of homeowners and others who have the time, money, political connections, and wherewithal to comment on projects. The vast majority of these comments are anti-development. We believe that the 57% of LA residents who live in rental housing deserve a voice too. There’s no reason why they can’t use their voices to support both market-rate and affordable housing.

  • JGiven

    I absolutely agree that everyone deserves an opportunity to be heard on these critical issues. It is always a challenge to get average folks out to participate in hearings, write letters, and the like, but it definitely makes a difference with electeds. But I want to ensure that when people participate they are doing it in an informed manner, and not just signing on to letters of support that minimize or ignore known impacts. More housing is absolutely needed, but it can and should be developed in a way that mitigates harms and maximizes benefits. There is no need to trade off environmental and other impacts as the price to pay for residential development (including affordable housing), but that is an unfortunately easy narrative to sell.

    And very often there is an assumption made that people who object to a particular project would object to any project. In my personal and professional experience, that is only rarely the case.

  • devin_mb

    I put it in different terms than the proposal, but the idea of expanding development throughout the region is certainly in the proposal!

    In the meantime, I’m not sure how chimerical my description of development is:

    1. Local residents, who already have housing, generally face costs (while benefits are diffuse), especially under the current regime of relatively large projects

    2. Local residents thus have a greater incentive to show up at meetings

    3. Therefore most people engaged in the process today are opposed to development

    Perhaps I’m wrong about a piece of this, but it seems fair and accurate to me.

    Again, one doesn’t need to ascribe dastardly motives to anyone in order to believe that “the only stakeholders who comment are a tiny number of people who already have housing and oppose almost all new development”.

  • JS310

    We consider the imbalance in public participation to be a crisis in and of itself. There’s no reason why those of us from the renter community can’t be just as thoughtful and prudent as are those from the homeowner community. Homeowners aren’t necessarily more wise; they’re just a lot more galvanized and a lot louder.

    We don’t expect that projects to get approved indiscriminately just because people show up. It’s up to public officials — planning commissioners, ZA’s, councilmembers, etc — to receive stakeholder input and deliberate accordingly. We believe that the deliberative process is more effective and fair when the perspective of 57% of the city’s population has a chance to be heard.

  • JGiven

    Your logic simply does not follow, and misses my larger point. Let me restate it more simply: people tend to be opposed to _particular_ projects when those projects do not appropriately identify and mitigate project impacts. In my experience, when project developers work with community members to identify and mitigate impacts, community members are generally supportive (especially when the development is for something that the particular community really needs, such as affordable housing).

    So the general perception may be that “most people engaged in the process today are opposed to development” (a concern that developers often overstate and use to excuse their failure to develop the types of projects that communities want and need), but that is a mistaken perception. In my experience, most people engaged in the process today (i.e., local community members) are opposed to some development, when that development doesn’t consider and mitigate project impacts. From my perspective, engaging local stakeholders results in better projects, and it is a huge mistake to turn this into a pro- vs. anti-development process.

  • JGiven

    On this we agree.

  • devin_mb

    In my experience, most people engaged in the process today (i.e., local community members) are opposed to some development[…]

    Right! This reads to me like a restatement of the original quote with which you disagreed. You continued:

    […]when that development doesn’t consider and mitigate project impacts.

    Sure! This could have been made clearer in the original quote. Because, almost surely there will be someone who will see a “project impact” from almost any infill development. And hence, they will show up to comment.

  • JGiven

    I think parsing my sentence into two discrete parts to make it appear that I agree with the original statement is somewhat absurd. The statement speaks for itself and doesn’t need to be separated into discrete parts in order to be understood. That said, I think we are in agreement that everyone who has an interest in testifying before our city agencies and elected officials should absolutely do so. When that is to support a good project, terrific. When it is to oppose a project that has not considered and mitigated the identifiable impacts, also terrific. When it is to propose changes to a project to mitigate impacts and improve the project, all the better.

    The purpose of my various posts here has simply been to note that many people perceive others who are opposed to a particular project as being opposed to any project. I am just saying I think that is a very limited view of reality, and unfortunately it is a view that the proposal seemed to utilize. All the community members that I have ever worked with would have been happy to work alongside project proponents in order to address their legitimate concerns if they had only been given a fair chance to do so.

  • devin_mb

    “The purpose of my various posts here has simply been to note that many people perceive others who are opposed to a particular project as being opposed to any project.”

    Perhaps “many people perceive” this, but the original sentence you quoted does not reflect this sentiment. That is what I have been trying to note.

  • JGiven

    I will leave it to JS310’s response to my point, which
    was: “These are valid points.” The statement I responded to was the one on the linked site: “Typically, the only stakeholders who comment are a tiny number of people who already have housing and oppose almost all new development.” In my view that is a narrow view, and unnecessarily makes villains out of people who ought to be involved and supportive of your coalition. That is my statement of opinion, consonant with a lot of experience dealing with NIMBY-type accusations from developers when community members I have worked with opposed or otherwise commented on their projects.

    And the reason I raised it to begin with is to be generally supportive of your cause: I suggest that your idea of doing outreach to get better community engagement is best supported by coalition building, not trotting out the same NIMBY-ish arguments that are (a) unhelpful, and (b) in my opinion, wrong.

    The larger point that is being lost in this somewhat ridiculous digression is the much more important one, and that is I think we are in agreement that more housing is needed generally, and much more (vastly more) affordable housing in particular. I will let you have the last word, since that seems to be your destiny.

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