ACT-LA Coalition Calling on L.A. City for Equitable TOD Policies

The Alliance for Community Transit-Los Angeles rally at Grand Park yesterday. Photo by Laura Raymond ACT-LA
The Alliance for Community Transit-Los Angeles rally at Grand Park yesterday. Photo by Laura Raymond/ACT-LA

The Alliance for Community Transit-Los Angeles (ACT-LA)  hosted a rally to press for equitable and affordable Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) in the city of L.A. The rally took place at Grand Park, directly across the street from City Hall. ACT-LA representatives made visits to Los Angeles City Councilmembers to encourage them to get the ball rolling on enacting new TOD policy.

Formed in 2011, ACT-LA is an alliance of more than 25 non-profit organizations working in the fields of affordable housing, economic development, environment, public health, social justice, and transportation. The full listing of ACT-LA member groups is available online; it includes many organizations Streetsblog readers may be familiar with: East L.A. Community Corporation (ELACC), Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA), Little Tokyo Services Center, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Public Counsel, Southeast Asian Community Alliance (SEACA), Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), Pacoima Beautiful, Investing in Place, L.A. County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), and many others.

From the campaign website, ACT-LA’s goal is:

a citywide Transit-Oriented Development policy that:
– Prevents Displacement by ensuring a net gain of truly affordable housing in transit-oriented neighborhoods through enhanced incentives for affordable housing production and strengthened tools for affordable housing preservation;
– Increases Access to Jobs so residents of transit-oriented neighborhoods can live near their work;
– Preserves Community Assets and Culture;
– Promotes Healthy, Green, Walkable, and Bike-Friendly Neighborhoods; and
– Ensures Deep Civic Engagement of transit’s core riders and residents most vulnerable to potential displacement.

It is early in the campaign process, so there is no specific council motion or ordinance proposed.

In the past, there have been a few proposed TOD ordinances floated, but never adopted by the city. Mayor Villaraigosa issued a directive creating a Transit Corridors Cabinet to work on TOD planning and policy, but no broad and lasting policies emerged from it. The Planning Department has received Metro and county grants to do TOD planning along the Blue, Green, and Expo rail lines with little to no results in the way of adopted policies or plans. L.A. faces a housing affordability crisis, but efforts to foster density and affordability are sometimes stifled by various factors, from neighborhood resistance, to outdated plans, to a lack of resources. Meanwhile, Metro CEO Phil Washington has taken steps to align Metro policies and resources to foster development of Transit-Oriented Communities.

Will the stars align for ACT-LA’s campaign for equitable TOD? It will take a smart campaign and plenty of pressure and persistence to change L.A.’s outdated TOD policies. ACT-LA’s broad coalition of effective community groups is just what is needed to make this happen.

  • ubrayj02

    One of the strangest twists I’ve ever seen in our civic dialogue is how people concerned about insanely high housing costs are also some of the most organized opponents to the construction of new housing.

    They have their reasons, but it just (on the surface) sounds totally insane as a rhetorical tack. Talking with folks sharing these two mutually exclusive ideas is like talking to members of the LaRouche cult.

    Very, very, few of the kids I went to school with, K-12, can afford to live in the community we grew up in. The only reason I go back is my parents own their house and haven’t sold it, cashed in, and retired elsewhere.

    I don’t know if protests and vigils, or public comment, are going to stop the economic process that led to that outcome. It is, literally, the capitalist system at work. I’m all for changing things, but I can see why anything other than begging for more public money to be spent on “affordable housing” (i.e. luxury construction prices rented for below market rents) is the start and end point of most “debates” on this issue.

    Sort of bummed that this single issue gets tacked on to every discussion of the left leaning groups I’ve become acquainted with. I don’t see it going anywhere, and only leading to a bunch of weird xenophobic NIMBYism.

  • Chewie

    This is a really important subject. I think a progressive TOD policy would have to acknowledge the need both for more housing and for more affordable housing. Adding market-rate housing is important, but market rates are high already and only going up. Most people will only perceive a benefit to affordability when they see units that are being offered at below market rents to low-income folks.

    This also means addressing the third rail of planning, which is the need for higher density (walkable urban) development, which is perceived by many as a threat to the suburban lifestyle, property values, etc. LA needs to change, since if current trends continue, Tom Cruise will literally be the only person who can afford to live in this city.

  • GlobalLA

    This coalition is misaligned with their goals. The emphasis is on DEMAND instead of COLLABORATION and MITIGATION. Nothing is free, even if government intervenes someone else pays and it’s not always the party it was intended for.

    Why doesn’t the ACT-LA Colation address the need for higher density and the problems of NIMBYism? We live in a 3-D world and we already maxed out two- dimensionally. It’s called SPRAWL. This coalition is all social justice and complete ignorance on urban economics across all income groups.

    Totally agree with ubrayj02.

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