L.A. Council Planning Committee Again OKs Affordable Housing Linkage Fee

L.A. City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson addressing an August 2017 Affordable Housing Linkage Fee rally. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
L.A. City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson addressing an August 2017 Affordable Housing Linkage Fee rally. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

For the third time, the Los Angeles City Council Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee approved the city’s proposed Affordable Housing Linkage Fee (AHLF). If approved by city council, new development would pay an estimated $100 million annually into a city affordable housing trust fund, resulting in an estimated 1,500 affordable housing units each year.

The linkage fee has been controversial, drawing extensive public comments from both supporters and opponents at PLUM hearings in June and August, and again yesterday. The Coalition for a Just L.A., led by non-profit housing organizations, has pushed to approve a linkage fee that would raise $150 million for affordable housing. Industry and landlord groups have urged electeds to reject the fee largely on the grounds that it would increase the costs of market-rate housing.

In August, the PLUM committee requested several modifications to the proposal. The Planning Department (DCP) returned with a staff report evaluating several modifications proposed in August.

Councilmember Bob Blumenfield has been supportive of the AHLF but, both yesterday and in August, pushed to delay implementation by phasing it in over time. The PLUM Committee ultimately approved Blumenfield’s latest proposed timeline that puts off full fees for a year and a half. Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson objected to the delay, pressing for the fee to start as soon as possible. Harris-Dawson stated, “the longer we wait, more families will slip through the cracks.”

Councilmember Mitch Englander sounds broadly supportive of the fee, but has demonstrated some skepticism by placing a lot of conditions on his approval. At yesterday’s PLUM meeting, Englander pushed strongly for exemptions for all hospitals and all non-profits. The hospital exemption was approved by the committee, while the non-profit exemption was not. The Planning Department notes that non-profit affordable housing is already exempt, and that a broadly defined non-profit exemption “may be vulnerable to abuse” and “would create an incentive for developers to form non-profit entities for the express purpose of evading the Linkage Fee.” DCP will return with further analysis, possibly limiting a non-profit exemption to a specific class of non-profits already defined in planning code: “Philanthropic Institutions… devoted to one of three activities – housing, training, or caring for the underprivileged.”

With the non-profit exemption not included in the PLUM committee’s latest AHLF proposal, Englander voted against it.

With only a lone vote against, the PLUM committee approved the AHLF. Councilmember and PLUM chair José Huizar called the vote “a critical step if the City of Los Angeles truly wants to address our affordable housing crisis head on.” Before it takes effect, the fee proposal needs to be approved (or waived) by the council’s Housing Committee, and then approved by the full City Council.

 

  • Vooch

    the most effective way to end the housing shortage would be liberalize 2 zoning rules:

    1) eliminate all parking mandates

    2) all mixed use in all commercial, retail, and residential (R-2&abv)

    there are a few hundred thousand buildings that would instantly be rehabbed into affordable housing with these 2 rule reforms. Might create 500,000 new units, maybe more.

  • Joe Linton

    The AHLF doesn’t prevent the solutions you’ve mentioned… and the solutions you’ve mentioned probably don’t help much with transitional housing for former homeless – something the AHLF is trying to address.

  • Vooch

    LOL

    a vast & expensive bureaucracy created to solve .0001% of the housing shortage challenge .

    that’s how soviet style policy planners think.

  • stvr

    What a terrible, no-good idea.

  • Joe Linton

    Let me know when you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and work on the next 0.0001%

  • Vooch

    Been doing that for a long time amigo.

    Built 4 homeless shelters in my time. Inclulding one of the first mixed use facilities in the US. It’s success was immediately adopted as a model throughout the country.

  • GlobalLA

    I get it. Charge more to force something cheaper…

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