Fix the City Files Lawsuit Against L.A.’s Transit Oriented Communities Affordable Housing Incentives

Transit-oriented housing above the Metro Red Line Wilshire/Vermont Station. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Transit-oriented housing above the Metro Red Line Wilshire/Vermont Station. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times broke the story that Fix the City (FTC) is suing to put a halt to the city of Los Angeles’ Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) Affordable Housing Incentives program.

Per the Times:

[FTC spokesperson Laura] Lake said city officials improperly used the [TOC] program to rezone much of the city without securing legislative approval. They also provided developers with incentives, such as increased height, that go beyond what was authorized by the voters [in Measure JJJ], she said.

“We’re challenging more than the one project at 10400 Santa Monica Blvd.,” Lake said. “We’re challenging a policy and practice that the city is using for all TOC projects. We want that halted and we want the planning department to start all over again with due process, public hearings and do what the voters approved.”

What is Fix the City?

In the Times article, the Alliance for Community Transit’s (ACT-LA) Laura Raymond aptly described Fix the City as “notorious NIMBYs… stalling progress towards a more sustainable and equitable city.” Fix the City is a group of litigious mainly-Westside homeowners who sued to block L.A.’s multi-modal Mobility Plan – ridiculously asserting that the city was “stealing” lanes from drivers, who did not “have the luxury of being able to ride to work on a bike or bus.” FTC is also suing L.A. City to undo planning for modest amounts of additional housing near Expo Line stations, and against other developments and plans.

Fix the City works on a model similar to an extortionist. They sue – or threaten to sue – the city and/or developers. In the process, FTC gets paid off (for example, L.A. City paid $107,000 to settle the Mobility Plan lawsuit), then FTC plows the money back into more shakedown lawsuits, wasting city time and money and blocking progressive projects and plans.

What is TOC?

In 2016, L.A. City voters approved Measure JJJ, which was designed to create new affordable housing, especially around transit, built by local workers paid living wages. In 2018, L.A. approved its JJJ-mandated Transit Oriented Communities Affordable Housing Incentive Guidelines.

TOC incentivizes developers to build affordable housing close to high-quality transit. TOC only applies to very specific places – within a half-mile of a “rail station or the intersection of two or more [frequent service] bus routes.” TOC does not apply to single-family zoned areas, nor does it apply to zones where no housing is allowed. For new affordable homes, TOC does allow various bonuses: reduced parking, increased density, additional height, etc. These bonuses are tiered and targeted: the closer the project is to transit and the better the transit is, the better the bonus incentives are.

Technically, TOC does not “rezone” (Laura Lake in yesterday’s Times) or “up-zone” (Jay Beeber on an anti-BRT flier) but keeps existing zoning intact, while offering incentives that apply only when developers build affordable housing. Various anti-transit anti-affordable-housing folks – from Beeber to Keep L.A. Moving to L.A. City Councilmember John Lee – have stoked fears of TOC triggering an “automatic up-zoning” of whole corridors. This is not the case. TOC is targeted tightly around high quality transit – at rail stations and at intersections where multiple bus lines connect.

The good news is that TOC is already working to generate significant new affordable housing. According to Public Counsel’s Doug Smith, TOC has already created affordable homes for nearly 400 Angelenos.

What is in the latest lawsuit?

The lawsuit (PDF) challenges the city’s TOC approval of a seven-story 120-home residential Westside development, to be located at 10400 Santa Monica Boulevard, just west of Century City. It further asserts that the development approval “is just one instance of the City’s violating its own laws by application of the TOC Guidelines.”

The lawsuit questions the legitimacy of the Planning Commission approving the TOC Guidelines, asserting that they should have been approved by the City Council.

FTC asserts that current TOC guidelines should be rescinded, because they are “in conflict with JJJ” in several ways:

[TOC incentives] far exceed those authorized by the voters enacting Measure JJJ…

Nowhere does Measure JJJ authorize incentives for increased height, reduced open space, or reduced side or front yards.

Measure JJJ provides that the TOC Guidelines shall contain incentives “consistent with the following” which include a residential density increase, adjustments to minimum square feet per dwelling unit, floor area ratio, or both, as well as parking reductions. The TOC Guidelines include additional incentives for reductions in required yards and setback, open space, and lot width; increases in maximum lot coverage, height, and transitional height requirements. Each of these “additional” incentives alters otherwise applicable limitations in the municipal code without complying with the procedural requirements for zone changes, height district amendments and general plan amendments or variances…

The TOC Guidelines significantly depart from the framework approved by the voters and overturn the duly-adopted ordinances passed by the Los Angeles City Council governing a variety of land use planning standards. Nor were the “Tiers” allowing increased density with proximity to transit authorized by Measure JJJ. The Tiers function as newly created zones, which were not adopted by ordinance nor approved by the voters. Only the voters can amend Measure JJJ; the Council may only make nonsubstantive amendments to the measure’s provisions. The TOC Guidelines significantly rewrite Section 6 of Measure JJJ in numerous ways.

The TOC Guidelines are so sweeping they effectively constitute a general plan amendment, vastly increasing permissible density and height for certain residential projects.

The lawsuit further claims that TOC approvals are improper due to “inconsistency between Zoning and General Plan Requirements,” as “Measure JJJ did not compel the significant increases to density included in the TOC Guidelines.” It argues that city regulations should first improve adequate transportation infrastructure (for cars) before permitting additional density – of course raising the common nimby bogeyman of “first-responder response times.” The lawsuit goes on to assert that

The additional incentives granted to the Project were de facto general plan amendments without notice, due process, and legislative approval, or the required findings of adequacy.

In addition, the lawsuit contends that TOC construction living wage provisions have not been consistently enforced, and that the Santa Monica Boulevard development violated state earthquake safety laws.

To address Fix the City’s assertions, the lawsuit asks for the city “to set aside the approval for the 10400 Santa Monica Boulevard project, and to set aside the… TOC Guidelines, and to cease any future reliance on the TOC Guidelines until and unless guidelines consistent with Measure JJJ are adopted.”

What Next?

In a statement to SBLA, ACT-LA’s Raymond states that “The TOC program, authorized under Measure JJJ, was approved by 64% of Angelenos who support a more sustainable, transit-oriented and equitable Los Angeles. This lawsuit is about taking us backward toward a sprawled, segregated, and car-centric L.A. and altogether stopping the production of critically needed mix-income and affordable housing.”

It is not clear how the courts will look upon the latest FTC lawsuit. If it is anything like the prior Mobility Plan lawsuit, the city will likely spend time and money to prevail in preserving its popular voter-approved TOC program. Like the Mobility Plan, TOC may survive in a weakened form – with city staff and electeds treading all too carefully, fearful of future lawsuits. The city may well pay out shakedown money to FTC.

Sadly the lawsuit could mean delays for much-needed affordable homes at a time when Los Angeles is facing serious crises in affordable housing and homelessness.

  • PDiddy

    LA Podcast had an episode about this last year.

    https://lapodcast.simplecast.fm/9d8639bf

  • PDiddy

    And since I’m unaware if this would even be considered doxxing, but I really don’t want my original post to be deleted. This this is public information though…

    Laura Lake is the chairman of Fix the City, the private body that has been suing projects that would enhance transit and denser housing.

    Streets Blog’s article would have us think that she’s some neutral party giving her opinion on what zoning variances are. Please do not defend NIMBYs, they need to be unmasked for who they are.

  • Ennnne

    I am curious about something. Why does SB endorse greater density, as if it had anything to do with street safety? Surely you aren’t going to try to tell me it is for “increased walkability” or some hooey like that? LA has plenty of people already. We even have sidewalks. What else do you need?

    I guess I should look up who or what funds SB to get my answer. But even if you’re a nonprofit, I always wonder to myself who really makes these policy decisions. You never really hear about a vote.

    As for FtC, I applaud them for trying to keep the City honest. The City frequently loses these suits … and from where I sit, it is because they often don’t follow the law. I hope and expect that you are in favor of the City acting legally, whenever possible?

    Btw … I still don’t care what people in Eagle Rock decide to do, since I never go there … but I still think you should be careful with the L word. This piece says that alleged 2016 letter was faked. (Again … I do not care too much – well, except that I hate dirty tricks, such as doxxing, or even threatening it – but apparently, you do. Although you don’t live there, but, okay.)

  • Joe Linton

    What L word are you referring to in this story? Also what “lawsuits” has the city lost against FtC? I personally think that L.A. would benefit from more affordable housing near transit stations/stops. We have big problems with homelessness, housing affordability, pollution (including global warming), drivers killing hundreds of people every year. I think that this sort of additional affordable housing could help solve those problems.

  • Joe Linton

    When I am not writing outright opinion pieces, I try to keep a more-or-less neutral journalistic tone… please don’t construe this as being neutral on or defending Laura Lake. In my writing, I tend to let “bad” people hang on their own bad words… instead of saying “this is bad.” My personal opinion is that Lake and FtC (and their ilk: Keep LA Moving, etc.) are awful and have set L.A. back decades. In an article I generally don’t directly call her a “notorious NIMBY” but I do quote ACT-LA folks who do!

  • joe kozul

    Some issues raised in the lawsuit , negatives resulting from higher density:
    1. Asthma is increasing in Los Angeles, an indication that the City is jeopardizing public health by granting increased density over allowable level of development under the General Plan.
    2. Despite extensive articles on the relationship between cardiac arrest deaths above
    three stories that were submitted previously by FTC, there has been no analysis of the
    impact of increased building heights permitted by the Expo Plan and their impact on
    public health and safety.
    3. POLICE. Police will not ride bicycles to reach emergencies. The shortage of LAPD
    basic cars has been noted by Councilmember Bonin.
    4. Advocates for TODs such as Expo claim that there is a huge demand for housing for
    increasing population and jobs and argue that the only way to accommodate the
    increase in population is to upzone. This is patently false. The existing General Plan
    can accommodate the projected SCAG population and jobs increase. The current
    General Plan Housing Element has enormous capacity for additional housing
    units and can accommodate growth from the current 4.3 million6 persons to 6 million.
    5. As for the argument that TODs by increasing supply (of market-rate or luxury housing)
    will lower rents, this is disproven by the Chapple, et al., study, which found that rents go
    up, not down, near rail lines, mass transit ridership declines, and air pollution rises.
    6. Empirical substantial evidence from UCLA and Berkeley shows the expectation of
    reduced auto use is not a result of densification along rail lines. In addition, the
    expectation that providing market-rate or luxury housing will result in more affordable
    housing was shown to be false: TODs raise property values and thus rents. They do
    not necessarily result in more affordable housing, according to the study or reduced
    greenhouse gas emissions.
    Just to name a few. Folks, there is a lot of work/rethinking of TOD’s in the making.

  • Joe Linton

    Your comment is full of misleading straw men – for example: who says that the “only way to accommodate increase in population is to upzone.” Nobody except you say this. That “TODs raise property values” is exactly what L.A.’s TOC (approved by LA voters) addresses. Technically TOC doesn’t “upzone” – it adds bonuses only when affordable housing is included. The alternative you seem to arguing for is L.A.’s pre-TOC entitlements system – https://twitter.com/laurajraymond/status/1169273736140181505 – which results in crises in affordable housing, homelessness, pollution (causing asthma to climate emergencies), crash deaths and injuries…

  • Ennnne

    Other than that I believe they were one of the groups who successfully fought to throw out the previous Hollywood Community Plan update – for which the City had used bad numbers – which just in terms of wasted resources ought to bother anyone even a tiny bit concerned with good government since it must almost have to have been deliberate? I mean that’s a whopper error – I can’t give you a list, my memory is not good enough for that sort of thing. I think their track record is good though I admit I don’t have numbers.

    Even if it weren’t good though, some fights are worth having even if you lose.

    Re the L word – I appear to have forgotten to actually put the link … sorry! … let me try again. The “L” word was bc you had called some guy in Eagle Rock a liar – I think in your Monday links rundown? – no, it was Tuesday – and I was just trying to figure out why you did that/make sure you had seen the CW piece (But Eagle Rock is a tangent for me – we can just drop that if you want. Though I wish the people there the best of luck.) https://citywatchla.com/index.php/2016-01-01-13-17-00/los-angeles/18256-metro-and-eagle-rock-a-funny-thing-happened-on-the-way-to-the-forum

    Well … you sound like quite the optimist. It’s funny bc I recently had a similar conversation with someone very close to me, whose argument appeared to boil down to, we’ve got to let Big Real Estate do whatever the bleep they want bc it is the only way we can have affordable housing, even if all we really get is a teeny tiny trickle of units, which is undone every year by the loss of an equal number of existing affordable units through agreements running out, Ellis Act, etc … Personally, I just say no to that. Let’s take those massive piles of money and just start handing them out to low and middle income renters. Bingo! Affordable housing. It would make more sense than this. (I honestly don’t believe hardly any of the people in these new TOD units will take the bus or train on a regular basis. I do not.)

    My question though was, what does density have to do with transit safety? Isn’t that your thing here? Bc I don’t see the connection. I mean we could sort of gin one up with the usual urbanist blather … but it’s sort of a shoehorn, isn’t it?

  • LostOpportunityland

    Regardless of what one thinks of Fix the City, the lawsuit raises some very important issues. When Measure JJJ was passed, the Planning Dept. drafted proposed guidelines that were circulated prior to the City Planning Commission meeting where those guidelines were to be discussed. At that CPC meeting, there were very few public participants (I believe that there was one neighborhood council represented) and there were proposed changes to the recommendations made by Planning that were adopted by the CPC. The public had no notice of those changes and, as is the process followed routinely when new policies are adopted, it was expected that the proposed guidelines would receive further review at the Council’s PLUM Committee prior to moving to the full Council for final consideration and adoption. No one knew that there was no requirement for this measure to go from CPC to the Council and that wasn’t realized unti well after the appeal period to appeal the CPC recommendations had ended. At the very least, distribution of the revised recommendations should have taken place and neighborhood councils notified of the process to be followed.

    As to the actual guidelines, there were a number of items that would have likely garnered significant community discussion and may have resulted in fine tuning of the guidelines adopted. For example, how do reduced setbacks permitted affect the ability of projects to reduce urban heat island affect? With the reduced setbacks, there is little opportunity to include plantings around buildings thus contributing to the dangerous heating of our city and planet. How could this be reversed? Is it realistic to require NOT ONE parking space in a 100 percent low income housing project? Isn’t it possible that a resident of such a project could need to have a vehicle in order to do their job? While it is important to have residents living near transit use transit, not all residents will be able to do so. Think about construction workers who need their tools, think about families where one member may be using transit but others will not do so. What about delivery, Uber or Lyft drivers?

    Are there better ways to incentivize the construction of affordable housing without providing guidelines that are resulting in the construction of mainly market rate/luxury housing with but 10 percent low income housing? In most communities, the TOC projects result in luxury housing with a small number of affordable units. The presence of these luxury or market rate projects is resulting in an overall increase in nearby rents (and property values). Not only are residents being displaced, but neighborhoods are losing their small merchants that have been located on these corridors. (There is little/no discussion about the need to protect the merchants from displacement and no discussion about the need to maintain some retail on ground floor levels of commercially zoned corridors. With residential dead zones being created on what were formally retail pedestrian oriented streets, where will the new residents obtain their needed services, a cup of coffee, etc.? If incentives given by right result in residential construction near transit, that will require those residents to have to travel further and further away in order to get to their jobs and job-providing locations will disappear near transit. This makes no sense! Living near transit is not enough; there must also be jobs near transit in order for transit to work for those living near it.

    In planning communities, it has always been important to look at the whole picture. The minimal setbacks required of these projects are completely insensitive to the neighbors that are behind the TOC projects. Whether apartments, condominiums or single family homes, these adjacent properties are being greatly diminished because of the reduced setbacks and increased heights beyond established height limits and increased density lots previously governed by the ballot initiative Prop U that allowed for 1.5 :1 FAR. The tiering requirements are not adequate when there is no alley separating commercial from residential properties. By granting these projects “by right” status, there is no opportunity for project improvement as a result of community input. What you see (presented by the developer) is what you get and, some of these projects are truly hideous projects contributing nothing to the streetscape, pedestrian orientation, or community. The TOC Guidelines remove any input from the Planning Dept. or communities in fashioning our neighborhoods — leaving developers to become the planners of our communities.

    The City has thus far ignored the needs of those living in neighborhoods that experience new increases in population density. It is not acceptable to pretend that there are adequate public services to serve the increased population when response times for police and fire are already unacceptable. Others have also raised concerns over what constitutes a sustainable city and whether there has been adequate assessment as to how many people can live in Los Angeles with our water supply, current infrastructure, etc. And, it has been noted before that LA has enough land current zoned for housing/multi-family housing to meet population goals and an increase from 4.3 to 6 million people. The problem appears to be that developers do not want to build where that zoned land exists. They would prefer to build luxury units in locations of their choice. To get the types of housing the city needs most, it would appear that it is more important to provide financing mechanisms and incentives for the construction of workforce and affordable housing –rather than creating guidelines that incentivizes developers to build luxury units (many of which now are unoccupied). Non profit affordable housing developers should be engaged to identify the barriers to their projects and focus on removing those barriers to get the types of housing most needed.

    FInally, the litigation raises the issue of whether or not project developers did the appropriate geological work related to the earthquake fault that runs past the property. If, in fact, the Fix the City notation of the proximity of the fault to the project is correct, then the City’s approval on this fact alone should halt the project. This is the same earthquake fault that caused METRO to give priority to building the Purple Line Century City station on Constellation Avenue rather than on Santa Monica Blvd. State law would govern this site if Fix the City is correct. Would you want to live in a building that ignores the latest geological information?

    Challenging TOC projects is difficult. Local residents aren’t equipped to do so and often don’t know what has been decided until after bulldozers are creating dust clouds on the adjacent lots. There are few community groups that have the resources to engage the City in litigation and to raise questions when the law isn’t followed or when public participation has been sidetracked. Transparency is critical in maintaining credibility of government. In the case of the TOC guidelines, there was no transparency and no community engagement. For this reason alone (ignoring everything else noted above), we should thank Fix the City for stepping in.

  • Joe Linton

    So for “lawsuits” you’re saying there’s just the Hollywood one.

  • Ennnne

    Look if you don’t want to talk about why you think the way you do, fine.

    But this is what you wrote about FtC. “Fix the City works on a model similar to an extortionist. They sue – or threaten to sue – the city and/or developers. In the process, FTC gets paid off (for example, L.A. City paid $107,000 to settle the Mobility Plan lawsuit), then FTC plows the money back into more shakedown lawsuits, wasting city time and money and blocking progressive projects and plans.”

    That is manifestly unfair – they have every right to sue the City when it behaves badly, which it does pretty frequently. (Btw you should be reading Citywatch if you want to learn about this – but, it won’t make you happy, so maybe stay un-aware and be blissfully unaware.) It is not extortion. If the City wants to get sued less, the councilpeople can start listening to their lawyers and follow the law.

    And people settle suits all the time, it means nothing in itself.

    One thing I’ve been trying to figure out is whether you have a sense of fairness – that is why I keep on this L word business. You dish it out a lot, and on not much evidence.

    In the US, many of us disagree on things, it’s what we do, it’s how we make decisions, all that is fine. But there is a thing called integrity, and it applies to the use of language. Here’s the thing though … if your salary depends on you pretending not to understand what I take the time to say, then I can stop, and give both of us a rest. If you hadn’t seemed like a nice person, believe me I would not bother. (If I liked fighting for no reason, I’d be on Twitter.)

  • Ben Phelps

    Man you really got every NIMBY talking point in there. lol recommending reading Citywatch.

  • Ben Phelps

    a fundamental non-understanding of what walkability is. Density is almost a requirement. For evidence: look at any city built anywhere in the world when walking was the only way to get around. Why? For an area to be walkable, you need things within walking distance to walk to. Scorching exposed sidewalks in Los Angeles are pretty useless if the grocery store is 2 miles away.

  • Ben Phelps

    incoherent nonsense.

  • Ennnne

    Well I’m glad you’re here to clear it up then, bc this *is* something that’s confused me about “walkability” proponents. In fact … you want to walk as little as humanly possible?

    PS – I don’t know where you live, but LA is already dense. It is. There’s no argument there. Trying to radically reshape it after 100 years is, well, quixotic is maybe the nicest way to say it.

    I am with you on more trees though…

  • JustJake

    “Fix the City works on a model similar to an extortionist. They sue – or threaten to sue – ”
    And this is the same modus operandi used by https://mobile.twitter.com/YIMBY_Law.
    Two sides of the same stink.

  • joe kozul

    Mr. Linton, I’m curious if there is data collected which assigns fault in vehicle/bicycle accidents in Los Angeles, what percentage of cases are deemed drivers’ fault ?

  • Joe Linton

    I don’t know… though the drivers are bringing a lot more dangerous speed/mass/momentum than the cyclists are… and if there’s a fault you’re determining, why are you calling it an “accident”? Typically journalistic standards say to call it a crash, not an accident.

  • LostOpportunityland

    In addition to the points well-raised above by Mr. Kozul, one could also add the following:

    –When luxury and market rate housing is built near transit, those who inhabit those residences are less likely to regularly use transit (and more likely to own vehicles). It displaces those who do ride transit. They neither live in the buildings built AND the rising rents and increased property values (by virtue of the significant added density allowances) displace those most likely to use transit. This could help to explain why, despite significant building activity near transit, METRO’s ridership is FALLING.
    –While pressing for housing, housing, housing near transit, the City is losing sight of the need to provide for a JOBS/housing balance. If the land near transit is all dedicated to housing, then it will be very difficult for those who might use the transit to go from their home to their job via transit to actually access their workplace. There is a need to dedicate zoned land for jobs near transit. Furthermore, the placement of all residential buildings on our commercial corridors will kill those neighborhoods that have naturally had pedestrian-friendly local-serving businesses. The buildings that house those businesses are being demolished and replaced with all-residential mid-rise buildings. The TOC guidelines fail to recognize the need to maintain some retail activity at street level. Without it former vibrant streetscapes will be replaced with residential DEAD street-level spaces — further killing the viability of a walkable local business corridor. People will not be able to walk to their corner laundry, dry cleaners, coffee shop, etc. When faced with the request to have local-serving businesses at least in some portions of the ground floor on now-pedestrian friendly streets, developers provide “live-work” residences that have not shown themselves to be anything more than ground floor housing.

    –In addition to the need to plan for some retail activity at ground floor level (avoiding vast dead zones on commercial corridors), there is a need to preserve what has been zoned as light industrial land which is where many vital service providers are located. By putting housing on such land and pushing out the uses that belong there, we are creating dysfunctional communities where people MUST drive or travel long distances unnecessarily to access the types of businesses once located (and best suited in) that zone. (And many of thsoe zones are adjacent to freeways which is not a good place to build housing anyway.) (Did you know that the County will not support homeless housing within 700 or 800 feet of a freeway and yet Los Angeles pernits housing to be built directly adjacent to freeways? Go figure.) Many community plans have language that seeks to preserve existing light manufacturing zoned land for those uses. It is on that land that communities get their uses that don’t belong next door to housing — a lumber yard, storage facility, animal boarding facilities, auto repair /body shops, furniture refinishing, etc. If the businesses that a community needs locally disappear then the people who live in that community have the need to travel to obtain those services which, as density increases, creates more traffic (whether in a personal car or an Uber/Lyft, traffic is traffic), congestion, lost hours spent on transit (which may not be an option if one is purchasing something from a home improvement store, taking an animal to a kennel or to doggie day care). This brings us back to the fact that cities need to be planned and that urban planners, not developers, are the ones who should be planning our city. By passing legislation that provides signficant added densities to land entitlements “BY RIGHT,” the ability of planners to balance land uses and tailor individual community needs is lost. The community’s ability to request, for example, some retail at the ground floor (which also means that by providing that supply the cost to local merchants for retail space might be more affordable), is lost as well. We get housing, housing, housing and nothing else — except for dead commercial corridors.
    –The negative environmental impacts of allowing for the construction of housing without requiring and providing for adequate setbacks will haunt us for decades to come. Without setbacks, trees cannot be planted. (Having a tree in a planter above ground is hardly a replacement for trees rooting in the ground. EVentually those potted trees die and there is no mechanism to replant them once they outgrown their pots. Birds and others who would have lived in the trees have no homes. The potted trees, liimted in size, fail to provide needed shade (increasing the need to rely on air conditioning for cooling) and privacy (ever more important with added density). The urban heat island effect is a well documented impact of the paving over of cities and contributes to overall warming trends dangerous to all. Much of the opposition to TOC projects comes as a result of the reduced rear setbacks allowed on these projects that is having major negative impacts on adjacent residential multi-family and single family housing. Those properties will be unable to have solar installations for many will never see the sun again. (By right projects do not have to do shade/shadow studies and minimize their impacts on adjacent properties.) They will lose their ability to maintain viable gardening. Permitting housing adjacent to freeways also raises the issue that the open space that the city requires in developments (which can also be reduced as a bonus entitlement) is not usable open space. If someone living adjacent to a freeway opens their patio door, they render their air filters (hopefully regularly maintained with the more expensive small particle filtering ability) non-working as windows and doors must be kept shut in order to provide for needed public health protections. The City’s permission to allow for rooftop patios on top of buildings where the air is entirely unhealthy is a sham. Where is the provision of open space that can actually be used without endangering one’s health. No wonder asthma rates are increasing. Again, who is planning our neighborhoods? Good urban planning would suggest that open space is provided — and especially in those areas that have already been designated as park-poor (which much of LA is). Where is the City’s OPEN SPACE element of the General Plan. Right now, the LA City Planning Dept. should more aptly be called the Entitlement Department. TOC Guidelines need to be better tailored and fine tuned. And, Sacramento’s attempts to take away local planning jurisdiction should frighten all. We do need our city planners and we need to fashion local community plans that create complete balanced communities.
    Fighting to get to that place is an important battle.

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