Committee Narrowly Approves HHH Funding for Chatsworth Housing, Over Opposition From Councilmember Lee
There is an unwritten rule that L.A. City Councilmembers nearly always defer to the Councilmember whose district a project is located in. The city’s homelessness crisis is so severe that at least some councilmembers are overriding this rule. Late yesterday, a narrow majority of the council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee broke ranks, deciding to approve Measure HHH funding for the Topanga Apartments opposed by newly elected Councilmember John Lee.
The Homelessness Committee met yesterday to consider approving $347 million in Proposition HHH funding for 35 supportive housing projects (council file 17-0090-S8.) These developments were vetted and recommended for funding in the third HHH call for projects.
The main item of contention was the proposed Topanga Apartments development. Affirmed Housing Group is proposing to build a 6-story tall project with 63 units of supportive housing. The apartments would be located at the site of an existing car sales lot at Topanga Canyon Boulevard just south of Devonshire Street.
More than three dozen homeless housing advocates packed the hearing to give public comment urging the committee to approve the full HHH project list.
Lee’s staffer was the only person to speak against the Chatsworth housing project, requesting that the committee delay funding it for four weeks.
Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson also requested one-month delays on two projects (of four projects slated for funding in this HHH round) in his South Los Angeles district. Harris-Dawson was quick to request that people not conflate his request with Lee’s. Harris Dawson clarified that the problem in his district is “over-concentration” with multiple HHH projects within walking distance of each other. He stated that his Council District 8 already has over 600 units of HHH housing, where Lee’s District 12 has zero. The City Council had targeted at least 222 HHH units in each district.
At the questioning of the committee, the a representative of Affirmed Housing Group stated that a month delay “could put the [Chatsworth] project in jeopardy.”
Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell attempted to craft a compromise solution, proposing instead a two-week delay in approving funding for the CD12 project. O’Farrell’s proposal failed 2-3, with councilmembers O’Farrell and Monica Rodriguez voting in favor. Councilmembers Harris-Dawson, Mike Bonin, and David Ryu voted against.
The committee approved delaying the two CD8 projects, and funding all the remaining housing projects.
There are still many steps before these projects are built and occupied. The committee-approved list goes next to a vote of the full council, which likely sets up another confrontation between Lee and his council colleagues.