Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson proposed Tuesday that the city establish zones that would protect low-income neighborhoods from the economic effects of luxury housing that doesn’t provide “affordable” units.

In his proposal, Wesson acknowledged luxury apartments and condominiums have the ability to enhance economic prosperity, but he said long-established communities that aren’t suited to take on quickly rising property values could be upended when such housing is constructed.

“We don’t just need more housing units. We need more housing units that working people can afford,” Wesson said. “Building market-rate housing, when that means $1,800 for a one-bedroom apartment, is not an adequate solution to this crisis. With this measure, Los Angeles is telling developers, `If you want to build in Los Angeles, affordable units need to be a part of the package. Our goal is to achieve balance.”’

Wesson proposed putting “anti-displacement zones” around luxury apartment complexes and other housing that offer no affordable housing units, which would be a two-mile radius around the building for three years, and capping rent increases within the zone.

Wesson addressed the South Los Angeles Area Planning Commission last week after sending a letter in opposition what he described as a planned “luxury” 577-unit apartment complex on Crenshaw Boulevard that he said would be unaffordable to the area’s current residents.

“The original plan was designed to build up the area so that members in the community could use these local amenities, improve their everyday lives and strengthen the economy of our neighborhoods,” Wesson wrote.

In another motion Wesson filed Tuesday that supports renters, the council president suggested an ordinance that would give the city the first right-of-refusal with regard to the purchase of apartment buildings and properties that initiate Ellis Act proceedings.

Under the Ellis Act, landlords in California can eject tenants from rent-controlled apartments if they are tearing down a building or getting out of the rental business.

“…Large developers and land speculators have taken advantage of the Ellis Act by purchasing rent-controlled building, evicting the tenants and replacing the existing buildings with market-rate, luxury developments,” Wesson’s motion reads. “Many of these Ellis Act evictions are being done by developers who have owned the property for less than a year.”

Both of Wesson’s motions are slated to be heard by the City Council’s Housing Committee.

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