Two Los Angeles City Council members introduced a motion Tuesday to try to increase incentives for affordable housing developments in neighborhoods with greater access to parks, public transit, schools, grocery stores and health facilities.
The Los Angeles Department of City Planning and Housing Department reported to the City Council that 14% of the affordable housing units permitted in the last decade were located within high-resource neighborhoods, while 86% were in neighborhoods deemed low-resource and high-poverty.
“This disparity has further entrenched patterns of segregation and effectively excluded low-income households from the neighborhoods with the greatest access to public parks, transit, schools, grocery stores and health facilities,” stated the motion, introduced by Councilwoman Nithya Raman and Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson. The motion also cited a UC Berkeley report that found Los Angeles to be the sixth-most segregated metro area of the 221 studied.
“Redressing residential segregation and redistributing future affordable housing development will require myriad decisive actions from the city, but one immediate action the city can take is to prioritize affordable housing projects in high-opportunity areas,” the motion stated.
If passed by the City Council, the motion would direct the Department of City Planning and the Housing Department to report back within 90 days on options for an Affordable Housing Overlay Zone with a “bundle of development incentives to increase the supply of affordable housing” or an update to the city’s development incentive programs to prioritize 100% affordable housing projects in high-opportunity areas.
“Only 489 affordable housing units from the years 2009 to 2020 were permitted in my district. That’s 3% of the total affordable housing units city-wide,” Raman said in a statement Tuesday. “Through the creation of an Affordable Housing Overlay Zone or similar interventions, we can reverse this status quo.”
About 76% of Los Angeles’ highest resource areas are zoned for single-family homes, while only 18% of the “high-segregation and poverty areas” are zoned for single-family homes, according to City Planner Matt Glesne, who gave a presentation to the City Council on Aug. 17.
“Affordable housing is a pressing concern, and it is essential that we have all options on the table to ensure it is available and equitably distributed across the city of Los Angeles,” Harris-Dawson said Tuesday. “When we prioritize affordable housing and seek remedies through creative measures, we demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity and economic justice.”
The Department of City Planning and Housing Department are working on a Housing Element Update, which will serve as a guide for L.A.’s housing policy for the next decade. The current plan includes a rezoning program that would increase density in resource-rich neighborhoods that have been limited to single-family-only uses to create the capacity for 219,732 new housing units within three years. The City Council requested on Aug. 17 that the number is increased to 300,000.