Housing Construction Skyline

The “Housing Advocate” is a bi-weekly collection of news stories and content related to the housing crisis here in Los Angeles.

Welcome to the First Edition of Abundant Housing’s “The Housing Advocate!” You can expect these posts to include key stories that the AHLA Community has found relevant to the conversation among housing advocates at the moment. Here are the stories we found important this week:

1) Transit-Oriented Communities Lawsuit

Just last week, it was announced that the highly successful Los Angeles housing program “Transit-Oriented Communities” is being challenged in court by the non-profit “Fix the City.” Just this past week, Abundant Housing member Anthoney Dedousis wrote an excellent article, which details the success of Transit-Oriented Communities, which has simultaneously produced needed affordable housing, needed market-rate housing, and helped our city become less car-dependent. The LA Times was quick to condemn the lawsuit as blatant NIMBYism. From their editorial:

“What’s especially frustrating about this particular lawsuit is that it seeks to halt a voter-created program that is going to generate a lot of housing along major public transit corridors. That is exactly where Los Angeles should be concentrating its new housing supplies so more people who live or work here can get around without driving, which will help with congestion and cut the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change.”

Our community couldn’t agree more. We also found an interview one of Fix the City’s executives gave with KCRW’s Jarrett Hill instructive, displaying the group’s out of touch antagonism and obstructionist attitude toward new housing. The housing crisis is simply too important for petty tactics like this, and hope that different groups can instead come together in a good-faith debate about solving this crisis.

2) Homeless on the streets

Amid our current homeless crisis, we were discouraged to see that the LA City Council is considering make life harder for those experiencing homelessness by making it harder to legally sleep on sidewalks. The LA Times created a very instructive map, showing how much harder it will be for our unhoused neighbors to find a place to stay overnight. More and more research is showing that the key driver of solving homeless is more housing, not making it a crime to sleep on the street. While LA City has taken admirable steps in this direction, including councilman Cedillo’s recent measure to encourage micro-units, it is clear we need bigger and bolder steps to building more housing.

3) State Housing Bills Passed

In more positive news, the California legislature passed many of the housing bills that Abundant Housing supported this week! This included:

  • SB 330 will make it harder for cities to downzone and block new housing over the next 5 years.
  • AB 1482 will cap rent increases to 5% plus inflation, alongside protecting tenants by requiring landlords to provide a “Just Cause” when evicting a tenant.
  • AB 1197 will prevent affordable and supportive housing from being blocked through dubious CEQA lawsuits
  • SB 329 will prevent landlords from discriminating against Section 8 housing vouchers

While we know that these bills are not enough by themselves to fix the housing crisis, we commend them as a step in the right direction. We call on legislators to build on this start through more legislation that will produce more housing for everyone going forward!

4) San Diego RHNA

We were also pleased to see our city to the South, San Diego, successful in moving forward with their regional needs assessment process (RHNA) to build more housing. California needs more housing, especially in areas with jobs/housing imbalances, high housing costs, proximity to transit, and in exclusive single-family neighborhoods. While we wish San Diego did more to ensure their goals were better targeted to these areas, we also celebrate that this is a positive step for the region. We applaud San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer whose leadership was instrumental in ultimately overruling the small, wealthy cities trying to obstruct the process. We hope our local governments in Greater LA take significant steps in our RHNA process to ensure that we build where housing is needed most.

That’s all for this week. Come back in two weeks for another update!