Yesterday at the Planning and Land Use Management Committee, I spoke in favor of Council File CF 14-1325, a joint Huizar/O’Farrell motion to investigate something called “value capture” in the City of Los Angeles. You can hear my comment by clicking on the play button below (I recorded it using my cell phone, so the quality isn’t the greatest).
What is value capture?
Value capture takes a lot of forms in cities across the U.S. What this value capture motion is about is making any big increases in land value due to city council action (like an increased allowance for height, lot coverage, etc.) also come with some strings attached. For example, if the city allowed a big project to get even bigger, a value capture law would require the developers to include affordable housing on-site or pay into a special fund to build affordable housing elsewhere in the city.
A real-life example
I made this short Instagram video to show a site in Chinatown that is a perfect example of where a value capture law could help create affordable housing.
This 5.25 acre site, located at 924 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012, and is across the street from the Metro Gold Line Chinatown Station. It is called the College Station project and it was featured in a KPCC report last year about developers getting around affordable housing rules and zoning law.
The property was bought in the early 2000’s and the buyers submitted plans for a project much bigger than allowed. The council approved the plans and the project was sold at a considerable profit to the current owner, Atlas Capital. The plans for the site currently include 685 market rate apartments, with exactly zero set-asides for affordable housing.
If a value capture law were in place, some of that big profit would be put into building affordable units on-site, or paid into a special affordable housing fund to build those units somewhere else in the city.
Why did I comment?
Los Angeles is having a housing crisis. The crisis has been building for years, yet the city council has been slow to act on important legislation like this Huizar/O’Farrell value capture proposal. Why has the city council found it so difficult to produce any meaningful answers for a city in crisis? Gil Cedillo, as chair of the Housing Committee, is acting as a road block for any affordable housing policies (value capture, Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) reform and protections, etc.) because they cut into the massive profits of the luxury developers that make up his donor base.
I commented in the PLUM committee yesterday to commend the council for pushing through Cedillo’s road block in order to pass laws that will ensure Los Angeles is a city for all people of all economic levels.
As councilmember in CD1, I will fight for policies that help stop the loss of affordable housing. I am committed to building Safe Streets and Strong Neighborhoods – and we can’t do that if we can’t afford to live in our home town!