Posts Tagged ‘developer incentives’

The Density Bonus & Developer Incentives Ordinance

In City Policy, Land Use, SB 1818, Uncategorized, Videos on February 24, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Bill Rosendahl Speaks Out Against The Ordinance
Video from 2/12/2008 council meeting. 


The Public Speaks, Pt I
Video from 2/12/2008 council meeting.


 The Public Speaks, Pt II
Video from 2/12/2008 council meeting.

This is a lousy ordinance that:

  • Destroys the character and scale of our neighborhoods, by giving developers the financial incentive to demolish in order to get increases in number of units, height, and footprint (Floor Area Ratio);
  • Reduces affordable housing and rental housing (rent-stabilized buildings are being replaced by massive upscale condo towers and mixed-use projects);
  • Creates parking nightmares (there is a “free” parking incentive that is given to all projects that qualify for density bonuses);
  • The City destroys California’s desire to create both low income and “moderate” income units, because if a developer includes moderate income units, the City will give the developer TRIPLE the density bonus required by state law (a 15% density bonus, instead of a 5% density bonus) !

Noel on Protecting the Middle Class

In Accomplishments, City Policy, Land Use, SB 1818 on February 16, 2009 at 10:49 pm

The subtle attack on the middle class in Los Angeles is a main concern of mine, because of the economic impact this inflicts on our city. History shows us that no civilization can sustain a viable economy without a vibrant middle class.

Currently, no local policymaker has stepped forward to try and protect the rights of the middle class. I am committed to doing what I can to make the system work better for the people, help bring the City together, and have our system better reflect its core social values and principles.

So what exactly have I done that is evidence of this promise?

  • I have lobbied the City on behalf of middle class tenants to get various core tenant protections incorporated into the tract map conditions. These conditions were then capable of being enforced by the Planning Dept. and were subsequently incorporated into Planning Dept. policy. This policy change is something that the current City Attorney said couldn’t be done, yet I got it done.
  • I lobbied City Councilmembers about the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) which will be included into the City of Los Angeles Housing Element (2006-2014). (see Council file 08-1933, page 6-33.)
  • I wrote the original motion to raise the tenant relocation fees for tenants who were evicted from buildings that were covered by the rent stabilization ordinance, and then lobbied City Council members to get it passed, as the relocation monies hadn’t been raised since the mid 1980’s.
  •  I am experienced in establishing dialogue between responsible developers and the community they seek to improve.  For example:
    • A developer in Valley Village was able to get his 96-unit project through by incorporating affordable housing promises* into tract map conditions, in such a way that it gave the Community standing to enforce violations of these conditions, under a nuisance theory.   This action, which never had to be invoked, made the community a real partner with the City Attorney and the Council office in ensuring enforcement if necessary.  The net result?
      • The character of the neighborhood was protected;
      • The developer was able to relay the agreed-upon conditions to his vendors before the work began, eliminating misunderstandings; the community knew what to expect, and when, due to regular communication; and
      • The community will benefit from an influx of middle-class incomes when the facility is completed.

The developer even sent his thanks, as the project has moved along quite fluidly. The system can work when a responsible, reasonable, and fair-working partnership is established.

 What I have done in these examples is done all the time for the special interests who pay lawyers and lobbyists. But it has been rarely done (if at all) by a public policy advocate who has not been paid by anyone to advocate for a policy and has nothing personal to gain except the self-satisfaction of doing something positive, and leaving behind a positive legacy. This type of advocacy is what we should expect from our elected officials, and is the type of advocacy that I would continue as City Attorney.

 The current system, where laws exist but are not enforced until they are litigated, must stop. It is inefficient and unacceptable because it violates the social contract between the citizens of this City and their government, and it wastes taxpayers’ dollars. This is what has to be changed. My pledge to you is that as City Attorney, it will change.

 *The ‘affordable housing’ to be created at this location is a mandated (up to) 5% discount for teachers, firemen, and policemen. The project is near North Hollywood High School, creating an incentive for middle-class teachers to eliminate their commute AND be rewarded with a housing discount by the developer. A great situation for many community partners.

Fighting For All Residents Against Overdevelopment

In City Policy, Land Use, SB 1818 on February 15, 2009 at 4:58 pm

Councilmember Hahn Speaks Out Against The Ordinance
Audio from February 13, 2008 Council Meeting 

The  Density Bonus & Developer Incentives Ordinance was approved by the City Council in February 2008, on a vote of 11-4.  Councilmembers LaBonge, Rosendahl, Hahn, and Zine sided with residents and voted against the ordinance.  Janice Hahn was concerned about reducing notice and appeals for the neighbors of large projects.  Bill Rosendahl is an affordable housing advocate who noted that this ordinance is a scam, that provides for overdevelopment in the name of affordable housing.  During several days of debate on this ordinance, we do not recall Councilmember JACK Weiss uttering one word, probably because he was already running for City Attorney and had already faced a RECALL effort by angry residents in his district (which gathered TWENTY THOUSAND signatures in only four months for a special recall election, and was only stopped by time constraints on signature collection).

JACK Weiss sided with the developers and voted to approve the ordinance.  JACK Weiss helped craft the ordinance, so he knew exactly what it would do to our neighborhoods when he voted.

Noel filed the first lawsuit against this new law on April 3, 2008 on behalf of a homeowner in Valley Village.  Hubbard vs. City of Los Angeles is currently in litigation. The reason Noel agreed to file the lawsuit was because the Density Bonus and Developer Incentives Ordinance was NOT narrowly tailored to comply with the state law, SB 1818, but was even more generous to developers, unnecessarily so. 

As City Attorney, Noel will advise the 15 City Councilmembers on land use applications, large projects, proposed laws affecting land use and zoning, CEQA (The California Environmental Quality Act) and Environmental Impact Reviews (EIR’s). The City Attorney’s Office is present at (almost) all PLUM Committee (the City’s Land Use Committee) and City Council meetings!


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