Petition for ballot initiative pits two visions of future Los Angeles skyline

| December 31, 2015 | 1 Comment
  • Activists seek a ballot measure to block ‘mega’-development citywide.
    • The complete 23-page petition and proposed initiative can be found here. 
The proposed "Palladium Residences" mixed-use project, approved by the Los Angeles City Planning Commission in December, is depicted at right. At left is Kilroy Realty Corporation's existing "Sunset Media Center" tower at 6255 Sunset Blvd., home to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation headquarters offices.

The proposed “Palladium Residences” mixed-use project, approved by the Los Angeles City Planning Commission in December, is depicted at right. At left is Kilroy Realty Corporation’s existing “Sunset Media Center” tower at 6255 Sunset Blvd., home to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation headquarters offices.

Disputes between property developers and community groups are a familiar headline in Los Angeles, but activists based in Hollywood seek to put the brakes on all building projects that require changes to city planning rules. Advocates for an anti-development ballot initiative include the loosely organized group calling itself the “Coalition to Preserve L.A.” Direction and management of this coalition comes from the California nonprofit 501(c)3 charitable organization, AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

The Foundation’s headquarters offices are in a high-rise building on Sunset Boulevard, across the street from the proposed “Palladium Residences” mixed-use project that was approved unanimously by the City Planning Commission in December, despite the objections of the Foundation and its landlord, Kilroy Realty Corp., owner of competing towers on both sides of the Palladium.

The coalition’s proposed ballot petition and the anti-development initiative measure have retroactive features and likely would affect the Palladium project.

The coalition’s petition was submitted to the City Attorney’s office in November. Even though the coalition has been calling the proposed ballot measure the “neighborhood integrity” initiative, that will not be in the official petition title or the title summary on the ballot, assuming that the petition collects enough signatures to be successful. The lengthy official title is in the box below.

“Restrictions on General Plan Amendments, Required Review of General Plan; Building Moratorium. Initiative Ordinance.”

To be on the ballot this coming November, the petition first must obtain 61,486 valid signatures from registered voters.

Critics oppose

Critics say the measure will cost thousands of jobs, worsen the housing crisis and cripple the local economy. For example, Gary Toebben, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, wrote in December: “[T]he implications of this measure would be devastating to Los Angeles and doom us to a permanent housing shortage.”

He adds that the proposed moratorium “is a dangerous ploy by activists to paralyze the badly needed construction of new housing. We have major problems in our city including homelessness, a lack of affordable housing and soaring rents. Stifling the supply of housing will exponentially increase these problems.”

Proponents support

Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and one of the named sponsors of the petition, argues that “with rents in Los Angeles climbing just as high as the towering, mega structures developers want to throw up across the city, almost 60 percent of L.A. renters are now spending more than the recommended 30 percent of their income just to keep a roof over their heads.

“The time is now for the city of Los Angeles Planning Dept. and City Hall to stop being pawns of greedy developers and to start acting strategically on behalf of the Los Angeles residents who voted them into office and want real solutions to the housing crunch.”

Proponent Weinstein previously has said, “planning and zoning is meant to maintain the integrity of communities. And what’s happening in Los Angeles—in Hollywood, in downtown and other areas—is destroying the character of communities.”

Click HERE to read pro and con arguments for the proposed ballot initiative, found on the front page of the January issue.

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  1. Scott Zwartz says:

    LA has no housing shortage. People believe that increases in rents means that there is an increased demand for Living Space. There is no demand for more Living Space.

    We are seeing the same thing now that we saw in 2005 when every one believed that there was a huge demand for new single family homes, but that was a fraud.

    The same fraud is happening, except this time it is with rental income. Rather than sell homes, banks are renting them and selling the future rents on those homes to Wall Street which is bundling the future rents into securities which WS is selling to investors all over the world just a they sold Subprime Mortgages leading up to the 2008 Crash.

    We know that there is no increased demand for more Living Space because LA’s population is growing at less than 1% per year and the population increase comes from new babies. [Calif State dept of Finance, USC Sol Price Sch of Pub Policy) Babies do not buy homes. When the population increases due to an influx of immigrants, then the demand for Living Space increases. We do not have an influx of immigrants, and “no,” it is not hordes of Chinese billionaires who are causing a huge demand for Affordable Housing.

    Thus, we know that there is no demand for more Living Space. Here is why the housing prices are rising with no more people wanting Living Space.

    There are companies like Blackstone who buy homes, condos and apartments, and then they sell the future rents for 10, 20, 30 years to WS. The landlord take that cash and buys more houses, condos and apartments and sells those future rents to WS. Thus, these homes, condos and apartments are worth are more than their Living Space Value to these financial institutions. Anyone who wants to purchase a home has no choice but to pay for this extra cost — even though the owner cannot participate in this WS scam.

    We have now gotten to the point in the fraud cycle where the reported rents are not the real rents. The idea that the poorest people are actually paying more than 30% of their low incomes in rent is nonsense. The only way for that to occur is for poor renters to be doubling up in order to afford the rent. In other words, they are NOT paying 30% of their income for rent. To the extent that people are doubling up, the demand for Living Space decreases.

    There are some mathematical imperatives with this type of scam. The local financial institutions who sell the Future Rents to WS lie about the rents just like Countrywide lied about the mortgages which it was selling to WS. Today the lease may say “$3,000/mo,” but the occupants are paying much less. WS does not check to see if the renters are paying the rent which is written into the lease. Greedy landlords simply lie about their rental income as those lie maximize the money which WS pays to them for the Future Rents. Landlords deny to themselves that they are engaged in fraud by telling themselves that the rent will soon increase to $3000/mp,” but it will not. More likely than not, the rent the landlord can collect will start to drop. [Lower rental payments = defaults on mortgage payments during the Subprime Scam.]

    Take the time to talk with the managers of these new projects. You’ll find AirBnB is using the units and young Millennials are doubling up. That situation does not make for long term rent stability.

    Take the time some night to see how many new condos projects along La Brea, for example, are walls of darkness. There are few lights as there as few tenants.

    Here is what will happen:

    (1) we will continue to build housing units despite the fact there is no demand

    (2) we will continue to sell future rents to WS

    (3) there will be another crash

    (4) the tax payers will bailout WS.

    Last time we lost $5 TRILLION in wealth. How much will be lose this time?

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