From Tuesday night’s staff report on that First Street project up for council approval:
a) Project’s Contribution toward the Creation of a Great Downtown Neighborhood
What are the amenities and distinct features that make a great neighborhood? Great neighborhoods are places where people want to live and visit. Great neighborhoods are easily accessible, safe, and friendly. Great neighborhoods are not just buildings. Great neighborhoods are made up of various amenities and distinct features that collectively draw individuals to want to live, work, and visit; they provide something for everybody.
They then go on to tell us what makes for a great neighborhood. Naturally, much of it involves everyone taking the bus and then spending the rest of the time biking around making sure not to hit each other.
Interesting detail buried within the document though. Staff’s insisting on a five percent low-income set-aside requirement for the 260+ units being planned. That’s a great idea, even though it apparently hasn’t been agreed upon as yet.
The developer first wants the council to boost the density allowance on the property through a Planned Development. So far so good, although there’s no assurance that this low-income deal will ever happen (will they give the developer what it wants anyway without the set-asides? What if the developer still says “No”?)
But one detail within the condition is troubling:
vii) The Developer shall set aside five (5) percent of the proposed 261 residential dwelling units as deed-restricted units that are to be rented only to eligible low-income households making 80% of the Los Angeles County Area Median Income (AMI) for a period of no less than 30 years; these deed-restricted units can also be provided off-site within the city. (Condition No. 13.)
No way. Unless these set-aside units are part of the same property they will all get quickly forgotten.
Why? There will only be about 15 of them to begin with, and if placed anywhere else in the city no one will be remembering for very long either where they were or what they were about — and of course all to the advantage of the landlord.
We can see it now. One low-income tenant gets the deal, and then when they move out in six or seven years (or less) the vacancy immediately goes to market rate. Like who’d know the difference? Would future applicants be told about this same reduction deal on a unit scattered anywhere around town?
Oh yeah? In 25 years, even? (these set-asides are supposed to remain in place for 30 years.)
On which planet is this? Not Planet Burbank. Anyone else remember what happened the last time the city insisted on low-income set-asides for a downtown development?
It was about 30 years ago over on Angeleno. In exchange for the same type of relaxation of zoning requirements, a number of those units had nice 10-year deals for prospective lower-income applicants. Everything went great for about seven years — until those same tenants all suddenly got eviction notices (Rogers should remember this story — it was incredibly well documented at the time).
The city denied there were ten-year deals on the property until the tenants in desperation finally ran to Kramer and McConkey for help. After a bit of research, those two then-new council members quickly realized that these tenants were all getting screwed out of a couple of years of their low-income deal, and staff was forced to agree. The landlord had to relent as well.
And those were in the same location. Can you imagine then what will happen in 10 or 20 years if some new off-site deal is approved for First Street Junction?