Faced with the task of rezoning for more than 250,000 new homes under its approved housing element, the City of Los Angeles has streamlined the approval of affordable housing developments and rolled out new ordinances which could ease the conversion of vacant commercial buildings into apartments. But as new projects encroach into working class neighborhoods filled with rent-stabilized apartments, a member of the L.A. City Council is looking to pump the breaks on certain developments in her district.

In a motion introduced on April 19, 1st District Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez proposes the adoption of an interim control ordinance which would create a new discretionary approval process for developments on sites which are currently improved with rent stabilized apartments, or were vacated via the Ellis Act within the past five years.

Council District 1 boundariesCity of Los Angeles

"The possibility of eliminating RSO units due to permit and clearance streamlining efforts significantly impacts the housing stability of vulnerable communities," reads the motion introduced by Hernandez. "It exacerbates homelessness, especially as the relocation fees do not adequately cover skyrocketing market rate rent, nor do they equitably accommodate larger households."

Hernandez sites Los Angeles Housing Department Data, which found that the 1st Council District has 51,631 rent stabilized units with a median rent ranging between $1,100 and $1,500 per month, versus average market rate rents of roughly $2,657 in Northeast Los Angeles.

The motion was spurred in part by a proposed development on Toland Way in Eagle Rock, where an eight-story building with over 100 homes is planned for a site developed with 17 rent stabilized units. According to Hernandez's motion, as well as The Occidental, most of the existing tenants were unaware of plans until they were published by "niche media outlets focused on development."

Rendering of 4319 N. Toland WayJZA Architecture

The proposed project, which would include 153 apartments, is targeted to below market rate households, making in eligible for expedited approvals via the Mayor's Executive Directive 1. However, April 18 correspondence from the Planning Department indicates that project has been put on hold, citing an incomplete entitlement application, and the case may be terminated.

The proposed interim control ordinance would apply only to sites within Council District 1, and would establish "a discretionary review process  for the issuance of [construction permits] for properties subject to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance containing five or more occupied residential dwelling units, or units that have been vacated as a result of the Ellis Act within the past five years for the new construction of housing projects that are subject to a ministerial approval process that does not provide an appropriate or adequate number of Extremely Low Income or Very Low Income affordable units within the ratio of the development size, scope, and impact on current affordability or relocation assistance."

If enacted, the ordinance would take effect for an initial term of 45 days, and could be extended to run for a total of two years by Council Resolution, or until a permanent ordinance is adopted.

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