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Say It Ain’t So, Mayor Garcetti: The Sale of Los Angeles By a Native Son

This article was first published July 1, 2019 on City Watch.

HYDEE R FELDSTEIN

CALIFORNIA POLITICS–AB 1197 as introduced in February was described as a bill to establish a streamlined administrative and judicial review process for affordable housing projects under CEQA on a statewide basis.  

In March, AB 1197 was amended to provide that a project that met either of the following tests would be exempt from CEQA review:

(a) a project funded by a voter approved funding measure for affordable or supportive housing consistent with a sustainable community’s initiative that had an EIR within the prior 5 years or

(b) an emergency shelter funded by the State of California. 

In April, AB 1197 was amended to apply SOLELY to the City of Los Angeles, NOWHERE else in the State of California.  That meant that a shelter or supportive housing facility proposed on the east side of La Cienaga Boulevard in the City of Los Angeles would be exempt from CEQA review while one proposed on the west side of La Cienaga Boulevard in Culver City or Beverly Hills would be subject to a full CEQA review.  It meant that across the entire County of Los Angeles, our legislators have said no CEQA review is required to locate shelters and supportive housing in the City of LA, rather than elsewhere in the County so where do y’all think they will be located?  And why did they do that?  Methinks it is because our elected officials just do not have the spine or the stones or the integrity to make the tough calls, to face their constituents and to say yes, we need to find locations for shelters and supportive housing and tough cookies if you don’t want one in your area, it is coming. 

This is not a knock on other cities.  Santa Monica, for example, has done a fabulous job, of addressing and building shelters and housing at lower income levels.  This is a cry of outage at our Mayor and our representatives in Los Angeles for selecting us out of all cities in this fashion without a civic discussion and without a collective responsibility across our county and our region.  For shame. 

What would I do?  I would sit down with each of our 99 neighborhood councils in the City of LA and I would have our Board of Supervisors sit down with each city and unincorporated area in the County of LA and say, ok folks, each of you has 30 days to come up with a location to house (depending on the size of the area and the population) 250-350 currently unhoused individuals.   In LA City we have a head start because our truly remarkable City Controller Ron Galperin has created and posted a property parcel map that gives us the data on all publicly owned lands and structures across the city.  

You can find that here:  https://lacontroller.org/data-stories-and-maps/propertypanel/.  So, each NC can go check and pick a parcel.  Then, as Santa Monica has done, the City or County or other public agency can lease that parcel (for $5/year) to a not for profit agency or a public/private partnership to refurbish or build a shelter or supportive housing on the site.  If the area fails to select a site within 30 days, the city will select the site for the area and the elected officials need to have the spine or the stones or the integrity to stick to the choice and handle the political fallout. 

AB 1197 is an LA “ass covering” special, authored, shepherded through and supported by our own so that they can all claim afterward that “Sacramento made me do it”.  I for one am a bit tired of this.  

The author is our own Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (53rd District), it passed the Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee, chaired by our own Assemblymember Laura Friedman (43rd District), voted on positively in that Committee by our own Assemblymembers Ed Chau (49th District), and Christina Garcia (58th District), it passed the Assembly’s Housing and Community Development Committee with a yes vote from our own Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (45th District).  

NOT ONE OF OUR ASSEMBLYMEMBERS (other than Christina Garcia who reversed herself from her affirmative vote in committee to vote no on the floor) VOTED AGAINST AB 1197 on the Assembly Floor.  

HOW CAN THAT BE?  HOW CAN THAT VOTE HAVE BEEN TAKEN WITHOUT ONE OF OUR REPRESENTATIVES COMING BACK TO US AND SAYING HEY THIS IS HAPPENING  — WHAT DO Y’ALL THINK?  AND WHY ON EARTH IS SACAMENTO PASSING LA SPECIFIC LEGISLATION LIKE THIS? 

It then passed the Senate Environmental Quality Committee 7-0 chaired by our own Ben Allen with Henry Stern as his wingman and has been referred to Appropriations.  Hello, I have no problem with requiring and building shelters.  

I have a real problem with our electeds being the only folks in the entire state who cannot muster the moral suasion to figure out how to get this done in their city without stealth spot laws that will not and cannot pass constitutional muster and that should get them unelected. 

Oh, and why the headline?  Well just look at the “Bill Analysis” at each step of the way.  It reads:  

SUPPORT:

California Apartment Association

California Central City Association of Los Angeles

Mayor Eric Garcetti, City of Los Angeles

OPPOSITION:

None received

REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:

Support

Mayor Eric Garcetti, City of Los Angeles

BizFed (support if amended)

Opposition

California Environmental Justice Alliance

Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice

Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment

Physicians for social Responsibility – Los Angeles

Analysis Prepared by Steve Wertheim / H. & C.D. / (916) 319-2085

REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:

Support

Mayor Eric Garcetti, City of Los Angeles

Opposition

California Environmental Justice Alliance

Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice

Center on Race, Poverty & The Environment

Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles

Sierra Club California

Analysis Prepared by Lawrence Lingbloom / NAT. RES.

+++++

What is our Mayor doing taking this position for our City without a conversation with his constituents?  Where is our City Council on this?  And how are our elected Assembly members and Senators allowing this nonsense to pass without alerting us? 

So, call and email your City of LA representatives in Sacramento and let them know we view it as a very serious breach of their obligations to us to have let AB 1197 get this far and they need to stop it.  This is not a general law and has no business in Sacramento.  

The homelessness crisis and need for shelter locations are critical issues.  Our mayor and indeed all of our elected officials need to lead, follow or get out of the way.   And let’s get them out of the way if they cannot lead with transparency, trust, and truth.  We need to find shelter locations throughout the city and county now.  Let’s do that.

(Hydee Feldstein is a retired attorney who lives in Los Angeles and is active on land use issues in her neighborhood council. Please send any comments to hydeefeldstein@yahoo.com.)

-cw

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