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Monday, May 29, 2023

A Vote Against Inclusionary Zoning

The Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils has issued a position paper opposing the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance “as it is presently written,” according to Jill Banks Barad, the chair of the group. The report states that inclusionary zoning reduces construction of affordable housing, overrides existing specific plans and other residential zoning guidelines and erodes the tax base, among other things. The group’s report comes as the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance proposal moves through several city committees for revision. The final proposal, which council members who are working on the ordinance say will incorporate suggestions and feedback received since the draft proposal was first issued, is not due for some time. The report issued by the VANC, which the group says represents over 30 neighborhood councils in the San Fernando Valley, is based on the initial proposal now under revision. A copy of the report, addressed to City Council President Alex Padilla, was sent to the Business Journal, although at press time, officials at Padilla’s office said they had not received the report. The inclusionary housing proposal seeks to increase the housing stock available for residents who are unable to afford market rate homes or apartments by requiring developers to set aside a number of units in new developments for sale or rental at lower rates. Although largely viewed as an attempt to provide new housing for the poor, the draft ordinance actually offers a number of alternatives to developers, including options that target buyers or renters whose incomes are as much as 80 percent of the area median, which would include a large portion of the city’s middle class, a group increasingly unable to afford home ownership as well. The VANC position paper, while acknowledging the city’s housing shortage, claims that other forms of government intervention in the free market for housing, such as rent stabilization, have actually hurt the supply of the city’s housing stock. Instead, the report proposes tax reforms, streamlining the entitlement process and building mixed use housing along transportation corridors, among other remedies. Although some officials, like Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss, are waiting for the final form of the inclusionary zoning ordinance before taking a position on the proposal, others are already lining up on one side or the other of the debate. Padilla, who has been an advocate of the inclusionary zoning ordinance, is supporting it as he lobbies for additional provisions such as density bonuses that would help developers make up the shortfall between the market rate of the units and the rates charged under the ordinance. “He intends to vote for the ordinance so long as it includes provisions that provide incentives for developers,” said David Gershwin, a spokesman for Padilla. Councilman Tom LaBonge is also opposed to the ordinance as it is currently written, said Jonathan Brand, assistant planning deputy for LaBonge. But Councilman Dennis Zine said he would oppose any Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance. “He feels the policy would actually suppress additional building and would drive up the cost of housing,” said Jennifer Forkish, a spokeswoman for Zine. Council member Wendy Greuel could not be reached at press time. Officials at the office of Councilman Tony Cardenas did not return phone calls. Insiders at City Hall say that the drafters of the proposal, wary that it may become a political football, are reluctant to issue the final proposal until after the mayoral race. That race is not likely to be decided until May.

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