County officials vote on affordable housing

A work in progress; Homes4Families continues to build low cost, veteran housing off Centre Pointe Parkway in Canyon Country. Ryan Painter/The Signal.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted on several policies Tuesday in an effort to expand the supply of affordable housing.

Among the five debated policies were ordinance drafts to preserve existing affordable housing units; the creation of “an inclusionary housing policy” for rental and for-sale housing projects; remove zoning obstacles to encourage permanent supportive housing, transitional housing and homeless shelters; allow for more multifamily housing; and a quarterly report to the board on progress toward adopting the other four ordinances.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger said she voted to support all but one of the directives, saying the inclusionary housing policy could disproportionately impact her district where the majority of new housing development occurs. Inclusionary housing policies require a given share of new construction to be affordable by people with low to moderate incomes.

“There is just no way to create more affordable housing by making housing unaffordable,” Barger said.

A spokesman for Barger added that the supervisor was concerned the policy would effectively make housing more unaffordable due to additional regulation.

The inclusionary housing policy would end economic segregation in some communities, said policy authors Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas.

“An inclusionary housing policy could encourage the construction of new affordable housing units in communities that are experiencing new market-rate residential development, creating new housing opportunities for low-income households in gentrifying communities,” the supervisors wrote. “Inclusionary housing policies can encourage the construction of new affordable housing units throughout a jurisdiction, disrupting historical patterns of de facto economic segregation and promoting economically inclusive communities.”

The Affordable Housing Action Plan Implementation Motion said the county should follow an assessment that found the region is well short of housing needs.

“While the county has committed substantial funding to build affordable housing, it is critical to use the Board of Supervisors’ land use authority as an additional tool to achieve this aim,” the supervisors wrote. “On January 31, 2018, the Department of Regional Planning released the Affordable Housing Action Plan, which comprises a detailed assessment as well as specific land use and development strategies to address affordable housing needs in the unincorporated areas of the County. The assessment found that, while the County needs to add 17,116 housing units for households earning less than 120 percent of Area Median Income in the unincorporated areas, between 2014 and 2016, the unincorporated areas added only 226 units targeted to these incomes.”

The supervisors highlighted two land use strategies in the action plan: affordable housing preservation and the inclusionary housing policy.

“Affordable housing preservation can also serve as an antidisplacement measure in communities experiencing, or at risk of, gentrification, that allows low-income residents to remain in their communities,” Kuehl and Ridley-Thomas wrote. “An Affordable Housing Preservation Ordinance could limit conversions of affordable housing to condominiums, potentially establish a one-for-one replacement requirement, and encourage funding for naturally occurring affordable housing.”

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