By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
"Antonio was only into it as long as he thought it was going to win, and he wasn’t going to take any heat for it," said one frustrated IZ proponent. "But he’s running for mayor now and he needs business [support]."
In fact, Villaraigosa’s progressive credentials often obscure his alliances with some of the same business leaders who oppose mandatory IZ. An uncompromising Villaraigosa demand for inclusionary zoning is unlikely through at least March, the mayoral primary, and probably the May runoff, as the challenger and Hahn court the same business campaign donors.
That puts Reyes in an especially uncomfortable spot, if he wants to get IZ through the council anytime soon. As a declared Hahn man, he has very little sway right now over Villaraigosa or, for that matter, any council member trying to decide whom to endorse.
"I support inclusionary zoning," Villaraigosa said at a recent community forum. "Not necessarily the proposal that’s on the table now."
Villaraigosa did tell The Eagle Rock Association that he was disappointed with the Planning Department, and that the problems start at the top. But that’s all he would say.
So has Reyes pressed Hahn to fire Howe, and with him the top deputies who tormented him a decade and a half ago?
He responds with a typical Reyes-ism — he stops, looks upward, closes his eyes briefly, flashes a fleeting grin. "How can I say this?" Reyes asks aloud. People who know him look out for that phrase. It means something insightful, and controversial, but perhaps less than straightforward, is coming.
"There are a few heroes in there that are carrying a lot of weight," Reyes finally says. "I just need the leadership. Senior management has gotten comfortable and detached from reality."
Sources inside City Hall said Hahn would stick with Howe at least until the plan for revamping Los Angeles International Airport is approved. Approval came in October. Howe is still there.
Earlier this year, Reyes stood on his own turf, near the tough Cypress Park streets where he grew up, and prepared to tell his constituents about inclusionary zoning. More housing for you and your families, Reyes tells neighborhood groups, because any developer who ever again hopes to build a house or apartment in Los Angeles must devote 12 percent to 15 percent of the project to affordable housing. He talks up more housing equity, and how new affordable units will be distributed evenly around the city.
But at this forum at the River Center, half of his constituents were stalking out the door. As a panel of business-suited downtowners began delving into the controversial initiative, some of the event’s English-speaking organizers complained that the Spanish interpreter and her equipment, which arrived late, were causing a "disruption." They told their neighbors, in essence, to shut up.
Now, as the interpreter leaned silently against a wall and the insulted Spanish speakers stormed out of the elegant meeting hall, a flustered Ed Reyes was left standing at the front of the room to give his standard stump speech about a tale of two cities, one privileged and protected, the other dumped on and abused. And this meeting, he later admitted thinking to himself, is the perfect example.
Some weeks later, he spoke to the Empowerment Congress North Area Neighborhood Development Council, and it didn’t go much better. Reyes told the story of how half of his constituents were disrespected at the River Center. But the black residents here were unimpressed.
"Why," one African-American man demanded, "do we want to allow more density on our street? There’s already not enough parking for us, and we live here, we’ve been putting money and work into our homes. Why should we pack more people in and reverse everything we’ve been trying to do?"
"He referred to his Spanish-speaking constituents and his Asian-American constituents as being disenfranchised by neighborhood councils," Stone said. "I told him quite plainly I was offended by his reference to disenfranchisement. He backed off slightly, but he didn’t apologize."
Besides, Stone said, there was a reason that she and her neighbors moved years ago to places like Shadow Hills and Sunland-Tujunga.
"When people move to an area like this, we do so because of the open space," she said. "We put up with the inconveniences like long freeway commutes because we like this way of life. Tell me how this is not telling us how we will live. I thought we were turning more towards environmentally sound things."
That’s not what IZ would do, Reyes protests. But, neighbors demand, wouldn’t you require new multifamily housing in our neighborhood? It’s coming anyway, Reyes invariably responds. Let’s channel it. But the horse communities are generally unimpressed.
It’s gone better in some neighborhoods, especially the ones that know what it is like to be built out. The Venice Neighborhood Council signed on to inclusionary zoning. Silver Lake’s council did too, with some suggestions and important observations. For example, if you want people to feel invested in their neighborhoods, shouldn’t you let people who buy submarket units sell for the full price if they stick around for 20 years or so? Let them build equity, like everyone else, and a stake in the community.