Medici: la dolce cheesy
Medici: la dolce cheesy
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L.A.'s Biggest Trump Supporter Faces Protest

The bedfellows in Los Angeles politics can be strange, indeed. Let us explain. The folks behind the Build Better L.A. initiative want to open City Hall's doors even wider to developers because the city desperately needs new housing units. Opponents, particularly the people backing March's Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, which seeks to limit construction, have argued that November's Built Better L.A. (Proposition JJJ) measure is a gift to wealthy developers whose megaprojects would ruin views, clog traffic and destroy our quality of life.

So, under that scenario, a developer like Geoffrey H. Palmer — the biggest donor to Donald Trump's presidential campaign (besides Trump himself) — would be a natural enemy of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, and a possible friend to the pro-development Build Better L.A. Coalition.

Not necessarily.

In fact, BBLA says it's planning to rally tomorrow outside of one of Palmer's several Italianate apartment buildings near downtown. Why? Well, the Build Better L.A. people argue that none of Palmer's 10,000-plus units in Southern California "are affordable to ordinary Angelenos," according to a statement.

"The coalition aims to send a message that L.A. doesn't need any more luxury developments that push people out of the city, but instead needs a more inclusive solution through Proposition JJJ," it stated.

In other words, we want rich guys to build us apartments, just not that rich guy. Palmer has a contentious history with liberal City Hall. He sued the city over a requirement to create a small number of affordable units in developments like his, and his win set a precedent that shut down the requirement. And Build Better L.A. appears to be of the same left-side political affiliation as almost every city council member. Not a lot of Trump supporters at City Hall.

Palmer builds market-rate housing, plain and simple. Interestingly, backers of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative say market-rate housing, mostly luxury-style units, won't alleviate L.A.'s housing crisis at all because it will simply displace lower-rent structures and draw higher-income residents to an already crowded renters market. That's a contention that's disputed by academics who say any new housing will eventually relieve our rent stress.

While Palmer is not, apparently, their guy, both sides of the development battle now have gone out of their way to claim turf on the other side of their issues — while the pro-development Build Better L.A. folks are taking on a developer, the pro-homeowner Neighborhood Integrity Initiative people are embracing renters.

But Palmer, who is notoriously press-shy, is the kind of guy who could unite even these foes. Following a massive 2014 fire at an uncompleted portion of his new Da Vinci apartment complex, the city is suing the developer for $20 million, alleging an inadequate fire protection plan. In 2003 a circa-1880s Queen Anne home on the property of Palmer's future Orsini complex was destroyed, accidentally, his people said. Preservationists planned to move it, but the accident left it in pieces.

The fun starts at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow at the Medici at 725. S. Bixel St. in Westlake. Labor leaders are expected to attend. But you never know, maybe anti-development forces will join hands.

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