As we reported previously, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's pro-density housing policy took a hit when the state Supreme Court ruled last month that the city could not require the kind affordable housing units it tried to attach to otherwise upscale developments like Geoff Palmer's west-of-downtown Piero II.
In an analysis of the decision, the Downtown News reports Monday that the mayor and City Hall are left with few options to carry out their vision of promoting denser housing development near downtown while setting aside some of the resulting new units for lower income residents.
The problem that the mayor has faced is this: While the city is still fairly thirsty for housing, mostly of the affordable variety, developers like Palmer find that developments that cater only to upper-income clienteles make economic sense. At the same time, Villaraigosa has been seen as fairly pro-development. He doesn't want to stand in the way of some of the more powerful forces in city politics — developers, some of which are his “friends.”
As a result, the citizens of Los Angeles, who were sold the concept of denser housing at already traffic-choked intersections (take a look at the kinds of vertical developments that have gone up at Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue or at Wilshire and Western Avenue and wonder aloud what they've done for traffic and affordable rents), are looking at another bum deal.
City Hall promised that, in exchange for approving monstrous condo and apartment buildings in already crowded parts of town, L.A. would get some affordable housing in the process. With the court ruling, that part of the equation has been taken out, and we're left with the extra traffic, sans the affordable units.
The Downtown News states that the city could still follow the footsteps of Santa Monica, which charges a fee to developers. The money then goes to a fund that helps develop affordable housing. We'll see.