Vote Yes on H and Help Open the Door

[Note: This is a guest post by written by Eric Garcetti, Council President, Councilmember, District 13. As should be obvious, all included opinions are his. Also obvious, we invite any and all discussion about this in the comments – any comments changing the word “proposition” to “preparation” will be throughly snickered at.]

0310housing_7metro_b.jpgThanks, Sean, for letting me have an election-eve guest post at Blogging.la . It’s great to be welcomed up to the front page–I feel like a recurring character with a special episode. I’ve written time and again about the
housing crisis
in Los Angeles at cd13.com, but election rules require that my city website remain free of ballot advocacy. Visiting here feels like the cyberspace equivalent of making the rounds of churches with Councilmember Jan Perry last weekend.

(Image: the Metro Hollywood Apartments, perched over a metro rail station at Hollywood and Western, are an example of how smart planning and government-funded affordable apartments can revitalize a neighborhood.)

As we were driving down Central Avenue between churches, Jan spied a small encampment of four homeless men in an alley. We pulled over the car and spoke to them. Jan introduced herself as their councilmember and let them know how the city and the network of service providers could help them out: get them a bed at a shelter, a meal, even help finding work or training. Jan put a call into New Image Shelter, which came and offered them services directly.

I mention this story because blogging.la is a good place to tell the “street-level view” of what really happens in Los Angeles. This story is far from unique: this is the kind of thing that Jan, representing the largest concentration of homeless people in the region on Skid Row, has to do all too frequently?. And Prop H on Tuesday’s ballot could make it possible for us to go from stop-gap measures in the fight against the homeless crisis and the housing crunch to turning the tide.

I know the individual stories of the housing crisis too well, and I suspect many of you do too: the people who come into my office asking for help fighting an eviction, or who can’t find a place they can afford with their relocation benefits; the working people–hotel housekeepers, office custodians–who spend 40% of their income on housing and still live too far from where they work in lousy conditions, and live their lives on the bus or stuck in traffic and not with their children. Seniors or veterans for whom shelter is a constant source of anxiety, and those for whom it is an impossibility.

The details of the measure, and the unprecedented coalition that supports it, can be found here. Prop H would help build permanent supportive housing to get homeless people off the street with the services they need; it would help middle-income families buy their first homes where the market had priced them out; and it would help us build affordable apartments for seniors, veterans, and low-income workers. It would be paid back by residential and commercial property owners, for roughly the cost of a large latte a month (technically, an average of $14.60 per $100,000 of assessed property per year).

We need a two-thirds vote to pass Prop H, so please tell your friends to vote on this issue. For those who need extra convincing, just take a look at our record. In the past five years, your city government has created a nationally-recognized affordable housing trust fund. We’ve proven that we can fund and administer these kinds of programs, we just need to do it on a scale that makes a difference: right now we open up new affordable apartments to crowds of fifty times the number of apartments. We’ve done a lot of work on tightening and enforcing our rent stabilization laws and changing our planning codes to allow for more urban development. Now we need to devote resources to the kinds of projects that will help the people feeling the squeeze. We’ll all feel the difference.

[Note: This is a guest post by written by Eric Garcetti, Council President, Councilmember, District 13. As should be obvious, all included opinions are his. Also obvious, we invite any and all discussion about this in the comments.]

10 Replies to “Vote Yes on H and Help Open the Door”

  1. Hell the state is already drowning in red ink so why not blow another billion. Heck, we don’t have to pay for it, we’ll float a bond and raise taxes.

  2. While I fully support Mr. Garcetti’s position amd the proposed Proposition I fail to understand how LA City Council members can get something like this so right, and completely whiff on the local ordinance that faces them this week. For those not aware the ordinance would require that any “rent control” apartments that are demolished to build new developments would then have to be “rent control” in the new project. The fallacy is that the developer is allowed to set all the new units at full market rent- it is only as the new project moves forward that the units remain in rent control. This is another example of the City not understanding how development works and what the drivers are behind it.

  3. Just say NO to more government waste.

    I’m always happy to vote no on wasteful spending, but we’re going to have to disagree on whether or not this one counts as “waste.”

  4. H is a joke. It’s not a plan. It’s the city saying “give us a billion dollars and we’ll spend it for you — trust us, you’ll love it.” Where exactly do you plan to put these units that’s not in the suburbas? On a barge in the Pacific off Venice Beach? On a platform over the Hollywood Freeway? In place of a few thousand single family homes in Compton? LA needs affordable housing, but come up with a plan — I’ll help — put a price tag on it, then we’ll vote on it.

  5. I’m just afraid that the council’s thoroughly devious behavior regarding that OTHER proposition will kill any chances of meeting the high bar needed for H to pass.

    The irony of ironies would be if Prop R manages to pass by a hair’s breadth while H goes down because the extra votes needed were lost in the sleazy campaign to extend term limits. What a shame.

  6. I call it waste because they’ll spend 999 million doing studies, having meetings, going on trips, having more meetings, doing more studies about meetings, going on trips to have meetings about studies and then the cost of the housing will have gone up so they’ll have another meeting to decide on a trip for where the meeting should take place to decide on how many more billions they’ll need to build the first billion dollars worth of housing.

    Sound familiar? Our tax dollars hard at work.

  7. First off, this measure should have been called a tax. It’s a direct property tax.

    Secondly, would you like a visual on how much impact on the homeless this billion dollar tax will have? There’s one here. The impact it would have on prospective homeowners is far far worse–less than one in a thousand will be helped by this bond. But lots of large developers will be helped by it.

    Thirdly, we have no real way of measuring progress in homelessness nor in affordable housing, because the City’s Housing Department doesn’t keep meaningful stats on rental units in the City, and there are no honest stats on the homeless either.

    Finally—if this bond built properties that actually enriched communities—wouldn’t that raise property values? And thereby make housing for most even less affordable?

  8. H is the one measure on the ballot I’ve yet to decide upon. I would have little problem supporting this proposition if I knew that the billion dollars would be used as efficently as possible (read: help more people in need), because it was a part of a comprehensive and detailed strategy to deal with our affordable housing crisis.

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