This election is not only about who will be the next president of the United States. There is another measure on the ballot that could have an impact on Los Angeles real estate. The "Build Better LA" Affordable Housing and Development Initiative (aka Initiative Ordinance JJJ) is an initiative that would encourage development with affordable housing and local labor.
Below are the key points of the "Build Better LA" Initiative -
- All development projects that include 10 or more residential units and require changes to the General Plan or other zoning/ construction rules, would have to make a percentage of the units affordable for low-income and working residents OR pay a fee to fund affordable housing and enforce laws that protects renters.
- Developers would have to hire contractors who fulfill the following requirements:
- Licensed according to both city and state laws
- Offer at least 30% of work-hours to city residents, with 10% living within 5 miles of the project
- Pay standard wages according to the area
- Employ members of apprenticeship training programs and workers with real-world experience.
- Guarantee that any changes to the local plans for certain districts would not reduce the capacity for creation and preservation of affordable housing and access to local jobs
- Developers would be required to make as much as 20% of the units in a project affordable for low-income and working renters. That number can be as high as 40% for single family home developments that are for sale.
- Projects planned within a half a mile of significant public transit stops would be encouraged through an incentive program that would apply only to projects that include affordable housing and require contractors to comply with the restrictions laid out in the second bullet point of the list above.
- No tax dollars will be used.
All of these sound like great benefits for the community. However, those in opposition to this initiative believe this would harm small to medium size apartment projects because of the labor costs. They feel the costs would be too high thus those projects will just not happen. This is unfortunate that they believe the only way to build smaller projects is to use cheaper or illegal labor. People who do work should earn fair pay. People shouldn't have to live in places where corners were cut to complete a project and help the bottom line of the developer.
My problem with the initiative is the underlined part of the first bullet point. Developers can get out of making a percentage of the units affordable for low-income residents by paying a fee to fund affordable housing or laws to protect renters. I don't like developers having an out from providing affordable units on site. If the purpose of this initiative is to provide affordable housing, it should create affordable housing in desirable areas, not include a way out of building by putting money towards someone else to build it, which will most likely happen in an another area seen as undesirable to developers and thus promoting economic segregation.
This initiative was created to directly compete with the "Neighborhood Integrity" Initiative. The "Neighborhood Integrity" Initiative would impose a moratorium on construction that increases development density for up to two years and prohibits project-specific amendments to the city's General Plan, which would significantly restrict the size and number of development projects.This initiative has strategically been pushed to March 2017, in the belief that a presidential election would encourage higher voter turnout among those inclined to vote against the initiative. The "Neighborhood Integrity" Initiative would directly affect everyone living in Los Angeles. Los Angeles needs housing and this proposal would halt any projects aimed at reducing the shortage of housing supply. This initiative is bad for anyone that doesn't already own property in popular and dense areas. Decreasing supply increases the value and benefits the few who already own.
Like with the presidential candidates, I have my problems with both initiatives, but I'll vote for progress. Los Angeles needs to grow and improve for everyone. Even if developers get out of making a percentage of the residential housing affordable for low-income residents, they still have to pay standard wages, employ licensed contractors, and hire locals. I get frustrated getting stuck in construction traffic but I look at all the people with jobs and think that is worth the traffic.
I am an idealist and my feelings may not be shared by profit-driven business, but I'm okay with that. I want more people to have work so they can buy their own home. I want affordable housing so more people who work full time at lower income jobs can still have a home of their own. Above all, I want to help anyone that wants to buy a home to be able to.
Subscribe to our blog to stay up-to-date on the Los Angeles real estate market.