City Council postpones decisions on housing

Story by Zoe Schlaak
Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Planet Home Living

The City Council further delayed making a decision on two major housing projects: a renters urgency ordinance that would strengthen eviction protections, and construction of a private road into El Sereno for luxury developments, at its meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 18. The community heavily advocated for the ordinance and against the development, but were met with indecision from the Council. 

City staff recommended that the Council prolong its decision on the adoption of an urgency ordinance, which would permanently extend and expand upon the existing 45-day moratorium that requires landlords to attain permits for “substantial remodels,” before they can evict tenants. The ordinance would protect renters from evictions in a time where they are especially vulnerable due to the coronavirus and economic crisis. The City’s extension is intended for data collection and community outreach before consideration at the Wednesday, Dec. 16 meeting. 

The item was heavily supported by South Pasadena residents, who urged for local leaders to take action to improve the rights and stability of tenants. 

“As we all know, the housing market in Los Angeles County is already difficult for many working families and now many are suffering severe loss of income due to the pandemic for no fault of their own,” resident Matthew Barbado said in a public comment. “Please pass the [urgency ordinance] to stop the abuses of landlords and bring stability to our most vulnerable neighbors.”

The Council also voted for the second time to postpone the approval of a private driveway into El Sereno after it had previously directed staff to receive further information from the City of Los Angeles. The developer, Planet Home Living, intends to build seven luxury homes which would be accessible through Lowell Ave and a private driveway on the shared easement.

Residents of both Los Angeles and South Pasadena submitted over 200 public comments urging the council to oppose the development completely. 

“Who do you think is going to live in luxury [buildings] right now, when thousands of people are homeless?” community member Ibet said. “So many buildings are empty right now, how can you even think of building something right now, especially luxury. Anyone who thinks that this is okay, shame on all of you. There are people on the streets without homes and you are worried about luxury developments.”

LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis recommended, in a letter to the Council, that the City wait to decide on the development until the possibility of rezoning El Sereno is settled by the end of the year. City Council members also asserted that there is necessary further legal discussion to be made privately with their attorney.

“Let’s follow Hilda Solis’ recommendation and continue [discussing],” Councilmember Dr. Richard Schneider said. “It’s only for another month or two and I don’t think there is a real possibility of a lawsuit because here we are, a small city following the recommendation of a supervisor of L.A. County.”

The Council decided to continue discussing the El Sereno luxury development at its closed-session meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 16. 

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