Below is an open letter sent to Judge Carter of the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
SUBJECT: Developers now have hundreds of new apartments available to house homeless families and L.A. City said they are not interested. If you want to know more, we should talk.
Dear Judge Carter:
I am a Los Angeles developer of small to medium sized apartment buildings located in the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles and other developers and I currently have units available to rent to the City, but the City refuses to rent them. And, we can deliver thousands of additional units over the next five (5) years.
It was with great interest that I read the Preliminary Injunction that you issued in the L.A. Alliance Homeless Housing matter before you. Your order is a bold move that will spark the appropriate, or inappropriate, response from the City and County elected and housing officials.
For the last ten (10) years I have been engaging with L.A. City’s elected, Planning, LADBS and Housing Department officials on a simple, yet effective, plan to provide additional housing in order to ease the housing crisis by providing thousands of additional affordable housing units at reasonable cost. However, my proposals have been turned down, time and again, and not because my plan is unworkable. I believe that my proposals have been turned down or ignored because of strategic and effective prohibitions imposed by both our elected and appointed officials, as well as easily identifiable private citizen “influencers” on affordable and homeless housing public policy.
With all due respect, until the Court fully addresses and mandates a basic change to the way ALL housing is developed and built in Los Angeles, I suspect that all homeless and affordable housing efforts and initiatives are doomed to be less impactful, or worse, to failure.
As an example of what I am referring to, today other developers and I have completed or almost completed new units available to the City and County. I am not kidding – new one, two and three-bedroom family units that are ready to house hundreds of people.
In the last two weeks, I spoke with one of the City’s CAO managers charged with implementing the “Project Room Key” program and offered to rent all units on a short-term and long-term basis at a flat daily fee of only $150.00, regardless of the size of the unit, and was politely but flatly turned down.
Humbly, I don’t believe the reason for the rejection had anything to do with funding. I believe it had more to do with back-room City-imposed (published and unpublished) policy restrictions of how the City will be spending the billions of dollars in funding they have and with whom.
To further complicate the issue, the Planning Departments are preventing the development of additional tens of thousands of new units throughout the City and County, thereby helping to significantly increase the housing shortage.
One of the root causes to the current housing shortage is the current “system” of Planning Department promulgated zoning inconsistencies which has been broken for a very long time, by design, and in violation of existing state laws. (See attached 2017 & 2019 samples of only a couple of many emails, followed by several meetings, including a meeting with senior members of the Mayor’s office, and Planning staff).
The housing crisis is a joke perpetrated on everyone residing in the City and County of Los Angeles and which, at the very least, is creating unnecessary social upheaval, expanding health issues and a waste of billions of taxpayers’ dollars. It’s no different than the joke our parents used to tell us when we were kids (I am 70, so this joke has been around for a long time). They would joke that they would never purchase a Ford vehicle because “Ford” stood for “Fix or Repair Daily”. That was obviously not true, just as the housing crisis is not true or that it’s an insurmountable problem. It’s not. For the Planning Departments it’s a F.O.R.D.
In my opinion, the housing crisis closely borders on Chicago and Union “style” racketeering practices and “backroom dealings”.
We may have a bigger problem here than just the lack of housing … or will. Laws currently exist that allow additional housing. The city Planners however, have refused to comply with these laws.
I am open to having further discussions on this subject with anyone on your staff.
Sincerely, Al Leibovic