GPW: Self-Tempered Anarchy since 2009

Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
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stories along The Way

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

LaBonge promulgates slum conditions for everyone

Are you sure there is no one willing to step up and run against Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge in 2011?

After reading this and thinking about what this means for the perimeter of Griffith Park - much less the rest of the city - you may want to look a little harder for that ideal candidate.

Coming Soon to Your Neighborhood: 
Granny Flats, Converted Garages, Houses Turned into Tenements

By Ron Kaye   November 16, 2009

This may be the most desperate and despicable act yet by City Hall in its long war to eradicate the middle class from Los Angeles.

They call it a proposed Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance. That's a phrase intended to obscure its intent which is to give every owner of a single-family home property the "right by law" to turn their house into apartments, to convert garages into living units and to even put second houses, granny flats, on their property the size of the average bungalow.

It ought to be called the Tenement Law.

Every property owner is an overstatement. It's every property owner except those on hillsides, horse-keeping areas, scenic highways or live on narrow lanes.

In other words, the rich are exempt from seeing the quality of life in their neighborhoods ruined by families living in a 1,200 square foot house in your neighbor's back yard, of having hordes of renters living next door, of cars parks all over the place -- exempt from the policies of densification that are turning LA into Manhattan, subway to come.

And if that weren't bad enough, no less than Council President Eric Garcetti with support from Bill Rosendahl, Paul Koretz, Tom LaBonge and Richard Alarcon introduced a motion Oct. 20  to take the Tenement Law a step further.

They want to legalize thousands of illegal "ADUs" showing as much contempt for the law and the public interest as the owners of those properties showed when they turned garages into death traps, houses into tenements and ignored every Building and Safety code in the books.

They want the Council to order the Planning Department. which is now "conducting a study which will lead to a recommendation for permanent Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) regulations," to "study and report back in regard to the legalization of previously unpermitted converted units "

Their logic goes like this:

"The current housing crisis is exacerbated by the turmoil in the mortgage lending industry where foreclosures have increased and many other homeowners are on the brink. This situation impacts all segments of the housing market, but is particularly dire for those with low incomes, those with special needs and the homeless.

"The number of low income households and the pervasiveness of poverty in Los Angeles are markedly higher than in other urban areas. These factors further speak to the need for more affordable housing in Los Angeles, but creating this housing will require greater subsidies than in other areas as well."

Imagine what this city will be like when every inch of it is paved over and twice as many people are living on your street.

Never have I seen the naked truth so clear in a city document.

We have more people than other cities because we have followed policies that encourage poverty by chasing away good-paying jobs, destroyed our schools, tolerated sweatshops, allowed slum conditions to flourish.

And now we have a moral and soon-to-be-legal obligation to provide every poor person a place to call home with subsidized rents, wages, utilities and other public services -- subsidies paid for by the shrinking numbers of middle class residents who still think there's a chance in hell of changing the direction of City Hall or are too set in their ways to admit the game is up.

Imagine what this city will be like when every inch of it is paved over and twice as many people are living on your street.

That's the vision and time is running short.

City Hall, exposed now for its failure in everything from financial management to the proliferation of digital billboards and marijuana dealing, will do anything to protects its perks, privileges and paychecks.

That's where the Planning Department they have totally politicized comes in.

The planners have been assigned the task of escalating the war against homeowners -- 2,000 percent increases in fees, failure to measure cumulative impacts of development, out-of-date or meaningless planning documents, approval of every project where the influence peddlers have spread around enough money.

And now granny flats and tenements -- a campaign they are running in hopes nobody would notice with a backup plane to lie, mislead and obfuscate whenever necessary.

Citizen journalist Karen Kanter reported at about Saturday's meeting the Neighborhood Council's Plan Check Group with City Attorney Carmen Trutanich on the ADU proposal.

Contrary the claims of city officials that this ordinance is "mandated" by a six-year-old state law, AB 1866, Trutanich said there is nothing that require the city "to adopt or amend an ordinance for the creation of these units. As for the criteria that was adopted by state law, there was no mention of minimum lot size or parking requirements or anything related to restrictions on residential density.

"In fact, room was left for cities to narrow the state requirements. Pasadena, for example, adopted an ordinance that required that these units could only appear on lots with a size of 15,000 square feet or more."

City planners in LA want have issued interim guidelines that would reduce the minimum lot size to half or a third of Pasadena's and to all but eliminate parking restrictions.

I just spent 18 months and wrote 16 articles tracking an illegal conversion of a house in my Valley floor tract into three apartments I saw the impact this one ADU had on my neighbors and neighbhorhood and can imagine if there were a lot more. We would have no choice except to sell our house or cash in on two or three tenants each paying more in rent then our mortgage.

So maybe, if you all out there aren't going to get mad enough to stop this madness, I need to change my mind and consider this a city pension for an old newspaperman living on Social Security. By God, I could live on a beach in Mexico like a king with the proceeds of my tenement in the Valley.