Southland Will Look to Spread Housing Across Region in 8-Year Plan

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - City Council members and mayors from across Southern California voted today to make changes to a proposed eight-year regional housing plan, which Los Angeles officials said will make residential development requirements more equitable.

The Southern California Association of Governments Regional Council, which is made up of 86 city council members and mayors, voted to not use methods that rely on household growth forecasts to determine where housing should be built, as part of the state-required Regional Housing Needs Allocation planning process.

Instead, the regional council will use a different method and will examine a set of recommendations made by the 16-member Los Angeles voting bloc to see if the original plan's numbers will be ``significantly'' altered.

The proposal from Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey was approved, 43-19.

Los Angeles officials argued that new housing needs to be built closer to where jobs are clustered and where people most need the housing.

``Today's SCAG vote is an important step forward in responding to the unprecedented housing shortage and homelessness crisis that has gripped Southern California,'' Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said. ``We realize that if we don't solve this problem together, we won't solve it at all, and I am grateful to the many elected leaders from across the region, including 11 members of our own City Council, who supported a proposal that takes a realistic and objective approach to regional growth.''

Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu said that during the last RHNA cycle, SCAG distributed more than 425,000 units and Los Angeles was assigned 20% of the burden. The next RHNA cycle calls for 1.3 million units in Southern California, with 35% of them originally proposed to be built in Los Angeles.

Many cities that aren't near job hubs and may not develop employment centers in the near future were initially allocated many more housing units than affluent cities such as Laguna Beach or Beverly Hills.

Beverly Hills would have been required to build about 530 units in the next eight years, whereas Coachella in Riverside County would be required to build about 15,000 in an area that doesn't have high job-growth or large transit areas.

``This proposal tells the millions of working people, who work in job- rich communities, that they should not have the opportunity to live where they work and instead must commute from greater and greater distances,'' Ryu said before the Regional Council's vote.

``This is bad climate policy. It's bad social policy. It is nothing short of economic redlining,'' he said. ``Doubling down on the status quo of the past will not solve this crisis. You cannot build 1.3 million units of housing without asking high-income cities to lift a finger.''

The Regional Council vote could result in the allocation of about 468,000 units to be built in Los Angeles in the next eight years -- and increase Beverly Hill's allocation, for example, to more than 3,100 units, according to a spreadsheet that SCAG officials distributed.

The reasons why the numbers are so much higher this year, Los Angeles city officials said, was because of changes to state laws that took into consideration overcrowding, access to public transit and cost-burdened communities, but the Southern California region typically scores poorly on those indicators.

``Every community in our region must build new and more affordable housing, and putting it near jobs and transit will help ensure that more people have the opportunities they deserve,'' Garcetti said.

The Regional Council's Executive Administration Committee is expected to review the RHNA plan in December.

The Regional Council also voted to examine three other recommendations proposed by Los Angeles to modify any housing-job proximity imbalances, reassess housing locations near public transportation and to build housing where opportunities for job growth are strong.

The RHNA plan will now go to the state's Department of Housing and Community Development for a 60-day review of its methodology before being returned to the regional council for consideration

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