L.A. County Seeks New Ways to Speed Shelter, Housing Development


LOS ANGELES (CNS) - As the temperature prepared to dip into the 30s around much of the Southland, Los Angeles County officials sought new ways to solve the homeless shelter crisis.

The Board of Supervisors pressed staffers for more data to help them better match the needs of homeless individuals with available beds and services, but also acknowledged that the supply of shelter, short-term and long- term housing options falls far short of the demand.

“We are way below what is needed,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger said.

Amy Bodek, director of regional planning, said residents continue to push back against building shelters and supportive housing in their neighborhoods.

“Community will is a huge barrier,” Bodek said.

Bodek said there were several things that could be done to streamline approvals and construction. Regional planning plans to submit a series of draft ordinances to the board by year end. Each would give the county more authority to push housing projects through more quickly with less review.

The proposals include:

-- an inclusionary housing ordinance that would mandate affordable units in new developments with more than 10 units in certain submarkets;

-- a “no net loss” ordinance to preserve housing density; and

-- a by-right development ordinance that would eliminate some discretionary reviews.

The state's by-right development law, SB 35, has been challenged in the courts by multiple cities. Other state proposals to correct for the lack of affordable housing by streamlining approvals, including SB 50 -- which called for denser development near transit hubs -- have failed to pass.

Opponents included affordable housing advocates who argued that it would expedite gentrification or that developers would focus on market-rate or luxury units.

Whether the county will succeed in its own efforts remains to be seen, but Barger urged staffers to act faster.

Bodek pointed to inflexibility in the process.

The inclusionary housing ordinance provides an example of how slowly these initiatives can move. The board requested a draft in February 2018. A draft policy outline was developed a year later after outreach to building industry representatives, affordable housing advocates and various community groups.

A preliminary draft ordinance was released in September and is still subject to additional review.

Pushing the state to remove additional land use barriers related to CEQA would make a meaningful difference, Bodek told the board.

The Board of Supervisors plans to meet on the first Tuesday of each month to review the issue.

“We don't want a stagnant report that talks about what we already know, we want a road map,” Barger told staffers.

Photo: Getty Images

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