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Skid Row Housing

August 30, 1987

I am writing to congratulate Prof. Michael Dear on his (Op-Ed Page, Aug. 7) article on Skid Row, in which he supports Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley's policy of preserving Skid Row as a major housing resource.

In 1976, I served as the chairman of the 19-member Citizens' Advisory Committee on the Central Business District Redevelopment Project--the group which established what is now referred to as the city's 1976 philosophy on Skid Row. We did an intensive study of Skid Row and its impact on the downtown community and came up with the policy of containment and increased services. It is my opinion that, if this committee was reformed now and an update of the study performed, we would come up with exactly the same recommendations.

It is logical that certain Central City-East commercial interests would like to see the Skid Row area developed as additional business sites, but to do so would be a grotesque mistake. First of all, we are dealing with a small area--some six to seven blocks in length and maybe a mile in width. Within this area are some of the most inexpensive housing units available in Los Angeles and to sacrifice this irreplaceable housing for additional commercial development would be a criminal act.

I recently appeared before the Urban Land Institute study group on Skid Row. At that time, I strongly recommended that there be no dispersal of the constituency found in the Skid Row area, using the same reasoning which Dear offers, and I was pleased to read that the ULI ultimately agreed with this philosophy.

As an ex-president of one chamber of commerce and a current vice president of another, I am a strong believer in continued controlled growth to maintain economic viability in the city, but commercial development of the Skid Row area is not in the best interest of the city.

HAROLD L. KATZ

Los Angeles

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