Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley proposed Thursday allowing developers to put up bigger buildings if they include space for child-care centers.
Bradley announced the proposed ordinance at a press conference at the Children's Museum in the Civic Center, his words accompanied by the sounds of children yelling, laughing and playing in the exhibits.
Bradley's ordinance, to be introduced by Councilwoman Joy Picus today, would give developers a bonus for setting aside areas for child-care centers.
Developers setting aside 5,000 square feet for a center, for example, could add 10,000 more square feet to a building. Development industry sources said 5,000 square feet would be big enough for a furniture store or a similar large-sized retail outlet.
The plan would allow bigger bonuses for buildings in redevelopment areas, such as downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, and North Hollywood; low- and moderate-income areas, and enterprise zones, which are sections of the city where industry and other business are being encouraged by tax breaks and other government actions.
In addition, the developers would get reductions in fees for building permits and other city services.
"We know that by providing child care we can reduce absenteeism, boost productivity and improve morale," the mayor said. "Our goal, then, must be to create incentives that will make it more attractive and economically feasible for builders to design child-care space into new developments."
The proposed ordinance is the result of demands that the city do more to encourage business to provide child-care facilities for employees. The idea is that employees could bring small children to their places of work where they would be cared for until time to go home.
A proposal requiring developers to set aside child-care space was introduced in the council by former City Councilman David Cunningham, but it never got beyond a committee.
Picus opposed it, saying, "I preferred the carrot to the stick."
The mayor's approach also differs from a controversial plan adopted by San Francisco in 1985 that requires real estate developers to contribute to a child-care fund or to build a care facility in their buildings. That measure was criticized by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.
'Time Has Come'
Bradley's proposal was praised by an organization pushing for child care, the Alliance for Business for Child Care Development. "I think it is great," said developer Allan K. Jonas, who heads the organization. "This is one of those issues whose time has come."
Jonas, however, said a developer would have to do more than set aside a portion of the building for a child-care center. State law, he said, requires outdoor play areas amounting to 1 1/2 times the indoor space.
Richard Wirth, who represents the building industry before local government, praised the plan. But Picus said she expects revisions as builders, child-care advocates and others are heard during council debate.